The key to avoiding reoccurring spots, and the cost they entail, is to understand what’s going on in the carpet. Spots that aren’t completely removed, especially if the spill has gotten down into spotlifter0the backing, can wick back up to the surface after a cleaning. Water and solution loosen the particles in the underlying stain, freeing them to spread back up into the wet carpet through capillary action, in some cases creating a spot that is even bigger than it was before. Unfortunately, it is sometimes nearly impossible to completely remove soil that has spread down into the backing or onto the subfloor. This means that special care must be taken in order to avoid wicking stains. This is especially with carpeting that is less absorbent, like olefin, because water spreads back up the fibers very quickly. WHERE THINGS GO WRONG Minor missteps in the cleaning process can make spots more likely to reappear: Using an incorrect spotter – Most spotter chemicals are designed to treat specific types of spot-cfrstain (oil and grease vs. wine and blood for example). Using the wrong type will limit the remover’s effectiveness. Not using enough spotter – It might sound obvious, but you need to apply enough solution to get deep into the carpet and break up the entire stain. Insufficiently rinsing out the chemical treatment after spotting or extraction – If there is left-over chemical residue it may attract more soil to the stained area. Not using fans to dry the carpet – Quickly drying the carpet after treatment reduces the amount of time that sub-surface stains have to spread back up. AVOIDING COMMON PITFALLS To avoid those issues, and the customer calls they bring, try the following: First, carefully examine the spot – Experienced technicians can develop an eye for problem spots and recognize that they will need to spend more time and effort removing them. Treat the spot with the right spotter – Your examination, and maybe some questions for the client, should tell you what type of spotter is required. Make sure it’s mixed per manufacturer’s instructions, and follow the spotter treatment with a thorough rinsing. Consider an encapsulation rinse – Encapsulation traps stain particles in tiny crystals which are then removed by vacuuming. For certain types of spots, encapsulation is the ideal treatment. Follow up the spot cleaning and extraction by applying an anti-soiling solution to the problem area – Anti-soiling chemicals capture residues that might build up, allowing them to be vacuumed away later. After spotting and extraction, you can draw up moisture and residual chemicals from the carpet by layering towels over the spot and covering them with a weight. One technique that some technicians employ is to thoroughly scrub the area all around a stain spotlwith a quality encapsulation detergent, leaving the stain itself dry. Then, use an encapsulation machine to aggressively scrub across the stain for a full minute or two. That works the detergent into the stained area while minimizing exposure to moisture. A quick spray with a 50/50 mix of water and encap detergent and then a final dry pass with the machine completes the process. Of course, the most effective way to remove spots is to use top of the line equipment. Improvements are constantly being made to spot treatment formulations, as well as extractors and their wands. Wands that atomize the water and cleaning solution going into the carpet, for example, remove soil more effectively and leave less water in the carpet which helps to speed drying and avoid wicking issues.