Carpet Soil: Understanding the Sources, Types, and Buildup

Understanding Carpet Soiling

Carpet wear and tear can happen prematurely due to various reasons, with one of the most significant culprits being soil buildup. Soil can be deposited on carpets in several ways, including tracking from outdoor particles, indoor sources such as human and animal dander, and commercial work processing. The type of soil that accumulates on carpets also varies, with water-soluble, dry solvent-soluble, and insoluble soil being the most common types.  Understanding this and the role that professional carpet cleaning plays is crucial for those in the industry.

To prevent soil buildup on carpets, the source of soil and its composition must first be determined. Arresting soil is a preventative step achieved by maintaining exterior walkways and using entry mats inside and outside buildings. By using proper exterior maintenance and barrier matting systems of sufficient size, the entire building stays cleaner, and less time is spent maintaining floors, furnishings, and fixtures. It is also essential to regularly vacuum, shake, and flush the entry mats to keep them efficient.

To effectively clean carpets, it is necessary to understand the physical and chemical properties of different soil types. Water-soluble soils, such as sugar, starches, salts, and other fluidic residues, dissolve easily in water. Dry solvent-soluble soils, including asphalt, tar, grease, and animal or vegetable oils, accumulate on carpets just inside entries from specialized work areas or parking lots. To complicate matters, oily soils left on carpets for an extended period can dry out or “oxidize,” forming a hard, yellow, lacquer-like film. Insoluble soil, including particles such as clay, sand, and carbon, cannot be dissolved with chemicals used in normal cleaning and must be removed in some other way.

Soiling tends to collect in entry areas first, and if left unchecked, it can be deposited further into the inner areas of the building. Eventually, traffic areas across an entire room may become loaded with abrasive sand and grit, causing damage to the carpet fibers. Therefore, it is crucial to arrest particle soils with entry maintenance and barrier matting and to remove soil from these areas regularly.

In conclusion, preventing soil buildup on carpets requires a proactive approach. Maintaining exterior walkways, using entry mats inside and outside buildings, and regularly vacuuming, shaking, and flushing entry mats are all effective methods. Understanding the sources, types, and buildup of soil on carpets is also critical to effectively clean carpets and prevent premature wear and tear.


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