The condition known as “carpet reversal” often develops after carpets have been cleaned using the extraction method. And very often, end-customers blame the problem on the technician.

Carpet reversal creates a permanent change in the appearance of carpeting that has to do with the way in which light reflects off the surface of the carpet’s material. This problem typically occurs in the kind of densely constructed plush carpeting often installed in large hotels and ballrooms.

When carpet reversal occurs, some areas of the carpet will appear light when viewed from one angle and dark when viewed from another direction.

Worse, the condition may get more noticeable over time. The carpet may look as though it has water damage, or as though it did not properly dry in some areas after cleaning. This is why carpet reversal is sometimes referred to as “water marking.”

“The first thing carpet cleaning techs should know is it is not their fault,” says Doug Berjer, Product Manager for CFR, manufacturer of recycling carpet extractors. “Why the carpet lays uniformly when installed and then becomes distorted, showing light and dark areas after cleaning, is somewhat of a mystery.”

According to Berjer, while it may be difficult, technicians must explain to customers that carpet reversal is not a defect in the carpet; nor is it caused by technicians or the carpet extraction process. “And unfortunately, there is not a quick or permanent fix that will correct the problem,” he continues.

Nevertheless, the following suggestions may correct carpet reversal:
• Clean the problem area again using carpet extraction.
• Brush or rake the carpet, trying to get the carpet piles all going in the same direction.
• Vacuum the problem area.

“In most cases, these methods will only provide a temporary improvement,” Berjer explains. “Instead of taking the time to re-clean, brush, or vacuum the carpet, technicians may be better off trying to educate the customer about what happened and why the cleaning professional and cleaning process are not at fault.”