In the past I have conveyed maintenance tips and information about carpets being a filter for your indoor environment. The purpose of the filter is to collect the pollutants from within your home and trap them within the carpet fibers. This filtering effect means that you breathe in less harmful airborne contaminants, such as pollen spores, vehicle emissions dust and an assortment of other volatile organic compounds (as compared to a hard surface floor with the same contaminants).
Maintenance is crucial! Faithfully clean your carpet filter on a regular basis, to remove the collected contaminants and refresh your entire home. The benefit of regular scheduled carpet maintenance is two fold.
The first benefit was just described above, and the second is one that you will not really notice until it becomes too late to change it. What I am getting at fiber wear caused by gritty soils like dust, sand and small food particles. These are the soils that actually damage the carpet and cause it to appear worn.
The worn appearance will be visible in many different forms but the most common are matting and crushing. What happens to cause this is rather simple; abrasive soils cut against the fibers as you travel across the carpet, these small cuts actually weaken the carpet fiber until it eventually falls over. Like chopping down a tree, eventually it gives way to gravity. This effect is compounded by both new abrasive soils being added daily but also by repeatedly walking over and over in the same path and direction.
Before you know it the carpet looks flat and dull. In some instances it appears rather dark, especially from one direction. This is called shading or nap reversal. The nap of the carpet has become matted and crushed in the opposite direction of the rest of the carpet, causing a dark path or patch. This is further compounded by ambient light not being reflected by the fiber. Reflection is affected by the abrasions and cuts from the soils. Of course oily soils and regular dirt add to the dark appearance.
Areas most prone to matting, crushing and shading are of course high traffic areas, but they also are found in areas that require your foot to pivot on the carpet either to get around a coffee table or to round a corner to enter a room or hallway. The added pivoting of your foot really does a number on the carpet fibers on its own, add gritty soils to the mix and you have an instant wear and tear area.
Entryways into the home, especially the garage, are the primary source of gritty soils. Once inside they track well into the home in a very short time, even if you do take your shoes off. Another area to look at is where tile or wood flooring meets carpet. Kitchens and bathrooms are prime areas. The accumulation of dust and food particles easily tracks into the carpet and becomes a source of gritty soil. Carpeted areas such as these should be vacuumed twice as often as the rest of the house.
In addition to the filter effect carpets should be viewed in the same light as your teeth and vehicle…if you do not apply a periodic maintenance schedule they will soon fail and require replacement or costly repairs.
So what is a good cleaning plan?
Well let’s start with vacuuming; a good rule of thumb is to vacuum as often as possible (everyday) especially in areas of high traffic and at entryways. This will minimize the build up of damaging abrasive soils between professional cleaning.
To remove the oily soils schedule professionally carpet cleaning of your high use rooms approximately every 6 months, more often if you have pets or children. The best approach for high use rooms is to at least clean the carpet traffic areas every 4 to 6 months and then wall to wall every 12 months.
To help maintain a healthy environment throughout your home simply add on an extra room or two each time you clean. Generally rooms that have less traffic require only an annual cleaning; but over all it helps your indoor air and the healthiness of your home, especially in bedrooms where the largest accumulation of dust mites exist.