What’s the difference between a spot and a stain

Lots of people think carpet spots and stains are the same thing, but there is a big difference in the carpet cleaning business.

  • Spots are things spilled onto the carpet but do not chemically bond to the fibers. Examples would be dirt from heavy traffic areas, food, etc…
  • Stains on the other hand are spills that can damage or change the carpet in one way or another. Things like motor oil or the like would fall under this category

But the main difference between the two is that spots are organic and stains are not. Another difference between the two is that you can always see a spot, but sometimes you can have a stain and not even see it. If the soiling agent is transparent like oil, dust will cling to the agent, and only when you vacuum, the dust on the stain will remain. This latter issue is something that gets carpet cleaners in hot water sometimes. They are called out to clean a carpet, but the stain only reveals itself after the cleaning. Naturally the carpet owner blames the carpet cleaner.

So how do you tell the difference between a stain and a spot. A good rule of thumb is that if the “spot” changed the tint or hue of the rug, it is actually a stain, but if the color is different than the rug–like red wine on a beige carpet–then it is most likely a spot.


Written by, Derek Beyer.