Look at the picture here. Do you notice those sooty, grey lines along the baseboard? Many homes have similar lines, sometimes wider and darker, sometimes narrower and lighter. Either way they are both called the same thing: Filtration lines. I have talked to some very frustrated people who have vacuumed until their hands have blistered but cannot get them out. Often, the vacuum itself is blamed for not cleaning the edges well enough. Well I have good news and bad news for you.
The good news is that it is not due to poor vacuuming or the vacuum itself. The bad news is you need to have the carpets professionally cleaned to get them out. Why is this? Well consider the reason they are there in the first place.
Air is always moving in your home and it will use any area it can to do so. The biggest volume of air movements comes through the open doorways and staircases in our homes. That’s obvious. But, with the normal swelling and shrinking of building materials in modern homes due to the changes in temperature and humidity, there are other places for air to move as well. When air is heated it moves up and when cooled, down, and will use those small openings along walls that open up seasonally to do this. Winter is a prime time for Filtration Lines to appear because our homes are sealed up and dry. The building materials shrink making air movements easier up and down walls; combine this with ‘forced-air’ heating systems and conditions are perfect. But where do the lines come from?
The Filtration Lines come from your carpet acting like an air filter. As the air passes through the carpet, particles get caught in the carpet just like your furnace filter. These are VERY small and therefore, not able to be vacuumed out. Cigarette smoke and the burning of candles enhances and accelerates this process as both put more particles in the air. When we come in to clean your carpets, we use a very strong cleaner targeted on the edges along with good old manual scrubbing. Usually these come out almost completely. In some cases, after years of this process with no cleaning, the lines can remain a bit.
Can you prevent these? Well, make sure you have a good furnace filter installed, limit smoke from cigarettes and candles (especially scented candles as these have a higher oil content and tend to burn more sooty), and get your carpets cleaned regularly. You can’t prevent these completely, but you can drastically reduce the unsightliness of them!