Most Common Complaint

What to Expect When Getting Carpet Cleaned

The most common complaint all carpet cleaners receive after the cleaning is that it doesn’t look clean. Giving our customers the most value is our goal at EverClean, which includes setting realistic expectations. While we thrive on delivering great results, we wish to share the limitations all carpet cleaners face when cleaning a constantly walked on surface.

Cleaning carpet is mystery to many people, and rightly fully so. There are several aspects that should be considered before allowing anyone, including professionals, to clean such a large, absorbent surface in your home. Factors such as how each carpet fiber is constructed, what material it is made from, and how the fibers wears greatly contributes to your overall satisfaction.

Unfortunately, many people believe that having their carpet professionally cleaned will result in a new appearance. While at times this is accurate, it is unfortunately not the case. It’s natural for fibers to wear in common walkways, but there are a few factors that will determine how your carpet will look after the cleaning. The following information should give you realistic expectations of what to expect when having your carpet professionally cleaned.

Common Carpet Soils

The first thought when looking at dirty carpet is that the dirt simply needs to be removed. While it’s an accurate assumption, a better question to ask oneself is what percent of the fibers are actually dirty. You may find it surprising that soil may not be the reason why your fibers appear soiled.

The most prevalent soil is not actually soil, but oil! Airborne cooking oils, pet dander and human sebum is the glue that allows dry soil particulates to stick to the fibers. Soap residue and high pH cleaners from previous cleanings also contribute heavily to what we call rapid resoiling. This is simply the process of carpet fibers attracting soils faster because they’re sticky.

Carpet Abrading

When fibers are coated with oils and soap residue, they allow soils, which are tiny glass-like minerals to adhere to fibers. This is the actual soil you believe is making your carpet appear dirty. And while It’s a contributing factor, there are usually a few more factors making you think your floor is filthy.

Professional cleaners chemically and mechanically emulsify the soils with specific detergents before removing them. This is a straight forward process; however, it’s what the soil has done to your fibers that makes the carpet appear dirty after the cleaning.

As mentioned, soil is actually shards of sharp minerals that are able to cut and scratch softer materials. In this case your carpet fibers. As you walk on the fibers, those sharp soils scratch the exterior of the fibers. Over time, these tiny micro-scratches causes the carpet to appear dirty because of light refraction.

carpet graying in Nashville

This picture shows carpet we recently deep cleaned, but the customer requested us to reclean it believing it was still dirty. Look for the traffic pattern that goes around the foot of the bed.

Carpet abrading in Nashville

This picture shoes the same abrasion marks after recleaning it. Known as abrading, light refraction from the scratched fibers makes the carpet appear dirty though it is clean.

A good example of light refraction is if you were to wash your shiny car with sandpaper. The car will be clean, but now it will now appear dirty because of the scratches. The scratched surface leaves tiny grooves in your car’s once shiny finish allowing the light to refract, or reflect in a million different directions making the car’s finish dull and gray.

New or unused carpet fibers allow the light to reflect in one, unified direction, hence the new mirror-like appearance. If you look at the carpet nearest your walls, you will usually find that it appears newer because the fibers have not been walked on. Abrading or graying is the most common complaint all carpet cleaning services get after a service.

Polyester Carpet Complaints

Unlike porous nylon, polyester has a smooth-bore, mirror-like finish that quickly abrades soon after installation. In fact, vacuuming polyester fibers can act as a sanding machine causing it to abrade faster. The spinning beater-bar under your vacuum cleaner can agitate the sharp soils against the mirror-like fibers. This allows more micro-scratches to occur on the sides of your carpet fibers, which increases the drab, gray and dirty appearance caused by abrading.

Polyester fibers is good for two things: Repurposing plastic bottles into carpeting, and solution dyed fibers. If you want hot pink carpet, polyester can give you this vibrant color. This is because the dye is added when polyester is in liquid form. The dye is part of the fiber to the core.

I sold floor coving in a prior career. The manufacturers highly recommended polyester carpet because it’s completely stain resistant to organic liquids such as coffee, tea, Kool-Aid. One of the many problems with polyester, however, is that it’s oil-based, and oil loves oil. While you cannot stain polyester with water-based liquids, oil sticks quite well to polyester fibers causing another common complaint: Shoe sole stains.

black sole shoe stain on carpet in Nashville TN.

Permanent black shoe stains around a computer chair platform.

Common Polyester Complaints

  • Abrading (scratched fibers appear gray and dirty)
  • Matting (laying flat)
  • Wicking (stains reappear a few days later)
  • Shoe Sole Stains (ink permeating fibers)
  • Amplified “Wet dog” Smell
  • Pet/Human Hair, Lint/Dust Static Attraction
  • Fiber Loss (common staple fibers)
  • Inexpensive, Common Shag Rug Fibers

Most House Shoes Stain Carpet

House slippers just feel right. They keep our feet warm and protected, but few realize the problems they can cause. Many people think that if they do not wear their house slippers outdoors, they’re fine to wear indoors. I agree with this assessment, unless those house slippers have a soft, foam-rubber shoe sole, which many do. I personally recommend boat shoes as they do not leave shoe stains on carpet as they’re made for the topside of a boat.

Today, shoe manufacturers add carbon to soft foam-rubber soles because it allows the sole to wear much longer. The problem with this is that the ink within the soft foam can permeate polyester or oil-based fibers. Removing shoe sole stains is like washing off a tattoo. It needs to be stripped away with a powerful solvent, and the process can get costly depending on how much is present.

Complaint Summary

Traffic lanes are undoubtedly the most common complaint areas after a profession cleaning. While many homeowners want to believe it is simply soil that needs to be removed, it is actually the combination of up to three common factors that appear as soil: Actual Soil, Abrading, and Shoe Sole Stains.

  1. Actual Soil: Actual soil removed during the cleaning process
  2. Abrading: Irreversible scratches that makes fibers appear dirty
  3. Shoe Sole Stains: Carbon and ink that permeates polyester fibers like a tattoo

Carpet cleaning services can remove soils, most stains and even shoe sole stains, at an additional charge. However, the only way to eliminate abrading is to replace the carpet. Much like the example of washing your car with sandpaper, we cannot fill those tiny scratches with new material to eliminate the scratched fibers. We hope this information has been helpful regarding carpet cleaning most common complaint.