The Mystery of the Reappearing Carpet Stain

As careful as you might be, sometimes spills on carpets just happen. From food and drink to anything else anyone in your home might get into, almost any substance spilled can cause a stain. Thankfully, though, you caught the spill early and you were able to clean it up without too much damage until a few days later you realize the stain has come back and now there’s a very obvious mark on the carpet. If you’re wondering why a stain keeps coming back when you’ve scrubbed and cleaned it multiple times, here’s some more information on the mystery of the reappearing carpet stain!

Types of Stains

If you’ve noticed there’s a stain reappearing a day or two after you’ve scrubbed and cleaned up then chances are it’s one of two kinds of stains: soiling or wicking.


This kind of stain happens when there’s residue left behind on the carper fibers from the cleaner used to remove the initial stain. If the cleaner isn’t completely rinsed and blotted out from the carpet then it will become sticky, attracting dirt and debris to the area. This makes it look like the initial stain has returned, even though it’s not exactly the same stain.


The other kind of reappearing stain type is known as wicking, and this happens when the substance that has been spilled on the carpet soaks through to the under pad, or backing, of the carpet. This happens because when you clean up a spill on a carpet, you’re cleaning the surface of the carpet but not the backing of it. If the spill soaks through, there isn’t really anywhere for the substance to escape to so it will essentially be reabsorbed into the carpet. Eventually it will make its way back through the fibers of the carpet, and reach the surface again making it look like the stain is still there.

Wicking is very common when using water, like a steam cleaner, to clean your carpets. This happens because often times the units used to clean the carpet are not powerful enough to completely remove all of the water from the carpet fibers, so water containing dirt or other debris causing the staining will be reabsorbed into the carpet as it dries.

How to Prevent Reappearing Stains

There are a couple ways to prevent reappearing stains on your carpet, and making sure your floors look brand new at all times. The first suggestion is to make sure you clean up spills as soon as possible – if the spill doesn’t have time to absorb into the carpet completely then the chances of permanent staining is minimal.

After you clean up the spill, place a stack of white, dry paper towels over the spill area and then something heavy overtop of them – like books. The weight of something heavy will cause the paper towels to absorb any left over moisture and draw it out of the carpet so that the chance of permanent staining is minimized.

If you notice that the stain just keeps coming back even though you’ve tried your best to remove it, hiring a professional carpet cleaner may be your best option to get your carpet looking brand new again.

Up next – Home cleaning tips for fall and winter