Troubleshooting Guide – What to Do When Your Carpet Looks Dirty After Cleaning


While carpets can look and feel great, sometimes they are a struggle to keep clean. Foot traffic, spills, pets, food crumbs and other debris can quickly soil your carpet. While all this is expected to make a carpet look dirty before cleaning, what do you do when your carpet still looks dirty after cleaning?

This article focuses on some reasons why carpets may still appear dirty following carpet cleaning and what you can do about it.

Your carpet is simply worn out

This is one of the most common reasons why a carpet will still look dirty after a vacuum and carpet cleaning. Tired and worn-out carpets that have seen too much wear and tear over the years will never come up sparkling clean. It just can’t happen. Carpet fibres wear out, fade and fray over time.

If your carpet is old and looking a bit shabby, the only solution to the problem is to replace it.

Carpet wicking

While some stains are readily removed from the surface of the carpet, what generally happens is that the carpet is also stained deeper down in the fibres and the base, perhaps even the underlay. After a steam cleaning, these deep-down stains can often rise to the surface, reappearing as if they are fresh stains.

Too much rinsing and an over-saturation of the carpet and underlay is what usually causes carpet wicking. Clean water mixes with the grime deep down, resulting in the water becoming muddied. As the carpet dries out, it looks dirty instead of nice and clean.

Sticky carpet

Leftover residue following carpet cleaning can result in your carpet feeling sticky to the touch. If the carpet hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned, leftover chemicals and detergent remain in the carpet fibres. It’s similar to not rinsing your clothes properly when you wash them. They feel tacky.

To correct the problem, try re-rinsing the carpet another time. Just do another rinse cycle with your carpet shampooer. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, you can try the vinegar method. Using your carpet shampooer, mix around 250ml of white vinegar with water and give the carpet another rinse. Allow the carpet to dry and see if the problem is fixed.

Using the wrong cleaning products

One of the problems that can occur when you’re performing your carpet cleaning is using either the wrong cleaning products or products that are of inferior quality. It’s also just as important to ensure that the water you’re using is clean.

A quick clean and rinse of your carpet will leave residue behind. This soap and shampoo residue will form mildew over time, making your carpet look grimy. The carpet will collect dust and dirt and look even more shabby than it was before cleaning. Every time someone steps on it, footprints will be left behind.

If you’re going to clean your own carpets, be sure to use the best products and quality carpet cleaning equipment for the best cleaning results.

Too much water is harmful

If you’re using too much water when cleaning your carpets, or too much residual water is left behind following cleaning, this can result in the carpet looking dull in colour, possibly making it look even older than it did before.

Excess water results in a frustratingly long drying-out process, providing more time for bacteria to flourish and mould and mildew to grow.

Only use enough water to get the job done, and be sure to suck as much water back out of the carpet after the rinse phase.

Stubborn stains

Some stains are simply too hard to remove with traditional carpet cleaning methods. This is especially true of oil-based stains. Instead of using a carpet cleaning chemical to remove the stains, you could try using either vinegar or alcohol.

Professional dry or steam cleaning might be the only option to lift those stubborn stains and have your carpet looking fresh and even again. You could do this yourself, but for optimum results, hiring a professional carpet cleaner with the right equipment is the best option.


An ineffective vacuum cleaner

An obvious part of the overall carpet cleaning process is vacuuming. However, if your vacuum cleaner is not strong or it’s not working efficiently, it might be leaving too much debris behind in the carpet fibres. Always empty the bag regularly and clean any air filters on your vacuum cleaner. Both of these things will encourage stronger suction.

Sometimes it’s the fault of the head of the vacuum. It might be clogged up with dirt and hair. Check the vacuum head and remove blockages.

Think about how you will dry your carpet

We talked about the effects of using too much water earlier, but even if you use just the right amount, you’ll want your carpet to dry out as quickly as possible to prevent odours, mould growth and guarantee your carpet looks great afterwards.

You’ll want to suck up as much water as possible after the rinse process. Open the doors and windows of the room and also use fans to speed up the drying process. Turning on an air conditioner or using a dehumidifier also helps dry out the carpet, as well as keeping the air in the room free of moisture.

Apply a carpet protectant

Following each carpet cleaning, apply a carpet protector once your carpet is thoroughly dry. While it won’t prevent stains, it does reduce the incidence of dirt and other debris from scraping across the carpet fibres. Carpet protectors will keep your carpet looking newer for longer.

Professional carpet cleaning services

For best results, call in professional help from Boas Cleaning Services. With years of experience and using only the very best carpet cleaning equipment and agents, we’ll have your carpets looking as good as new.