Merrian-Webster Dictionary: Stain: “a soiled or discolored spot.” Spot: “a small area visibly different (as in color, finish, or material) from the surrounding area.”
dictionary.com: Stain: “a discoloration produced by foreign matter having penetrated into or chemically reacted with a material; a spot not easily removed.” Spot: “a rounded mark or stain made by foreign matter, as mud, blood, paint, ink, etc.; a blot or speck.”
The dictionary definitions are certainly not very helpful. But, together they seem to suggest that a stain is a spot that:
has chemically reacted with the surface,
is a difficult spot that that is difficult to remove by ordinary cleaning and
is different in color from the surrounding area.
So, according to these dictionaries, a stain is a spot with distinct characteristics, but a spot is not a stain! Confused?
Take a look at the image above. Which are “stains” and which are “spots”? In reality, several are BOTH! For example,
The one on the bottom right is from vomit. Once the vomit itself (the chunky stuff) was removed by extraction, a stain from dyes in the food the cat ate remained.
The third from the left at the top is from Kool-Aid®. What’s in Kool-Aid drink? - water, dye, flavoring and sugar. The dye makes a “stain”. But, the flavoring and sugar make a “spot”!
The second one from the left at the top is from Betadine®. But, Betadine is iodine which does stain the carpet plus a polymer (PVP) which would cause a spot!
The second from the left in the second row is from mustard, which is considered a dispersed dye and is one of the most difficult stains you will encounter.
Another example not shown above would be from blood.
The IICRC defines a spot as “the result of a material adding substance or texture to a fabric or surface,” while a stain is “the result of a material adding color (without texture) to a fabric or surface.” As we’ve seen, that is only partially true because a “spot” can also be a “stain” and vice-verse!
Here are just a few examples of “SPOTS” where there is no chemical reaction with the carpet and where the carpet is not dyed:
Does it matter whether it is a “spot” or a “stain” when it comes to cleaning? Not really. You normally start by dry blotting to remove as much material as possible, followed by wet extraction. Then, if any color remains, a stain remover product is needed.
Not all stains are created equal. In fact, while some stains are relatively easy to remove yourself, others can be downright impossible.
The biggest problem with removing spots in stains is wicking resulting in the spots coming backing after you’ve supposedly removed them.
Free packet of information about Bane-Clene can be obtained by calling toll-free 1-800-428-9512 (U.S. ONLY!). Your information packet will include a full color catalog and price addendum. Packets will arrive in approximately 2 weeks through standard United States Mail.