Manufacturer Roundtable takes questions Contracting Profits has received from building service contractors and poses them directly to cleaning industry manufacturers. Each month questions and answers for a different product category will be featured.

How can I prevent wicking?   

Wicking is the result of soil trapped in carpet padding or subflooring that moves to the tips of carpet fibers as it dries after cleaning. A carpet stain is like an iceberg. Wicking is the visible tip of the iceberg that indicates the stain is still present below.

The only way to prevent wicking is to ensure that carpet, pad, and subfloors are thoroughly rinsed and dried after a spill. If possible, address a wet spill immediately. Use a cleaning solution of your choice, rinse heavily, and then remove as much moisture as possible with a wet/dry vacuum. Thoroughly go over the area for several passes after the visible spill is gone, then use an air mover to speed-dry the area.

If the spill has already dried when you get to it, thoroughly vacuum to pull up as much dry material as possible. Then precondition, allowing a proper dwell time for your cleaning solution, rinse, clean and speed-dry as above. — Jeff Stone National Channel Manager for BSCs at ProTeam, Boise, Idaho

Depending on the stain it can be something you can't prevent unless you're sure to fully remove the (stain) that's in the carpet. Oftentimes, when you surface clean or spot clean a carpet it looks fine until it’s restoratively cleaned; then the increase in water volume causes the stain to wick back. The best way approach this is to try and determine what the stain is and use a spot remover for that type of stain. — Gareth Mason, President at NaceCare Solutions, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Wicking is caused when a spill, or soil is able to penetrate deep into the carpet.  Then, when the carpet is deep extracted with water the deeply penetrated soil is not 100 percent removed. After extracting, the carpet looks clean on the surface but as it dries, the residual penetrated soil wicks its way to the surface of the carpet fibers, and suddenly appears a day or two after extracting. 

Repeated extraction sometimes eliminates the wicking by removing all of the penetrated soil. But often this doesn’t work because there is so much soil deep in the carpet, as in a cola or coffee spill. 

The best way to prevent wicking is to get at the spot or spill immediately after it occurs. That is the best opportunity to remove all of the soil and to prevent it from penetrating too far into the carpet. If wicking is already occurring on a carpet, it can be halted by doing low-moisture cleaning of the carpet. By extracting in the low moisture mode, the water does not penetrate too deeply and wicking does not occur, even when there is residual soil deep in the carpet. — Bob Abrams, Group Product Manager at Nilfisk-Advance, Plymouth, Minn.

First, be sure to vacuum the carpet thoroughly before using an extractor for cleaning. Next, use the appropriate amount of liquid for cleaning and take extra strokes to fully extract all water from the carpet. Finally, employ blowers to thoroughly dry the carpet. — Dalvin Green, Sanitaire Business Development Manager at Sanitaire Electrolux, Peoria, Ill.

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Extend Carpet Life With Frequent Vacuuming