Why did my carpet turn brown

Published: 30th December 2009
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Discover why your carpet or rug turned a brownish color after it was cleaned. Recently I cleaned a wool rug in Far West Utah, where all the fringes had been turned brown due to what is called wicking. Wicking occurs during the course of drying when either soil or cellulosic material is absorbed from the base of the carpet fiber to the tips of the fiber.

When I was in grade school a common experiment was taking a stock of celery and placing it in a cup of food coloring laced water. With enough time the water would be absorbed into the celery stock turning the celery unnaturally red or blue. The wicking action is very similar. This absorption is called capillary action.

There are three elements necessary in wicking. The first is the presentence of a dye or soil. The dye can be soil. This can be rectified by frequent dry vacuuming. The second dye is in natural fibers such as cotton, jute, or wool combined with water. There is a technical reason for this but it is not necessary to understand in this article.

The second element necessary in this process is water. similarly to the second grade celery experiment with just dye and no vehicle the dye would sit at the bottom of the celery doing nothing. Water and the third element of time is necessary to allow water laced dye to be absorbed into tops of the carpet fiber where it becomes visible. When carpets are "over wetted" by carpet cleaner this wicking can occur.

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