Have you had the frustrating experience of the ‘recurring spot?’ Someone spills some food, the dog has an accident, or someone walks in with something on their feet. You go into action and work like crazy on the spot. Success! The spot is gone and you breathe a sigh of relief; the night continues. But, soon after, you notice that it is back! ‘What?’, you ask. So you work on it again, but, a little while longer and it’s back again! What’s going on? Let’s break it down so we can understand what we’re dealing with.
Where is the spot coming from?
I have had many people tell me in frustration that the recurring spot must be coming up from underneath, maybe even from the padding beneath the carpet. Is this the case?
Well, in most cases the answer is no. In order for the spot to travel , or ‘wick up’ it needs moisture. So unless there is moisture constantly present it’s unlikely that it is coming up from underneath. So in most cases it’s something in the carpet that is attracting soil. Before we go further you need to answer a question…
How long does it take for the spot to appear?
Don’t worry if you can’t remember exactly how many days or weeks it takes to reappear. It’s much simpler than that. If the spot appears during the drying process, when there is moisture present, that’s Type 1. If it takes weeks or even months to appear that’s Type 2.
If the spot appears quickly, during the drying process, this shows that it is either not completely cleaned or is a chemical reaction. Some things, like coffee, can go deep into the carpet when spilled and often take several tries to clean out. Every time you wet the carpet the wicking action goes into effect and draws more coffee to the surface to be cleaned. Many time, though, you get a chemical reaction, commonly called ‘browning’, that happens. This is a similar reaction to the one that happens when taking a bite out of an apple and seeing the meat of the apple turn brown as it dries. This is a very simple reaction to fix. Try misting some white vinegar on the area to neutralize the spot. Of course, we are also willing to help you out. We use citric acid which has a ‘magical’ effect making the spot vanish before your eyes.
When the spot takes weeks or months to come back, this takes more patience to get out. Something is in the carpet and is attracting dirt. Think back to the day the spot happened, the initial clean-up. What did you use? We’ve all done this: in a panic we go under our sink and grab the first cleaner we see and begin to work. Many times it’s dish soap, a highly concentrated cleaner. Many cleaners are not designed to be used on fabrics like carpet or they need to be rinsed out thoroughly. Honestly, often we are the causes of the recurring spot. What should be done? Use a diluted white vinegar solution (4:1 or even 8:1) and clean the spot. Try to blot it up as best as you can. The vinegar will break down the soap and rinse it out. It may take a few times but it will eventually come out.
Many blame carpet in general when these things happen. But, that’s not completely fair. When we understand what we’re dealing with we can spot like a pro.