Carpet Wear

What is Wear?

Premature Wear

Did you know that carpeting is a textile, just like upholstery, linens, and clothing? Much like your favorite pair of jeans that have become faded and worn at the knees, carpets will start to show wear marks in the traffic areas. Wear is a combination of several things. They include soil in the carpet, traffic lanes, loss of fibers, infrequent vacuuming, having imbedded soil in the carpet (that can’t be brought up with vacuuming) and time. Improper light reflection is also a factor in making a carpet look dirty. Improper maintenance is the main reason carpets show signs of premature wear. When major traffic lanes are vacuumed daily and spots or spills are promptly removed, carpeting will look better and last longer.

Traffic Lane Gray

Like all textiles, carpets will eventually show signs of wear. The wear creates an illusion of soiling, which often causes frustration and misunderstanding between homeowners and carpet care experts. Even though a carpet has been cleaned, it does not mean the traffic areas will look clean. Traffic areas are those places where people are constantly walking or working. This situation creates what is called “traffic lane gray”, a condition that has been nicknamed “ugly out”. There is not a lot that a carpet care expert can do with “ugly out”. When a 10-year old carpet is cleaned, you will end up with a clean 10-year old carpet. It may not appear the way you had hoped. Just like the wear that is visible on your old jeans, carpeting will show signs of wear, too. The easiest way to slow down “ugly out” is by rearranging the furniture so traffic areas are changed./p>

Improper Light Reflection

Traffic areas (or patterns) often look soiled even after a thorough cleaning, because the fibers do not reflect the light properly. Carpet fibers are designed to magnify the light that passes through them. Carpet color, brightness and the luster that is seen by the human eye is a direct function of the amount of light that is reflected by the carpet fiber. A good example of how a carpet reflects light is shown by how it looks when it is viewed from different angles. The carpet will look darker when viewed from one direction and will appear lighter when it is viewed from the opposite direction. The best way to prevent improper light reflection is to vacuum the carpet regularly, use proper spotting procedures, and have it professionally cleaned on a regular basis.


Soiling is mainly caused by tracking in soil on our shoes. Other contributing factors are dust, airborne pollutants and food or beverage spills on the carpet. Soil damages carpeting as well as causing it to look dirty. The main damage caused by soiling is called fiber abrasion. Fiber abrasion is created by dirt particles scratching or scraping the surface of the fibers, similar to scratches on glass. Scratches and scrapes block light reflection, causing these areas to look gray, dull, and dirty. The easiest way to keep soil from damaging the carpet is to vacuum regularly.


There is a point when carpet fibers will no longer return to their original shape. As fibers lose their twist, the carpet begins to look flat, bunched together and distorted. This is called matting. Matting includes fiber distortion. Matting and fiber distortion will cause the carpet to look dirty and grayed out, even when the carpet is cleaned and all soil has been removed. The easiest way to avoid matting is to vacuum and rake the carpet often.

Regular Maintenance

The best way to keep your carpet looking its very best is to properly maintain it. Read your carpet warranty for specific maintenance requirements. Vacuum everyday if possible. Vacuuming removes loose soil before it becomes imbedded in the fibers. The removal of abrasive soils from the carpet will help to extend the carpet’s life.