Do you sometimes feel like your carpet is the starlet in a horror film? She has these horrible spots that just keep coming back, like a bad nightmare, no matter what you do. Everyday I provide  carpet cleaning in Portland, Oregon and often get calls from customers caught in a bad dream with their carpet. Recurring spots come from two basic sources:

  1. Residue—Soap attracts dirt. That sounds funny when I write it, but it does, and you want it to do so. You put it in the water for that purpose.  If you put in too much soap, it stays on the surface of the carpet long after you remove the water. And guess what it does? It continues to attract dirt long after your carpet has dried.  If you have recurring spots, they may be from soap residue left on your carpet from cleaning.
  2. Wicking—Carpet wicks water up and down its fibers through an action we call capillary action. Without capillary action life would not exist as we know it. Plants, people, and yes even carpets wick moisture using capillary action. Capillary action helps wet carpets dry. The water wicks from the padding and backing below through the carpet fibers to the surface of the carpet where it gets sucked up by our carpet machine or evaporates into the air. With clean water this capillary action works to our advantage. What happens if we have dirty water below? The fibers will wick that dirty water to the surface of the carpet long after you left the room. A few days later you will see a recurring spot.

You can see by the above text that recurring spots come from two different places. One comes from the surface of the carpet. The other comes from below. You have to treat the right symptom to cure your carpet’s spots.  Let’s start with the residue problem.

First, you can avoid the problem by following directions. Carpet cleaners know that you shouldn’t assume that more is better when it comes to soap. It would serve you better to go over the carpet with the right concentration of soap later rather than try to get all the dirt up in one pass. More soap doesn’t mean more cleaning. It means more residue.  Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox. Pun intended. To get rid or residue, you need to neutralize the extra. Vinegar works well in this regard. If you over soaped the carpet, you’ll need to add a cup of vinegar per gallon of warm water. Go over the whole carpet. You may have to do it a couple times. Let it dry between passes. Residue can come from other sources like oil or tape. See this link for Why Spots on Your Carpet Keep Coming Back.

In the second case of wicking, you have to attack the problem at the bottom of your carpet. You want to draw the dirt up to the surface. Mix a mild solution of soap and water. Spray the spot thoroughly. Let it sit a few minutes. Blot the area with a clean white rag or towel. Do it several times until you wick all the dirty water from the depths of your carpet. Neutralize with a weak solution of vinegar to avoid problem one.

Hope this information is helpful. Until next time Sean.