What are Enzymes?
Enzymes are catalysts, simply put, they speed up reactions that would otherwise require very specific and unobtainable conditions to occur. Enzymes are present in every living creature. They are capable of performing essential functions like the conversion of food into energy. They also create new cells in the body. As carpet cleaning technologies have advanced, we have understood how to use these enzymes to help break down spots and stains. Although the name may point towards the usage of bacteria to break down the stains, in actuality there are no bacteria in the sprays, rather the enzymes supplement the bacteria that are found in the stains, these bacteria can then work faster to breakdown the stains.
How do Enzymes work?
Each type of stain can be tackled by a specific or a combination of enzymatic cleaners. If you are using a single enzyme cleaner, it must be used with the correct type of stain. Once applied to the stained area, the enzymes can help increase the available surface area of the stain by breaking down the molecule into smaller sub-molecules increasing the rate of breakdown. Second, the enzymes speed up all of the chemical reactions from the break down to consumption to waste product so that it is more effective. Enzymes can also have other ingredients such as a surfactant, this helps the oil dissolve in water and increase its bioavailability to the bacteria.
What types of enzymatic cleaners are used?
There are amylases, lipases, and proteases. Amylases are ideal to break down starch that is commonly found in food stains. Another category is lipases, these are developed to target oil and grease stains. These are the best option to tackle any greasy stain in your carpet and generally work better than homemade remedies and are generally safe to use on carpets. Another type of enzyme cleaner you should know about is proteases. This cleaner target protein, usually found in blood, faeces, food debris and vomit. This cleaner is especially popular amongst owners of pets as even the most well-trained pet may have the occasional accident on the carpet.
Each of these categories of enzyme cleaners can either be in powder form or liquid form. Knowing these classifications, you can then go on to decide the exact type you need at any given time. For most people, especially pet owners, a multi-enzyme cleaner is the most cost-effective solution. They prevent you from having to guess the nature of the stain especially when one stain can need multiple agents, the sole drawback is that a multi-enzyme cleaner will generally be slower and less effective than specific cleaners. However, spraying slightly more cleaning agents and waiting slightly longer before absorbing the cleaning solution out of the carpet should resolve most stains.
Why use cleaning enzymes?
One significant benefit of enzymatic cleaners is their ability to neutralise foul smells that arise from organic stains.
Pet odours and stains are relatively hard to tackle and many off the shelf chemical cleaners attempt to mask the smell with chemical fragrances. These fragrances are not only potentially harmful but also ineffective against pet odour or stains. The chemical fragrances can also blend with the pet odours and end up smelling worse than before.
Enzymatic cleaners target the odour directly, breaking down the molecules that cause the smell. While some enzyme-based cleaners do contain some fragrance, the heavy-lifting (that is neutralizing) is usually still done by the enzyme. Once the enzyme has broken down the stain it is highly unlikely that there will be any smell in your carpet even after prolonged periods. A benefit of this would be that your pets will not be able to scent mark the carpet and return to soil it again.
Are enzymatic cleaners safe?
Enzymatic cleaners are extremely safe to use in almost all conditions. Most scientific research has pointed towards enzymatic cleaners having excellent safety profile, with limited ability to cause severe reactions from their use. However, as with any cleaning product, it is best to ensure good ventilation and prevent prolonged exposure to skin in its concentrated form, this is especially true if you have sensitive skin.
Pets should be kept away from the cleaning site until the entire cleaning procedure is complete and the carpet is clean. If you’re using a spray bottle, the aerosol from the spray could reach its respiratory system. Once cleaning is complete, the carpet should be extremely safe for your pets or children to use.
How To Use Enzyme Cleaners?
As with any other cleaner, there are steps involved in cleaning with enzymatic cleaners to ensure you get the best possible results.
Removal of solid debris
Remove as much of the solid debris as possible. Dried food, congealed oils, vomit all should be removed as far as possible. Be careful not to rub the stain deeper into the carpet, remove the solids in a scooping motion rather than by rubbing it out.
Applying the cleaning agent
Depending on the instructions that are supplied with the solution you may have to leave the enzyme cleaner on the stain for some minutes. This generally ranges from 10-15 minutes, but you may want to extend the duration depending on the severity of the stain. The longer the time of action the greater the effect of the cleaner.
Some enzymatic cleaners will specify that they should be left on the stain until dry and some will need to be removed after application, follow the instructions supplied with your cleaner.
Final Cleaning Notes
It should be stated that some stains may be especially hard to clean and even though your cleaner may not have cleaned the stain satisfactorily, you should not give up on your carpet. A dried, older stain may be able to be removed but it may take a lot more effort and repeated applications of the cleaner. It may take days or even weeks to see any progress with these types of stains. The earlier that you catch a mess, the less likely it will become a stain that is difficult to handle.
If you feel overwhelmed when trying to clean your carpet of its stains or find that the cleaners you have are ineffective, speak to a carpet cleaning specialist such as Big Red Pte Ltd. Our carpet cleaning professionals will be able to advise you on how to remove stains.