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Why Does This Carpet Stain Keep Coming Back?

Posted Friday, March 15th, 2019

carpet spot keeps reappearing stain won't go away spot comes backWe all have that one area. That one spot in the carpet that’s always there. You know the one: a little discoloration, a splotch, a patch, just a little bit different from the rest of the floor. Maybe you’ve even tried to clean it, but, like a winter cold, you just can’t seem to shake it. That carpet stain keeps coming back no matter what you do.

What do you do with carpet spots that just won’t go away? After 4+ decades of cleaning experience, our expert Modtechs have identified the 3 main reasons carpet spots keep reappearing.

Spot vs Stain

There’s one thing we need to clarify first – the difference between a stain and a spot. Colloquially, they’re used interchangeably; we often refer to spots as stains and stains as spots in casual conversation, but did you know they have distinct definitions?
In the professional world of carpet cleaning, a spot is the substance of whatever is on your carpet: a food spot, coffee spot, a dirt spot. The material you can see on your carpet makes a spot, and spots are almost always removable.

A stain, however, is generally more permanent. When carpet gets stained, dyes from the substance (the spot) are transferred into the fibers, changing their color. Sometimes this can be reversed to a degree, but dye transference actively changes the coloring of the fibers – meaning the original color has been altered and makes it very unlikely it will be able to get back to its exact shade.

An easy way to remember the difference is to think about what each one adds:

  • A spot adds substance
  • A stain adds color

That’s why we don’t like to call something a stain unless we know for sure that the fibers have been dyed!

1: Betrayed by Over-The-Counter Products

The Problem: If you’ve used an over-the-counter spot cleaner, chances are it worked pretty well – at first, anyway. Many carpet cleaning products available on grocery store shelves contain some kind of soap, which, in theory, sounds like it should be a good thing for your carpet spots.
Unfortunately, the residue that soap-based products leave behind actually ends up collecting more dirt over time! Areas cleaned with soap will inevitably attract new dirt and soil at a much faster rate than the surrounding carpet – which makes it look like the spot is coming back! In reality, it’s a new spot created by soap residue. Gross!
Why does cleaning carpet with soap end up attracting more dirt? Not to get too technical, but soap is made up of molecules that are both hydrophobic (attracts oils) and hydrophilic (attracts water). Having these seemingly opposite molecules is why soap mixes so well with both oil and water, making it very easy to draw up soil (and other substances) from your carpet. Unfortunately, its oil-attracting properties means any leftover residue is going to continue to attract oil, dirt, grease, and other particulate – meaning it gets dirtier faster in that area. Not cool, over-the-counter carpet cleaner!

The Solution: Don’t use over-the-counter carpet cleaning products! They almost always cause more problems down the line. Instead, check out our handy stain solution guide for common household spots. All natural beats all chemical any day!

2: Wickback Effect: Spots Deep in Padding

The Problem: Another common reason for reappearing carpet spots is what we call the wickback effect. We see this a lot in spots with a LOT of substance – large liquid spills and large dog pet spots especially. What happens is that the liquid will soak through the fibers, through the jute backing, and into the padding beneath the carpet.
Since carpet padding is so absorbent, the spot that you can see on the surface of the carpet, much like an iceberg, may be several times larger down in the padding. After a cleaning, as the carpet dries, it wicks up the spot liquid from the saturated padding into the dry carpet, drawing up the substance and making the spot reappear on the surface (sometimes even larger than the original spot!).

The Solution: Prevention! Blot up large liquid spills as soon as possible before they have a chance to soak into the padding. 3M Scotchgard is a fantastic way to help your carpet fibers repel liquid and give you more time to clean up after a spill. If the spill already happened and the pad is saturated: Have a professional deal with it! A truck-mounted hot water extraction machine and an expert Modtech have the power and knowledge to deal with deep-down spots!  

3: Fido’s Got a Favorite Area

The Problem: One of the most obvious reasons a carpet spot keeps reappearing is also one of the most frustrating: your pet has chosen a particular area in which to “do its business”. Even though you clean up the mess each and every time (and you can’t see it anymore), your pet continues to go back to the same area. Not fun!

The Solution: The problem is smell. The odor remains, leading Fido to go in the same area time and time again. You need to get rid of the smell! Fortunately, we have a variety of pet-specific odor neutralizers that will dissuade pets from using the same area – and leave your home smelling great again.

Modernistic has been permanently removing carpet spots in Michigan since 1973! When it comes to problem spots you just can’t seem to get rid of, trust the carpet cleaning experts! Call or click today.

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