How to Stain Guard Your Carpet

Nearly every member of my family is accident-prone. I can’t remember the last time we got through a meal or a project without someone saying “oops”. To make matters worse, we flip houses for a living. And no one wants to buy any place with patchwork-stained carpet. Consequently, I’ve applied more than my fair share of stain guards. Factory protected carpets have to be re-protected after two years. Replace spray-on stain guard once every year. If your carpet isn’t protected at all, apply a stain guard as soon as possible and stop playing Russian roulette with your spills.

Call the Manufacturer
When you move into existing carpet like I did, you don’t know a lot about it’s age or quality. If you can, ask the previous owners who installed the carpet and when it was done. If they remember the name, call the company and ask what kind of stain guard or protective finish is on the carpet.

There are two general kinds of carpet protectant: fluorochemical- and silicone-based. Both are great but they’re not really compatible. If you’re adding a new layer of finish to carpet that was factory protected, you want to stick with the same chemical. Look for stain guards at home improvement centers or carpet supply companies. If you can’t read the stain guard’s ingredients, call the manufacturer’s number on the bottle. If you don’t know what type of stain guard was used, stick with silicone. It’s more compatible than the fluorochemical stuff.

Carpet Cleaning
Stain guards create a durable layer of protection over the carpet fibers. This layer will trap dirt in as well as keep it off. Your carpet has to be spotless before you apply a stain guard. Twice-over vacuuming may cut it if the carpet is immaculate or new. Shampoo older carpet to remove hard-to-see dirt and smells before you seal them in forever.

Spray the Carpet
Once the research and clean-up is out of the way, applying the stain guard is easy. You simply spray it on with the spray nozzle that comes with the product. Move all of the furniture out of the room. Apply the stain guard to moisten the carpet fibers down to the carpet backing. Sweep the spray in parallel rows that slightly overlap. Read and follow all of the instructions on the container. Be sure to spray yourself out of the room so you don’t walk over any wet, treated carpet like I did. You’ll have to throw away the socks and re-treat the footprints.

Drying Time
I recommend taking everyone out of the house while the carpet dries. This usually takes around 12 hours, but read the label to be sure. If you can’t stay out all night, go for a movie and dinner and don’t come home until everyone’s too tired to ask “can I walk on the carpet yet?”. Place a fan at the edge of the room to keep the air circulating while you wait.

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