Rug Doctoring Carpets Need TSP

Reading time: 630 words, 2 to 3 minutes

Long ago I discovered the best way to clean carpets is with a Rug Doctor® because its vibrating brush cleans deep down into the pile. When I first started using a Rug Doctor® I thought there was a bag of dirt inside because it kept producing filthy brown water five or six times, especially on high traffic areas before finally lightening up.

My carpets used to be a light peach but they’ve been cleaned so often over the years they’re almost white. Since light colored carpets reveal dirt, I’ve developed a bit of an obsession keeping them clean so every four or five years I’ll rent a Rug Doctor®. How does a light colored carpet last that long between cleaning? To paraphrase Zorba the Greek, no wife, no kids, no pets, no catastrophes. If I were burdened with such, I’d have switched to hardwood floors long ago.

Anyway, it’s a day and a half job. Half a day removing furniture, vacuuming and almost a full day cleaning by the end of which I’m tired, sore, stiff and swearing I’ll never do this again. After a few years I’ve conveniently forgotten my vows and I do it all again.

So, is there a point to all this? There is indeed. I still had half a bottle of cleaning solution from 2007 which did an excellent job. However, as soon as I started using new cleaning solution, the results were terrible. The old bottle contained Sodium Tripolyphosphate (i.e. phosphates). The new stuff doesn’t. Then I remembered the TSP (trisodium phosphate) that I add to my laundry soap. See my article Better Laundry So, I added a tablespoon of TSP to the Rug Doctor® cleaning solution. It greatly increased its cleaning power.

Couple more tips:

A) After shampooing the carpet, I always rinse with cold clear water using the Rug Doctor®. I’m amazed at how filthy the rinse water is. Some liquid cleaning solutions claim to have stain repellent that “protects every time you clean”. Don’t believe it! Soap residue attracts and holds dirt. With proper rinsing, my almost-white carpets last four to five years.

B) I try to pick a dry, preferably windy summer day so I can open windows to speed up drying. I also position fans to keep air circulating. Five or six passes plus one rinse means the carpet is very wet and will need to be dried thoroughly and as soon as possible to avoid damage to the carpet backing and the floor beneath. Don’t be surprised if the wet carpet develops bumps and wrinkles. These will disappear as the carpet dries and tightens.

Enviro-note: phosphates were phased out of detergent and cleaning solutions because phosphates are a form of fertilizer. Excess phosphate run-off causes algae blooms which deprive fish of oxygen and, in the past, sometimes caused large fish kills. Fact: 99% of phosphate in waterways is cause by farm fertilizer and animal manure run-off. Only 1% of run-off phosphate was caused by detergent.

Our lords & masters for whom insanity would be a charitable description have banned phosphates from detergent (1%) thereby dooming us to grungy clothes and they’ve done nothing about farm phosphate (99%). To make matters even more insane, the detergent phosphate ban has spawned an entire new industry producing stain removers, laundry additives, pretreatment, etc. etc. which simply extract money from your pocket. So don’t feel guilty using a tiny bit of phosphate.

Incidentally, in 2007 the bottle of cleaner was 3.6 liters. Today you get only 2.84 L but that’s another story about our economic decline.

Laundry note: in the Better Laundry I recommend a quarter cup of TSP for laundry. I have since found that only about a level tablespoon is required unless laundry is heavily soiled.

If you have any ideas or suggestions to add to this, feel free to leave a comment.

July 2, 2012

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About gerold

I have a bit of financial experience having invested in stocks in the 1960s & 70s, commodities in the 80s & commercial real estate in the 90s (I sold in 2005.) I'm back in stocks. I am appalled at our rapidly deteriorating global condition so I've written articles for family, friends & colleagues since 2007; warning them and doing my best to explain what's happening, what we can expect in the future and what you can do to prepare and mitigate the worst of the economic, social, political and nuclear fallout. As a public service in 2010 I decided to create a blog accessible to a larger number of people because I believe that knowledge not shared is wasted.
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6 Responses to Rug Doctoring Carpets Need TSP

  1. Wanda Warriner says:

    So, does this mean it’s safe to use TSP in my Bissell home rug shampooer? What about the warnings of using it on metal? Will it damage the metal in the shampooer?

  2. The chemist says:

    TSP is merely trisodium phosphate, mixing this with water produces the most alkaline version of phosphoric acid. Adding vinegar or lemon juice merely protonates the phosphate ion producing a less basic solution, In short don’t add acid only because your cleaning power would decrease.

  3. dott says:

    TSP may make a comeback in household cleaners and I hope it does! Reason? Not even BLEACH is as effective as eliminating the dreaded NOROVIRUS on surfaces as good old TSP! However, you are correct in that a very, very little does a excellent job of boosting your clean. It is a VERY strong degummifier/degreaser, and VERY alkaline as well. Shouldn’t be poured into vinegar or lemon juice or other acidic cleaners. You may find yourself in serious eruption territory if you do.

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