Our primary function as a cleaning service is identifying and removing soils in an effective and efficient manner.  The more we know about dirt/soil the more successful we can deal with it.  Soil is a destructive force.  Unless it is removed promptly, soil will discolor and eventually destroy any carpet.  Looking at soil through a microscope will help you understand why it is so destructive. 

Soil typically found in a carpet is loaded with silica (aka sand and grit).  These particles are tiny but have hard, razor-sharp edges that can pierce a carpet fiber or even cut it in two.  They can literally sand paper a carpeted area by the abrasive effects on people’s shoes.  This emphasizes the importance of thorough vacuuming (preferably dry) to remove this type of soil that can easily be managed with a well thought out and through system.  

A high concentration of animal (humans, generally) and cellulosic (i.e., paper) fibers are present, and inevitable in any environment where people conduct business.  Yet, based on the chart below, note the high concentrations of resins, gums, greases and fats.  These become the binders— the material that attracts and holds all other types of dirt to the carpet.

Component Weight (%)
Silica and silicates 30% - 40%
Oxides, carbonates, phosphates 6% - 24%
Animal and cellulosic fiber 20% -24%
Resins and gums 6% - 10%
Greases and fats 3% - 8%
Moisture 3%
Free carbon 0% - 3%

Of course these are suggestive numbers and will vary greatly across the country due primarily to weather conditions and types of soils present in the environment.  For example, a garage area will have a higher concentration of grease whereas a building near a beach is going to have more silica.  Other factors include the type tenant and visitor as well as use of the building or area.  

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 CTCG50@comcast.net.