The Difference Between Real and Apparent Soiling
Often times, custodial personnel confuse apparent carpet soiling with real soiling. In fact, real soiling is often defined as “any matter that is foreign to the construction of the carpet and that can actually be removed from the carpet.” On the other hand, apparent soiling is when a carpet only appears soiled; in these cases, the carpet’s appearance often cannot be corrected because it is not really soiled.
A good example of a situation in which a carpet looks soiled but is really not is caused by carpet abrasion. Similar to scratches on glass, carpet abrasion occurs when soil scratches or scrapes the surface of carpet fibers. This can interfere with light reflection on the carpet, causing these areas to look grey, dull, and dirty.
“Since [carpet abrasion] is typically caused by dry soiling, frequent vacuuming is an effective way to stop or slow down carpet abrasion,” says Mark Cuddy, National Sales Director for U.S. Products, manufacturer of portable hot-water carpet extractors. “This should be supplemented with frequent hot-water [carpet] extraction.”
According to Cuddy, other types of soiling that are apparent rather than real include:
• Fading: The gradual loss of color due to prolonged exposure to light sources. These sources can be either fluorescent or natural; either way, customers often believe a faded carpet is actually a soiled carpet.
• Wear: A reduction in pile density caused by foot traffic over time. Eventually, this results in minor fiber loss, which can noticeably change the carpet’s appearance, making it look soiled.
“These situations give cleaning professionals and technicians an opportunity to educate their customers on carpet and carpet care,” says Cuddy. “While abrasion, fading, and wear typically cannot be corrected once they have occurred, vacuuming [frequently] and hot-water extraction [regularly] can help prevent or slow down apparent soiling from re-occurring-something customers will really appreciate learning about.”