What do you do when carpet spots come back?
So you've spilled something on that beautiful carpet, and now it's stained. You clean it thoroughly, and the stain disappears, all is well again. Except in a few days, you notice yet another spot, the stain has returned! How could this have happened? Stains don't usually reappear, especially not after the scrubbing you gave it. The truth is, stains can come back to life due to soiling or wicking. So what are these, and how do we treat them?
Soiling is what happens when residues from the carpet cleaner work their way into the fibers of your carpet. As strange as it sounds, removing one stain can often leave another. Any carpet that isn't rinsed well enough will ultimately attract dirt and soil in the same area as the original stain, leaving what looks like the same spot you just cleaned.
The second cause of stains making a comeback is known as wicking. Wicking is simply when the spilled substance has made its' way into the backing of the carpet or the under pad in some instances. Cleaning the stain only treats the surface of the carpet. More often than not, the stain is still present in the backing, which can then be reabsorbed onto the carpet's surface. The fiber strands act much like a candle's wick, giving the stain a way to travel back to the surface, which gives wicking its name.
Wicking is most common when the carpet is wet, say you are steam cleaning your carpet. Most of the steam cleaning units are not strong enough to completely dry the carpet, and wet fibers cause wicking.
Proper Prevention for Carpet Stains and Spots
Be certain that all spills are cleaned up as soon as they occur. The longer you wait, the more the substance will seep into the carpet. Place some paper towels or even a bath towel over the spot and ensure that it is weighed down, this will help the carpet dry faster. For better results, consider adding some plastic wrap between the towel and weight, this helps absorb any additional moisture. Fans can also help your carpet dry faster and prevent wicking.
Of course, you can always opt to have your carpet treated professionally. The majority of cleaners have the equipment necessary to clean and properly dry your carpet.
Removing Stains Permanently
What's the best remedy for keeping that stain gone? It all varies depending on how much you've spilled and what caused the stain to come back. There are different methods for wicking and soiling.
Treatment for Soiling
If soiling is to blame for the stain making a comeback, put a bit of lukewarm water on the stain spot. Use as much as you need, bigger stains will require more water. But make sure to never use more than one-fourth of a cup. It is important that you are just treating the stain and not soaking the under padding of the carpet. Water will help clean the fibers of the residue.
And of course, dry as much as you can! Using the instructions mentioned above; add paper or cloth towels with weight and leave them to dry, preferably overnight. If you have fans, use them. The last thing anyone wants is a stained carpet and mold because of moisture!
If you think the spot came back, and it wasn't because of residue, it's safe to say that wicking is the culprit. Treat the spot like any other stain, and then add the stacks of towels and weights. Give it around a day, and be sure to properly dry the area after wards.
If the stain is still there after this, or if the spill area is quite large, your next safest option is to have your carpet professionally cleaned with hot water extraction. Always find a carpet cleaner that is well reviewed, and look for companies that have a truck-mounted unit, as these are often stronger than the portable cleaning equipment.
Powerful Methods for the Toughest Carpet Stains
If you are still having trouble, it's time to use stronger methods. We recommend pulling the carpet back so the pad and sub-floor can dry. If your spill occurred near the wall, this isn't all that necessary. However, most spills happen towards the center of the room, and can be major issues for carpeting and sub-floors. This is an adequate method for any middle of the room spills.
Once you've allowed everything to dry (carpet, sub-floor and carpet pad), it is time to have the carpet reinstalled. If you had to remove most of your carpet from the floor, it's recommended to have a professional carpet installer put your carpet back. Carpets can be tricky to install and need to be re-stretched. Once the carpet is finally back, feel free to treat the stain as normal.