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Trying to explain why a clean carpet can still look dingy

Robert86

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I have a client that I do carpets for about twice a year for a couple years now. After the first cleaning he asked why the area in front of the door didn't look very clean, I explained to him the carpet there is just worn and while its clean, it will always have a darker appearance. He was fine with that but it comes up after every cleaning. I gave a more detailed explanation about light reflections and micro abrasion. Okay. Still askes at next cleaning. So he emailed me yesterday about it, said he just doesn't get the whole light reflection thing. So I emailed him back this paint doc drawing I did just for him and the following explination:

Untitled.jpg

"In the picture I provided, image A represents a carpet fiber from a newly installed, perfectly clean carpet. It has no dirt and has received no wear. Its a smooth structure. The light particles (represented by yellow lines) hit the fiber and are reflected and received by our eyes. The more light our eyes receive, the brighter the object reflecting the light appears. White appears very bright because it reflects the most light. Black is very dark because it does not reflect much light.

Image B shows a carpet fiber that has become dirty. In addition to the darker color of the dirt particle, which absorbs more light than it reflects, they also create a rough surface that blocks some light reflection and can even cause it to be reflected away from us. This lower level of light reaching our eyes is why the carpet looks darker when dirty.

Image C shows a clean carpet fiber that has become worn. Notice the indentations on the fiber, these are micro abrasions. Cuts and cracks in the fiber. The fiber is no longer a smooth surface. As a result, the fiber may be the same color quality as fiber A, however, the micro abrasions cause some light to not be reflected to where our eyes can detect it. Because our eyes are receiving less light, the carpet appears darker, which we relate as being dirty, even though its not."

I sent it off and got a reply about 30 minutes later. "Thank you for that explanation Robert, this makes a lot a sense now."

I don't know if my info was 100% but he seems convinced this time that I got the carpet clean.
 

Robert86

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I might clean this up, make it a little more professional looking and keep a few copies with me. Simple illustrations can sometimes make all the difference.
 
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Rick J

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I used to have a piece of clear Lucite(?) I think I found it somewhere, It had been part of some sort of display. Round, solid , tubular. 1"-1.5 inches in diameter. I carried it around for quite some time . I roughed up part of it with sandpaper, making it dull, , the rest I left clean and clear. Illustrated this pretty well.
 

Bob Savage

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I have been using that explanation for years, and I believe that it is very true - that wear will reflect and absorb the light that is hitting it differently than carpet fibers that are not worn at all.

It is a gradual thing that happens over time, so it doesn't get that noticed until someone professionally clears that carpet.

I have even got them to run their hand over the cleaned carpet into the worn cleaned carpet and they can tell a difference in the feel.

Professional cabinet makers run their fingers over wood to see how well it is shaped and sanded.

Your hand "feels" better than your eyes!
 
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rob allen

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I used to have a piece of clear Lucite(?) I think I found it somewhere, It had been part of some sort of display. Round, solid , tubular. 1"-1.5 inches in diameter. I carried it around for quite some time . I roughed up part of it with sandpaper, making it dull, , the rest I left clean and clear. Illustrated this pretty well.
Yep. This what I did also when I cleaned.
 
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rob allen

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I will say this. Until I did the 50+ prespray test I thought many carpets were abraded and not refracting light properly. When in actuality they were oxidized by oils. When I applied the right pre spray every poly improved to different degrees depending on the oxidation level. Food for thought.
 
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Ken Raddon

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I tell them "It's just like your socks. No matter how much you wash them once they are old enough they will be dirtier on the bottom than they are on the top." Those worn areas will never look as nice as the less or unworn areas do.
 
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Robert86

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I have been using that explanation for years, and I believe that it is very true - that wear will reflect and absorb the light that is hitting it differently than carpet fibers that are not worn at all.

It is a gradual thing that happens over time, so it doesn't get that noticed until someone professionally clears that carpet.

I have even got them to run their hand over the cleaned carpet into the worn cleaned carpet and they can tell a difference in the feel.

Professional cabinet makers run their fingers over wood to see how well it is shaped and sanded.

Your hand "feels" better than your eyes!
Building guitar necks I often turn off the lights, close my eyes and run my fingers over the neck. Amazing when you completely isolate and remove your sense of sight just how much more you can "see".
 

rob allen

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Just for the record it’s “refract” not “reflect” light.
 
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Mama Fen

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I used to have a piece of clear Lucite(?) I think I found it somewhere, It had been part of some sort of display. Round, solid , tubular. 1"-1.5 inches in diameter. I carried it around for quite some time . I roughed up part of it with sandpaper, making it dull, , the rest I left clean and clear. Illustrated this pretty well.
That's precisely what some IICRC carpet instructors do - show the students the difference between nice shiny smooth acrylic and roughed-up, dull, dingy-looking acrylic. It works wonders.
 

Will C

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I like it! I was just trying to explain this to a client last night. I liken it to the headlights on your car. Over time they get sand blasted and therefore dull. The same thing happens to carpet because it's usually plastic, which is why it's important to clean it annually. I also told him he needs to make it a part of his lease agreement that the clients get their carpet professionally cleaned annually. I explained to him that if he had a lawn they'd have to maintain that, so since he had rentals they should do the same with carpet considering it's his investment.