- Spots happen when there are things spilled onto the carpet but do not chemically bond (attach) to the fibers. Examples would be dirt from heavy traffic areas, food, etc…
- Stains though are spills that can damage and/or change the carpet by appearance or touch. Things like motor oil or similar would fall under this category
But the main difference between the two is that spots are organic (matter) and stains therefor 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, dirt will cling to the agent, and when you vacuum, the dirt on the stain will remain attached to it. This latter issue is something that gets carpet cleaners the angry call back 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 and wants the job redone.
So how would one 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, which can actually permanently dye the carpet as well. If however the color is different than the rug (perhaps like red wine on a beige carpet), then it is most likely a spot.
To break it down better ...
- Spots – To make these, you have to drop or spill something on your carpet. Whatever you spill, it won’t permanently bond or cause damage to the carpet fiber. Clean them right, and you can entirely remove them from your carpet.
- Stains – With these, they can permanently damage your carpet fiber. They either add or take away color from your carpet.