Why do carpets get dirty?

After weeks spent walking around showrooms and browsing flooring suppliers’ websites, you’ve finally chosen and bought your beautiful new carpet, and had it laid carefully by a skilled professional.  It looks amazing.  Now all you need to do is to make sure that you vacuum it regularly, remember not to spill anything on it, and you’re good to go, right?

Unfortunately, the reality is that, no matter how careful you are, your new carpet will still accumulate soil over time.  If you want to prolong its life and to preserve its showroom good looks, that soil will need to be removed on a regular basis, and vacuuming alone just won’t do it.

What makes carpets dirty?

We give our carpets a really hard time.  Every day, we walk all over them, transferring any dirt from our shoes or feet onto the carpet’s pile.  And every day, we spray our carpets with a microscopic film of sticky oil and other contaminants transported by the steam and water vapour released whilst cooking.  On top of that, our carpets are continually covered by the tiny particles of dust, soot, and countless other contaminants that descend from the atmosphere all the time. You can often see evidence of this around the edges of your room and beneath closed doors where drafts force more of this soil into your carpet’s fibres.  Over time, a carpet can accumulate up to four times its own weight in dirt (referred to as “soil” by the carpet cleaning industry).  But what is that soil made up of?

Carpet soil is comprised of dry soil and wet soil.  Dry soil is made up of a huge range of materials, including:

  • dust
  • sand
  • grit
  • earth
  • ash
  • talc
  • carbon
  • various fibres (wool, cotton, paper and silk)
  • human/animal skin cells
  • hair
  • fingernail filings
  • wood fragments
  • food debris
  • insect husks
  • dust mites
  • insect faeces
  • bacteria
  • pollen
  • fungal spores
  • mould
  • construction debris (cement, gypsum, paint flakes, etc.) 
  • and many other types

Wet soil is made up of an equally broad range of substances, including: 

  • oil-based liquid residues from cooking, cars, roads/pavements (etc.)
  • water-based liquid residues from food, drinks and other spills, atmospheric and environmental moisture, pet urine, etc.
  • organic solvents/compounds
  • and many more

All of this soil builds up over time.  Initially, you won't notice it as carpets are designed to be very good at hiding soil (especially wool carpets - it's one of the reasons why they are so popular).  However, eventually, the soil will show, and it will begin to damage the carpet's fibres and even become a health hazard, especially for children who play on the floor. Regular vacuuming helps to reduce the rate at which dry soil accumulates, but it will not touch any wet soils. To keep it properly clean and in the best condition, your carpet will still need a regular professional clean.