A Spot & A Stain: Not the Same Thing
While you may use the terms spot and stain interchangeably, in reality, they are different things, and they should be addressed differently as well. Learning how to tell the difference between the two can make or break your success in preventing it from getting any worse, and can contribute to the success of professional carpet cleaners removing the entire blemish later on. So, if telling them apart can make such a big difference, let’s get right into just how you can do so.
Differentiating a Spot and a Stain
Spots are typically fairly new spills, whether they are fresh or they are simply relatively recent, they are characterized by there being a tangible substance on the surface. While most of these spots are formed by a liquid, there can be multiple sources of the stickiness. When spots happen, they are usually addressed by sopping up the excess spillage, which is accomplished easily, as long as it occurs right away. Whether it's a spilled drink, or someone’s dinner ended up on the floor, spots are fairly easy to remove and they cause no lingering reminders that they existed after they have been cleaned up.
Stains, on the other hand, can be around for a long time. Whereas spots can be tangibly felt, stains are only seen, because the carpet fibers and the color of them have been permanently marred. Stains can start as spots, such as a spilled glass of wine, a stray meatball in spaghetti sauce, or a rogue juicebox, however, when they go an extended period of time without being properly cleaned, they seep further into the carpet fibers, and they turn into stains.
Preparing for Spots and Stains
Now that you know how to tell the difference between spots and stains, the next step to knowing how to handle them is knowing what kind of carpet you have. Some variations of carpet fibers are more porous and may require a different cleaning approach to other kinds of carpeting. Certain manufacturers or carpeting companies will provide guidelines for how to keep your specific carpeting clean and looking brand new, so checking these before applying cleaners can potentially prevent you from further damaging your floors.
When you do decide on a cleaner, do a test section of your carpeting before applying it to a larger portion of your flooring. Even after rigorous research, you can never be completely sure how your carpeting will react to certain chemicals, so doing a spot test will help to determine if there will be any further staining or damaging of the fibers. Some cleaners may also work better for set-in stains, and some may work better for those quick spills. Picking out your carpet cleaners ahead of time keeps you prepared in case an incident occurs, and that preparedness can save your carpet from becoming permanently disfigured.
Treating Spots and Stains
When a spill happens, take the time to immediately remove any solid bits before sopping up excess liquid. Using a clean paper towel or washcloth, be sure to always blot the area, avoiding scrubbing or rubbing the soiling further into the fibers. After the excess has been absorbed, use a wet cloth to further blot the affected area, using cold water for food, beverages, paint, and blood, and warm water for gum and lotion. When you apply a cleaner, spray liberally, but avoid soaking the carpet. Blot the area again, and repeat the steps a few times until the spot has been cleaned. (Check out our full list of common spills and how to clean them here)
Calling the Professionals
In most circumstances, calling in the professionals is in your carpet’s best interests. Treating the spot as soon as it happens can help to prevent it from becoming a stain, but involving the professional carpet cleaners ensures that all of the spilled substance has been removed, so that a few weeks down the road, you don’t notice a stain where a supposedly cleaned up spot used to be. If you have had some recent spillage, or are simply interested in scheduling a carpet cleaning service in general, contact us today.