Carpet Cleaning in Sherman Oaks: A Case Study

Carpet Cleaning in Sherman Oaks: The Mysterious Reappearing Carpet Stain

The joy of a job well done

Happy, delighted clients is what we live for here at Zerorez®. There's nothing as satisfying as when we get our clients to respond: "I can't believe how well my carpet cleaned up". The joy of turning a soiled, unsanitary family room carpet back into a clean, healthy and residue-free living surface that kids and pets can roll around on is great.

But wait, what happened after the carpet dried?

However, our fairy tale existence does get interrupted by reality every once in a while. A lot of clients have learned from prior experiences with carpet cleaning (usually with our colleagues in the yellow or black vans) that the way the carpet looks right after the cleaning is finished is not how it will look once it dries many hours later. This is a function of wicking. Soil that was not completely removed during the cleaning process wicks (floats to the top) to the tips of the carpet fibers as the moisture evaporates.

A phone call teaches us a lesson

The reality that interrupted our fairy tale came in the form of a phone call. Three days earlier we completed a job carpet cleaning in Sherman Oaks. The client gave us a call, and she started off by saying that she doesn't like to complain and that we usually do a great job, however this time a spot had come back rather quickly.

Is it a spot or a stain?

Before we go on, lets clarify the difference between a "spot" and a "stain". Believe it or not there is a difference and leave it to a professional carpet cleaner to point it out to you. In very general terms a spot is a soiling substance that has attached itself to the outside of the carpet fiber and cleans up easily with normal cleaning procedures. Like a muddy footprint. Stains, on the other hand, are caused by a substance absorbing into the individual carpet fiber. Kool-Aid and coffee are perfect examples of that.

Back to the spot in carpet cleaning in Sherman Oaks

So what was this spot that had come back so quickly? As we usually do when this happens we'll counsel the client on some simple steps to possibly remedy the situation herself. In this case that didn't solve the issue. So Marcel, the service technician who had cleaned this particular carpet several days prior, was back at the home to correct the problem.

Odd shaped mystery spot

The spot in question was located right at the entrance from the garage into the home. And it kept coming back even after two attempts at removing it. Here is when we put our detective hat on. Let's see: odd shape, yellowish/brownish in color, about 2 ft. across and it comes back as the carpet dries.

Houston we have a problem!

Cleaning technicians will work especially hard when they encounter a highly soiled area to ensure the carpet is as clean as possible and to make the client happy with a job well done. But sometimes, all that effort makes the area a little wetter than usual, taking longer to dry. It's then that some of the residue that we normally find in the backing of the carpet will wick up the fibers, ending its voyage at the tip of the fibers where water evaporates. So no matter how many times you clean the area, the problem will repeat itself.

Houston we have identified the problem!

In this particular case we identified the backing material of the carpet to contain jute. Jute is a fiber that is comprised mostly of cellulose plant material and lignin. Jute is prone to a problem that most natural fibers share. They tend to brown when they dry. Now "browning" can occur for different reasons. The most common is due to cellulosic material found in some carpet backings (like Jute, cotton, etc.) and in the latex used to hold the carpet together. In this case we call it (Yes, you guessed it) "cellulosic browning"

Houston we have a solution to the problem!

Let's review what we know so far: Browning "stain" (very likely cellulosic), happens right after heavy cleaning, every time, right at the entrance where microscopic dust and pollens can reach. What could solve the problem? Let's look at another situation where "cellulosic browning" happens all the time. Have you ever made a fruit salad? What do you use to keep the apples and bananas from turning brown before you had a chance to enjoy it? Yes! Lemon juice; in other words "citric acid".

Lemon juice to the rescue

Could this be so simple? Could this really work…… on carpets? The answer is "yes", it works. A very fine mist of citric acid (it comes in a powder form that dilutes in water) or acetic acid (as in white vinegar) brushed into the carpet fibers will reverse the cellulosic browning and keep it from reappearing, like magic! And magic is what happened to the spot that was left over after the carpet cleaning in Sherman Oaks.

If you have mysterious spots or stains in your carpet that seem to reappear like magic, I invite you to call us and see if we can't solve that mystery for you. Zerorez Socal. 866-937-6739 or


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