The definition of carpet soil is anything foreign to the construction of the carpet.

 “Apparent Soil”…is often caused from other factors than wear and abrasion.  Light sources such as track and spotlights, natural light from outside sources or shadowing can make the appearance of spots, stains, soiling or color loss.   As mentioned in previous issue soil can abrade or scratch the carpet fibers causing a different appearance as the light is reflected back to our eyes.  The carpet may be clean but still, appear dirty.  Professionals refer to this as “traffic
lane grey.”   

“Real Soil”…As the term suggests, real soil is the actual foreign matter that causes a change in appearance or damage to carpet fibers and surfaces.

The makeup of these soils will determine what course of action is needed to remove the contaminant effectively.  They are basically broken down into three basic categories which are:

Solvent Soluble Soils are types of soils that are natural or synthetic oil-based products such as greases, oils, tars, and some paints and makeup. 

Water Soluble Soils are the most commonly encountered soils.  They include any substance that can be dissolved in water such as soft drinks, coffee, juice or alcohol.  These can leave residue and will cause rapid re-soiling if not completely removed.  They generally can be removed with mild detergents and water solutions.

Insoluble Soils are substances such as sand, minerals, glass, etc. and are insoluble in water or solvent solutions.  This is the type of soiling that is most effectively removed by brushing
and vacuuming.

Carpet soiling is a cumulative process and may need to be dealt with in different ways.   Here are a few of the more common ways that carpets become contaminated or soiled.  

Tracked in soils are brought in by shoes, rolling carts, animals, etc. transferring soils directly on the carpet.  Carpets are excellent shoe cleaners and the carpets become as soiled as the shoes and this process continues with traffic.

Airborne Soils are part of our environment. Dry soils, vaporized soils from cooking and other gases and pollutants constantly bombard carpet fibers which trap and hold these soils.

Spills are a fact of life.  Food and beverage spills, animal excretions and all of the occasional mishaps  deposit various types of wet, oil and dry soils onto the carpet.

In our last issue, we discussed the importance of a regular vacuum cleaning schedule relevant to your buildings traffic and individual needs.  Here are a few more helpful tips to assist in preventative care of your carpets. Use walk-off Mats strategically placed at entryways.  Walk off Mats must be cleaned on a regular basis and be large enough to thoroughly “clean” the soles of your shoes.   Used properly walk-off Mats are the first line of defense in preventing carpet soiling.

Move your furniture around occasionally.  This will help prevent permanent indentations in the backing of the carpet from heavier furniture.  This will also change the wear patterns at areas of the carpet that receive the most traffic such as walkways and where you rest your feet in front of your favorite recliner, couch or loveseat.  

Finally, most carpet manufacturers recommend having your carpets professionally cleaned annually or twice a year for busy households.   Carpet warranties may require the reapplication of carpet protectant along with proof of regular cleanings to maintain the warranty from the manufacturer.  More to come on this subject in future issues.