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How To Prevent Carpet Wicking

Carpet stains can be a real challenge for those who don’t act fast enough. Stains typically set in when a liquid or substance of some kind is spilled onto the carpet and left there for an extended period of time before the mess is picked up from the surface of the fibers.

But we all know liquid does not tend to remain on the surface of a carpet, by nature it splashes and cascades down which can allow it to soak all the way down through the fibers and into the carpet backing. The longer you allow the liquid to absorb into the fibers and the backing, the more it permeates into both and a stain can begin to develop.

That’s why it’s so critical to tend to spills and messes as soon as they occur, because you can soak up the excess moisture that has yet to penetrate the fibers and the backing of the carpet. When you eliminate that moisture less of it is able to become absorbed by the carpeting and that leaves less to darken any stains that might develop.

Let’s say, for instance, something like fruit punch is spilled on the carpet. You don’t get to it as quickly as you might have done had you been in the room (perhaps this was done by a child who didn’t tell you immediately for fear of being in trouble). Once you found out about the spill, the punch had soaked through the backing of the carpet and into the underpad beneath.

You spring into action fast and clean the stain as best you can, cleaning the surface of the carpet and doing all you could to absorb what had made it to the backing. You blot and clean and when you’re finished, you’ve saved the day. The stain is gone and there’s no residue or evidence that a spill even occurred.

What is Wicking?


But some time later, you call carpet cleaners in redondo beach for a professional deep cleaning. They use a wet extraction method on the carpet so they can remove all of the germs, grime, and other dirt that can get caught in the pile. Everything looks terrific and you’re very pleased with the job they’ve done.

Until soon after they depart, you notice a stain has emerged in the very same spot as that fruit punch spill from before. What happened? You just had your carpet professionally cleaned and there’s a stain?!

This is what is known as wicking. That fruit punch you couldn’t get to underneath the backing material and in the underpad has been reabsorbed by the carpet and the liquid slowly climbs back up the fibers or wicking.

So why does this occur? It usually happens when the carpet gets wet and since most professional carpet cleanings involve steam cleaning, the moisture makes the carpet damp and your cleaners should be able to properly dry the carpet before they depart.

But if not and the carpet remains even mildly damp, that can bring your spill back to life and cause a stain well after the fibers have dried in full.

Preventing Carpet Wicking

In order to keep this sort of thing from happening, you can take some precautionary measures both when a spill occurs and after the fact. In the first instance, once you treat the spill at the time it happens you can blot and absorb as much as possible. Then grab a clean towel or multiple paper towels and lay them over the spill.

Place something heavy like a stack of books or a paperweight, anything that has heft to it, and let it sit for awhile. This will help to bring up the moisture that has gotten further down to the backing material and below.

Once you soak up the moisture in full, you should be all set and no wicking will occur the next time you clean your carpet.

But maybe you didn’t get to all of the spill and you’re concerned there might be the re-emergence of a stain after a steam cleaning. First and foremost, be sure your cleaning professionals are able to remove all of the moisture from the carpet so it’s nearly dry. Even if they leave the carpet slightly damp, which is perfectly normal as long as it’s not saturated, then you may still experience some wicking.

A good way to prevent this from happening is to dry the carpet quicker than normal so the stain doesn’t have enough time to reappear. Set up some fans and let them blow air to help the drying process complete and you won’t see any signs of wicking.