Carpet Stains

Reporter: Helen Wellings

"Coffee is one of the hardest stains to get out," carpet cleaner, Charlie Lodge said.

Jenny Boymal, Director of Jena Dyco said, "When something falls onto a carpet it causes some sort of chemical reaction."

Dale Carroll CSIRO introduced the team to the products being tested. "We're going to use, tomato sauce as one of the stains, coffee, boot polish, and red wine (they are) the most common ones."

If only you could turn back the clock on those rug and carpet disasters. But luckily, some stain removal techniques actually can make splotches and spills magically disappear.

"I'm working down the line here. It's almost gone. Look at it on the towel all gone from the carpet fibre," Lodge said as he worked the carpet.

But some carpet stain removers can worsen the stain, as our tests revealed.

"It was a real challenge for all of the products," Carroll said.

We had the CSIRO's textile laboratory manager, Dale Carroll test 7 leading supermarket carpet stain spotters and cleaners.

Freedom Carpet Foam Cleaner $7.20,

Ox Kleen Carpet Power $6.75,

Bissell Heavy Traffic $9.75,

Vanish Preen Powerfoam $9.75,

Cavalier Bremworth $8.63,

Godfrey's Pullman $13.95 ...

and 3 Britex solutions $27.80 with a Britex carpet cleaning machine,

$49 for one day's hire, total $76.80

"What we're going to do is put on 4 of the most common and most difficult stains to remove," Carroll said.

"We've got nylon and a wool carpet they are the 2 most common carpets we use in the Australian market place and the fibres are different and they react differently to the different types of stains," he continued.

Tomato sauce, coffee, boot polish and red wine were equally applied to each carpet square. Remember, the longer you leave a stain, the more difficult it is to remove.

"You've got to react as quickly as you can to get the stain out because they are going to stain the fibre. Blot it up get the moisture out, you cannot afford to actually scrub it because with a cut pile you are going to spread the fibre and burst the pile," Carroll advised.

But we put these stain removers to a harder test.

"We're going to leave them on for a few hours just to let them settle to take the worst case scenario because we want to find out how effective each of these are," Carroll commented.

We also compare how well Charlie Lodge, professional carpet cleaner and trainer at Jena Dyco, can remove the same stains left to set.

"We have a red wine stain and we have to take it out, as you see it's gone through the back of the carpet and it's a big area," Lodge pointed out.

"Whatever you can't get out with a basic paper towel or cloth and some water really you should leave to a professional," Boymal advised.

Jena Dyco says different stains need different solutions:

"It makes no sense whatsoever from a chemistry perspective to be using one stain remover on every type of stain you can find if you spill something like grease on your carpet as opposed to orange juice, you are going to have to deal with it in a totally different way."

Our carpet stain removers claim to remove spots and stains in general. The CSIRO testers carefully followed the product's instructions. The results:

"We knew it was going to be very difficult to remove all of these stains and none have been particularly good at it. The nylon has performed slightly better than the wool but that would be expected because the nylon would have a stain resist treatment on it," Carroll observed.

And what of tomato sauce - the most difficult?

"Because it is a thick substance it tends to cling to the fibre and also is a food dye," Carroll explained.

Some spread the stain and caused white spots.

So is there a clear winner? Our reporter asked.

"Certainly there is a clear winner."

The Britex machine did the best job.

"The Britex is the winner because we have a lot more agitation and moisture involved in it and a second process where we actually use the hot water extraction method which is a great way of removing stains," Carroll said.

So how does the professional carpet cleaner fare, leaving half the spot there to show the before and after?

"Red wine is an acid stain so first I am going to balance the PH level and use an alkaline to release the stain, now I'm going to flush out the residues which is something you can't do at home now what we have is the before and after," Charlie Lodge demonstrated.

"What a professional would be doing was not only using a chemical to remove the stain but they would then be using some sort of process to extract that," Jenny Boymal explained.

Extracting the chemical is essential to prevent re-soiling.

"And a lot of these cleaners have chemicals that are irritating to skin," Boymal said.

Charlie began removing some of it.

Charlie has success with red wine;

"My aim is to use this reducing agent coffee, boot polish and tomato sauce.

"That's the white coming up that is the residue from the carpet. We've removed the stain we have before and after," Charlie indicated.

Jenny Boymal advises for stains, call the Specialised Cleaning and Restoration Industry Association Carpet Cleaning Association whose members are properly trained.

"You want someone who is going to come into your house, assess the situation, identify any potential issues and proceed and do a very good job leaving you happy," she finished.


For consumers to find a professional carpet cleaner they should go to - this is for the Specialised Cleaning and Restoration Industry Association (formally NUCCA).