Spots vs. Stains: Do you know the difference?

Knowing the difference between carpet spots and stains—and the proper cleaning methods—can greatly extend the life of your carpets.

Are you able to tell the difference between what constitutes a stain or a spot on your carpet? And, if so, do you know the appropriate carpet cleaning process?

The first step to getting the job done right, is to first know what you’re dealing with. Let us clarify for you the difference between carpet spots and stains.

So, what really is the difference?

No carpet is completely stain proof—especially with today’s stain-resistant carpets. Identifying the difference between spots and stains is half the battle.

A spot usually is the result of a fresh accident that will come out with relative ease if removed right away. It has discolored only the outside of the carpet fibers.  A stain is more permanent, having embedded itself into the carpet fibers, and changing the color forever.

How does the cleaning process differ?

So, now that you know which you are dealing it, it is time to choose the right cleaning method.


For spots, the process is simple. Check out some easy tips to removing spots, with a little help from The Carpet and Rug Institute.

  1. Act quickly!
  2. Blot, don’t scrub.It seems counter-intuitive, but vigorous scrubbing to remove stains can cause more harm than good. Doing so could cause stains to embed further into your carpet. By using a dry cloth or paper towel, gently blot the stain away.
  3. Plain water is best!Household carpet cleaning products may not be as helpful as you think. Sometimes the best method is plain ole water. There is no such thing as permanent carpet cleaning solution and often these “permanent solutions” cause carpets to resoil due to an overabundance of alkaline.


The stain removal process can be a little more detailed.  First, you must identify the type of stain you’re dealing with.


Solvent-soluble stains include crayons, tar, crayon, oils, greases, lipstick and butter. These stains can be cleaned with a solvent cleaner.


Some water-soluble stains include alcoholic beverages, ice cream, colas, food dyes, gravy, coffee, chocolate, wine, mud, latex paint, and washable ink. Detergent-based cleaners should work well on those.


Non-soluble stains usually refer to sand, grit, metal shavings or anything with a sticky film. You must vacuum first for these type of stains before using an appropriate cleaning solution.

When all else fails, you may need to consult a professional carpet cleaning company. Contact your Woodard Account Manager to set up a personalized carpet cleaning consultation.

Cleaning your carpet just became a little easier now that you know the difference between carpet spots and stains!

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