Why Do Some Spots Reappear?

You just had your carpets cleaned.  You commend the cleaner for how great your carpets look after cleaning, and when you wake up the next morning you notice a spot, and swear it wasn’t there before.  What happened?  Did my carpet cleaner do a bad job?  Did he miss a spot?  Chances are that’s not actually the case.

The phenomenon is called “wick back”, and it’s not an indication of poor work.  What’s happening then?  When your carpet is cleaned, the fibers of the carpet are being cleaned.  Most spills and stains are relatively small, and within the carpet fibers.  These spots can normally be easily removed by a professional.   Larger spills, like beverages and urine, can be a bit trickier to handle.  When enough liquid is present, it can seep down beyond the carpet fibers, into the backing of the carpet, the pad, and eventually the subfloor.  The liquid then dries into your carpet padding and possibly the subfloor beneath.

So, your carpet has been cleaned.  It looks great.  The spot is gone because the carpet fibers are clean.  But now, the liquid that was lurking below has become damp again through normal cleaning.  As the moisture evaporates, it can begin to pull some of that material back from the padding, right back up into the carpet fibers where you can see it, and the spot reappears.  There’s really no way of knowing until the carpet dries if this is going to occur, as the cleaner has no way of knowing how much liquid may have been involved, or how far it was able to seep.

What can be done?  When you have a spill, always immediately soak as much liquid up as possible.  Use a dry towel, and apply pressure and blot until you cannot remove any more liquid.  If you have a shop vac, vacuum as much moisture as possible, and then blot with a towel.  The faster you do this, the less likely the liquid will get beyond the carpet fibers, and the more likely the cleaner will be able to remove it entirely.

If you’ve had your carpets professionally cleaned, and wick back occurs, a reputable carpet cleaning company will normally re clean the spot at no additional charge.  The second time over will normally take care of the wick back, as the stain has moved back to the surface and is within the carpet fibers.

So next time a stain seems to appear out of nowhere right after your carpet is cleaned, it may not have been a poor job- wick back may be the culprit.

When you have your carpets cleaned by Al’s, you receive a free bottle of spotter as a gift from us.  Normally, this spotter will clear any wick back that may have occurred easily and conveniently, but if not- Al’s will always come back and re-clean the spot at no additional charge.

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