Spots That Return in Carpet


Carpet spots can re appear after carpet is cleaned. There are several reasons for this.

1. The “sticky” spot was never fully removed. The dark soil, attached to the sticky material was removed. The remaining sticky material attracts more soil to it, making it a “returning spot.”

A common cause of this is duct tape that can leave glue, on the fiber, after being removed. Duct tape glue responds well to volatile solvent (or your favorite spotterJ) and agitation.

2. The spot was missed. It is mistakenly included as one of the spots that  return, but, really, was never, completely, removed.

3.  Spotting products, not completely rinsed, that leave soil attracting  residue. This can be called "returning carpet spots”, even though it’s new.

4.  “Wick-back” or “wicking” of soil or staining material.

This happens when moisture travels or “wicks” up the fiber, carrying the staining material with it.

A fiber that has serious problems with soil wicking is olefin. Since it absorbs 1/10th of 1% its weight in moisture, it’s practically non absorbent. When something is spilled on it, the spilled material isn’t absorbed into the fiber, like it would be on nylon or wool. Some of the spilled material can be on the tips of the fiber, while often, if it’s a liquid spill, another portion will run down the, non absorbent fiber, to the bottom.

The non absorbent olefin may have had the stain wiped off, the surface. The stain can, also, wear off from the friction of walking. Now we have a stain, (or spot) that used to be, visible, on the surface that is now a “sub surface” stain or spot. During cleaning, the staining material can ride “up” the fiber with moisture that was added during cleaning and become carpet spots.

Some ways to fight carpet spots that return


a)  Remove spills immediately. A good method for removing fresh liquid spills is stand on a towel to absorb the staining material, then pour water into the spot and stand on a dry part of the towel, again.

b)  Vacuum often. The solid material that works its way down to the base of the fiber is, at one point, laying on the surface waiting to be vacuumed up.Good vacuuming can help a carpet last years longer.


Carpet Cleaner

a)  Vacuum thoroughly, before cleaning. The idea is to remove as much material as possible, that could become soil “wicking” up the fiber. 

For olefin:

b)  Use less pre spray than on a nylon or wool. The fiber won’t absorb  it, so not as much is required.

c)  Turn down the water pressure of your cleaning equipment. Do not drive  the soiling material into the backing. All soil mevement should be "up" not down.

d)  Treat, immediately after cleaning, with an anti wicking product, that helps prevent soil and staining material, from coming to the top of the  fiber. (Bridgepoint EncapuGuard or CTI ARA is very affective)



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                    Dennis Klager

                    IICRC Instructor



Copyright 2012 by Dennis Klager