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Why Do Carpet Stains Re-Appear After Cleaning? - Power Pup Clean
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Why Do Carpet Stains Re-Appear After Cleaning?

Home / Stain Removal / Why Do Carpet Stains Re-Appear After Cleaning?

Why Do Carpet Stains Re-Appear After Cleaning?

carpet stain removal

Have you ever had a carpet stain that just kept reappearing? No matter how many times you personally cleaned it or professionally cleaned it, it just kept coming back. There are some stains that can be remarkably persistent, no matter how the stain itself is treated. When battling these stains, it’s usually best to find a professional that will keep working with you to make sure the stains are defeated.

Why Do Stains Come Back?

When a stain comes back, it’s usually referred to as “wicking” or “wicking back.” Frequently, stains soak all the way into the padding of the carpet and saturate the carpet itself. If you’ve cleaned your carpeting on your own, it’s likely that you’ve only cleaned the very surface of the stain. Even professional treatments may not be able to get all of the stain out at once, especially if the stain was caused by something that stains very easily, such as red wine.

If the carpeting gets wet again, the stain will be released from the back of the carpeting or from the carpet padding. A dry stain isn’t going to re-stain your carpet — but even a little moisture could get the stain traveling upwards. The stain then travels up the carpet fibers and eventually emerges again. It’s very difficult to get all of a stain. Carpets can re-stain suddenly or overnight simply because of the moisture in the air. Carpets may also appear to re-stain when something else is spilled on them; for instance, a red wine stain could re-emerge after a spilled cup of water. This also helps explain why wet carpet cleaning methods (steam cleaners) have a much higher prevalence of wicking when compared to low moisture carpet cleaning methods.

carpet wick back

How Can You Permanently Get Rid of Stains?

Professionals have many methods to help prevent wicking and to also help extract stains. A professional carpet cleaning company can use something that is known as an “encapsulate carpet protector,” which is designed to prevent the individual strands of the carpeting from wicking up the stain again. Thus, even if the stain is still somewhere within the carpeting itself, the stain will not be able to come back once the carpet is wet again.

While some stubborn stains simply cannot be removed even by a professional, the best way to workaround the wick back of stains is to make sure your professional carpet cleaner uses a very low moisture (VLM) carpet cleaning method, which is a newer and more effective cleaning technology than those used by traditional steam cleaners. Low moisture methods only wet the carpet moderately, and because the carpet is not soaked with water, no capillary action is possible.  In addition to using a low moisture carpet cleaning method, drying the carpet quickly once cleaned and keeping the carpet dry is another very effective way to reduce wicking. Many professional companies have extraction equipment and fans that are designed to quickly dry carpeting. Not only does this help prevent against additional staining, but it also reduces the chances that the carpeting may suffer from  mold, mildew, or an otherwise musty smell.


At Power Pup Clean, we only use a very low moisture carpet cleaning method, encapsulation cleaning, and a proprietary, bio-active enzyme solution that is designed to break down the stain itself. We additionally offer specialized services that are designed to protect against pet odors and staining — which are the most difficult types of stain to remove and the types of stain that are most likely to “wick back.” Best of all, we guarantee your satisfaction. If your stains keep coming back, so will we — we’ll treat your stain again at no charge to you if it reappears within 7 days. We have the professional expertise to treat your stains effectively (and without damaging your carpet), and we know how to get rid of even the toughest of staining. Book an appointment with us today and see why we are Seattle’s stain removal experts!

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Showing 2 comments
  • Helen

    This is a perfect explanation for why it is important to clean your carpets regularly. We found some horribly rotten plant water on our porch, and my roommate brought it through the house to get rid of it. The problem is she spilled it all over the carpet and even our couches. It reeked. Badly. She just left for work, and I got out the spot carpet cleaner and scrubbed for 2 hours. I managed to get the smell out, but the hot water and carpet cleaner left a giant stain on the carpet, which didn’t disappear until our landlord brought in the semi-annual carpet cleaning.

  • Jon Lopez

    I honestly never knew that carpet could wick. Sound some kind of candle to me. My kids have been making a huge mess and the carpet has been really punished by them. It would be nice to get my carpet sealed so I would not have to worry about it wicking.

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