The reason a carpet shows signs of premature wear is because of improper maintenance. If major traffic lanes were vacuumed more frequently and spots and spills were cleaned properly, carpeting would look better and last longer. Traffic lanes and patterns are usually caused by the following factors: traffic lane graying, soiling, matting and wear.
Traffic Lane Graying: Carpets are known to eventually show signs of wear. This wear creates an illusion of soiling, which often causes frustration and misunderstanding between homeowners and carpet care experts. Even though a carpet has been cleaned, it doesn't mean that it will look the same all over. Wear often causes what is known as traffic lane graying, a condition that has been nicknamed, "ugly out". There is not a lot that a carpet care expert can do with "ugly out." if a 10-year old carpet is cleaned, you still have a clean 10 year old carpet. (Just as a clean pair of old jeans will show wear and discoloration around the knees, a clean old carpet will show signs of wear in the traffic lanes.)
Soiling: The main cause of traffic lane soiling is tracking in soil and dust; airborne pollutants; SOAP RESIDUE FROM IMPROPER CLEANING, food and beverages spilled on carpet. Soil damages a carpet as well as making it look dirty. The main problem caused by soil is called fiber abrasion. Fiber abrasion is created by dirt particles scratching and scraping the fiber surface. Scratches and scrapes block light reflection causing these areas to look even dirtier and fray. The easiest way to prevent soil from damaging the fiber is to vacuum regularly.
If soiling becomes excessive, the dirt will be ground down into and below the carpet backing. This creates another problem of dirt wicking up fibers after it has been cleaned, wet or dry. Often, as in case of wool carpets, the carpet being so dense with wool hair, the dirt cannot be vacuumed up from under the carpet or stains become permanent due to the natural wool having no stain resistant added to it. Wet extraction may be the answer to this problem, but waste water left behind causes foul odors, form mud that may still wick up after a week, and water stains. Answer to all these problems is vacuuming often and clean up spills quickly.
Matting: There comes a point when carpet fibers no longer return to their original shape. As fibers lose their shape, they begin to look frayed or distorted causing the carpet to look dirtier or have a texture change. Again, vacuuming is the answer to keeping carpet from matting. Rearranging furniture around helps to keep carpet appearance looking the same.
Wear: Wear is a combination of several things. Soil, heavy traffic, loss of fibers, improper vacuuming, ***improper cleaning and time... all contribute to a worn out carpet.
Putting area rugs over carpeting: This is a great way to keep traffic areas from getting dirty but if the area rugs is dirty it spreads that dirt to carpet area. Another problem with putting area rugs down, is if the backing of the area rug is rough or rubber like it will change the texture or discolor your carpet. Best to check out the backing of the area rug before using it on carpet. ***Sometimes the dyes from a area rug, if it gets wet, will discolor carpet below and we know it does not come out with professional cleaning.
Best maintenance you can do to save your carpets: The best way to prevent excessive wear is to properly maintain your carpet by vacuuming every day, if possible. Vacuuming removes loose soil before it becomes embedded in the fiber or underneath carpet. Removal of abrasive soils from the carpet helps extend it's life.