I had no idea this carpet color would show soil so badly. It was supposed to have been Scotchgarded at the mill. But, within a few months, the high traffic areas look terrible.
The reason books, magazines, newspapers and such are printed on white paper is that black print upon it is easy to read, due the color contrast. The same principle applies to parking lot grease and street grime tracked indoors on light-colored carpeting. On white carpeting, black grease becomes apparent. To understand both the topic problem and the solution in depth, lets begin with the soiling process.
(Note: The above example implies that the solution to offset soil contrast is to install darker carpet : People with carpet of medium or dark color tones often fail to clean their carpeting as frequently as they should, because the degree of soiling is not apparent for lack of color contrast. Keep in mind that all carpeting gets dirty, regardless of color.)
The soiling process:
Soils that first adhere to carpet yarn-including carpet with a protective treatment-is oily or oil based. Some are airborne, coming from cooking vapors and vehicle exhaust pollution. Others are brought indoors on shoe leather-picked up from parking lots, sidewalks, and the garage floor.
At first, the amount of oily soil that sticks to carpet is minuscule, invisible to the naked eye. But, it is enough to serve as a bonding agent for additional quantities that collect still more soil. Thus, the increasing quantity becomes progressively darker and more visible. Of course, soils accumulate faster in traffic lanes and shoe pivot areas, such as at corners in hallways and before sofas and chairs. And, obviously, the more people in the household, the more shoes and the more rapid the soiling rate. Further, the tacky consistency of oily soils collects other soil types as well-especially dust which contains a wide variety of contaminants (organic, inorganic and biological) including huge quantities of abrasive grit.
While the progressive accumulation of tacky, oily soils will cause carpet pile packing-if it isn’t cleaned away-the grit content threatens additional damage. You see, grit is a microscopic rock with many sharp, jagged cutting edges. Therefore, walking upon soiled carpeting becomes tantamount to walking on sandpaper. Abrasive grit under body weight or shoe leather grinds gouges and scratches the yarn’s polished finish, which, in time, will cause permanent shading, a grayish color-cast in pathways that cleaning cannot remove.
Soil Retardants (Scotchgard):
Soil retardants help to keep carpet cleaner two ways: 1) Liquid spills bead on the carpet surface, making them easier to clean up, and 2) dry soils cannot adhere to so easily. This is not to say that soils cannot adhere to it. Soil retardants slow down the soiling process. In other words, they are an aid, not a solution.
Since soil retardants, being topically applied, coating the yarn, they are subject to wear from soil and foot traffic abrasion as is the yarn itself. For this reason, cleaning your carpeting as soon as soil becomes visible will prolong both the beauty of your carpeting and the efficiency of the protective treatment. You’d be wise to use the hot water extraction (steam cleaning) method. Cleaning methods that employ brushes and do not rinse cleaning agent from carpeting are not recommended. Cleaning agent left in carpeting attributes to rapid re-soiling.
From the date carpeting is installed, when should a soil retardant be reapply?
From home to home, there are too many variables to say. Still, you should know that hot water extraction cleaning does not remove factory-applied soil retardants. However, the longer you delay cleaning, the more abrasive wear to both the soil retardant coating and to carpet yarn. Therefore, timely, proper cleaning is important. Still, since high traffic areas get the most wear, reapplication of the treatment in these areas will be required sooner than others. In most homes, the treatment should probably be reapplied to high traffic areas after one or two years.