All too often, we remove a carpet spot only to find it has reappeared (through wicking) after the carpet has dried. Many would call wicking their greatest challenge when it comes to carpet cleaning. Most would also say they have no guaranteed system to prevent wicking from happening.
What Makes Wicking Spots Different?
Discoloration that makes up the wicking spot collects at the tips of the carpeting tufts, compared to traveling the entire depth of the yarn as in regular spots.
The liquid source of the wicking spot has penetrated the carpet backing, and perhaps even the substrate, making these spots more likely to have moisture readings prior to cleaning. This means we often can identify wicking spots with a moisture meter.
Wicking spots are more likely to occur on hydrophobic fibers, such as polypropylene/olefin, triexta, and polyester. However, nylon fibers are not exempt from wicking.
Transfer the Spot
Since this kind of spot only temporarily disappears with cleaning, one wonders if anything permanently removes it. The answer is: maybe.
Some find limited success with browning treatments and oxidizers. Many manufacturers and suppliers recommend following this treatment up with the application of an encapsulant. However, if the carpet fiber is hydrophobic and there has been an over application of moisture, encapsulants will not work.
After applying the encapsulant, recleaning the carpet with an absorption method will significantly improve success. Press a dry terry towel on the affected area to remove additional moisture or use vertical fans for quicker drying.
Since application of other wet products compromises the overwetting dilemma, the ultimate fix is not to stop the wicking but rather let the spot wick into something else, such as another textile or an insoluble powder. The best textile is an ordinary terry towel that is slightly damp. However, absorbent powders are preferred because damp terry towels need to be weighted down onto the fibers to be effective. If using a terry towel, place it on the spot and place a heavy object on top of the towel. Wait for the towel to absorb the liquid from the spot.