Soil found on a carpet can be classified as: spots and stains; surface litter (paper, threads, lint, etc.); gritty unattached particles and that which is adhering to the fibers. Spots and stains are dealt with in our other Hint & Tips. Surface litter can be picked up with a vacuum. Although unsightly, generally this material does not soil or harm the carpet.
Most of the gritty, unattached soil is tracked in on the feet; the longer it remains on the carpet, the more damage it will cause. Gritty soil will scratch and produce pits on fibers to dull them, making them appear even more soiled than they may be. It also produces a cutting action which removes fibers and shortens the life of the carpet. Remove this soil by daily vacuuming of traffic areas and overall vacuuming at least once a week.
Soil which gives the carpet its dirty look is composed of sticky oils and greases containing tiny pieces of soil materials. By professional cleaning this type of soil can be most thoroughly removed. The longer oily soil remains on the fiber, the more difficult it is to take off. Some oily type soils change chemically and produce a yellowish film on the fiber which is impossible to remove. Other oils actually dissolve into some of the synthetic fibers, becoming part of the fibers themselves. These cannot be removed without damage to the fiber.
For proper carpet maintenance, remove spots immediately, vacuum traffic areas daily, vacuum thoroughly once a week, and have a professional cleaning when traffic areas begin to show soil.
Sometimes stains that have been hidden by soil are revealed after cleaning. These stains, which did not immediately cause discolouration, are usually from spilled liquid containing colourless sugar that remained on the fibers. After long exposure to the air, they changed to insoluble brown stains. The stains may look like brownish discolourations but often they remain unnoticed because of the accumulated soil covering them.
Other kinds of stains can be caused by water soaking through and absorbing sizing’s, browning or fugitive dyes from the backs of the material. Because the fibers act as wicks, moisture will rise to the surface to evaporate, and discolouration will be left. Consumers who try to remove stains by using the wrong cleaning compounds and procedures, may only make the stained areas more noticeable.
To lessen the possibility of stain-damage, immediate action should be taken: thoroughly absorb all moisture and, when possible, put a 1cm thickness of clean, white absorbent material over the area, weighting it down – then call your professional cleaner to learn how to remove the spot safely before it becomes a permanent stain.