May 27


Berber Carpet Cleaning Challenges

This article is going to cover berber carpet cleaning in Vancouver and the surrounding areas.

At Linton's Carpet Cleaning we often get asked to clean berber carpet and we find out there is, many times, confusion about what berber carpet actually is and the challenges of cleaning it. 

If you would like to find out more about what berber carpet actually is please read our article on berber carpet here

So how is berber carpet cleaned and what are the challenges in cleaning berber carpet? To start with you need to understand there are two VERY different types of berber carpet and it can make a big difference in how they are cleaned.

What Are The Two Types of Berber Carpet?

When we say there are two types of berber carpet we are referring to the fiber type, what the fiber is made out of. This is super important because these two fibers (actually three) are very different from each other.

The two types of carpet fibers with berber are natural and synthetic. The natural fiber being wool and the synthetic fiber usually being olefin (polypropylene). There are also nylon berber fibers, but those would fall on the synthetic side and they are cleaned very much like olefin, but not exactly.

Why is knowing what type of fiber the berber is made out of important? Well it is important, really important, because wool should not be cleaned the same way as olefin or nylon. You might be able to get away with cleaning wool the same as those other two fibers, but you are risking huge problems if you do.

Let's First Start With Cleaning Wool Berber

Wool berber is MUCH more challenging to clean because of the characteristics of wool itself. Let's take a look at them:

Berber Carpet Cleaning Issues Vancouver, Wa.


Wool should not be cleaned with any cleaning agent over 9ph. This can cause issues with really effective cleaning of heavily soiled wool.


Wool absorbs a lot of water, so drying time can be a real issue and very serious problems can evolve from wet wool and drying.


Wool can very easily be stained because it readily accepts dyes. And getting stains out of wool can be a nightmare.


Wool also shrinks which can lead to huge problems, especially if the backing is also made of natural fabric.


Many spot and stain removal agents that are safe and work great on synthetic carpets cannot be used on wool.

So how is wool berber cleaned? Well it is cleaned very much like any other type of wall-to-wall carpet but there has to be extra caution taken when cleaning wool berber and the cleaner has to know what those precautions are.

You might be wondering why we earlier said that cleaning wool was much different but in the above paragraph we said that it is cleaned very much like any other type of fiber. That doesn't seem to make sense does it? So let us explain.

The BASICS of cleaning carpet are the same, actually the basics of ANY cleaning are the same. You use the TACT principle of cleaning and this applies to all cleaning.

TACT stands for:



Chemicals (cleaning agents)


All cleaning of any type is built around this principle. Wool berber carpets are cleaned with the same principles but with variations that have to be different than cleaning synthetic carpets. And what are those variations?

  • Wool must be cleaned using lower PH products. What this usually means then is that another part of TACT has to be increased and the two areas usually increased are time (dwell time) and agitation.
  • When increasing agitation it usually cannot be increased to the same aggressiveness as on nylon or olefin because of the potential to damage the loops of the fiber. Usually fraying is the main issue.
  • Stain removal can be much trickier because the agents used to remove many stains on synthetic carpet cannot be used the same way or to the same degree on wool.
  • Dry times are important with ANY carpet but with wool they can be much trickier because wool absorbs so much water. Long dry times can lead to numerous issues including some VERY BAD wet wool smell throughout your home.

So, as you can see, cleaning wool berber offers some additional challenges that cleaning synthetic (nylon, olefin) don't have. The cleaning of synthetic berber has ONE MAIN challenge that drives cleaners and clients crazy. And what is that?

Synthetic berber can have serious wicking issues, especially with olefin fibers. If you are not sure what wicking is, let us briefly explain because wicking is a very common issue with all sorts of carpet cleaning, but especially problematic on commercial carpet (which is mostly level loop, therefore a type of berber) and olefin berber.

What Is Wicking?

Wicking, often called capillary wicking, is when moisture, and anything with it, moves up the fiber during the drying process. The moisture eventually evaporates into the atmosphere and whatever was coming with it stays on the top part of the fiber.

For most people this is the "magically recurring stain or soil" that can quite often happen after the carpet has been cleaned. No matter what any carpet cleaner says, all carpet cleaners experience this problem at one time or another. There are procedures you can go through that lessons the chances of wicking, but some wicking is going to occasionally occur.

So with synthetic berber the issue is wicking and the reason synthetic berber, especially olefin, wicks so much at times is because the fiber does NOT absorb much water.

This means that any liquid spill basically runs down the side of the fiber and into the backing and even the padding. The liquid eventually evaporates and the solid part of the spill remains just waiting like a cat trying to catch a mouse for some moisture to make it a liquid again.

Along comes the carpet cleaner doing their best to really clean the carpet well and they get some moisture to the backing of the carpet for the same reason as the spill got to the backing - the fiber doesn't absorb much water! 

The carpet looks GREAT immediately after the cleaning but once all drying is done - there is a stain there! And the stain might not have even been visible before because the carpet owner cleaned it up off of the surface of the fibers.

The carpet cleaner gets blamed for something they didn't even know was in the carpet, even though the cleaner did nothing wrong. This is a key issue with cleaning olefin berber. Wicking can be a nightmare.

But - there is some great news when it comes to cleaning olefin berber and that news is this: Olefin berber is hard as heck to stain. Yes, you might think there is a stain in the carpet but it actually is NOT a stain. It is a spot that looks like a stain. A stain and spot are not the same. 

Olefin is solution dyed, which means it has no dye sites for any other dyes to enter. So staining olefin is super hard to do.

So how does a cleaner stop or lesson the chance of wicking? Well there are two main methods and they both work, but one is not the best way to go about actually cleaning a carpet.

Let's take a look at the first method. 

1. Low moisture cleaning. This type of cleaning is, many times, able to avoid wicking because NOT ENOUGH MOISTURE is used to get to the backing or padding of a carpet, so there can be no wicking or very little wicking. This sounds great - right?

Well it is not as great as it might sound. If you do not flush a carpet with enough moisture to get the soil at the base of the carpet, or even slightly higher up the fiber, then are you really cleaning the carpet the way it needs to be cleaned? Probably not. The carpet is basically being appearance cleaned - which is fine if you want to leave a bunch of soil in your carpet.

But that is NOT what most people want to do! Most people want as much soil removed as possible AND the carpet to look good.

2. Aggressive cleaning. The use of large amounts of water to flush the carpet as thoroughly as possible and then maximum air movement to expedite dry times and get all of the moisture out of the carpet before any stain can make it to the top of the fiber - if there is any stain remaining.

This is the best way to clean a carpet and to avoid wicking. There are cleaning agents designed to be left behind when cleaning to stop wicking from occurring, but we do not use these at Linton's Carpet Cleaning because we believe in rinsing the carpet as thoroughly as possible and leaving as little cleaning residue as possible.

Another positive with synthetic berber is that it dries FAST! The fiber does not absorb much water. As long as the wicking issue is addressed with air movement and absolute top notch water removal then the ability to aggressively clean and get the carpet dry fast is a big advantage.

One of the other cleaning issues with wool berber is that wool has cuticles in the fiber. These cuticles hide soil and make it harder to get the soil out of the fiber. This is an issue with any wool carpet, including oriental rugs.

Another common issue with wool or synthetic berber is the loops themselves. Soil gets in between the individual loops and can also cause an issue with wicking. This is why thoroughly flushing the carpet is the overall best way to clean berber carpet or any carpet.

And now for something REALLY REALLY important.

Do not let any carpet cleaner charge you extra for cleaning SYNTHETIC berber. This has become a fairly common scam. Yes, cleaning berber has some challenges, but synthetic berber is actually VERY easy to clean if the person doing the carpet cleaning has any talent and knowledge. 

Synthetic berber usually cleans up really good, even if it looks like a herd of elephants (or your husband and his friends or the kids and their friends) threw a party on the carpet. Remember, women never mess the carpet up! If we had a dollar for every time we heard that one we would be pretty well off. 😉

So if any cleaner comes into your home and tells you that they are going to charge extra because your carpet is berber - you better make sure they are charging extra to clean WOOL BERBER - not synthetic berber. Wool berber has more challenges and a cleaner should charge extra if they so desire.

But to charge extra for cleaning synthetic berber is the sign of a scammer and/or a cleaner that doesn't know what they are doing.

So there you have it. The challenges of cleaning berber.

Linton's Carpet Cleaning
Vancouver's Berber Carpet Cleaning Experts

At Linton's Carpet Cleaning we are Vancouver's berber cleaning experts. We have the knowledge, the tools, and the desire to deliver outstanding berber carpet cleaning for our clients.

And we NEVER EVER play any pricing games!

(360) 608-5441

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