Carpet Staining vs. Soiling

carpet staining

To most people carpet staining and carpet soiling mean the same thing. But, to carpet cleaning companies in Denver and carpet manufacturers these are two different terms.

You are probably wondering why you should care to know the difference. Well, take a look at your carpet warranty documents and you will realize soiling and staining have different warranty durations. So, you need to know if your carpet is stained or soiled before claiming a warranty.

In this post, you will not only learn the difference between the two terms but how to


Carpet stains occur when a substance touches your carpet then lodges itself in the carpet fibers. This happens when liquids spill on the carpet.

Stains only appear when the substance soaks into an undyed area of the carpet. And, this only happens when the carpet fibers were dyed after they were produced. If the dye was added as the fiber was being produced, staining will not occur.


Carpet soiling is caused by an oily residue on the carpet. The residue then attracts dirt. The result is a soiled section on the carpet. Bare feet are the major culprits when it comes to leaving residue on carpets. Also, substances used to clean stains leave a residue.


From the definitions above, the differences between the two terms are clear. However, there is a huge similarity. Both staining and soiling cause discoloration of the carpet, making it appear to have spots. These spots may reappear even after cleaning the carpet.

In the case of staining, reappearing of the spots is called wicking. It means that the spill soaked deep into the fibers and even the carpet padding, and has gradually crept back up.

If the carpet was soiled and spots reappear, it simply means you did not do a good job when cleaning the carpet.


A stain will form if the liquid soaks into the carpet fiber. To prevent this from happening, immediately the substance spills on the carpet:

  • Pick up any solid substance from the area of the spill
  • Blot up as much of the liquid as you can with paper towels
  • Clean the stain using a good carpet cleaning detergent. If you do not have one, mix dish soap with lukewarm water
  • Make sure that section of the carpet dries within 12 hours.

Please note that the carpet material determines how susceptible the carpet is to staining. Polyester is more stain resistant compared to Nylon. If you have to buy a nylon carpet, make sure it is treated to resist stains.


To prevent carpet soiling reduce the amount of residue left on the surface of the carpet. Make sure to dry the carpet after applying a cleaning solution and avoid walking on the carpet with bare feet (wear slippers or socks).

All carpets get soiled. However, the olefin fiber is more vulnerable.

Understanding the difference between carpet soiling and carpet staining will help you understand your carpet warranty better. Also, with this information, you are now equipped with basic carpet maintenance skills.

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