Whether you're just starting out or have been in the commercial carpet cleaning game for a while, you’ve probably heard some new terminology that you might not be familiar with. To help address that, we've got a few carpet cleaning terms that should help make some sense of all the industry jargon out there.

Here’s a few terms that you may find useful:


Blooming is when carpet fibers untwist, becoming frayed at the top ends (the fiber strands open up a bit like flowers, thus the name). Blooming often results from regular wear, but the process can be accelerated by cleaning with too much heat and other improper cleaning techniques that damage or pull apart the tops of the fibers.

Carpet Tiles

Commonly used in commercial office buildings, carpet tiles are individual squares of carpet that can be easily installed and configured to fit almost any floor plan. Tiled carpet offers high levels of durability, a variety of color and texture options, and the ability to be removed and replaced when specialty cleaning is required. Tiles can also be replaced individually when they are damaged, which helps keep costs down.

Continuous Flow Recycling

Continuous Flow Recycling, or CFR, is a process used by certain Hot Water Extractor carpet cleaning machines. In this process, water and cleaning chemicals recovered from the carpet pass through a number of filters to purify and recirculate the solution. This system, along with other innovations like a water-atomizing wand, allows CFR units to clean up to 7 times the carpet area of a traditional extractor using the same amount of cleaning solution.


Crushing is when the carpet has been smashed down by prolonged foot traffic or heavy furniture. Most carpet will end up getting crushed eventually. Regular maintenance, firm carpet padding, and occasionally moving furniture to create new traffic patterns can help put off the effects of crushing.


Denier is a unit of measurement for yarn. Carpets that have a higher denier have heavier or more yarn.


Often used for spot cleaning, encapsulation treatments form crystals within the carpet fibers that trap the compounds causing a stain. The crystals can then be vacuumed up and removing them along with the stain.

Face Weight

Face weight is the total weight of the fibers in a square yard of carpet. This measurement can be helpful in determining the performance and durability of a carpet. A higher face weight means there is more yarn in the carpet, and that makes for a product that lasts longer.


The basic element of all carpet material is fibers. Fibers are woven into bunches, or strands, that give the carpet it’s texture. Most carpet produced today uses synthetic fibers made from materials like nylon, olefin, or polyester. Some carpets do use natural fibers such as wool (the original carpet fiber), cotton, or silk – and some carpets use a blend of synthetic and natural fibers.


Similar to blooming, fraying carpet fibers have become damaged and tend to expand and change their texture. Improper cleaning can cause fraying, as well as heavy traffic and regular wear and tear.

Hot Water Extraction

This method of carpet cleaning uses a wand to spray high pressure water and cleaning chemicals into the carpet in order to break down embedded soils all the way to the base of the fibers. The solution is immediately sucked back out of the carpet and then dried, leaving a carpet that is deep cleaned and restored. Most carpet manufacturers and the Carpet and Rug Institute recommend hot water extraction as the most effective and least damaging deep cleaning method.

 Maintenance Program

Every building needs a customized maintenance program which includes all of the cleaning and maintenance services that will be required to properly care for the facility. Smart maintenance programs use cleaning resources efficiently (cleaning high traffic areas more frequently and low traffic areas less, rather than all areas equally, for instance).


Like paints and other products, new carpets release gasses after they are first installed. These gases often contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Modern carpets, especially those that display green labeling, release lower levels of such compounds. For the first week or two, ventilate rooms with new carpet to disperse the gas.


The cushion or pad that goes underneath the carpet and above the floor itself. Padding helps extend the life of carpet as well as enhancing its comfort and appearance.


Carpet pile, or nap, refers to the style of the carpet fibers. There are quite a few different type of carpet pile. Cut pile is made up of twisted strands that are cut at the top. Loop pile uses similar strands that loop back down to the carpet backing instead of being cut at the top. Cut and loop pile blends these two types. Others include velvet, saxony, plush, hard twist, and shag.

Pile Reversal

Pile reversal, or shading, happens when heavy foot traffic or other activity bends carpet fibers out of their usual direction. This may cause the carpet to appear discolored and uneven. Places where people often pivot or turn their feet like, doorways and corners, commonly suffer from pile reversal.


Resilience refers to a carpet’s (and the accompanying padding and backing) ability to resist crushing and matting. The type of fiber, pile, backing and pad, along with other aspects of the carpet contribute to the amount of resilience a carpet has.


High levels of heat and humidity can cause wavy or ruffled-looking patterns to form across wall-to-wall carpets. This rippling may be able to be corrected by re-stretching the carpet. Contact a qualified professional to perform this service as it involves removing and re adhering the carpet.


Carpets are typically manufactured in 12 ft wide rolls, which by necessity creates situations where multiple pieces of carpet will need to be used to cover a room. The line where the pieces come together is called the seam.


New carpets will often shed some fibers for the first few weeks after they have been installed. Shedding is more common for carpets with taller, thicker pile (like cut pile or wool carpets), but may still occur with low pile synthetic carpeting. Vacuum frequently to quickly deal with shedding issues.


Within the carpet and cleaning industry, the dirt, germs, stains, and other grimey stuff that gets into carpet is referred to as soil. Soiling is best addressed by a regular maintenance program that includes regular vacuuming to remove surface soils and intermittent deep cleaning via hot water extraction.


Tufting is how carpet fibers are woven into the strands that make up the structure of the carpet. Tufting creates the loops of fiber that can then be cut, or not, and attached to the backing material.


A wand is an attachment that connects via a hose and metal tube to an extractor (or similarly, to a vacuum) to both extend the reach of the operator and apply the water and chemical mix to the carpet and then remove it. Vacuum wands sometimes have rotating brushes in them. Hot water extractor wands typically contain a system to deliver solution into the carpet (like CFR’s low-moisture atomizing wands), and a secondary system to recover the solution from within the carpet.

Let us know if there are any other terms or phrases we could help define for you!