Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Wicking of Soil and Dirt after Cleaning Carpet Causing Recurring Spots and Stains

Wicking of Soil after Cleaning Carpet

Illustration of wicking of soil as carpet dries.

What is wicking? Wicking after cleaning carpet is the upward capillary motion of water and cleaning solution during drying from the base of a tuft to its tip. The problem is that this carries with it any remaining soil and detergent in the carpet backing, carpet padding and even the subflooring, all of which is then deposited on the tips of the tuft and dries.

What Causes Soil Wicking on Cleaned Carpet?

  • The biggest cause of soil wicking is over-wetting due to a poorly trained technician with a ‘who cares’ attitude in a big hurry to collect the money and move on to the next job.
  • Over-wetting, especially by using the ‘double stroke’ cleaning technique.
  • Slow drying due to poor cleaning technique or poor extraction.
  • Overuse of pre-spray and failure to extract out all of the traffic lane spotter solution.
  • Heavy accumulation of soil at the base of carpet tufts.
  • Residue from soil and spills that wasn’t completely removed by the cleaner.
  • High humidity in the cleaned room causing slow evaporation.
    • An example would be an apartment or retail store where immediately after the carpet is cleaned, the air circulation and air conditioner is turned off.
  • Heavy spills or pet urine in the carpet backing and pad.
  • Wicking on olefin carpets and rugs is especially severe because the cleaning solution quickly sinks to the backing before it is extracted out.
  • A spill or soil has penetrated deep into the carpet, the carpet backing and even into the carpet pad or cushion, requiring extra cleaning and spotting.

How to Prevent Soil Wicking on Cleaned Carpet?

  • Since wicking can only occur while the carpet is still wet, anything you can do to leave the carpet as dry as possible and shorten the drying time will greatly reduce wicking and reapparing spots:
    • If a lot of cleaning strokes had to be used on an especially dirty carpet, set up air movers after cleaning to speed up drying.
    • Wicking on loop pile carpet can be greatly reduced by following hot water extraction with dry bonnet cleaning. This is especially helpful on commercial olefin loop carpet with a large number of spills. NOTE: Do not run a DRY bonnet on olefin (polypropylene) carpet or rug - olefin has a very low softening point!
    • Take extra dry strokes with the floor tool while cleaning.
  • Use a Water Claw® Sub-Surface Carpet Spot Lifter on heavy spills.
  • Use only enough cleaning solution to do the job.
  • Do not use any more prespray than necessary.
  • Do not use a higher pH detergent than necessary.
  • Do not use a higher detergent concentration than needed - The phrase “If a little bit does a good job, more will do better” couldn’t be more false when it comes to cleaning.
  • If wicking of residue from spotting or a spill is anticipated, the last step after spot removal should be to leave a weighted dry towel on the cleaned spot or use Stain Blotter.
  • Apply a fluorochemical carpet protector, such as Bane-Guard™, Teflon® or Sta-Clene® Soil & Stain Repellent.
  • Immediately following cleaning, apply ARA Anti-Wicking Agent where wicking and resoiling may be a problem.
  • Extraction clean with an encapsulating detergent such as SCR Soil Crystallization Rinse.

How to Correct Reoccurring Spots and Stains Caused by Wicking?

  • Applying an absorbent powder like Stain Blotter to absorb the soil and solution wicking to the surface from a spill.
  • Applying an encapsulating product like Pro's Choice ARA Anti-Resoiling Agent after cleaning.
  • Following cleaning, doing a Brown Out flush, also called an “acid rinse” after cleaning.

How to Use Stain Blotter to Remove and Prevent Reoccurring Spots and Stains:

  1. Rinse spot thoroughly.
  2. Leave the spot as dry as possible by making several vacuum only passes with floor tool or upholstery tool following rinse.
  3. Allow spot to dry COMPLETELY.
  4. Cover the spot with Stain Blotter by sprinkling it onto the carpet until the fibers are covered by a 1/4 inch blanket of powder.
  5. Allow spot to dry COMPLETELY.
  6. Vacuum thoroughly to remove Stain Blotter along with the soil it has absorbed.

How to Use Stain Blotter On Spills:

  1. Pour Stain Blotter liberally onto the spill.
  2. Agitate gently to absorb spill into powder.
  3. Cover an additional 2 inches of carpet around the spot.
  4. Vacuum or sweep up to remove contaminated powder.
  5. Re-apply Stain Blotter to cover spill.
  6. Allow to dry thoroughly.
  7. Vacuum thoroughly to remove Stain Blotter powder along with soil it has absorbed.

How to Use Pro's Choice ARA Anti-Resoiling Agent to Prevent Wicking and Resoiling:

  1. Keep out of reach of children.
  2. Read label directions and cautions before using.
  3. Warm water extract the carpet and get the carpet as dry as possible.
  4. Spray an even coat of ARA onto the carpet in areas where rapid resoiling is likely to occur or has occurred in the past at the rate of 3 ounces ARA per square yard.
  5. After the carpet is completely dry, vacuum the treated areas very thoroughly with an upright vacuum cleaner equipped with a brush.

The pictures below from Pro’s Choice illustrate the effectiveness of ARA preventing reappearing spots, in this case reappearing coffee spill:

Reappearing Soil, 1 week after cleaning.
Carpet following cleaning of area.
ARA Anti-Resoiling Agent Applied to 1/2 of the Problem Area.
Reappearance of soil within 2 weeks.
Before and after treatment  with ARA.

Brown Out Flush Procedure to Reduce Wicking and Browning:

  • Use Brown Out® to reduce wicking and re-soiling on carpet that has been improperly cleaned and is loaded with detergent residue or the consumer has left a lot of spotter residue.
  • In this procedure, DO NOT pre-spray the carpet or use any extraction emulsifier or detergent.
  • Using Brown Out, extraction clean using plenty of vacuum-only strokes to leave carpet as dry as possible.
  • Some technicians call this an “acid rinse”. A better term is “Brown Out flush” since the word acid sounds dangerous to a consumer!

Effects of Wicking of Carpet after Extraction Cleaning:

Additional Information on Preventing Wicking and Reappearing Spots and Resoiling of Carpet:

Products to Prevent Wicking and Reappearing Spots and Stains on Carpet:

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Copyright: Bane-Clene® Corp.

Date Modified: October 6, 2019

Date Originally Published: November 10, 2014