The key job of carpet cleaning is to remove soils from carpets. However, there are actually several different types of soils and contaminants found in carpets, and knowing what type of soil is in the carpet is frequently the first step in effectively removing it.

Because of this, this month’s U.S. Products Carpet Cleaning Advisory focuses on the top ten soils that most often end up in carpets and how they got there in the first place.

As much as 80 percent of these soils are actually deposited onto carpets from the shoe bottoms of people walking into facilities, according to Mark Baxter, a carpet cleaning expert and product manager for U.S. Products.

“Making matters worse,” he says, “the soil, now transferred to the carpet, can transfer back on to someone else’s shoes and then become transferred once again to another area of the carpet, spreading the soil throughout the facility.”

So what are the most common types of soil found in carpets?

According to Baxter, the following are the top ten soils most often encountered in carpets:

1.  Sand, clay, and other “gritty” materials

2.  Natural fibers such as lint from clothing

3.  Gum

4.  Petroleum, oil, and grease

5.  Human hair and skin

6.  Dust mites, fleas, and other insects

7.  Organic soils and materials (minerals and soils from landscaping areas, for example)

8.  Airborne carbon and automotive exhaust

9.  Spilled food or beverages

10. So-called “miscellaneous unknowns”

“Of all these soils, ‘gritty’ materials are probably the most harmful to carpets,” adds Baxter. “Technicians should view gritty soils as tiny little razors, gouging and cutting carpet fibers, as people walk over the carpet.  Fortunately, they can usually be removed using a hot-water carpet extractor…protecting the health and life of the carpet.”