The Triton


Stew Cues: Mistakes in carpet care drive owners crazy


Stew Cues: by Alene Kennan

The interior spaces of yachts are designed to be as comfortable as an owner’s or guest’s home. The furniture, textiles and materials chosen for the flooring define the space and enhance the overall elegance of the vessel. Whether marble, stone, tile, wood or carpet is chosen, proper care is essential.

Carpet is a popular choice for flooring in interior guest areas, including salons, staterooms, hallways, stairways, foyers and crew areas. In addition to providing a design focus for the interior, it provides a safe nonslip surface and helps to improve air quality inside by absorbing airborne dust and pollutants. Carpet also helps reduce engine noise, rather than enhance it like hard flooring.

Proper cleaning, care, and preventive maintenance are the key to prolonging the life of carpet onboard. Carpets may be very luxurious and improper treatment could result in costly damage. In some cases, treating stains and spills has never been easier. Even expensive wools and delicate silks are often blended with nylon and treated for stain resistance to add strength and protection.

Shannon Kelleher of Ronnie’s Custom Carpet Cleaning shared some tips on handling the most common damage-causing mistakes he sees on yachts.

Whether carpet is stain-resistant or not, the key to properly treating spills is to act quickly and follow two simple steps. First, absorb the spill. Blot it with a dry, white absorbent cloth or plain white paper towel to avoid transferring ink or dye to the carpet. Semi-solids, such as food, may need to be scooped up with a spoon. Continue blotting until the area is barely damp. To avoid fraying and texture damage, do not scrub or use a brush.

Next, treat the stain or spot. Shannon recommends plain water to dilute the stain, continuing to blot up what is coming out. Use a clean wet-vac to draw out liquid. Using commercial cleaners incorrectly is a common mistake, as these may cause damage to fibers and dyes. Follow package directions carefully and always pretest in an inconspicuous spot for color-fastness.

Another source of damage is adhesive carpet-protection film, or mask, used to provide temporary protection during delivery or construction. It may not be safe to use on wool or other natural fibers at all, but in general, if it is left on too long, sits in direct sunlight, or if the vessel goes without air conditioning for any length of time, the adhesive can transfer to the carpet. The colorless adhesive may be unnoticeable, but feel sticky to the touch. Over time it collects soil and spots will appear. The key is to carefully follow all manufacturer’s instructions and know the maximum amount of time that is safe for the carpet. Removing adhesive can be costly and damaging.

Failure to pull up carpet and padding that has been flooded is another source of damage. Of course, any flooding containing sewage from black water creates a major health risk, and carpet and padding should be discarded. Carpet padding absorbs like a sponge and creates the perfect environment for mold, which grows quickly and destroys carpet  as well as air quality. Mold can lead to serious respiratory and other health problems. Proper cleaning and disinfecting may be needed.

Finally, scented carpet powders can damage the backing and padding of the carpet, and they also cause significant damage to our beloved vacuum cleaners. The fine powder builds up inside, especially in bagless type vacuums. Air flow is restricted and can damage the motor. The engineer and the captain are not going to be happy about replacing the vacuum. Again.

Follow manufacturer’s instructions and develop a relationship with a professional cleaning team to care for upholstery and draperies as well as carpet. A clean yacht is a happy yacht! And the owners will be too.

Alene Keenan is former lead instructor of interior courses at Maritime Professional Training in Fort Lauderdale. She shares more than 20 years experience as a stew in her book, “The Yacht Guru’s Bible: The Service Manual for Every Yacht,” available at Comments are welcome below.

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