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Carpet Care

Ink Stain Removal

October 13, 2010
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There's nothing worse than applying solvent to a tiny ink spot and watching it grow into the size of a golf ball — or larger.

Ink stains, because of the "hidden" reservoir of potential staining materials, are a challenge for carpet and furniture cleaners.

Simply having the knowledge that ink spreads means you can prepare and prevent this from happening.

Remember that even the smallest amount of ink has the potential to grow 100 times its size — and even bigger.

A spreading problem

Containing ink from spreading can be compared to your work in water damage restoration.

Water damage restoration technicians know that moisture likes to move to dry areas.

Think of applying a few drops of water to a dry paper towel.

The water hits the towel and immediately spreads out, searching for dry material.

That's what ink does. As you "release" the ink, transferring it from a relative solid into a fluid, it searches out dry material. The dry, currently unstained area of fiber around the ink becomes stained.

This is where containment is important.

Containment steps

Surround the ink stain with a barrier.

By doing this, you are creating an area around the ink stain that is less likely to become stained. Filling the fibers with moisture means the ink will not spread as easily.

Water will work as a barrier, but even better is a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and ammonia.

Most recommend mixing the peroxide and ammonia 50/50, but often a few drops of ammonia will work.

Remember, the ammonia is simply the accelerant for the peroxide. It''s the peroxide that is going to be doing the work in the ink stain removal.

If you are cleaning a natural fiber — typically found in furniture — skip the ammonia. The high pH of ammonia can cause damage to natural fibers such as wool, cotton, linen and others.

Once the ink spot is surrounded with a barrier, apply a solvent to dissolve the ink. As the ink starts to spread, use an eyedropper or syringe and "push" the ink back to the middle of the stain with your peroxide barrier.

Extract often.

Keep repeating this process until the ink is gone.

Besides extraction, you will notice that the peroxide/ammonia mixture helps remove the ink''s coloring.

Get solvents

Although at times not as concentrated as liquid dry solvents, gel solvents are also effective in removing ink stains.

The obvious benefit is that they don''t allow the ink to spread as easily, keeping the stain contained and making the removal process easier.

Apply the gel solvent to the ink stain and work the chemical into the stain with a spatula or spotting tool. Rinse with very hot water and detergent often until the ink stain is removed.

Any remaining ink residue or stain can often be removed with an application of peroxide and ammonia.

Flushing method

Some cleaners find success by taking the hose cuff and creating vacuum on one side of the ink stain and applying small amounts of dry solvent directly the stain.

By keeping airflow and vacuum pulling across the ink stain, the solvent dissolves the ink and the residue is removed from the carpet and into the cleaning machine, whether portable or truckmounted. Always be mindful of fumes when using this procedure.

Another way to do this is to apply a small amount of dry solvent and immediately vacuum it off the carpet, multiple times, until the ink stain is removed.

Jeff Cross is the senior editor of Cleanfax and an industry instructor, offering IICRC technical carpet and furniture/upholstery training courses and carpet cleaning and restoration (water damage) marketing workshops. He can be reached at jcross@ntpmedia.com.

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