Traffic Wear: 6 Steps to Maintaining Your Carpet
Traffic Wear Is Preventable
Everyone loves the feeling they get right after a professional carpet cleaning. It looks clean and almost new again, it smells good and it feels good. After a carpet cleaning my clients often say, “now I just have to try to keep it this way”. That is always the biggest challenge in keeping a clean home. The most frequently mentioned concern is preventing ugly traffic wear patterns from returning after the carpet cleaning. The solution to the traffic wear problem is both extremely simple and extremely complicated, but we’ll get into that later.
To find a solution we need to examine what causes ugly traffic wear patterns. The simple answer is dirt, but there is more to it than that. Synthetic fibers make up over 90% of the carpet in our homes today. Nylon takes the lion’s share of that 90% with polypropylene (olefin) and polyester filling out most of the rest. These materials have different pros and cons as carpet fibers but one commonality they share is they are all plastic.
Plastic and dirt don’t mix.
Under a microscope dirt, dust and soil look like shards of broken glass. Plastic surfaces are very smooth and easily scratched. The combination of broken glass and a catalyst like friction causes gouges and scratches in smooth plastic.
Think of the difference between a new plastic sand toy at the beginning of summer and then at the end of the summer. The harsh grains of sand scratch and abrade the plastic making it appear dull and faded.
The very same thing is happening to synthetic carpet. Foot traffic abrades the surface of the carpet fiber with soil whenever we walk on the carpet. This abrasion dulls the carpet fiber in comparison to the less walked-on areas near the walls and – voila! -the traffic wear pattern is born.
Unfortunately just like the used sand toys, no amount of cleaning will restore the damaged carpet fibers. The good news, however, is that professional carpet cleaning improves the appearance of the carpet and prevents further damage. This is where the dichotomy of the solution to this problem comes in. As I said before the solution is both extremely simple and extremely complicated. All you need to do to prevent traffic wear is simply keep the dust, dirt and soil off the carpet. Therein lies the complication; how to do that. The answer requires a bit of a commitment by you and the other members of your household.
The 6 Step Solution
It takes approximately 27 steps to walk off all of the soil from your shoes, effectively requiring a runner about 100 feet long. Not practical. A mat or small runner will help to keep soil off of the carpet but it’s not enough.
The next step is to remove your shoes before coming in the house. Inconvenient at first, it will become second nature before long. The key here is to put your shoes on when you go back outside. It does no good go outside in bare feet and then come back in the house with dirty feet.
The worst traffic patterns occur at transition areas between carpet and a hard surface. While carpet will hold on to soil, hard surfaces do not. Your feet transfer the soil from the hard surface to the carpet. Keeping hard surfaces clean is very important. So important in fact, that I would tie it with step 4.
Frequent vacuuming is the most important part of removing soil and preventing traffic wear. Vacuuming alone removes more than half the soil in your carpet. Taking time every week to vacuum will extend the life of your carpet. It will also improve the overall air quality inside your home making a healthier indoor environment.
The rest of the soil is removed through carpet cleaning. Carpet cleaning is more effective when all of the other steps are implemented and adhered to. A less invasive interim carpet cleaning process can be used saving you money if restorative cleaning isn’t needed every time.
We recommend applying Maxim Advanced carpet protector after the carpet cleaning. It will prevent spills from staining as well as protect the carpet fiber from dry soil abrasion. It coats the carpet fiber preventing soil and spills from contacting the fiber preventing abrasion and staining.
Following these 6 steps will save you money, keep your home looking beautiful and make a healthier indoor environment. Not to mention the additional benefits to the environment. By keeping the hard surfaces and carpet in your home clean you will extend their life by many years. There is less of a temptation to discard clean, aesthetically appealing carpet. This will keep the used carpet, padding, wood, tile, vinyl, linoleum, etc. out of the landfills.
Maintaining your flooring instead of replacing it will also save you thousands of dollars over the life of your home. I’m sure we can all find better things to do with our money than spend it on floor coverings.
Properly maintained carpet does not require extensive restorative carpet cleaning. This means that fewer chemicals will be needed. Fewer chemicals, no matter how green and environmentally friendly they are, are always a good thing. It’s better for you, your family, your pets and the environment.
A good maintenance plan applied to anything will cut costs, reduce waste, and save time in the long run. Now is the perfect time to start from the floor up to make your plan for cleaner carpet and cleaner living.