Dark, dark, dirty lines on carpet along baseboards, under doors and drapes, along edges and in crevices of carpeted stairs are visible signs of a problem called leaching soil. With the right tools and information, you can clean dirty carpet edges. But first, it’s important to know what this filth is and how it got there.
Basically, your carpet is the biggest filter in your home. Just like your furnace and air conditioning filter that filters airborne dirt that passes through it, your carpet does the same thing. Filtration soil is an accumulation of soot from dirty vents, smoke from candles, the fireplace or tobacco, kitchen grease from the oven and cooktop, smog, automobile emissions and pollutants from from the outside.
A home’s HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system is designed to filter airborne dirt, trapping it in the filter. But once the filter is full, the system will send air pollutants back into the house through the ducts, where all that icky mess lodges in nooks and crevices. And if that’s not enough, filtration soil gives your home a bad smell.
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A severe case of leaching dirt may require the services of a professional carpet cleaner who specializes in this unique problem. However, it is possible to do it yourself effectively, provided your soil problem is not serious.
DIY: how to remove filtration dirt
The key to cleaning those dirty edges is to agitate the fibers by rubbing or scraping to loosen the dirt particles.
Step 1: Use a pull scraper or stiff bristle scrub brush to vigorously scrape surface fibers and dirty discolored edges from the carpet. This will stir up a lot of debris and dirt. Do this before wetting the carpet.
2nd step: Using your vacuum cleaner with the crevice tool attached, remove whatever you were able to pull out with it. You can see noticeable improvement after scraping and vacuuming. However, some discoloration is likely to persist as it is caused by grease, oil and electrostatically bound particles deep within the carpet fluff.
Step 3: Use a specific cleaning product for this type of soiling, such as Prochem Filter Out, which is formulated to remove filter dirt lines, soot and other electrically charged particles. Apply it undiluted so that it saturates the fibers in the stained areas.
Let stand 3 to 5 minutes. Scrub the lines of filtration soil with a good, sturdy brush that can reach into crevices. It is important to agitate the carpet fibers to loosen dirt particles so that they can be removed.
You can also mix your own solution by adding a cup of white vinegar to a gallon of warm water. A solution of equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide is also an effective cleaner. Test your solution of choice in an inconspicuous part of the carpet (like inside a closet) to make sure it won’t affect the color or damage the baseboards.
Step 4: Rinse well with warm water or All Fiber Rinse, an excellent product that will ensure a good clean rinse. Use a wet-dry vacuum to do this if you have one, or blot well with a clean white cloth to avoid transferring dyes to the carpet.
Repeat as needed, depending on the severity of the problem.
How to prevent filter fouling
— Change your HVAC system filter(s) once every three months without fail.
— Thoroughly clean the range hood filter weekly.
— Use the range hood fan and vent whenever you use the oven or cooktop. You want all that smoke, cooking oil, and airborne residue to leave the house immediately.
— Keep doors and windows closed if you live on a busy street or in an area with lots of pollutants.
— Make your home a smoke-free zone. All smokers should be taken outside and away from open windows and doors.
— As pleasant as candles and aromatherapy can be, these can contribute to a soil filtration problem. Switch to flameless LED candles, which create a pleasant and realistic atmosphere. Some even have scents.
— If using a fireplace, make sure the system is clean and the pollutants it creates are properly removed from the home. Also regularly clean the chimney and the filter (if present).
No carpet? If you don’t have a carpet, don’t think you’re off the hook when it comes to filter mess. Sure, you won’t get black lines on carpet, but those sticky black residue will show up on upholstered furniture, hard flooring, drapes, blinds, windows, and more. If this is not enough, it will make your house smelly.
Do what you need to do to get rid of any dirty edges on the carpet and/or furniture in your home. So take the easy steps to prevent it forever!
For more information and links to the products mentioned in the instructions above, please visit www.everydaycheapskate.com/filtrationsoil.
Mary Hunt, founder of www.EverydayCheapskate.com, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Submit comments, advice or questions on its website. She will respond to topics of general interest through this column, but letters cannot be answered individually.