As anyone who has spilled a drink on carpeting can tell you, carpet is tough to clean. Most buildings contain at least some amount of carpeting, which is why it is important to understand how to deal with spills, especially those involving biohazards like blood or other bodily fluids. Many of the procedures for cleaning up blood on carpet will be the same as any other area, but there are additional concerns that impact the cleaning process. Today, we begin a three part series to explain the options and impact of cleaning blood on carpet.
There are two important and interrelated questions to ask yourself: 1) how bad is the saturation, and 2) what are my risks? If there is enough blood or other fluid to cause pooling, the situation is considered serious; subflooring and other structural damage is possible. In these situations, whole or parts of the carpet may require removing; professional remediation is necessary. Don’t try to do this yourself. But if the spill is small (perhaps just a few drops or a smear), you may desire to do the job yourself. Bear in mind, however, that even a small amount of blood can lead to bacterial growth, odors and other problems down the road. Furthermore, blood can harbor serious health risks in the form of bloodborne pathogens.
Ultimately, it is up to you to determine if amount is significant, and what results you have in mind. If you intend to perform the cleanup yourself, there are a few things you can do to help minimize your risks.
- Always start by removing any dirt or debris. It is impossible to clean a stain if dirt or other detritus is present. Remove any solid waste first, and dispose of properly.
- Work Fast: Blood or other bodily fluids can harden and coagulate quickly on carpeting, making it harder to clean. Respond quickly, but make sure to follow safety precautions such as isolating the area (from people and pets) and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Use Designated Cleaning Products: Bleach and other decontamination products can damage or destroy carpet. The best way to clean these areas is to use manufacturer approved carpet shampoos and cleaners. Select a product with anti-microbial properties to help sanitize the area as thoroughly as possible. Repeat the process two or three times.
- Follow the Carpet Manufacturer’s Directions: Some types of carpet are designed to be more resistant to staining. That said, these may require special care in order to remain effective. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions, as alternative cleaning methods can damage the material and the stain resistant properties.
- Use Carpet Tiles: Removable carpet tiles are a great choice for areas that are heavily trafficked or used by the public. Carpet tiles are often cheaper than a traditional carpet, and if a certain area becomes soiled, they can be removed and replaced with ease.
- Use Caution with Steam Cleaning: Steam cleaners will clean and sanitize carpeting more completely than conventional washing. If you are going to clean a carpet yourself, this can be a good idea – but bear in mind that if you are renting a steam cleaner, you could be introducing other bacteria into the home. There is no way to tell if a steamer has been used for blood or other bio cleanup, and it is highly unlikely to be sanitized after use.
If the stain is large enough that you are considering steam cleaning, it may be more cost effective (not to mention safer) to hire a reputable biohazard remediation company to thoroughly disinfect the space. What’s more: many insurance companies will cover all or part of the cost of a cleanup. Review your policy with your agent to be sure you are covered. Many companies that specialize in carpet cleaning are reluctant to clean biohazards, as doing so means they must sanitize their equipment before servicing other customers. In the event that you are covered for a clean up, a reputable biohazard cleaning company can work with you and your provider to make sure you get the service you need.
Stay tuned next week as we look at the various different scenarios that you might run into if you don’t properly disinfect an affected carpet.