Dark patches in front of sofas – is it damage …or dirt ?

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You may be sitting there one day and looking at your carpet, and notice that in front of your sofa or armchair on the carpet – that the foot area looks well, downright grubby – and wouldn’t it be nice if it wasn’t there! Maybe a good clean will get rid of it you think – or will it?

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Surely a clean will return it to new again?

Well,…possibly. What do you mean I hear you say! Well it’s not as simple as that – for a number of reasons. Usually if its quite bad then it’s usually down to people wearing outdoor shoes – in the house, treading all over the carpets. I can hear your brain saying “But we all wipe our shoes when we come in – so what on earth do you mean?” And that’s fair enough, so let me explain.

You see even when wiping your shoes on a mat, this doesn’t remove ALL the soil particles. It may remove the bulk but not the tiny particles, even minute particles caught in-between the tread of the sole. When you walk over a carpet – or sit in the same area, its the shoes rubbing against the carpet fibers – wearing them away. It’s almost like sandpaper. The tiny particles act as an abrasive, and they grind against the carpet fibre surface causing damage.

But why is it darker there than the rest of the carpet?

Well lets take a different look on it – and then you should understand. Imagine a carpet fibre…..when manufactured they are cylindrical, round and smooth on the surface – reflecting lots of light bouncing off this smooth finish. When this surface is abraded it reflects light a lot less and subsequently looks duller. Imagine a sheet of new pvc plastic, it’s hard, smooth and really shiny when reflected in the light. If you get a piece of sandpaper and rub the plastic – what happens? It goes all dull and consequently darker. This is exactly the same as a carpet fibre when shoes coarsely rub against it.

Doesn’t that make sense? 

Of course it does. Now mix in some soil from shoes and it becomes quite unsightly. Cleaning may well indeed improve the appearance but it is possible that the area could be permanently damaged. To make matters worse even slippers can cause issues too! If they are black soled, the constant rubbing of the sole can penetrate the fibers leaving them darker in appearance. If you think about it and look at your slipper soles right now – if they are black and maybe smooth and shiny? Where has the sole thickness and tread gone – if you’ve only worn them indoors? That’s right – in to your carpet! It’s not rocket science.

One last thing…

Heavy soiling created by shoes can make the same area become victim of ‘in-ground soil’ too. OK – what’s this? Well essentially it’s the constant bombardment of soil in one place (not just shoes but hands, draught/venting marks, most used seats on suites/sofas etc etc), and it isn’t always possible to remove it. It’s true, and let me give you a similar scenario. If you have a white shirt, and you start to notice that the top of the collar edge and the cuff edges are showing black soil/grubbiness – and you have just taken it out of the washing machine (even at 90 degrees!) – you put this down to the fact that the machine just cannot lift any more out, as it’s just not possible. Well it’s exactly the same with fibers and fabrics. So it’s not ineffective cleaning – it’s simply issues with that particular carpet [if it was ineffective cleaning then everyone would be complaining to their washing machine manufacturer!!].

So try to look after your carpet by removing outdoor shoes and obtaining light colored soled slippers. With these 2 actions alone the carpet will last much longer – and cleaning will have a better chance of making it look fabulous afterwards.

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