You’ve all seen the magical images of before and after carpet cleaning that transforms a carpet seemingly to brand new. It’s not a myth, but it doesn’t happen every time. Mother Nature’s Cleaning can transform carpets like magic – especially when they are high end quality carpeting and 5 years young or younger. We can remove stains easily because newer synthetic carpet still carries the original Teflon based carpet protection (now illegal in CA) that was applied by the manufacturer. Newer synthetic fibers are unbroken, strong and naturally soil resistant.

When synthetic carpeting starts to age, it loses its protective layer, the fibers start to become damaged and broken and the carpeting reaches a point where it starts to hold on to the dirt and penetrating substances. When the pile becomes damaged and distorted it also loses its new appearance. Even after cleaning the traffic areas become worn and change as they become matted, thus never looking as fresh as they used to. These are the times when no cleaning product or special equipment will help to clean the carpet completely – you can see very clearly in the example above.

A good case study for this is a particular customer who had a year old mid-range nylon carpet but they have two young kids, two dogs and allow shoes on in the home. This is an above average level of soiling but not excessive. We clean for them every six months and they decline soil protector. The soiling level has been pretty consistent, but the cleaning each time gets slightly more difficult. It just looks a little less clean and a bit more worn. For a well used carpet like this, at some point it will just stop looking clean.

It is important to know what kind of carpet you have to ensure you have the correct expectations about the outcome.

Most carpeting has a lifespan of 5-15 years. This is a big range, but of course there is a huge variety of carpet types on the market today.

Now among these different types, you also have different levels of construction that will determine the quality of the rug. Carpeting has its own vocabulary which is important to know when choosing or understanding your carpeting.

  • Fiber: The face of the carpet is made from strands of fibers. Carpet fibers can be either natural or synthetic. Natural – Wool, Sisal, Seagrass, Jute; Synthetic – Nylon, Olefin, Polypropylene, Triexta, Acrylic.
  • Pile: Pile refers to the height of the loops of fibers on the face of the carpet. A carpet can have a low pile with short fibers, a high pile, or a deep pile made with taller fibers. These are generally broken down to looped, cut, or sculpted which is a combination of both.  Different pile types are designed for different applications, and there are a lot of them. (Berber loop, Frieze/Shag cut, Saxony cut, Sculpted/Cut and Loop, Twist pile Cut, Tip sheared, Velvet/Plush Cut
  • Density: Density refers to how close the fibers are to each other at the base of the carpet – how easy it is to get your fingers to the bottom. Higher density carpets are generally more durable.
  • Pad: A pad is a cushion installed between the carpet and the subfloor. A pad insulates, cushions, absorbs sound, and protects the bottom of the carpet from wearing out too fast. Keep in mind that the carpeting options you chose may include a pad that is not necessarily the right fit for your use, so it is important to question this before you finalize your purchase.

So which is the best?

  • Fiber types – Wool is the longest lasting, Nylon second and Triexta is third.
  • Pile types – loop is the longest lasting, of the cut piles Textured and Frieze are the most durable.
  • Density – the thicker the more durable.
  • Pad – Type and thickness will vary based on your use and level of traffic. Areas with light or moderate traffic can handle a thicker and softer pad, areas of higher traffic like entries, living rooms and hallways or stairs will need a firmer thinner cushion to extend the durability of the carpeting.

All in all it comes down to value – you get what you pay for, and everyone’s circumstances are different. Just be aware that if you have cheap carpet, it will not last as long or clean up as easily as it ages. If you have expensive carpet, it will look cleaner longer because it will hold up longer.

The one thing that you can do to extend the life of your carpet is utilize the benefits of carpet protector. Even the non-teflon based protectors allowed in CA will help to make vacuuming more effective and prevent most stains from becoming permanent. It will make your carpet last longer regardless of the quality.

Happy Cleaning!