Water Stains are a common problem in our industry. These are caused by both homeowners and by novice technicians. In the images below, the customer spilled something on the carpeting, and then doused it with water to try to clean it up. This was still very wet when we arrived.


The thing about water is that it carries with it anything it touches. Even the water from the faucet has impurities in it, so as it evaporates, those minerals or other substances in the water are slowly left behind as “deposits.”  Think about your car when wash it, but don’t dry it. Glassware and windows as well. You can see “water stains.”

carpet cleaning san rafael belvedere

Wicking is also related to this science. When we clean, our equipment can only reach so far into the carpet. It has a hard time reaching through that thick plastic backing. Solubles still remain behind in the pad and under the pad and in the subfloor. When water dries too slowly, it starts to pull those impurities up into the fibers. Then, as the carpet slowly dries, it leaves those solubles and impurities behind as deposits.

What happens when you try to treat a stain on a blouse without putting it into the washer? It can dry as a bigger spot. The washing machine extracts most of the water from your clothes during the spin cycle, allowing it to dry evenly. Same goes for your upholstery and carpeting. You don’t have access to the same tools to suck all the water out of the carpeting, so you leave an over wet fabric and risk these same water stains.

The last important thing to know about wicking and water stains, is that sometimes the stain will appear after a carpet cleaning that you didn’t think was there before.

So what can you do?

  • If you are attempting any DIY related to spots and stains, make sure you use the least amount of water and cleanser as possible.
  • Remove the liquid or substance first before applying any more moisture.
  • Dry it as much as possible with a dry towel. Keep pressing gently with a dry part of the towel until you absorb as much moisture as you can.
  • Use a fan or hair dryer on the cool setting to speed up your drying time.
  • If it doesn’t work, call us!

To avoid spots appearing “out of nowhere” after your cleaning it is important to point out to your technician any areas that you know as being low in your carpeting so that we know to put fans on those areas to help with the drying. Additionally, point out any areas that you know have had spills before – even if you can’t see them now – so that they can be can be given the extra attention needed to ensure that they don’t reappear (although usually we find them as soon as we pre-spray) When we get calls for a rework on a stain that was “ never there before,“ 90% of the time I can promise it was there before – it was just lower down in the fiber, and not visible at the very top. If we couldn’t see it, and we didn’t treat it, the drying may cause it to “surface.” The other 10% is probably our fault and we will come immediately to fix it.

Summary – if you are an avid DIYer, don’t use the over the counter products recommeded. Stick with DWV and baking soda and use as little amount of water as possible. Don’t over scrub, and use whatever means you have to speed up drying time.

Happy Cleaning!