When talking about cleaning a carpet, we first have to familiarise ourselves with its basic structure. They have a couple of layers, each responsible for different features. For cleaning purposes, we are interested in the first one – the pile. Also known as face or nap, this is the part on which you walk and vacuum or wash. The pile can be made from a variety of synthetic or natural materials. Sometimes, manufactures blend different fibres when creating the face or the primary backing to make a carpet that is more durable and easy to maintain.

carpet structure

To properly care for your carpets and rugs, you need to know what they are. Check out the following easy to understand guide that teaches you how to clean the different types of fibres.

How to Clean Synthetic Carpets and Rugs?

There is a big variety of man-made carpet materials you can choose from depending on your needs:

  • Acryl – Made from polyacrylonitrile these fibres are used as the synthetic version of wool.
  • Olefin (Polypropylene) – The next best thing after nylon, it is a very popular type.
  • Nylon – It’s the Rolls Royce of synthetic fibres. The two most common types of Nylon fibres are polycaprolactam (Nylon 6) and polyhexamethylene adipamide (Nylon 6,6).
  • Polyester and PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) – A very versatile fibre with many positive qualities, it is mostly made from recyclable materials.
  • Triexta (PTT – Polytrimethylene Terephthalate) – Created in 2009, this new fibre combines the best qualities of nylon and PET, while creating a natural feeling.

Synthetic carpets are generally easy to maintain, however, keep in mind the following:

  • Avoid cleaning them with bleach or other harsh chemicals.
  • Some don’t respond well to heat, so be careful when steam cleaning your carpets.
  • They all respond well to professional deep carpet cleaning.

See the pros, cons and cleaning requirements each kind of fibre has in the table below.

Type of FiberProsConsCleaning Requirements
Acryl➤ The perfect alternative of wool;
➤ Reasonable price;
➤ Resistant to stains, sunlight, moisture and mildew;
➤ Dry off quickly;
➤ Not very durable, tend to wear off at the places with high foot traffic;
➤ Does not respond well to heat – can melt or burn easily;
➤ Needs frequent vacuuming, as carpet fibres break after a while;
➤ Avoid steam cleaning;
Olefin (Polypropylene)➤ Relatively strong;
➤ Easy to clean fibres;
➤ Suited for low traffic areas;
➤ Hydrophobic (doesn’t absorb liquids);
➤ Fibres can melt easily, so you need to avoid direct heat sources;
➤ Not very soil-resistant;
➤ Responds well to dry cleaning;
➤ Avoid steam cleaning;
➤ You can use bleach on them;
➤ It is especially hard to clean oil-based stains;
Nylon➤ The strongest and most durable material of all;
➤ Stain-resistant;
➤ Expensive;
➤ Not as soft as other fibres;
➤ Can create static electricity in a dry climate;
➤ It’s not a breathable material;
➤ Do not apply bleach, you can permanently damage the carpet;
➤ Do not vacuum on the highest speed, to avoid causing frizziness;
Polyester and PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)➤ Have an exquisite look;
➤ Not expensive;
➤ Less prone to creating static electricity;
➤ Suitable for homes with pets – easy to clean;
➤ More stain-resistant than nylon;
➤ Non-allergenic;
➤ Made from recyclable materials;
➤ Least durable and strong of all;
➤ Colours fade over direct sunlight;
➤ The fibres break easily under heavy furniture;
➤ Gets easily damaged, not suitable for areas with high foot traffic;
➤ Need to be vacuumed frequently;
➤ Respond well to professional deep cleaning;
➤ Drys off very quickly;
Triexta (PTT – Polytrimethylene Terephthalate)➤ Softer and more resilient than polyester;
➤ Water, mould and mildew resistant;
➤ Stain-resistant;
➤ High density of the material = easily collects dirt;
➤ Short track record – not enough information about its performance;
➤ Remove stains with warm water;
➤ Avoid using detergents with a pH of 10 or higher;
➤ Reacts well with steam cleaning;
➤ You need a powerful vacuum machine to clean it properly;

Some manufacturers blend different kinds of synthetic fibres when creating the carpets to enhance their best qualities. A popular combination is nylon with olefin.

Generally, synthetic carpets respond well to different deep cleaning methods. The most widespread technique that can remove the embedded dirt and sanitise the material is the hot water extraction. If you want to know more about its benefits, you can check our steam cleaning guide.

How to Clean the Different Types of Semi-Synthetic Carpets?

These types of materials are a mixture of natural and synthetic components and are a great option for your home.

  • Viscose – Also known as rayon, it is created from a woody pulp from different plants like bamboo or soy, mixed with synthetic chemicals resulting in strong carpet fibres.
  • Tencel® – It is made from wood pulp treated with solvents. The manufacturing process reminds the one viscose has. However, the Austrian company Lenzing AG that produces this fibre claims the solvents return rate is 99%. Meaning almost everything is recyclable.
  • Eco-friendly Triexta – A spin-off of the initial Triexta material to which corn glucose is added to minimise the chemicals used during the manufacturing process. It has the same pros, cons and cleaning requirements as the original version.

Semi-synthetic carpets are easy to maintain, and you don’t need a lot in the means of cleaning requirements.

Type of FiberProsConsCleaning Requirements
Viscose➤ Easy to manufacture = Not expensive;
➤ Super soft material;
➤ Suited only for low-traffic areas;
➤ Very absorbent and can be easily damaged by water;
➤ The discolouration is a problem;
➤ Dry cleaning only;
➤ Remove stains with cleaning powder;
➤ Avoid using water;
Tencel®➤ Breathable;
➤ Durable;
➤ Absorbs moisture and can get water damage;
➤ Relatively expensive;
➤ Easily stained;
➤ Vacuum frequently in one direction;
➤ Use a HOST system for deep cleaning;
➤ Do not use water;

A popular way of creating semi-synthetic carpets is by blending natural and man-made fibres. For example, the combination of nylon and wool is durable and perfect for high traffic areas.

How to Clean the Different Types of Natural Rugs and Carpets?

Purchasing carpeting made from natural fibres has its benefits. There are many options you can pick from.

  • Seagrass – Made from the seagrass plant, these carpets look and feel very natural.
  • Coir – Created from the husks of coconuts, this fibre has a manufacturing time from almost 10 months.
  • Jute – Also known as Golden fibre, it is made from a type of grass originating from Asia.
  • Sisal – The fibre is made primarily from the tropical plant Agave Sisalana, native to southern Mexico.
  • Wool – One of the oldest-known and most popular materials, wool can be transformed using various methods into soft and durable rugs and carpets.

In general, when cleaning natural carpets, you need to follow these rules:

  • Apply as little water as possible.
  • Use spot cleaning for immediate stain removal ( do not let them dry off).
  • Vacuum at least once a week.
  • Rely on dry cleaning only.

Check out the pros, cons and cleaning requirements for each type in the table below.

Type of FiberProsConsCleaning Requirements

Seagrass

➤ Easy to maintain;
➤ Dirt doesn’t cling to the fibres;
➤ Not as thick as the rest;
➤ Absorbs water;
➤ Do not steam clean;
➤ Vacuum regularly;
➤ Dry cleaning only;
➤ Spot cleaning only;

Coir 

➤ Great sound and temperature insulation;
➤ Durable;
➤ Natural pest repellent – the oils in the fibres repel insects;
➤ Water-resistant;
➤ Hard to the touch, mostly suitable for entryways and bathrooms;
➤ Doesn’t come in different colours;
➤ Clean with dry powder every 5 to 6 months;
➤ Easy to vacuum;
➤ Do not steam clean;

Jute

➤ Dust can’t cling to the fibres;
➤ Not expensive;
➤ Not suitable for high traffic or humid areas – damages easily;
➤ Not durable;
➤ Catches smell and moisture;
➤ Do not wash or use big amounts of water when cleaning – it will turn brown;
➤ Spot cleaning only;
➤ Use dry cleaning powder;

Sisal 

➤ Great temperature insulation;
➤ Strong fibres;
➤ Anti-static;
➤ Easily gets stained;
➤ Absorbs the humidity and can cause floor damage and mould;
➤ Never wet or use shampoo – dry cleaning only;
➤ Vacuum it regularly;
➤ Spot cleaning only;
➤ Do not steam clean;

Wool

➤ Extremely soft and warm;
➤ Durable can uphold a lot of pressure and foot traffic;
➤ Resistant to stains, pulling and even fire;
➤ Can form mildew easily if it’s in contact with water for long;
➤ Expensive;
➤ Absorbs water and has a long drying time;
➤ Needs to be regularly vacuumed;
➤ Remove stains with small amounts of cold water, never warm;
➤ Spot cleaning only;
➤ Use specialised detergents only;

Natural fibres can also be blended together to create more durable and easy to clean carpets and rugs. A popular mix is the one between Jute and Coir.

Disclaimer: If you choose to use professional carpet cleaning services, inform your technicians about the type of carpeting you own. It is especially important for the natural materials as they are more delicate than synthetics.

Other Natural Fibers That Can Be Found in Your Carpet

There are additional fibres found in your natural carpets that can influence the way you clean them. The common ones are:

  • Silk – The most expensive and high-end natural fibre, that comes from the cocoons of silkworms.
  • Cotton – Coming from the family of Malva plants, this is the most widespread fibre on the Globe, as it is used in the manufacturing of various carpets, garments, fabrics, etc.
  • Bamboo – The bamboo tree is cut, pulpified and then using a complicated process, turned into yarn.

When it comes to washing, these fibres mostly influence the quantity of water which the technicians have to use when performing their cleaning services. Our London professionals advise you to avoid dealing with silk carpets by yourself, as the risk of damaging them is greater.

Type of FiberProsConsCleaning Requirements

Silk

➤ Durable;
➤ Hypoallergenic;
➤ Breathable;
➤ Reacts badly on moisture and sunlight;
➤ Gets easily stained;
➤ Vacuum frequently
➤ Avoid enzyme cleaners
➤ Do not use heavy chemicals, only specialised detergents;
➤ Avoid wet cleaning;

Cotton

➤ Easy to maintain;
➤ Inexpensive;
➤ Anti-static;
➤ Not as durable;
➤ Can get stained easily;
➤ Absorbent; 
➤ Small rugs can be cleaned in the washing machine;
➤Can be steam cleaned;

Bamboo

➤ Remarkably durable;
➤ Wear-resistant;
➤ Refracts ultraviolet rays;
➤ Hypoallergenic;
➤ Thin material;
➤ Absorbs moisture;
➤ Easy to vacuum;
➤ Use little to none water when cleaning;

Carpets made primarily from these fibres are not as durable or are too expensive. That is why a good manufacturing solution is to blend them with other natural materials. An often found combination is the one between wool and cotton.

When you are uncertain how to clean your carpeting, you can always seek professional advice. Our London experts will gladly help you and remove the dirt and stains from your beloved carpets.


Stephanie Cooper

Stephanie is a content marketing specialist for Top Cleaners for the past several years. She has extensive experience working with cleaning companies and knows her audience. Stephanie creates engaging and useful content helping the customers of Top Cleaners with their struggles and providing them with the most accurate insight.