So you just cleaned the carpeting in your home and it looks great, only to find that after a week or so passes some of those larger spots that you thought were gone have come back to haunt you. But you got them out! (Or so you thought). This is a very common occurrence when it comes to spot cleaning carpet. Most people think that the spot “came back” or somehow mysteriously returned, but the fact of the matter is that many times the problem never really left. While you may have got the surface nice and clean, if the padding was contaminated then the problem is still lurking below the surface of the carpeting where you cant see. This problem is called “wicking”.
“Wicking occurs when you remove stains from carpet only on the surface. As a result, the liquid from the stain pools onto the backing or padding of the carpet. The liquid can work its way back up to the carpet fibers making the stain reappear a day or two after cleaning.” Source
So wicking happens when there is soil or contaminants trapped under the carpet in the padding. The moisture that is present in your carpet after cleaning can cause the soil to be carried up from the padding during the drying process to the tips of the carpet fibers. This is why the spot seems to “reappear”. This can even happen when there is humidity in the air. When then happens, it is an indication that the trouble spot is still there under the carpet, and will likely continue to cause trouble. So what can you do to prevent this from happening?
How to keep carpet stains from coming back
Friendly Cleaning Services is a company offering carpet cleaning in Kansas City. Owner Brian has dealt with problems like this and offers this tip: “After you have cleaned the spot thoroughly, place a clean folded towel over the area where the spot was and place a weight on it like a couple of books. That way when the soiling wicks to the surface of the carpet, it will continue wicking from the tips of the carpet fibers into the towel. This is usually enough to take carpet of your wicking problem.” Most people will have success with this method, but what if you still continue to have problems?
“If the problem continues to occur, then it may be time for more drastic measures: you may need to actually pull back your carpet to let the pad, and possibly sub-floor, dry out. This is not too bad if your spill happens to be near a wall; obviously it is a much bigger issue if your spill is in the middle of the room (which is, of course, where most spills happen!).
Once you are certain everything is dry, including the sub-floor if necessary, you can then reinstall your carpet. If you have had to pull up a large portion of your carpet, you may prefer to have a professional installer come to reinstall it for you, to ensure a proper re-stretch of the carpet. After the carpet is installed you can treat the stain again as you usually would.” Taken from the article The Cause of Reappearing Carpet Stains
Other Causes of Reappearing Spots
Returning spots aren’t always a wicking issue. Sometimes its the cleaning product used. Most spot and stain cleaners will leave a sticky residue in the carpet, which causes re-soiling. So the spot may be gone, but because there is a residue present in the carpet dirt is now attracted to that area. This causes that area to become dirty again, which may appear to be the original spot returning. The best way to prevent this is to avoid using off the shelf stain cleaners and using plain water in a damp cloth or towel to clean up spills. Another option is to hire a professional company to handle the stain. They usually have the equipment to clean the spot and rinse the area using fresh clean water.