It is estimated that 79 percent of all soil that accumulates on carpets consists of sand and dry particulate matter.  This type of soil is often gritty and abrasive, and can contribute to the wearing of the carpet, and thus, produce a dull appearance.  If it isn’t removed, loose soil works its way to the bottom of the pile.  Then, as foot traffic occurs, the sharp edges cut against the fiber.  If left untended, these soil particles can actually cut off fibers at the bottoms.  This causes the pile to thin, contributing to obvious wear patterns in the carpet.

After grit, the remainder of the soil in carpets is composed of oils, greases, starches, etc.  This soil comes from cooking, heating, automobile exhausts, etc.  This type of soil is mostly acidic by nature.  For this reason, most carpet cleaning detergents are on the alkaline side of the pH scale.  Mild alkaline cleaners along with sufficient detergency, neutralize this acid condition to enhance removal of the soil. 

The tremendous reservoir capacity of a carpet means that it contains not only large quantities of dirt but food particles, hairs, and fibers as well.  This results in a breeding ground for dust mites, mold, bacteria, etc.  We all shed a certain amount of dead skin every day that contributes to house dust and this too finds its way to the carpet, providing more food for microbes there.

Cleaning residue in carpets is a major challenge to the wear-ability and appearance of all soft flooring.  Cleaner residue can cause rapid re-soiling that will lower the appearance level of many carpets giving it a dingy, dirty look even if it is actually clean.  The most difficult soils to remove are oils, tar, resin, and gum.  Those items are sticky and tend to bond, cure or dry on the fiber which cannot be removed by dry vacuuming.  These soils are the ones that require sufficient moisture, chemicals, and agitation to loosen and remove completely.  Also difficult to remove are soils that are extremely small in size, or that contain dye or pigment that acts as a stain agent by actually sinking into the carpet fiber and can become permanent.

Knowing the type soil and the correct cleaning product is essential is maintaining soft floor surfaces.  

Your comments and questions are always welcome.  I hope to hear from you soon.  Until then, keep it clean…


Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678.314.2171 or