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Causes of Carpet and Upholstery Wicking

Wicking is an unwanted situation where a carpet stain persists after cleaning. This due to a soil (stain) that is trapped in the carpet padding or backing and moves to the tips of the carpet after cleaning.  There are effective ways to deal with carpet and rug wicking.

Solutions for Carpet Wicking

The upward flow of moisture on fiber surfaces during drying is referred to as wicking. The factors contributing to browning are slow drying, over wetting, and cellulosic material (jute backing).

Wicking is caused when a spill or other soiling is able to deeply penetrate a carpet. This soil is very challenging to remove even after deep extraction as the drying carpet looks clean on the surface. However, the residual soil (stain) “wicks” it way to the carpet surface.

In some cases, repeated extractions are successful in dealing with the wicking by removing all the soil (stain) that has penetrated the carpet. Coffee or cola drinks spills are especially difficult to deal with.

Ideally the spill is handled immediately so it doesn’t have the opportunity to deeply penetrate the carpet.

Dealing with Carpet Browning

Browning is a phenomenon that occurs after a carpet or rug is cleaned and has dried where the fiber tips turn dark.

What causes carpets and rugs to brown? Carpet dries from the tips. Therefore, as the cleaning solution evaporates from the tips, the water rises to the surface bringing with it everything dissolved in it, and then the water evaporates leaving everything else behind.

This leaves on the tips of the carpet a high-alkalinity residue plus anything else left in the carpet such as high shampoo levels, cola, coffee, etc.

In the early days of the carpet cleaning industry, most detergents used were nothing more than glorified concrete floor cleaners, which are highly alkaline and frequently caused browning.

Carpets and carpet backings were not as good then either. Equipment now does a better job of leaving the carpet dry.

An Effective Solution to Wicking or Browning

Most carpet-cleaning professionals are now better trained and most (but not all) know better than to “over wet” a carpet or to use overly strong detergent solutions. Also, the carpet mills less commonly use jute backing.

An application of a formulated organic acid agent will neutralize the residue not only preventing browning, but also leaving the carpet cleaner and brighter.

Additionally, the use of this agent on wet-cleaned upholstery and rugs will reduce the likelihood of dye bleeding by setting the dyes.

It is easier to correct browning on carpet with pile yarns made of synthetic fibers than of natural fibers such as wool, hemp, silk or cotton.

We have had good success in correcting brown out problems with your carpets and furniture.  Give us a call if you have a problem.


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