Why do my carpets get dirty again / spots re-appear soon after cleaning?

Have you ever cleaned a spot on your carpet and had it return?
Have you had your carpet cleaned and had the spots just “come right back”? Why does that happen?

There are two reasons that spots return:

The first reason is wicking. Many times, the spot that is being removed has seeped into the backing of the carpet. This is common with pet urine, beverages, and anything that is spilled in “volume”. The material dries in the backing and the cushion (pad) of the carpet. When the spot is cleaned, only the material in the “pile” of the carpet is removed. However, moisture is introduced into the backing of the carpet. As the spot dries, the material that is in the backing of the carpet wicks back into the pile.

Consider this definition of wick:

Wick- Any piece of porous material that conveys liquid by capillary action; e.g. the wick on a candle, the wick in an oil lamp, the fibres in your carpet,
Even traffic area soil that is embedded can wick back. This is especially common in glue down carpet that is heavily impacted with soil. When the carpet is cleaned, it looks good. When it dries, the spots and traffic areas come back.

The good news is that if a spot actually wicks back, it can be removed. When spot cleaning, place a folded white terry cloth towel over the spot just after you clean it while the spot is still moist. Place a heavy object on top of the cloth.

When you have your carpet cleaned professionally, be sure to point out spots that have wicked back in the past, so they can be treated properly.

The second reason spots return is re-soiling. Re-soiling is caused by a sticky residue that has been left behind. The residue may be from the spot itself, the cleaner that was used, or both. Some common residue causes are over-the-counter carpet cleaners purchased at the grocery store. Avoid using these cleaners altogether. Call O’Shea’s to purchase a recommended stain removal kit or use fresh water with a small amount of wool mix in it.

Other residue causes include oily spots: duct tape residue, body oils, lotions,

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