Picture this: you move into a new home, and all is fine and dandy for the first few months. Eventually, the carpet needs cleaning, as the dust and dirt always build up. But then you notice that the dirtiest part of the carpet is actually in the corners and edges of the room. No matter how hard you try, it won’t budge – so what do we do from here on out?
Dirt around the carpet edges is professionally known as filtration soiling, and it’s a handful to deal with even for experts. Still, not all is lost, but as any other issue, you need to keep a timely lid on it. As any other issue, before you can solve it, you need to know what it is, and why it’s there in the first place.
What creates black strips along the edges of your carpets?
Alright, so you fancy yourself great at hoovering, and I believe you. But the carpet edges still have a black outline, so what gives? Don’t beat yourself up over it, trust me - it’s not you, it’s the actual air flow of the room.
I’m sure that’s confusing, so let me clarify: when air enters a room faster than it can leave it, it still needs to get out. Think of it like squeezing a bag of crisps – if you do that too hard, eventually the air pressure pops open a hole in the bag, so it can leave. Don’t panic, since air cannot cause holes in your walls (tornados notwithstanding), but it’ll still do its absolute best to get out of dodge.
So when it finally finds a way out, it usually picks the biggest filter in your home – the carpets. And since the gaps are under the baseboards and stairs, your carpet’s edges start getting grubbier than the rest. Over time, this leads to them looking like they’re my least favourite colour – grey – and all 50 shades of it, too.
Now, before you call over a builder to rip out your HVAC system (that stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), stop and think. If you do get rid of it, all you’ll manage to achieve is slow down the build-up of dirt around the edges and corners. Actually, the air inside will be stuffier as well, so that’s two big reasons to keep your HVAC system intact.
Speaking of builders, props to them, and bad news for those of you who inherited the old family home. In older homes, it’s easier for carpet edges to get dirty, since they lack a fairly recent innovation in building work. Nowadays, newly constructed buildings have one distinct advantage, and that’s the layer of foam between the wall and the sill plate. It’s actually incredible how much of an effect that has on the build-up of filtration soiling.
Check also: How Fast Does Carpet Dry
Okay, enough story time, I’m cutting to the chase here:
How do I get the edges of a carpet clean?
Fair warning, doing this yourself is a lot of work, as the accrued dust on the edges doesn’t come off with a quick once-over of the hoover. Hoovering is still the main thing, but in terms of complexity, cleaning carpet edges is closer to rocket science than it is to chopping firewood. Since everyone loves a nice, tidy list, here’s one for what you need to clean the edges of your carpet:
- A hoover (the crevice tool and brush attachment are mandatory!)
- A spray bottle
- Distilled water
- Hydrogen peroxide (only for white or very bright carpets!) / Rubbing alcohol (for any other colour)
- A scrub brush (preferably soft-bristled)
- Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- A full arsenal of white colour fast cloth or paper towels
- A lot of hard work and elbow grease, plus rubber gloves and a face mask
Now here’s how to clean the dingy edges of wall-to-wall carpet:
First, equip your hoover with the crevice tool, and go along the edges. The important thing is to do it properly, going slowly and making multiple passes. After doing that, equip the brush attachment and go at it again, making sure to suck up as much as possible. If you make the mistake of using neither, you’ll probably spend your whole day hoovering, with minimal results (apart from fatigue and a high electric bill).
Second, now that the amount of dust has been lowered (hopefully to a bare minimum), it’s time to whip out the baking soda. You should grab a few packs, as it needs to be an even layer covering all the dirt on the edges. Once applied, what you need to do is use the scrub brush as intended (to scrub, duh) the soda into the dirty fibres. It has to be properly ingrained and mixed up, so it can absorb as much as it can. Let it sit for an hour, then hoover it out, and repeat if needed.
Third of all, it’s time to get the carpet sort of wet – underline sort of, because it mustn’t be soaking wet. In your spray bottle, mix water and either hydrogen peroxide (for extremely bright or white carpet) or rubbing alcohol (for any other colour), at a ratio of 3 (water) to 1 (peroxide/alcohol). Spray the edges just enough for them to get damp, and take care to do it at a distance or angle that won’t let any of the mixture get on your walls.
Now it’s blotting time, grab your cloth or paper towels and get ready to blot, but DO NOT rub or scrub. Trust me, the last thing you want is to ingrain this particular dirt any further than it already is. Also, make sure they’re colour fast before you try to use them to clean – you can check by performing a patch test in a small area of the carpet. If no colour bleeding occurs, start blotting the fibres until no more water is absorbed, then leave to air dry.
An alternate, more efficient way to get dirt out of a carpet once it's been ground in is to hire a carpet cleaning machine. You can always call your local Rug Doctor or similar style of machine renting shop for that. Just make sure you understand how to properly use the machine before you go ahead and over-wet your carpets.
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How do you stop filtration soiling?
Alright, so you know how filtration soiling shows up, and how to deal with it – but how can you prevent it? The truth is, you can never really be rid of this issue permanently, as even if you remove your HVAC system, it will still build up. But there are ways to slow it down or even lower it to the bare minimum, let’s see what they are…
- Hoover regularly
- Don’t pollute your air
- Dust often
Elaboration time! For hoovering, make sure you do that at the very least once a week, or 2-3 times a week for homes with pets and/or children. And when you do it, do it properly – go front to back, then side to side, first with the crevice tool and then with the brush attachment. Only after you’ve done all that should you have a go at it with the roller brush (known commonly as “the default”) one. And speaking of that, make sure you adjust your roller brush based on the height of the fibres – it’s no fun damaging them with your own hoover, that’s for sure.
In terms of not polluting your air, I’m not telling you to buy a Tesla and install a solar panel. What I’m telling you is to make sure you’re breathing clean air at home, as dirty air is a hazard both to your home and to your own health, too. Open your windows at least 15-20 minutes each day, and make sure the doors are kept open if possible, too.
Avoid smoking indoors, as with enough time and smoking, the smell starts affecting everything in that room, even the walls. Furthermore, keep your extractor fan on when cooking, even if the windows are open, and give it a good clean every now and again, because it works less effectively when it’s dirty. Also, if you have a fireplace, keep it as clean as it can be, and call a chimney cleaner at least once a year, to make sure the chimney itself is not clogged.
When dusting, don’t just dust what you see, as every surface is important, and so are all the fabrics. The curtains, carpets and upholstery all need to be hoovered at least once a week (feel free to do it more often if you think they need it!). Take care of your HVAC system by having an expert inspect it once a year, and clean out your A/C filters at least two to three times per season. Personally, I was in awe that some people think once a year is enough!
There’s another trick to reducing the amount of fine dust in your home, which is less clutter. Try to keep the dust collectors (toys, decorations and papier-mâché) to a minimum, or at least keep them in appropriate storage containers. It will be faster and easier to dust, since you won’t need to dust the items themselves, but also won’t need to put them to and fro while dusting.
Okay, so you know all about filtration soiling DIY cleaning now. But what if you don’t have the time or will to do it yourself? No worries, just take a look at…
How do professionals clean carpet edges?
Honestly, the hoovering part is all the same, as you can’t really make any changes with how carpet edge dirt needs to be vacuumed out. Of course, it’s worth noting that professionals have more powerful hoovers compared to what’s for sale on the regular market.
But the key to expert cleaning of carpet edges is a product called Prochem Filter-Out. This cleaning solution is sprayed on the edges, left to sit for 3 to 5 minutes depending on dirt level, and then rinsed out via water extraction machine. It’s important to note that on certain carpet fibres, it is better to remove this product using Fibre & Fabric Rinse B109, a product designed to rinse out other solutions in the safest way for the carpet. When this is the case, the latter is applied diluted 1:20 and with hot water, using the machine’s “hand tool” (the smaller handheld nozzle used for upholstery cleaning).
Alright then, that wraps up today’s article, and I hope you’ve learned something new today. We’re always open to suggestions on what to cover next, so don’t hesitate to let us know! See you soon!
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