So you just had your carpets cleaned and some of the spots came back?

Or, maybe spots that weren’t even there just showed up, and you’re wondering “why do I  have spots on my carpet…”

While this happens from time to time, let’s look at why this happens, and then ways to prevent it from happening. (its a quick read, I promise)

Why do carpets get spots after cleaning?

Usually when a carpet has spots return like that, it’s typically due to soil that is in the backing of the carpet, the padding or the sub floor. There are different ways dirt can get there.

If you think of a single carpet fiber as an empty glass, and then fill the glass with dirt, at some point the dirt will spill out.

In the case of carpet fibers, that dirt spills over into the backing and padding. Which are areas that don’t usually get cleaned (this would cause over-wetting to the carpet).


The next part of this, which is where that dirt comes to the surface is a process called wicking:

Wicking is a process in which water evaporates from the lowest point, to the highest point. As the surface of a fiber dries, it pulls moisture from the area below. Typically the surface can feel dry even though there is still moisture at the base. Once the last bit of moisture is raising to the carpets surface, it can pull soil from the surface below.

The good news is, this soil is often only in the tips of the fiber and can come of fairly easy. Sometimes even a damp (not wet) cloth will allow the soil to wipe off.


While there is more than one way to have spots like this return, there is also more than one way to prevent this. The best way… regular cleaning. That might sound obvious, but most home owners don’t clean their carpets regularly. The other option (and should be done reguardless) is quickly getting the carpets dry after cleaning. Typically 8 hours to dry is pushing the threshold of acceptable in terms of dry time. And this is what most carpet cleaning companies think is normal.


Older carpets are more prone to spots returning after a cleaning, than newer carpets. Carpets that get a lot of use, especially with kids and pets, are more likely to have returning spots. And, companies that over wet the carpet will usually always have this issue. Best method to prevent, clean your carpets more often, vacuum a lot (like more than you think), or sell your children and get rid of the animals.