Spots vs. Stains


Have you ever noticed that some spills can be cleaned from your carpet really easily, while some stick around no matter how much you scrub? How people say that wine stains immediately but apple juice barely gets mentioned? That’s because there’s a big difference between spots and stains, and I’m here to explain the difference and help you clean both.

First off, spots and stains are basically two completely different things, even if they look the same. Spots are easy, that’s when you get gunk on top of a carpet fiber and it just sits there like an old dog on a comfy couch. Stains actually get inside the carpet fibers and take up residence, and are much more difficult to clean, if they can be removed at all. So what causes a stain as opposed to a spot? And how do I clean them? Glad you asked.

Stains are caused by three things in concert; heat, acidity, and time. Carpet fibers are hollow, and contain small molecules that block the pores in the fibers and prevent stains from getting inside that chute. The hotter a material, the easier it is to get rid of that stain resistance. The more acidic the spill, the easier it is. And if a spill is given the time it needs to dissolve that stain resistance, good luck getting it out. This means that if something is hot, like soup, acidic, like wine, or sits a while, like that spill you didn’t realize was there or thought “Oh, I’ll get it after this episode of Law and Order” and never get around to it, it’s more likely to stain. If it’s a combination of these, like a hot cup of strong coffee that gets dropped before you’re awake enough to deal with it, then you’ve got a problem.

The first step in cleaning a liquid spill is getting up as much of it as you possibly can with a dry rag. After that’s done, take another dry rag and place it on top, weigh it down with something, and leave it for 12-24 hours. This should let most of the wetness wick up into the towel, and out of your carpet. If there’s stain remaining, check out your stain treatment detergents and apply as listed on the labels. This is very important, read the label! Some of these chemicals can bleach your carpet if used improperly, and almost all of them leave a residue you need to rinse off. If the stain is very stubborn you can use an iron on top of a wet cloth, but be very careful with this as it can melt your carpet.

Spots are easy, just take some spot removal, apply to a rag, then lightly blot off the spot. Don’t scrub too hard, and don’t push down. Just lightly swipe and agitate the carpet, then wipe clean with a wet rag afterwards.

Andrew Mongeau
Field Manager
InstaDry Carpet and Tile Cleaning

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