Over on the How to Clean Stuff blog, we ran across a post about how to clean milk and cereal from carpet. While we enjoy this blog very much and agree with a lot of what they recommend regarding how to clean stuff, we did want to add our two cents with regards to how to clean milk and cereal from carpet.
After removing the visible cereal from the carpet by hand, so as not to grind it into the carpet when attempting to remove and clean the milk from the carpet, How to Clean Stuff recommends “sponging the area thoroughly with soda water.” We understand wanting to dilute the milk that is on the carpet, as leftover milk can most certainly spoil and leave bacteria, but soaking the floor with water can make matters worse. The liquid can get caught in the foundation of the rug, and that can end up taking a long time to evaporate on its own. In the interim, bacteria, mold, and mildew can form—especially when you have a liquid such as milk, which can easily turn rancid.
Then they recommend using an enzyme carpet cleaner such as the one you’d use for pet accidents, like Nature’s Miracle. If you don’t have Nature’s Miracle, they even recommend using dish soap or shaving cream.
We do not recommend using dish soap or shaving cream. Have you ever gotten shaving cream on your shirt? Not a good look.
That said, their reasoning is not with bad intention. Nature’s Miracle, dish soap, and shaving cream are all forms of soap nonetheless, and their thinking is that the surfactant that is inherent in the soap solutions will work to grab hold of the particulates that are on the carpet as a result of the spill or stain.
And they are on the right track… But there’s one problem:
How do they propose to lift the soap from the carpet? In other words, they are missing a crucial step: Extraction.
A professional cleaner, using a steam extraction process, will inject a measured amount of hot water into the carpet, quickly extracting that along with any transient liquid such as milk, soil, etc. A good cleaner will then introduce a powerful, high-velocity air mover to dry the rug quickly. This combination of flushing with hot water, thorough extraction of all liquid, and rapid drying will greatly reduce any risk of bacteria, mold, or mildew being left behind.
If you have a spill or stain, and you want to remove it from your carpet properly, remember to make sure that not only do you do what is necessary to clean the area initially, but you also extract the moisture. When in doubt, have your carpets or rugs professionally cleaned.