One of the most common questions I get asked is about the difference in colour in a carpet either before or after it has been cleaned. I explain to the client that the difference in carpet colour is not necessarily due to soils, but an underlying issue. I found this article from NCCA Trainer Paul Pearce (My carpet cleaning trainer). This article explains the process much better than i can 🙂

Carpet with pile distortionCarpet cleaners and consumers seem to contact me a lot in regard to dark areas in the carpet which are resolutely present during and even after cleaning. Consumers say “I have just had my carpet cleaned and its still dirty”. The carpet cleaner calls me to say “I have been working on this area now for thirty minutes and its still not coming clean”

You may assume that these dark areas are due to stubborn soiling, but very often they’re not. You see, when we remove the soil from the surface of a  carpet we are often confronted with further issues such as distortion to the pile or carpet fibres. This is often the case when the client is dissatisfied with a clean. They think there is remaining soil in the carpet, when the real reason it looks dark is the distorted pile. Of course it really doesn’t help when the ill-informed carpet retailer or clients friend says “well, they didn’t do a good job of removing the soil, it still looks dirty, especially in front of the settee”.

Walkway areas in particular can change substantially in appearance, due to distortion, in a relatively short time and this may not be noticed by the client until after the carpet has been cleaned. It is inevitable that all ‘traffic’ areas will show signs of wear and tear over time, but some people think that the degraded appearance is simply down to soiling. This kind of distortion is progressive, and can start immediately after the carpet is laid. It can be the result of a number of things

Shading – a change in light reflection as fibres are bent or reoriented over time.
Abrading – which results from the abrasive action of particle soil rubbing against the fibres, causing them to dull and reflect, deflect or absorb light differently from less trafficked areas.
Fading – gradual colour loss resulting from exposure of carpet dyes to light (especially sunlight) over time and to a lesser extent, to acid soil or atmospheric gases or fumes.
Wear – a loss of fibre density resulting from normal traffic, maintenance and general use. Obviously poor pile density and minimum yarn twist also results in distortion traffic areas
Pile Reversal – which can appear generally throughout a carpet but mainly wherever traffic is experienced, usually immediately after installation or within a few months (looks like a water stain). No one really knows what causes pile reversal or how to prevent it. It even extends across seams of one section of carpet to another; I have seen it on carpet tiles
There are reported to be one or two people out there using a steaming method to reverse the distorted pile, but even that is only a temporary measure. It is not a manufacturing fault, although there have been instances where a carpet has been replaced by the manufacturer. However, i suspect this was more a gesture of good will than ownership of the problem.

Because it occurs in carpet and rugs of all fibre types (wool, nylon, polyester, acrylic, coir, silk, polypropylene, etc.), all construction types (woven, tufted, fusion bombed, modular, etc.), In all methods of installation, under virtually every imaginable combination of circumstances, the conclusion that pile reversal is not related to any of these factors is well supported.

The visibility of shading, including pile reversal, is minimised if the carpet is:
a loop pile: it occurs almost invariably in cut pile styles, loop-pile styles are a virtual guarantee against the problem.
– displaying a busy pattern: the more busily and boldly patterned a carpet is, the better it will disguise shading and pile reversal.
– a pale cool: lighter carpets sometimes tend to show less contrast between darker and lighter shaded areas, whereas darker colours often tend to exaggerate these differences.
– constructed of fibres with less lustre: fibres with less ‘sheen’ create less contrast between dark and light areas.

Bear in mind though that pile distortion will not be the explanation for every single dark patch of carpet.


If you would like any advice if you feel you may have any of the issues here present in your carpet call me now on 01227 389938. I always give realistic expectations when surveying any carpet cleaning task so consumer knows exactly where they stand in terms of expected results