Common problems in carpet cleaning

During the carpet cleaning, you will unavoidably encounter many issues:  expected or unexpected.  I found that for almost all of these issues, you could find an explanation if you search hard.  In other words, they are typical issues.  On the other side, being a Forest Lake based carpet cleaning business, we serve local communities , and the uniqueness of SE Queensland weather, environment and   life  style mean some of the carpet cleaning issues happen more often than others.  Below I will discuss some of the carpet cleaning issues we have seen/experienced, and the photos in this article were taken while we were working onsite.

  1. Carpet soil filtration

You may not be aware that  your carpet is actually a gigantic air filter.  It filters out airborne soils that pass through, which results in  all kinds of particles deposited on the carpet surface.  But those particles are not distributed evenly across the carpet.  Along the edges of walls, benches and underneath doors, there are always openings that make the air flowing much faster, and deposit much more particles on the carpet.  That is where you can see dark lines along the edges, and it is called “soil filtration”.

Carpet soil filtration in a Forest Lake home
filtration lines along the wall of an unit cleaned by Stellar Carpet Cleaning.
Carpet soil filtration in a Sunnybank home
Filtration Lines along Stairs in a Townhouse cleaned by Stellar Carpet Cleaning.

We found that soil filtration appear in polypropylene and polyester carpets more often, probably because they are hydrophobic fibers and can attach oily soils more readily.

With specialized treatment, the soil filtration lines can be alleviated to some extent, depending on the types of soil, types of carpet and the age of  the particles being there.  Soil filtration lines removal is different from carpet stain removal because it happens in a large area, and the bonding between the soil and the fibre is not as strong as that in the stains. Also it is difficult to fully remove these lines and make the carpet to its original condition.  Also, such filtration lines will eventually be back again if openings still exist.

2. Carpet wicking

You successfully removed a stain during the carpet cleaning, and a few days later the customer called you and said the stain came back again.  It is called carpet wicking.  It is unavoidable and  it is not the carpet cleaner’s fault, although some procedures can be taken to prevent wicking happening again once it is identified.  For a detailed explanation on carpet wicking, please refer to my previous blog article: Carpet Wicking.  Again, we found carpet wicking happened more often in propylene and polyester carpets and to our limited experience, it never happened In wool carpet.

Carpet dry cleaning method can be employed to stop wicking. If the hot water extraction method, or commonly known as steam carpet cleaning, has to be used, try to make the drying time as short as possible.

3.Carpet browning

After a steam cleaning, some part of the carpet may become browning, and a common reason for such carpet browning is  over wetting.  It happens predominantly in wool carpet.  An experienced carpet cleaner knows that cleaning wool carpet is a pain. No matter how careful you are, you may have an issue occasionally.  Wool fibre does not respond to over wetting well, nor does it to high pH detergents, oxidizing reagents and strong agitation: all are essential to achieve a good cleaning effect.  Unfortunately, being a country “riding on the sheep back”, Australian household have larger share of wool carpets.  Therefore, it is important to identify fiber before cleaning and treat natural fibre such as wool with caution. 

Browning on a wool Carpet in a Browns Plains home

Carpet browning is associated with carpet wicking, and any procedure to prevent carpet wicking may also work on carpet browning.  In addition, carpet browning might be cured by applying anti-browning agent if done promptly.  It is important to prevent over wetting during cleaning and dry the carpet ASAP.  Fortunately, carpet drying is generally not a big issue for Brisbane’s weather.

There are other reasons to cause carpet browning/yellowing, and an experienced carpet cleaner should have some clue what the true culprit is.

4. Carpet crushing

Crushing is the result of heavy wear and tear, typically along traffic lanes, as shown in the photo below.  It is a telltale sign for polyester and polypropylene carpets, because they are much less resilient.  Carpet crushing cannot be cured by steam cleaning.  However, frequent vacuuming may help to slow down the crushing.

Carpet Crushing along Traffic Lane in a hallway of a residential building cleaned by Stellar Carpet Cleaning

5. Urine removal

Australians love pets and being an outer suburb, the dwellings in Forest Lake and its surroundings are predominantly free standing houses, which makes pet urine removal a common request for carpet cleaning.  There are a few challenges for urine removal.  First of all, urine will penetrate beyond the carpet underlay and hit the concrete floor, and therefore, you need a deep cleaning method to fully remove the urine, and it is time consuming.  Secondly, urine contains a mixture of compounds, contributing to smell and colour, and one receipt might not do all the work, In Stellar Carpet Cleaning, we developed a two step urine removal method to fully extract and remove urine components.  Thirdly, some urine spot may not be detected and still contribute to the smell.  So urine removal works the best if there are only a few accidental spots on the carpet, and if urine presents all over the place, it is generally not worth the effort to remove them.

6. Carpet stain removal

A common sense for carpet stain removal is to act as soon as possible.  For an aging stain, the molecules will gradually cross-link with fibre, forming hard and insoluble polymers, and thus difficult to remove.  If the type of stain is known,  it will generally make the work much easier.  Unfortunately, this is often not the case, and some guess work has to be done.  I often started with a spotter containing  mostly surfactants, and it often worked.  Otherwise, you might need to try oxidizing, reducing, acidic agents or organic solvent type spotters  until  you strike lucky,  and honestly, I often do.  For carpet stain removal, patience is the key. 

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