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Filthy wool rug retains dirt like no other

Bill Whatcott

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I found a natural wool rug 11 X 7 feet that was absolutely filthy with a "Free" sign on it about 3 months ago while walking in my neighbourhood. Being a professional carpet cleaner the filthiness of the wool rug did not intimidate me at all and indeed I thought the clean would be a challenge and the end result would be a beautiful clean rug.

The first day I cleaned it twice on the top using my Rotovac 360i at a 250 psi setting, using Flex citrus pre-spray and also I sprayed the numerous ground in dirt stains with Simple Green and mechanically scrubbed with a brush in addition to using my Rotovac. I worked on the top of the carpet approximately 4 hours and cleaned the back of the rug using a regular wand and generous amounts of Simple Green. I think I spent about 5 - 6 hours altogether the first time cleaning the rug and probably went through 8 - 10 buckets or so of water, using the 250 psi setting on my Esteam Warrior extractor.

The following day I thoroughly vacuumed the rug.

The rug looked cleaner but still dirty after the vacuum. A week later I looked under the rug and to my horror the laminate floor under the rug looked like a sand box. I thoroughly spent another day vacuuming both under and on top of the rug and deep cleaned it two more times with the Rotovac 360i on the 250 psi setting. I thought for sure the rug was clean now.

Two days later after a routine vacuum I looked under the rug and saw lots of sand. I vacuumed under the rug too. Surely the sand and dirt would be gone now!

A week later more sand appeared under the rug and a friend commented the carpet still looked dirty. I cleaned it by now so much and compared to the first day it actually was starting to look clean to me. I decided to blast the carpet again, with Flex citrus pre-spray and my Rotavac 360i on the 250 psi setting using about 6 buckets of water water over a 2 hour period, then I did a slow dry pass with the Rotovac. I then saturated the rug with Simple Green, let it sit for ten minutes and manually scrubbed the rug with a brush before blasting it with my Rotovac and another 6 buckets or so of water and then another slow dry pass. I then turned the rug over and cleaned every square inch of the back of the rug with my hand tool at a 200 psi setting.

After the carpet dried I vacuumed it thoroughly both front and back.

The carpet looks cleaner for sure, but to my horror and amazement I just lifted the carpet again and the underneath literally still looks like a sandbox. Sweeping it up there is enough sand to fill a large dustpan.

I have many satified customers. In nearly 20 years of carpet cleaning I never have had to clean a carpet more than once, maybe making a couple slow wet passes and then one dry pass at the most.

Has anyone ever encountered a carpet like this?
 

Aussie Bob

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Hang it on the fence and hose it down until all the sand comes out, then leave it in the sun till it dries.
That's how they wash Persian rugs in Iran.
 

AussieCarpetBloke

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Hang it on the fence and hose it down until all the sand comes out, then leave it in the sun till it dries.
That's how they wash Persian rugs in Iran.

Do that with a Persian rug and the fringes will brown out, can stretch out of shape etc...
Hang it up only to beat the crap out of it with a broom/stick pole
But that’s too tiring...and you wear - breath the sand/dirt
What type of vacuum do you have?
You need an upright vacuum with a brush roll e.g
Kirby
Dyson DC33
Sanitaire
Windsor Proteam etc
Put the rug face down, and vacuum the back of it
You’re not actually trying to vacuum the rug
You’re vibrating the crap out of the rug and letting gravity extract the sand and dirt for you onto the floor!!
Go back and forth, up down, left right,
then turn rug back over and check the floor
Should look like a beach with crazy sand
Vacuum sand from floor and repeat until you’re happy.

Customers always think you’re mad vacuuming the back of the rug, until they see the sand, then you look like a genius
 
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Aussie Bob

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He's spent too much time on this rug already, hose it down, hang it to dry, then spray acid rinse on the fringes when half dried, keep it simple.
 

Tom Forsythe

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I have dealt with rugs like this before and the type of rug construction impacts this characteristic. Turkish knot rugs generally do not have a depressed warp and generally vacuum readily. A Persian Bidjar, has a Turkish knot, but a depressed warp and is called the iron rug. A depressed warp gives another level for dirt to collect into the foundation. Persian knot rugs typically have a depressed warp, which also gives room for the dirt to collect inside the rug. Tight weaves leave less room for soil to collect. Rugs with depressed warps can collect an enormous amount of soil inside the foundation, especially if not vacuumed regularly over the years. We had a Persian Sarouk that we cut up into pillows that released so much soil that we gave up on it. Persian Sarouks were known for the foundation cracking when folding. In alot of cases there was so much soil in the rug that this caused the cracking.
It would be interesting to see a picture of the rug as the issue could be that the rug is of good quality with alot of room for the soil to collect.
 
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Bill Whatcott

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Thank you Tom Forsythe for sharing your insights. I have attached a picture of the rug. I wish I took earlier pictures of the rug as this picture does not share the whole story. As you can see the colour of the rug is olive green. When I first rolled out the rug it was a dark greenish brown. I knew it was dirty. After I vacuumed and did 3 or 4 hot water extractions, my wife and I thought the natural colour was dark green. It took 8 - 10 hot water extractions to bring the rug to its original olive green.

The picture on the right is what I found under the rug today. Keep in mind I thoroughly vacuumed both sides of the rug two days ago when I first made this post. The sand is much less than when I first started cleaning the rug. During the first week there was enough sand every day to fill up a dust pan, even after the first half dozen or so vacuum/hot water extractions. I really did not think it was possible for a rug to hold as much dirt and sand as this rug has held. This is a learning experience for me.

The rug is a natural wool rug from Costco, I believe. The tag on the back has been ruined by the vacuuming/ hot water extractions that I did on the backing. But when it was there I Googled the name of the rug and it seems Costco was the outlet selling this particular rug.

There was no food or drink stains on the rug. I live in Lacombe, a smaller city in Alberta.

It seems to me a farmer likely owned the rug and he just laid it on the ground in his barn for ten years so he and his animals could walk all over it, and then for good measure the farmer took the rug to Hawaii for a 6 month vacation and he used it to lay on the sand and sun himself and make sand castles on it. Then he brought the rug back to Canada with him and it was so heavy from the accumulated sand and dirt that he dumped it on the curb, and put the little "free" sign on it and that's where I found it.
 

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Bill Whatcott

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Do that with a Persian rug and the fringes will brown out, can stretch out of shape etc...
Hang it up only to beat the crap out of it with a broom/stick pole
But that’s too tiring...and you wear - breath the sand/dirt
What type of vacuum do you have?
You need an upright vacuum with a brush roll e.g
Kirby
Dyson DC33
Sanitaire
Windsor Proteam etc
Put the rug face down, and vacuum the back of it
You’re not actually trying to vacuum the rug
You’re vibrating the crap out of the rug and letting gravity extract the sand and dirt for you onto the floor!!
Go back and forth, up down, left right,
then turn rug back over and check the floor
Should look like a beach with crazy sand
Vacuum sand from floor and repeat until you’re happy.

Customers always think you’re mad vacuuming the back of the rug, until they see the sand, then you look like a genius
I have a Carpet Pro, upright commercial vacuum, it extracts some sand each time I vacuum it, but you are right most of the sand comes out with vibration and gravity.
 

Thewy

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Is the rug tufted/ cloth on back? It definitely looks tufted. All that you‘ve done to it could have caused the latex/ glue holding the cloth to the rug to breakdown faster.
 

Bill Whatcott

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Is the rug tufted/ cloth on back? It definitely looks tufted. All that you‘ve done to it could have caused the latex/ glue holding the cloth to the rug to breakdown faster.
Yes, I notice the backing is looser, I actually reglued some of the rug, I am keeping it as a personal rug so I can experiment, I am finding Gorilla glue works great on the backing.
 

Bill Whatcott

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For me this is truly fascinating. I never knew a natural wool rug could be so aggressively cleaned and could still hold so much sand. The rug seems very clean on top as I have repeatedly vacuumed and slowly hot water extracted the rug so many times. The attached picture of the sand is from yesterday. It is a two day accumulation. I have been vacuuming the top of the rug nearly every day and vacuuming under the rug nearly every other day for weeks now. It looks like 100% sand. I don't believe any of this sand has carpet glue in the mix.
 

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Thewy

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For me this is truly fascinating. I never knew a natural wool rug could be so aggressively cleaned and could still hold so much sand. The rug seems very clean on top as I have repeatedly vacuumed and slowly hot water extracted the rug so many times. The attached picture of the sand is from yesterday. It is a two day accumulation. I have been vacuuming the top of the rug nearly every day and vacuuming under the rug nearly every other day for weeks now. It looks like 100% sand. I don't believe any of this sand has carpet glue in the mix.
What you call sand is most likely broken down latex.
 
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Johnny Bravo

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You destroyed that tufted rug. You used Simple Green which I'm sure has a PH too high for wool. You over wetted it and now the latex is flaking off or the sand as you're calling it.
 

Thewy

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You destroyed that tufted rug. You used Simple Green which I'm sure has a PH too high for wool. You over wetted it and now the latex is flaking off or the sand as you're calling it.
Not necessarily destroyed it but overkilled it while trying to get it perfect. Using the rotovac, that much water, and also cleaning the back/ tufted cloth on back contributed to the latex breaking down faster leading to more ’sand.’
 
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U. S. Vet.

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Vacuuming each side a minimum of seven times ( keep it up until it stops - beyond the 6 flips ). If you had no other issues, problem solved.

When you “cleaned“, what actually happened was the soil was homogenized and compacted at the base. Wicking ( browning ), and other problems, certainly the one you will continue to experience forever - sorry - lol, are inevitable.
The smaller soil particles are sifting through while the larger particulate soil gets crunched down enough to filter through to your floor. Beat the rug with a badger over a steel grate ( Randy style - forget that - lol ), until the crap gets busted up & out.
Don’t worry about not having the equipment - by now it would have probably fallen apart - be careful.
Use a cleaner designed specifically for wool ( PH not to exceed 7.5 & temp not to exceed 160* ). Comb fibers with a carding brush in the natural direction of the pile While Applying Rapid Air Movement - crucial to any wool rug cleaning routine.
 
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Dadio

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you must contact a Jeanie and have magic infused into the rug and fly it around the world, only then will it be clean.
 

Bill Whatcott

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Vacuuming each side a minimum of seven times ( keep it up until it stops - beyond the 6 flips ). If you had no other issues, problem solved.

When you “cleaned“, what actually happened was the soil was homogenized and compacted at the base. Wicking ( browning ), and other problems, certainly the one you will continue to experience forever - sorry - lol, are inevitable.
The smaller soil particles are sifting through while the larger particulate soil gets crunched down enough to filter through to your floor. Beat the rug with a badger over a steel grate ( Randy style - forget that - lol ), until the crap gets busted up & out.
Don’t worry about not having the equipment - by now it would have probably fallen apart - be careful.
Use a cleaner designed specifically for wool ( PH not to exceed 7.5 & temp not to exceed 160* ). Comb fibers with a carding brush in the natural direction of the pile While Applying Rapid Air Movement - crucial to any wool rug cleaning routine.
Thank you. Simple Green is PH 8.5, it didn't seem to damage the rug. I used hot water, but did not use my internal heater, so I don't think the water was not much hotter than 150 F actually. I looked under the rug and I would agree with a couple of the earlier posters. I think washing the back as aggressively as I did was a mistake. The first deposits that I swept up was definately sand, the carpet was absolutely filthy, but looking at the grains more closely today, I can see I dissolved the backing and what I am vacuuming up now is dissolved glue. It is a good thing I made this mistake on a free rug rather than a customer rug. In any event the rug looks nice enough once I cleaned it to be on my floor and this experience along with some guidance from you guys has better equipped me if I come across a natural wool rug from a customer. :)
 
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Bill Whatcott

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Not necessarily destroyed it but overkilled it while trying to get it perfect. Using the rotovac, that much water, and also cleaning the back/ tufted cloth on back contributed to the latex breaking down faster leading to more ’sand.’
I agree. The first couple cleanings there is no doubt what I was cleaning was actual sand/ dirt that came from the rug (it was truly filthy). But after reading your post I took a closer look at the grains under the rug and it is definitely a fine particulate from the backing of the carpet. The rug is not ruined and I am happy with it on my floor, but I would definitely not want to make this mistake on a customer carpet.