carpet cleaning

Ink On The Carpet – What To Do About It

Ink on the carpet, is one of the most common problems found by carpet cleaners in most households and commercial establishments. Complete removal of ink from the carpet is often a major challenge, due to the great variety of ink types that may be present. However, spectacular cleaning results may be achieved if the nature of the problem is properly understood.

As everyone is aware, ink stains could get on the carpet from many different sources. Children are prone to spilling ink, or using crayons or markers on the carpet. Various kinds of ink cartridges or toners from inkjet or laser printers may fall onto the floor. Some crayons which have certain types of dyes, may also be placed in this category. Therein lies the problem.

There are generally four kinds of inks:

  • Powders
  • Pastes
  • Liquids
  • Emulsions.

Each category of ink is composed of several substances, including a pigment or dye which gives it the peculiar coloration; a binder or mordant to fix the ink to either synthetic or natural fibers; and various additives or carriers which impart specific properties to different types of the ink.

Besides this, ink may be made from natural or synthetic colorants or dyes. There is therefore a very wide variety of ink types, each with different properties and peculiarities. Fortunately for the carpet cleaner however, most ink pigments may be classified into three basic types:

  • Water Soluble
  • Solvent Soluble
  • Insoluble

Water soluble inks as the name suggests, are easily dissolved in water, and therefore are the easiest to clean up.

Solvent inks are mainly composed of volatile organic compounds with the color derived from pigments rather that dyes. Unlike most aqueous (water-soluble) inks, they are generally water proof.

Toner ink is composed of a wax or plastic powder with a low melting temperature. Specific types vary by manufacturer, but it can be a styrene, polyester resin or other special copolymer. Toner ink powder is usually cleaned up by vacuum, but since it has electrostatic properties, it should not be cleaned up with the typical home vacuum cleaner, as it could ignite dust. A special vacuum cleaner with an electrically conductive hose and a high efficiency filter should be used. Otherwise, a truck mounted carpet cleaning system is the answer.

Now, the main difficulty in cleaning ink derives from those special properties mentioned earlier.

When a volatile organic solvent is applied to the ink, the resin which binds the pigment or dye goes into a solution, which can then be extracted by blotting with a clean white towel. The problem here is that the stain will be left on the carpet and will spread.

The solution then, is to first find out if the stain is water-soluble. Test for color fastness in an inconspicuous place like inside a cupboard or behind a door. If the color disappears, continue to apply this solvent to the stain, blotting after each application. Repeat the process until the stain is all gone.

For solvent soluble stains, use an organic solvent with a similar procedure until the stain disappears.

If this doesn’t work, you will need to contract the services of a professional carpet cleaner.

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