When Sun Tzu advised readers to know your enemy in The Art of War, he likely wasn’t talking about carpet contaminants. But the philosophy applies.
The key purpose of carpet cleaning is to remove soils. However, there are actually several different types of soils and contaminants found in carpets, and knowing what type of soil is in the carpet should be the first step in effectively removing it.
A recent U.S. Products study focused on the top 10 soils that most often end up in carpets and how they get there.
As much as 80% of these soils are deposited onto carpets from the shoe bottoms of people walking into facilities, according to Mark Baxter, a carpet cleaning expert and product manager for U.S. Products.
“Making matters worse,” he says, “the soil, now transferred to the carpet, can transfer back on to someone else’s shoes and then become transferred once again to another area of the carpet, spreading the soil throughout the facility.”
“Of all these soils, gritty materials are probably the most harmful to carpets,” adds Baxter. “Technicians should view gritty soils as tiny little razors, gouging and cutting carpet fibers as people walk over the carpet. Fortunately, they can usually be removed using a hot water carpet extractor, protecting the health and life of the carpet.”
So what are the most common types of soil in carpets?
Top 10 Soils in Carpet
- Sand, clay, and other “gritty” materials
- Natural fibers such as lint from clothing
- Petroleum, oil, and grease
- Human hair and skin
- Dust mites, fleas, and other insects
- Organic soils and materials (minerals and soils from landscaping areas, for example)
- Airborne carbon and automotive exhaust
- Spilled food or beverages
- So-called “miscellaneous unknowns”