Why Does My Carpet Look Worse After Cleaning? The 3 Most common reasons!

by Tony Gonzalez

There is nothing more painful than making your complete effort and still finding that it hasn’t paid off. Well, it’s even more painstaking with carpet cleaning, especially when you’ve just cleaned your carpet and it’s looking worse than before.

There can be several reasons why your carpet looks worse after cleaning, including wicking, leftover residues, etc. However, if you avoid certain DIY cleaning mistakes and opt for after-cleaning remedies, then you can avoid this situation. This guide will assist you in understanding why your carpet becomes worse after cleaning and using certain remedies and steps to mitigate the situation. Take a look at this article to know more about carpet browning.

Why Is Your Carpet Looking Worse After Cleaning?

The first thing to know is what is causing your carpet to look worse or even smell right after you’ve just cleaned it. There can be several reasons for it such as:


Wicking is the most common reason why your carpet doesn’t look clean after cleaning. Your carpet needs to be cleaned to the bottom of the fibers, right to the carpet padding. As the carpet fibers go down to the padding, it is necessary that your carpet should be cleaned to the bottom.

What is Carpet Browning and How to Avoid it

If you start seeing brown spots or stains in your carpet (especially after you've cleaned it), you're suffering from carpet browning. Learn how to solve it!

Wicking occurs when you aren’t able to clean the mud or the dirt that has reached your carpet’s bottom. As vacuuming helps to remove the upper soil, it also helps the cleaning solution to reach the bottom so that it can clean the dirt below.

However, when you’re cleaning the carpet, the shampoo goes down the carpet bottom, mixing with the dirt. During rinsing, the upper layer of the shampoo is cleaned while the rest of it remains at the bottom.

You can see that the upper layer is cleaned; however, as the carpet dries, you can see dirt spots wicking to the top at different places. The reason? You weren’t able to rinse off the shampoo from the bottom effectively.

That is why your carpet looks worse even after you’ve just cleaned it. Therefore it is recommended that you invest in more time and give it multiple washes so that the soil within the carpet in the bottom is extracted. This will help reduce the chances of wicking and your carpet can look good as new.



It's not just the dirt and grime in your carpet that is your enemy. Your soaps and detergents can also change sides sometimes. Well, they don't do it on purpose but it is based on what you do. As evident from the name, residues are the leftovers of soap and detergents in your carpet.

It’s just like washing your clothes. If you put in too much detergent, it’s going to leave residues in your clothes. Moreover, it will take more time to take out the excessive residues, taking more time and effort.

This is one of the most common issues with DIY carpet cleaning that haunts many people. Owners that opt for cleaning their carpet aren’t aware of the proper proportions of cleaning agents needed for cleaning.

As a result, excess shampoo, detergent, or soap is added during the cleaning phase. The point here is focusing again on cleaning and rinsing your carpet adequately. When these chemicals are left behind, they tend to become a sticky residue and appear on the surface of your carpet on drying.

However, the problem doesn’t end here. When the stick chemical residue appears, it tends to attract more dirt and grime. Since it’s easier for the dirt to stick with the residue, you’re most likely to face a carpet that becomes dirtier just as we speak.

A few things to do in this matter is to take precautions while using soaps and detergents in the phase. In addition, the focus should be on cleaning the carpet effectively. That is the reason why professional carpet cleaning is worthwhile. Know more about this here.


Another reason why your carpet isn't looking so well after cleaning is the instant traffic on it. Remember even if you're using a dry cleaning method, you still need to make sure that your carpet is dried before you actually place it back.

With incompetent drying and traffic coming on, the carpet will fall prey to residue formation again.

Residues in your carpet will capture the dirt from incoming traffic and will accumulate it. Within a few hours, your carpet will become dirtier again.

Moreover, if your carpet is experiencing traffic while being wet with residues, it will result in more problems since the residue will start going to the bottom with accumulated soil. This would add to additional problems such as wicking and will ruin your carpet.


Common DIY Carpet Cleaning Mistakes

Now that you know what causes a poor carpet cleaning result, it’s time to know what mistakes do you make while DIY carpet cleaning. As much as you think it is easy, you need to beware of the following mistakes to get a flawless cleaning result:

Over Shampooing

One of the main reasons for residue formation is over-shampooing. Excessive shampoo solution when used tends to leave residues when not rinsed properly. Moreover, it also requires excessive washing which causes over wetting of the carpet. As a result, you'll have to rinse the carpet competently for not only taking out the shampoo but also the excessive water.

Over Wetting

As highlighted earlier, over wetting the carpet is a bad idea as it takes more time and effort to rinse the excessive water. It is therefore recommended to use minimum moisture especially when you’re DIY carpet cleaning.

Moreover, when you’re cleaning the carpet, you need to make sure that the padding is cleaned too.

over wetting

This will help mitigate wicking and will not ruin your carpet. However, in doing so, don’t go on over wetting the carpet padding.

Your carpet's padding is the base and is a sensitive part. Ruining it means purchasing a new carpet padding, which will add to your costs and effort altogether. That is why, while washing your carpet, ensure that you aren't using much water. If you are, then make sure to rinse it off and let it dry completely.

Furniture Contact

Wood furniture tends to release dyes sticking on them. If your carpet is mildly wet and comes in contact with your furniture, it will absorb the dye. As a result, stains will start appearing on the wet surface of your carpet and will ruin the appeal.

Moreover, this position is an excellent opportunity for mold and mildew problems. Getting your carpet infested with mold is highly risky as it not only adds to more issues but also becomes a health issue for you and your family.

When cleaning your carpet by yourself, you need to make sure that your carpet doesn’t come in contact with your furniture. Make sure to let it dry completely so that any residues or wicking can be avoided in time before placing it back.

How to Avoid After Cleaning Stain Issues

Now that you know what mistakes to avoid during your carpet cleaning, it's time that we take a look at the remedies for it. It's possible that you won't be able to avoid all of the issues at once. That is why it's better to have something in your backup. Here are some remedies that you can try to fix after-cleaning stain issues:

  • Use a de-humidifier for minimizing moisture in your place. This will help the carpet to dry effectively and protect it from catching dirt during drying.
  • If your carpet is smelling after the rinse, you can use baking soda to remove the spread. If possible, generally spread the baking soda all around the carpet and let it sit overnight. Vacuum it effectively later on.
  • Allow circulation of air as much as possible. This is probably the easiest and effective method for drying your carpet.
  • Spreading borax and gently brushing your carpet will help improve the rinsing process.
baking soda

Final Thoughts

Keeping all this in mind, it is highly recommended that you put maximum effort in the right manner while cleaning your carpet at home. You can contact the best-carpet-cleaners-near-me to know about some tips on your DIY project. Safe Cleaning!

Tony Gonzalez Picture

By Tony Gonzalez

Carpet Cleaning and Installation

I'm Tony and I consider myself a carpet cleaning expert! I've tried the 5 most common professional cleaning methods myself, and I've reviewed thousands of carpet cleaning & installation companies. I'm currently exploring the DIY Cleaning and Installation world. It's not that hard and it's a lot of fun!

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Tony Gonzalez Picture

Tony Gonzalez

I'm Tony and I consider myself a carpet cleaning expert! I've tried the 5 most common professional cleaning methods myself, and I've reviewed thousands of carpet cleaning & installation companies. I'm currently exploring the DIY Cleaning and Installation world. It's not that hard and it's a lot of fun!

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