What’s the Difference Between a Stain and Spot?

carpet spot

Most people assume that a spot and a stain are pretty much equal when it comes to finding one on your carpet. But actually, there are very important differences that you should know about; they could mean the difference between a quick fix and a permanent mark.

What’s in a Name?

Carpet cleaning professionals define a spot as something that has spilled or fallen on the carpet but has not changed the actual fibers. Basically the spot sits on the carpet superficially. A good indicator is if your run your hand over the mark on your carpet you may be able to “feel” a spot.

Good examples of spots: mud or dirt, food with no artificial colorings

A stain is caused by a substance coming  in contact with the carpet and that substance actually changes something about your carpet, typically it either adds color or takes it away.

Good examples of stains: bleach, certain medicines, foods or beverages with artificial coloring added.

Still Not Clear?

Try this simple metaphor: a spot is like a smudge of dirt on your skin while a stain is like a tattoo. I bet you can take a pretty good guess as to which one is more permanent. Spots are typically easy to clean for a professional carpet cleaning service while stains might in fact be permanent. That isn’t to say there is nothing that can be done in case of a stain; there are options like dying or patching for example; it just mean that removing a stain is considerably more challenging than removing a spot.

The Time Factor

There is an old carpet cleaning joke:

Customer: What is the difference between a spot and a stain? Cleaner: Time.

All stains start out as spots and while it’s certainly true that some substances can instantly stain your carpet ther stains are the result of spots that went untreated. In our next post we’ll talk about how to treat a spill and do damage control.