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Carpet Soil Filtration Lines and How to Prevent them

Last Updated: April 8, 2024

Written by Karen Norman

Carpet Soil Filtration – A Deeper Look. 

Tackling those stubborn dirty lines that show up at the edge of the carpet. 

Carpet Soil Filtration shows up as dark lines that build up wherever your carpet meets the baseboard, door frame, or vent. Unfortunately, it can be hard to remove. Today we’ll discuss what causes soil filtration lines and how they can be remedied. 

What causes Carpet Soil Filtration?  

Unfortunately, your carpet is porous and acts like a kind of sponge for soot, ash or grease in the air, particularly hot air.

Hot air rises to the top of the room, where the ceiling prevents it from going further. At that point, the air seeks out cooler areas on which to settle. So inevitably, the room’s edges at floor level are usually the coolest.

These soil particles are so minuscule that they are effectively and persistently embedded into the carpet pile. The carpet essentially acts as a filter.

Carpet Soiling may also be more prevalent in rooms with poor ventilation. Hot air comes in, but it is difficult for it to escape. Looking for the path of least resistance, it seeks out drafts and exit areas in walls, floors, and stairs.

What kind of soil causes Soil Filtration?  

Oily particles cause the most problems which may come from the furnace or fireplace or even from a pilot light, cooking fumes, cigarette smoke or burning candles. However, as mentioned above, the problem often occurs when there is insufficient ventilation to remove this substance from the air.

Where does Carpet Soil Filtration occur?  

Carpet Soil Filtration occurs along walls, baseboards, and doors that are often closed for long periods. It can also appear around some furniture skirting or drapery. It can typically be seen near floor registers, furnace vents and carpet crevices.

Why is Soil Filtration hard to remove?  

Minute specks are often ingrained into the carpet fibres and are stubbornly persistent because of their electrical charge. One problem is the location of the filtration lines. It is ‘Murphy’s Law’ that soil filtration tends to be along edges and other places that are difficult to access.

Why do Black Lines show up in Hard to Reach Places?  

If your carpet acts like one giant filter, you may question why you only see soil filtration along the borders, around the vents, and in the corners.

Think of it this way: sweeping with a regular broom leaves a dust line at the dustpan and creates little plumbs of airborne dust, dander and pet hair. Cleaning with an electrostatically charged pad, such as a Swiffer, develops an attraction between the particulate matter and the pad. As a result, the dust and dirt cling to the pad instead of just floating around. Since the matter affecting your carpet is charged, your carpet attracts it, creating the buildup you have noticed in that difficult-to-clean area.

Why is it just challenging areas? Well, if you regularly vacuum and clean, you will not notice the buildup for some time. Moving the vacuum over large spaces is easy but not so easy to clean out the corners, around the vents, or by the baseboards. Over time the particles attracted to your carpet become visible because they keep building layers. It’s not your fault! It’s the way the carpet absorbs the dirt.

How to prevent Carpet Soil Filtration?  

To keep Soil Filtration to a minimum, do the following:

  • Vacuum Regularly and pay special attention to the carpet edges.
  • Keep Rooms ventilated – open doors and windows where practical.
  • Try to seal up the space between the wall and the floor. Sealing the gaps is especially significant before a new carpet is laid.
  • Maintain your HVAC System.
  • In Forced Air Systems  – Regularly replace Furnace Filters – using high-efficiency filters may help, but please see our blog on Furnace Filter Replacement. It may be more prudent to use a lower rating filter yet replace it more frequently.
  • Get a regular Furnace and Duct Cleaning.
  • Eliminate issues and habits that cause soil filtration, such as smoking or candle burning
  • When cooking, turn on the stove extractor fan.
  • Attempt to keep the home dust-free or to a minimum if you can.
  • Pay attention to the home’s Indoor Air Quality.
  • Get regular Professional Carpet Cleaning.
  • Sweep with an electrostatically charged sweeping pad.
  • Don’t smoke or vape indoors.

Are some Carpets more susceptible to Soil Filtration? 

You may wonder, “Is it a problem with the carpet"? No, it is not a carpet defect.

All types of carpets made of varying materials can be prone to soil filtration. It all depends on the backing, the tightness of the weave, how often your forced air system runs, ventilation, and even the colour of the carpet.

Dark lines on lighter-coloured carpets will be more evident than their darker counterparts.

What situations make Carpet Soil Filtration worse? 

The most obvious culprits are poor ventilation and a lack of regular dusting and vacuuming.

However, it can be more prevalent in colder climates where forced air heating systems are used. Or in the summer when the air conditioning forces air through the same vents.

In addition fireplace emissions, smoke, greasy cooking fumes, or candles all produce a minute oily substance that eventually lands on the carpet.

How to remove Carpet Soil Filtration?  

The success of soil filtration removal will depend on how long the lines have been formed and the kind of soil that has caused the stain. Agitating the carpet fibres with a soil filtration removal product will help. Agitation involves movement, so when the problem is near the baseboards, there is a risk of damage to the baseboards. Carpet Cleaners have specialized tools, but some agitation can be done manually with a stiff bristle brush. It is best to agitate dry carpet. Next, carry out a deep and thorough vacuuming. Using an edging tool, crevasse, or stair tool is best.

The carpets should then be steam cleaned using the Hot Water Extraction Method and a pre-spray product designed for Filtration Soil removal. 

Professional Carpet Cleaning may help. 

No matter what you do or what kind of carpet you buy, you cannot always avoid carpet soil filtration. In addition to the preventative methods listed above, be sure to call us for A Dang Good Clean. Regular carpet cleaning extends the life of the carpets and keeps your entire home cleaner and fresher. Contact us today to learn more.

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