Common Carpet Stains in Universities and How to Solve Them

Common Carpet Stains in Universities and How to Solve Them

From common areas in dorms to libraries to student centers, there are numerous areas within university buildings that are outfitted with carpet. Carpet adds beauty to these spaces and also offers acoustic benefits and cushioning for the many students and staff members who walk upon it every day. While facility managers want carpet to remain pristine, the reality is that accidents and spills do happen – sometimes on a daily basis.

Dirty carpet can have a profound impact on a university’s image. According to a Whittaker survey conducted online by The Harris Poll, more than 4 in 5 Americans (82%) would take action after seeing dirty carpet at a college or university’s campus. Additionally, among this group, nearly half (48%) would question the college or university’s commitment to student and staff health and safety.

Universities that work diligently to recruit students, student-athletes and professors and administrators can’t let dirty carpet deter interest in their prestigious academic and athletic offerings. Furthermore, with fears around coronavirus still high, colleges and universities must do everything in their power to make everyone feel at ease. To reduce the risk of carpet stains, maintain a stellar reputation and showcase heightened cleanliness efforts, universities can follow a set of best practices for dealing with the most common types of stains.

Dealing with Common Carpet Stains

Some of the most common carpet stains include:

  • Mud: Storms can increase the risk that students and staff will track outdoor mud into indoor environments like student centers and dorms. If the mud has already dried, vacuum to remove as much of it as possible. If it is still wet, blot with white towels to absorb some of the dirt and moisture. Then, apply a spotting agent and agitate it to restore carpet cleanliness.
  • Grass: Grass stains can be difficult to remove because the chlorophyll that gives grass its green color acts as a dye on surfaces like carpet and upholstery. This can be especially detrimental for lighter colored carpets. Additionally, the longer grass stains are left unaddressed, the more they soak into carpet fibers. Address these stains immediately and while still wet for the best chance of removing them.
  • Food and beverages: From marinara sauce and gravy to fruit juices and coffee, there are a multitude of food and beverage items that can end up on carpet. Employees should address these stains as quickly as possible and use a solution that is matched to the origin of the stain. For example, greasy foods will require a specific chemistry while red food-dye stains will benefit from a different solution.  
  • Vomit: Illness may cause students and staff to feel sick, and carpet can also be a victim of these instances. When cleaning up bodily fluids like vomit, wear gloves and remove as much of the surface material as possible with a towel. Then, apply an organic stain remover equipped with digestive enzymes that eliminate odor-causing contaminants. Finish with an encapsulation spotter to capture any remaining residue to prevent re-soiling and apply again one to two days later if needed.

Keeping Essential Tools On-hand

In addition to having effective chemistry to remove common carpet stains, it’s necessary to have the right equipment and tools available. Consider the following additions to your carpet care program:

  • Whether a university is large or small, there is still a substantial amount of square footage to maintain. An ergonomic carpet care machine will make the task of carpet care much easier for staff members, as will a machine-mounted solution tank and simple controls. Look for equipment that features two or three counter-rotating brushes to ensure it will adequately lift the carpet pile and agitate the chemistry to thoroughly remove buildup and stains.
  • A carpet spotting tool with an adjustable handle can accommodate the needs of employees of various heights. The tool should feature two distinct bristle settings – firm for maximum agitation and soft for light agitation. A design incorporating wheels at the end of the brush helps prevent the tool from digging deeper into carpet fibers than necessary.
  • Sometimes staff will need to address carpet stains from a closer distance. A hand held spotting tool can also be used on wool, cut pile and plush carpet. Look for one that has chamfered openings instead of bristles to allow it to lift stains through mild agitation of the fibers.

Employees responsible for campus carpet care should understand how to properly use the above equipment and tools. Facility mangers should conduct hands-on training for new employees and occasional re-training if spots persist or if students, staff or visitors complain about the look of carpet. By following best practices and using effective solutions, universities can avoid top carpet stains and prevent bad word of mouth about the appearance or cleanliness of the school’s buildings.

With the proper chemistry, equipment and tools, your school can effectively remove numerous types of stains. For more information about carpet care the Whittaker way, access our video tutorials, articles and case studies, or contact us at 800.422.7686 or

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