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How to Deal with 4 Tricky Carpet Care Problems

Because contract cleaners and jansan distributors are becoming partners with their facility manager clients, they are probably going to be approached for help on some unusual carpet care issues. For instance, should a tenant move out of a multi-tenant office building, the building owner can expect the carpet in the vacated area to be market with potholes where furniture had been sitting. Are these permanent? If not, how can they be removed in a cost effective manner? Take a proactive approach to carpet maintenance to avoid or mitigate further issues down the road. 

1) Potholes

Because we already mentioned this one, we might as well address it first. Potholes, or dents imprinted in the carpet where furniture once sat is not a pretty picture, especially if you're trying to rent the space! One of the most effective ways to remove dents is to thoroughly vacuum the carpets. This should be followed by cleaning the carpets using a hot-water extraction method. Interim carpet cleaning methods such as bonnet or shampooing are not likely to help. Follow extraction by raking the carpets using a carpet rake. This a step many cleaning technicians have forgotten, but the rake can help pull up the carpet pile, removing the dents. 

2) Dark Doorways

Have you ever noticed how the carpet under doorways tends to get dark while the rest of the carpet may look clean? This can also happen around floor-mounted air vents. Referred to as filtration soiling, this occurs in areas where there is concentrated airflow, which brings fine dust, soils, and contaminants. These soils and contaminants build up on the immediate carpet area and cause it to darken. 

Filtration soiling is usually dry soil and is best removed by vacuuming, so if this is a recurring problem, direct cleaning professionals to spend more time vacuuming those areas. However, increasing vacuuming frequencies may only delay the problem. Eventually, these areas will turn dark. The Carpet and Rug Institute and many carpet care experts suggest the following ways to tackle this problem: 

  • Apply stain-resistance treatments to the problem areas; be sure the carpet is thoroughly cleaned before applying these treatments. 
  • Check HVAC filters; often when this problem develops, building managers discover that HVAC filters need to be cleaned or replaced. 
  • Seal the bottoms of doors so that there is less air movement underneath. 
  • Install matting in door walkways; the soil can build up on the mat which can be replaced or cleaned. 

3) Carpet Reversal

Carpet reversal often happens directly after carpet extraction but it is not the fault of the extraction or the technician. What is happening is that there has been a change in the way the carpet fibers stand up and this causes them to reflect light differently. When carpet reversal happens after carpet cleaning, some areas may look darker than others, as if those areas never fully dried. Unfortunately, there are not many solutions to offer: the problem area can be extracted again, thoroughly vacuumed or even raked. However, while carpet reversal can be minimized, for the most part it cannot be corrected. 

4) Soiled Walkways

Soiled walkways, also known as pathway soiling, is probably the most common problem facility managers must grapple with. The carpeted center area of a walkway, for instance a hallway, is dark and soiled while the surrounding areas look brand new. To make matters worse, over time the center areas can begin to show excessive wear and tear, requiring the carpets to be replaced in a relatively short period of time. 

The first step in dealing with soiled pathways is to increase vacuuming frequencies. Pathway soiling is usually caused by dry soils, which are best removed by vacuuming. Most cleaning professionals and distributors know that all carpets do not need vacuuming every night. However, this does not apply to common area walkways. In fact, one of the best ways to tackle this problem is to have the carpets vacuumed during the course of the day as well as after hours. 

If spots develop in the pathways, they should be treated and removed as quickly as possible. The problem here is that the soil from the spots can transfer to shoe bottoms and then be re-deposited further along the pathway or onto other carpeted areas. It can also cause carpet staining, which is much more difficult to remove than spots. 

A step that can be taken to protect the carpet is to install matting over the problem areas. The mat not only helps protect the carpet but also collects soils and moisture, helping to prevent their spread to other carpeted areas. Many cleaning contractors use an interim cleaning method such as bonnet cleaning or shampooing to address this problem. This can help, but it can also make the problem worse. Using these methods, some of the chemical residue may remain in the carpet. It soon starts to attract more soils, to the detriment of the carpet's appearance. It should also be noted that bonnet cleaning and shampooing are not recommended by most carpet manufacturers and may even void the carpet's warranty.

If cleaning the carpet, use the hot water extraction method, the heat of the water is especially valuable when it comes to pathway soiling because it improves the effectiveness of the cleaning chemicals but even more, the heat helps dissolve soils in the carpet. Ultimately, this can make pathway cleaning easier and faster. 

Bob Abrams is carpet care product manager for Nilfisk-Advance commercial business, reach him via his company website at

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