Understanding Why Carpets Stain and How to Remove Them

As a homeowner, you want to keep everything nice and tidy. But life happens. If you have kids or pets, messes will happen. If you host a party, your guests are bound to spill a glass of wine or drop some food on the floor. If you have a carpeted house, these messes can lead to much more than time spent cleaning up. They can also lead to the headache of trying to remove a pesky stain from your new carpeting.

But why do those stains appear in the first place and how do you efficiently get rid of them? Fret not! Here’s the why’s and how’s of carpet staining, plus tips and tricks on how to effectively remove those spots for good.

Why Carpets Stain

There are two main reasons why your carpet is staining, including:


This happens when the residue is left behind on your carpet fibres from a cleaner used on your carpeting. If you do not completely rinse and blot an initial stain, this residue becomes super sticky and attracts dirt and soil to the same area, causing your carpet to look dirty.


The other common cause of carpet stains is something referred to as wicking. This occurs when a substance that was spilled on a carpet has soaked through into the backing of the material, and even sometimes below the under the padding.

When you clean your carpet, you are only cleaning its surface. A spill trapped in the back or under the pad can be reabsorbed into the carpet and make its way up the fibre strands, reappearing on the surface. This is likened to travelling up the wick of a candle, hence the namesake.

It’s All in the Chemistry of Your Carpet

Many carpets are crafted from a material known as polypropylene, also referred to as olefin. Materials like acrylic, polyester, cotton, wool, and nylon are also used. But as durable as olefin might be, it is not entirely stain-resistant and will eat up that spilled coffee or pet mess in no time.

In addition to the material used to make the carpet fibres, you should know about a carpet’s dye site. Every fibre has one. It is the area in the fibre where the colour resides. These sites give carpets their colourful and bold hues.

These dye sites attract new colour, for instance, colour spilled from a cup of juice, will be attracted to the dye sites. These sites have a positive charge, and most commercial dyes have a negative one. When they meet, it’s like love at first sight. They instantly bond and neutralize to each other’s respective charge, resulting in an unsightly stain.

What’s Lurking in Those Stains

As much of an eyesore as a carpet stain might be, they can also be super unhealthy for your home. Dirty carpets can be a haven for unwanted (and unhealthy) bacteria. Additionally, dust, dead skin, pollen, and even small insects can call your carpet home.

Here’s a disgusting fact for you to consider: carpets can be up to 4,000 times dirtier than your toilet seat. Why is this? If you wear your outdoor shoes on your carpet, you could be introducing it to germs and pathogens from the outside world. For those with young kids and pets, the changes of yucky carpets are even greater.

Those who suffer from allergies should be extra cautious when it comes to the cleanliness of their carpets. Pollen, dust, and other pathogens can reside in dirty carpet stains and trigger your allergy symptoms.

Carpet Stain Cleaning 101

Carpet Stain Cleaning
You should know a few things before you start trying to clean every inch of dirty carpeting in your home. Always work from the outside in, and always rinse thoroughly with clean water before blotting again. Never scrub your carpet because you will run the risk of ruining the fibres or allowing the stain to soak through to the carpet padding.

Carpet Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Here are some ingenious carpet cleaning tips and tricks to make your entire home sparkle and shine.


If there are solids involved in the mess, as in the instance of a pet accident, utilize a plastic scraper or similar device to lift off as many of the pieces as possible. Don’t scrub the area.


If the mess is liquid, use a wet-dry vacuum to remove it. If you don’t have one, use clean, plain white cloths (preferable to paper towels to blot the excess liquid. Remember, never rub the stain.

If there is a lot of liquid, fold the cleaning towel to maximize absorption. As the towel starts to get saturated, switch to using a fresh and dry one. Repeat this process until there is no more liquid to absorb.

Spot Treatments

Use a spotter, especially any ones suggested by a certified and professional carpet cleaning service. Avoid spotters that have built-in protection mechanisms as you may seal in the stain, making it harder or even impossible to remove.

Proceed with caution when using any spotting products which have an extremely high or extremely low pH, brighteners, or bleaches. Never pour an organic solvent directly onto your carpet or fibres. Apply it to a clean cloth first and then gently apply.

When to Call a Professional

Call a professional carpet cleaning service for the following messes:

  • Nail polish, paints, or any other products that will harden.
  • Milk or related dairy items.
  • Coffee – especially if it is hot.

Finding a Cleaning Carpet Pro

Finding a Cleaning Carpet Pro

If you want to remove those unsightly stains for good and can’t get them out yourself, you should consider calling in the professionals. Here are some tips to find the perfect one for your home:

  • Research local companies. It’s important to investigate all prospective companies before deciding on one. Talk with your family, friends, or coworkers who have utilized a professional carpet cleaning service before or visit review sites online.
  • Avoid the lowest price options. The old adage of “you get what you pay for” still rings true. If you want quality, you’re going to have to pay for it.
  • Ask about all of the services included in the clean. The advertised price you generally see when looking for a carpet company is typically just the base price. Extra services can cost you more. To solve this, give the carpet cleaning company a ring and ask what services are included in the quoted price. Will they move your furniture? Does it cost more to clean stairs?
  • Consider the employees. You’re essentially letting complete strangers into your home when you hire a carpet cleaning service. Ensure you only hire a company that screens its employees and conducts criminal background checks.
News Reporter