Many mattress manufacturers recommend that consumers rotate their mattresses at least twice a year to help prevent soft spots from developing and increase the product’s life span. In fact, one manufacturer believes rotating mattresses is so important that it even suggests doing so when people change your clocks twice a year for Daylight Saving Time. Its slogan: Spin the mattress around in spring; flip it over in fall.

It’s unfortunate that the same kind of treatment can’t be applied to flooring for schools, such as carpeting, especially in hallways. Being able to flip or turn a carpet might delay or prevent what commonly is referred to as traffic-lane soiling, an unsightly problem that often afflicts carpeting in public facilities. This is when carpeting becomes dark and soiled, usually in the center of a major walkway, and especially when compared with its outer edges. In fact, it is not uncommon for the outer edges of carpeting in heavily trafficked areas to look virtually brand-new, while the center area may be dark, grimy, worn, spotted and even torn.

Cleaning Measures

Why does this happen to flooring for schools? The cause is simple. Soils, spills, "gray" moisture found on shoes, grease, dust, dirt, sand and other contaminants are tracked in over a carpet’s center traffic lane and essentially are pounded into the fibers by foot traffic. Although carpeting is designed to trap and hide soiling, it does eventually reach a saturation point, at which point darkening and other telltale signs of damage begin to appear.

In some cases, cleaning professionals may use spotters and stain removers to clean and repair these darkened areas. However, in most cases, the carpeting areas that tend to be affected by traffic-lane soiling are far too large to be cleaned effectively with spotters or removers; such issues generally require more extensive treatment options.

Cleaning professionals also may try to clean carpeting affected by traffic-lane soiling using carpet shampooers or the bonnet cleaning method. These interim cleaning methods can remove surface soils and provide temporary cleaning benefits, but often they have two key drawbacks:

•Although these systems can remove some of the soiling, they often simply spread the soil over more of the carpet.

•Just as damaging, these cleaning methods can leave a chemical residue in the carpet, resulting in what is known as resoiling. This is when chemical residue left in a carpet acts as a magnet for other contaminants, drawing soils into the carpet and making the traffic lane even darker and more unsightly. Resoiling also can be an issue when spotters are used.

Thankfully, there are effective ways to help prevent traffic-lane soiling and remove it if it develops. Incorporating specific strategies to flooring for schools can keep hallway and other walkway carpets looking their best for longer, which can delay expensive carpet replacements.