The Science of Carpet Wicking and How to Prevent Its Stains

If you have ever wondered why stains reappear after carpet cleaning or why spots come back after cleaning your carpet then you are in the right place. While there are a few reasons spots and stains come back after cleaning your carpet, one of the main reasons has to do with the science of carpet wicking.

What is carpet wicking?

Carpet wicking is a real term and a REAL thing. It's actually a common issue in carpets that are in businesses and homes, and most people don't know why it happens or how to fix it.

Wicking is a property of porous materials, like those common in carpet fibers, which have the tendency to allow liquid to travel through them regardless of, or even in opposition to, external forces like gravity. It is also called capillary action.

You likely hear about wicking when it comes to wicking fabrics or moisture wicking clothes that pull wetness away from your skin.

Carpet wicking is when wetness pulls up from underneath of your carpet, its backing and matting, and up to the top of your carpet's strand fibers, its surface, due to capillary action. If that wetness contains stains, dirt, or other grimy particles, it can cause new stains to appear on your carpet's surface.

This is because carpet cleaning cleans the surface of your carpet, while wetting the whole carpet. The surface is cleaned, but any trapped dirt and stains underneath that clean surface will begin to resurface as the carpet fibers wick it upward via this capillary motion.

Any time the carpet gets wet, even after hot water extraction (steam cleaning) and other carpet cleaning methods, stains that were hiding, or gone, can appear or reappear.

The solution isn't overly difficult, but it does require the help of carpet cleaning professionals to correct it so that it doesn't keep happening moving forward.

Zerorez helps prevent carpet wicking stains with its proprietary Zr™ Wand which doesn't flood carpets

Why does carpet wicking happen?

Carpet wicking happens when your carpets are not professionally cleaned and/or your carpets don't dry quickly. The longer a carpet is wet, the more time your carpet has to wick any stains upward to the surface of the carpet. Carpet wicking can only occur when the carpet it still wet, so long dry times allow more dirt and soil to travel up the carpet's fibers, back to their tips.

That's why it's important to hire Zerorez® for carpet cleaning. Zerorez has a proprietary Zr™ Wand that is specifically designed so it can never flood your carpet and dries in only a few hours, rather than a few days. Plus, should any stain reappear after we clean, Zerorez offers a 30-Day Gotta-Love-It Guarantee. We will happily return, for free, within 30-days after service to re-clean any areas you are unsatisfied with, like areas with carpet wicking stains.

What does carpet wicking look like?

Carpet wicking is basically the same look of normal carpet staining but "reappears" in the same area as a stain was removed from, or appears shortly after a carpet cleaning.

Pair of white shoes on a tan carpet with what wicking carpet stains look like on it

Is carpet wicking permanent?

Don't fret. Wicking isn't permanent on your carpet as long as you try and follow these steps:

  1. Start by vacuuming the area of the carpet to get rid of any excess debris
  2. You may need to scrape at the carpet fibers as well to break up dirt

  3. Add absorbent powder like baking soda to your carpet to help soak up any excess moisture

  4. You may need to again scrape or rake the carpet to help the powder get absorbed

  5. Vacuum the area once it is dried

While those steps can help you learn how to try and correct an issue, it's not always as simple as that. Check out our other post on how to remove wicking stains in carpet for more details.

How to prevent wicking in carpet

Hiring the experts at Zerorez is the best way to avoid carpet wicking stains. We are trained to not only give you Insanely Clean Carpets® but do so without harsh chemicals.

To further ensure your carpet doesn't have reappearing stains in the future though, make sure you:

  • Use less water during carpet cleaning (Zerorez's Zr Wand ensures we won't flood your carpet)
  • Use fans and/or open windows after carpet cleaning
  • Have adequate air circulation in your home
  • Allow carpets more time to dry before walking on them after a cleaning
  • Insect your HVAC system to see if it's working efficiently
  • Regularly vacuum your carpets between cleanings
  • Blot up stains and spills immediately or as quickly as possible after they occur
  • Use less or no cleaning agents when spot cleaning

Whatever type of stains you have on your carpet, be sure to call Zerorez or book us online to have it professionally and safely removed.

Book a Cleaning with Zerorez Today!