Badly Cleaned Carpet

Badly Cleaned Carpet

Town: Earls Court

County: London

Carpet Type: Synthetic, Twist Pile, Beige

Nature of Issue: Discolouration and damage to carpet while cleaning.

Case Background:

  • The carpet was ‘professionally’ cleaned as part of an end of tenancy clean.
  • The client was not happy with this clean, so the carpet was re-cleaned by the same company.
  • The client feels both cleaning attempts were not done to a professional standard and staining/discolouration/damage in the hall (and a small part of the master bedroom) was caused by the cleaning.


Examination of carpet

  • Upon first inspection, the staining and discolouration in the hall were visible and looked like ‘light’ watermarks. (Photo 1)
  • I carried out a pH test on the affected areas which read 9.46pH and 8.20pH in the hall and 8.80pH and 8.97pH in the bedroom.
  • I used de-ionised water to extract substances from the stained area which showed a high quantity of residue.
  • I carried out the same tests in an un-cleaned area (under the bed), which gave a pH reading of 5.25 and 5.22 with no evidence of residue.
    • The pH level under the bed is normal for this type of carpet, whereas the pH level from the stained area is too high and obviously had not been neutralised during the cleaning process for this type of carpet.
  • I proceeded to carry out pH tests in all other ‘traffic’/ cleaned areas, the results are as follows: Bedroom 2; 5.50pH, Hall; 5.69pH & 5.53pH, Lounge; 5.91pH. These levels of pH are normal and acceptable after a cleaning process.
  • There were some small dark stains in the Lounge that were easily removed with a test stain removal. It is puzzling why the carpet cleaning process did not remove these stains.
  • I lifted the stained part of the carpet in the hall to inspect the backing of the carpet. This showed slight de-lamination damage to the backing, probably caused by over-wetting or overzealous stain removal attempts. 
  • I carried out a damp test on the carpet which proved it was completely dry. I also removed some tufts from the carpet as samples for further testing off-site.

Further Investigation

  • On contacting the company that carried out the cleaning, I found them to be unhelpful and un-willing to answer any questions about the carpet cleaning process they used.
  • They seemed to be unsure as to who inspected and re-cleaned the carpet on the second visit.
  • Helen (the manager) informed me it was ‘Michael’, but I spoke to ‘Dave’ who said he attended the property on the return visit, but again, would not answer any questions about the cleaning process, citing NCCA training rules and regulations preventing him from speaking about the process.
  • As a full member of the NCCA, I am unaware of any rules or regulations from the NCCA regarding this.
  • Had the cleaning company been willing or able to answer my questions about their carpet cleaning process, it would have given me more confidence as to their ability as a carpet cleaning company.


Regarding the issue with the hall stains there are two possibilities:

1) The stains were pre-existing (caused by the previous tenant).

  • If the stains were pre-existing, it raises the question why the cleaning company didn’t deal with these stains during the carpet cleaning process in the proper manner. A simple extraction with an acidic rinse would have drastically improved these stains and neutralised the ph level. If the carpets were cleaned to reveal/uncover these stains, (as can sometimes happen at no fault to the cleaner), then again, the correct product was not used to neutralised the ph, reduce the residue and improve the staining.

2) They were caused by the cleaning company.

  • If the stains were caused by the cleaning company, this raises the question why similar pH levels were not found in other areas of the cleaned carpet. It is possible the carpet cleaning machine or equipment had a leak, spilling water/detergent over the carpet, this can also be done with a bucket of warm tap water when filling the machine. It is also possible the general cleaners accidentally spilled a ‘multi purpose’ cleaning product on the carpet and attempted to soak it up. If this were the case, again the carpet cleaners failed to clean the spill/leak correctly.
  • The issue in the bedroom where the carpet was not cleaned under the bed, compared to the area next to it, is in my opinion, the result of sock dye transfer onto the carpet. This can make light coloured carpets look soiled and is caused by the carpet being slowly dyed over time by the transfer of sock dye onto the carpet fibres. Improvements can be made to this by a professional carpet cleaner, but it is very difficult to achieve and takes time and preparation.
  • I believe a ‘single step’ hot water extraction process was used to clean the carpets, using a powered self-neutralising detergent, mixed with warm water in the clean tank of the carpet cleaning extraction machine. This process alone was not enough to deal with the sock dye staining in the bedroom or neutralise the stained areas in the hall and bedroom. This would also account for the other, cleaned areas of the carpet reading the acceptable pH levels they are.


  • Hall Staining
    • The staining in the hall is undoubtedly cellulosic browning, which is caused by hot water, high alkaline cleaners, over-wetting or a combination of the three, via a leak, spill, bad carpet cleaning or over-zealous stain removal. At best, the carpet cleaner failed to deal correctly with the staining of the hall carpet. At worst, the carpet cleaner caused the staining by one, or a combination of the causes above and failed to remedy this. I would suggest the former is more likely than the latter.
  • Bedroom
    • It is my opinion that a very basic carpet cleaning process, that was not sufficient to deal with the issues in the bedroom, was carried out. I do not believe the carpet cleaning caused damage to the bedroom carpet or that dirty water was used during the cleaning process.
  • It is my conclusion that the cleaning company failed on both attempts to clean parts of the carpet to the correct standard required. This should be remedied by the cleaning company by issuing a full refund to their client or covering the cost of having the areas correctly cleaned by a professional carpet cleaner. You have to bear in mind that although further corrective cleaning may not completely remove the stain, it will neutralise and remove the residue in the hall stain, thereby preventing further damage and degradation.

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