8 Reasons Carpet Looks Worse after Cleaning 

As a carpet expert, I’ve studied lots of forums and contacted many carpet owners. I’ve learned that even after a thorough DIY cleaning, the stains re-appear on the carpet surface. Thus making the carpet look worse after cleaning. I’ve explored the topic from top to bottom, so now I can define 8 reasons, why stains show back up. 

The low power of your vacuum cleaner is the most widespread reason for the bad-looking carpet. You’ve vacuumed your carpet, but your machine couldn’t get all dust and grime from its pile and padding. Then you’ve started cleaning the dusty carpet. There are also other reasons, why the carpet looks worse after cleaning. Continue reading to know them all. 

1. You didn’t get all dirt from the carpet before you started cleaning

Lots of dry soil, pet hair, and other waste products are floating around in your house. This dirt penetrates deep into the carpet fiber. If you get it wet, then the dirt from the padding will come to the carpet surface, making it look worse. So, your carpet is not neat, although you’ve spent hours, cleaning it.

Possible solution: Vacuum your carpet before cleaning it with shampoo or soap. The powerful vacuum cleaner will suck all the grime and dust from the upper and bottom layers of the carpet. Then you’ll clean the carpet with the shampoo to get all embedded dirt out.

2. The carpet cleaning machine is not powerful enough

After a thorough treatment of your carpet with water, soap, and steam, it may look even worse. The carpet still looks dirty and although the stains have become not so noticeable. But their blurry edges are on the carpet surface. The reason for such a problem is the low power of your carpet cleaning machine.

I know that many carpet owners want to save some money, so they get the cheapest carpet cleaner or steamer. They may use the old cleaning machine, which they’ve found in their garage or rented from their neighbors. Such a machine doesn’t have the power to get all the dirt out of the carpet. As a result, you have a semi-dusty carpet with visible contours of stains on its surface.

Possible solution: To have a clean carpet, get a powerful high-quality cleaning machine.  You can invest some money to get such a machine and clean your carpets anytime you want. I know that there are lots of cleaners in the big stores and in online shops nowadays. I highly recommend using [amazon link=”B009ZJ2M7G” title=”Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe” /]:

[amazon box=”B009ZJ2M7G”]

If you don’t want to get such a machine, you may rent or invite a professional carpet cleaner to do the job for you. 

3. The stains from padding appear on the carpet pile

 stains from padding

Many times I’ve heard carpet owners’ complaints about stains. They re-appear on the carpet’s surface even after a long and proper cleaning. You could scrub the stains from the wine or coffee and they might have gone away. But within a week spots come back again. Very often such stain has lots of sugar in it, which captures grime. That happens because the stain has migrated to the carpets’ first layer from the padding. So, you have cleaned the stain from the carpet surface. But after the cleaning with hot water and steam, it becomes pulled back from the padding into the pile.

Unfortunately, even a powerful cleaning machine can’t make the carpet padding clean enough, if the stains are too old. Using too hot water or steam to clean the padding may cause damage to the carpet’s first layer.

Possible solution: The only way out is to remove the padding or a dirty section of it and replace it with the new material. Sometimes the only thing, which is possible to do in this situation, is to get a new carpet.

4. The worn-out parts of the carpet become more noticeable

Worn Out Carpet

One of the reasons, why the carpet looks worse after cleaning is the faded and worn pile, which becomes more visible. Probably, your carpet is too old or it may lay in the area, where it is often trampled by your guests. The faded and worn pile may not be as noticeable as it lies down. But after cleaning the worn pile is pulled up and it catches the eye.

Possible solution: the only thing you can do is give it a time. Within a week the worn fiber lies down again and the carpet looks good enough. 

5. The most complex stains can’t be removed with your carpet cleaner

Even if you have spent many hours scrubbing the stains on your carpet surface, they can be visible in the same places after the carpet gets dry. The reason is the wrong choice of a cleaning solution. I know that there are lots of carpet soaps, shampoos, and DIY mixes on the market now.

You could have bought the wrong cleanser, which made all your efforts unsuccessful. 

Possible solution: Obviously, you should get high-quality carpet cleaner for a reasonable price. In my experience, one of the best in the market is [amazon link=”B07TDHF6ZK” title=”Prochem Ultrapac Carpet Blend” /], which costs about $175 on Amazon. It is a concentrate, one bottle of which is enough to make 33 gallons of powerful cleaner. 

[amazon box=”B07TDHF6ZK”]

6. The carpet is sticky because you didn’t rinse the soap properly 

If you used too much soap and couldn’t rinse it out, the rug becomes sticky. Thus, the dirt from shoe feet, pet hair, bread crumbs, and other stuff sticks to the carpet surface. The cleaner’s residue makes the carpet stickier and it can also cause the appearance of mildew.

Sticky Carpet

Possible solution: Fill the tank of your carpet cleaning machine with warm water only and rinse the rug surface properly. Thus, you’ll get rid not just of grime, but also of the soap or shampoo residue.

7. The instructions, applied to cleaning your carpet, were violated

The experienced carpet owners know that each carpet is special. It is made of some kind of fiber – wool, nylon, or polyester. Each fiber needs some special treatment while cleaning. For example, for wool carpets, you need more gentle cleansers. It is not recommended to use too hot water for polyester rugs. If you’ve violated these rules while cleaning, your carpet will look worse after it had dried out.

Possible solution: Read the instructions, which are always written on a label attached to the back part of the rug. If you are not sure, that your cleaner works well with the fiber, make the detergent test on a small area of the carpet surface beforehand.

8. The carpet started to smell bad

Some carpet owners notice the musty odor in the room after they have cleaned the carpet. That usually happens, if the carpet was dried out incorrectly.

Possible solution: To avoid a musty odor and the appearance of mildew on the carpet surface after the cleaning, you have to dry your carpet out fast. Follow these steps to achieve your aim:

  • Use the box fan to get your carpet dried faster
  • Set the room temperature to 70 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Comb  the pile with the carpet groomer rake


I’ve shared with you the 8 most widespread reasons, why the carpet looks worse after cleaning. I’ve also shared possible solutions to each unpleasant situation, which can happen with your carpet. I hope, you’ll use these tips to clean your carpet successfully.

I wish you not to lose your enthusiasm. But keep in mind, that sometimes the best way out is to get a new carpet.

Nancy Adams

I am a fan of home decor, I devote all my free time to this activity. One of the most important components of home comfort is carpets & rugs and at the same time, it is one of the poorly covered topics on the Internet. Therefore, I decided to share my experience and knowledge in this niche.

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