Traffic Lanes- What are they?
Have you ever noticed how in the areas you walk most in your house, it seems like there are large dark pathways on the carpet? The most common spots for this are the main entrance to your home, the path from the living room to the master bedroom, going into the master bathroom and where your feet sit when you sit on your favorite couch or chair. Basically they are the areas of the house that have the highest concentration of soil and traffic. We call these areas traffic lanes.
What happens is through everyday use of the carpet, concentrations of dirt and soil pile up inside the carpet and this alone causes the areas to begin to look dark. Over time, however, these areas can begin to wear down because of the excessive foot traffic in these areas. These two factors combined begin to actually cause abrasion of the fibers over a relatively short period of time, causing the area to begin to look even darker and cause irreparable damage to your carpet. This can cause the carpet to appear matted in areas. You may also notice a bit of a shadowing effect because of the fact that light will refract off of the fibers instead of reflect due to the abrasion of the carpet fibers themselves. This process is especially relevant to us here in Houston because of the excessive pollen in the air during the springtime.
Different carpets will have different levels of resistance to traffic lanes. Polyester carpets will wear much easier than any other material of carpet. Nylon and berber carpets are much more resilient to wear damage, but it can still happen.
That sounds horrible! What can I do to prevent this?
There are a few different ways to combat traffic lanes and dark pathways forming in your home. The first and easiest step is regular vacuuming. You can read our article about proper vacuuming habits here, but we would recommend about once or twice per week. This is possibly the most important thing you can do for your carpet for a number of reasons, but most importantly it helps fight back the soil buildup in these areas.
Another thing you can do to prevent traffic lanes is regularly having your carpets professionally cleaned. You can read our article on how often you should clean your carpets here. In that article we also discuss having a maintenance plan for your carpet, which is a very easy and cost effective way to stay on top of this.