Wet Carpet Stain

Stain removal was by far the biggest challenge that carpet and upholstery cleaning professionals faced for many years. Times have changed, and so have stains and stain removal system. Very high proportion of stains can be effectively removed with the latest stain removal technology and advanced dry cleaning polymer detergents that really work.

Wet Carpet Browning and Water Marks Stains: Browning is most often caused by moisture in the cellulose fibre or jute backing of the carpet causing a wicking or colour bleeding effect. As the carpet dries, this browning stain travels up the fibre from the cellulose backing leaving an unsightly yellow/orange/brown stain with irregular edges on the surface. It can be caused by:

  • Wet carpet stain caused by flood damage and not treated for anti-browning.
  • Over wetting the carpet during the cleaning process.
  • Poor carpet drying conditions (high humidity, inadequate ventilation).
  • The use of highly alkaline chemicals that have not been sufficiently neutralised.
  • Poor or non-existent dry vacuuming before hot water extraction cleaning allows soils that are deeply embedded in the pile to travel up the carpet fibre as the carpet dries.

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Knowing what the stain is vital to get the best result. The fibre, colour, location, odour, time and feel of the stain can give many clues to identify.

Stains can be broadly classified into two categories: Oil-base Stains and Water-base Stains.
Oil-Base Stains; This group of stains do not contain water or moisture like… Paint, Gum, Adhesive, Wax, Pen, Tar, Lipstick, Crayon, Shoe Polish, Nail Polish, Food Oils , Grease, Carbon, Chewing Gum, Pen, Ink, Blu-Tack and Cosmetics. pH Neutral Solvent Chemicals tend to remove these stains.

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Water-Base Stains: Most of all carpet stains are wet (over 75 %), to achieve best result and before any stain treatment, it is important take up all the liquid as soon as possible using dry towel or paper towels to firmly blot up the excess moisture. This first step is also ‘contain the stain’ so it doesn’t spread any further.
There are two main categories of chemicals and solutions used for water stain removal.

1. Alkaline solutions are better at cutting through dirt, proteins and organic items and tend to remove things like…. Soap Scum, Fat, Oil, Grease, Heavy Soil, Grass, Vomit, Faeces, Blood, Traffic Lane Soils, Milk, Cheese, Egg, Gravy, Chocolate, Mayonnaise, General Food Stains, Mildew and Picture Framing (Grey shadowing).

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2. Acidic solutions are better for removing calcium, rust, minerals and tend to remove things like… Rust, Urine, Concrete, Render, Grout, Plaster Dust, Tea, Coffee, Fruit Juice, Berry, Red Wine, Dyes, Soft Drink, Medicines, Browning Discolouration, , Water Marks, Dried blood spots, Hard and Bore Water.

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  • Attend to stains as soon as possible. Fresh spots are significantly easier to remove. Stains that are left too long or treated with the wrong chemical can become permanent.
  • Do your stain removal working from the outside of larger stains to the inside. This prevents the stain from spreading.
  • Water– Base stains should be rinsed and extracted. If a machine is unavailable you can blot away with a damp clean white towel to remove all moisture and stain residue. Over wetting may cause odour, new stains and mould.
  • Always read and follow the commercial product instructions and information sheet. Some Water-Base stains may require additional heat and agitation to remove.

Reappearing Stains…
Reappearing stains can come back as soon as the fibres dry or can come back a week later. Re-appearing stains occur for the following reasons:

  • As the fibres dry, in-ground soils and residues that remain on the fibres that have not been rinsed and extracted can rise and leave staining on the surface.
  • Some stains can also appear to have been removed during cleaning but reappear as the fibres dry. This is often the case if the carpet has been over wetted. Most of the time they were never removed in the first place, the moisture in the carpet after cleaning darkens and hides the staining.
  • It is vital to pre-vacuum all of your jobs with a powerful vacuum cleaning machine that has an agitation brush. Then pre-spray with a high quality pre-spray detergent that is suitable for the application. In addition to this, a correct relationship between water output and vacuum suction on your extraction machine is extremely important.
  • Often thorough re-cleaning is all that is necessary and should be done using the above method. Where possible use Encapsulation chemistry cleaning products for severe soil and oil stains. This type of chemistry is one of the most effective ways of preventing recurring stains. It crystallize the soiling or detergent residue left behind in the moisture.
  • Always employ proper drying techniques to avoid smell and mould growth.


Permanent Stains: Some stains are permanent; stain removal may damage the fibre.
The longer the stain material remains in the carpet, the higher the chance of permanent color change, even if all the original stain material is removed. Immediately blotting (not rubbing) the stain material as soon as possible will help reduce the chances of permanent colour change.

Things like… Red Wine, Soft Drink, Coffee, Tea, Urine, Energy Drinks, Fruit Juices, Vomit, Dyes, Sauces, Blood may cause challenging or permanent stains if not treated. Oxidising chemical stain remover is used to remove such old stains.

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