How to Clean Berber Carpet, Tips + Recommendations
The term Berber is not indicative of material or type of fiber, but rather a particular style of carpet with a distinctive knot texture. Its roots trace back to the hand-woven rugs made by the Berber people of North Africa and the Sahara.
Berber carpet can be made of nylon, wool or olefin, and each requires specific cleaning products and procedures to maintain its beauty. For example, if the Berber floor covering in question is wool carpet, professional cleaners and homeowners alike must be sure to use wool-safe products to avoid causing irreversible damage.
Because Berber carpets are often large, cover the floor of entire rooms and are fixed in place with adhesive, it can make cleaning them a bit more challenging — especially if you’re unsure about the material it’s made of.
In this article, we’ll share advice from Jon-Don experts on how to identify the fiber material of a Berber carpet as well as how to properly and professionally clean it.
Berber Carpets: How They Compare to Other Carpet Types and How to Identify the Fiber
No matter what it’s made of, Berber is praised by many for its affordability, durability, and minimal maintenance requirements — making it a popular carpet choice in both residential and commercial environments.
Compared to other types of carpeting with a higher pile, Berber has a looped carpet style with a short and tight weave that traps less dirt and dust. This makes Berber carpeting generally easier to vacuum and keep clean.
How to Identify Berber Carpet Fiber
If you're unsure what the fibers are made of on a particular Berber rug or carpet, you can perform a quick and easy chemical test.
First, gather three small glasses or plastic containers and fill each with a small amount of one of the following:
- Formic acid or muriatic acid
- Chlorine bleach
Next, choose an inconspicuous spot on the carpet, such as the back of a closet, and cut a few strands of fiber using duckbill napping shears. Place a couple of strands in each chemical or water sample and observe the reactions:
- Nylon fibers will dissolve in formic acid or muriatic acid. Keep in mind if you use muriatic acid, the fiber will take a little longer to dissolve.
- Olefin fibers will float in a glass of water. Use a couple of drops of dish soap or Matrix® Fast Acting TLC in the water to break the surface tension.
- Wool fiber will dissolve in chlorine bleach.
This stands to reason that bleach-based carpet cleaners and detergents may be used on nylon and olefin carpets, but not wool, as it will eat through the fibers and cause permanent damage.
How to Clean Berber Carpet
While still easier to clean than most other carpets, olefin fiber carpet specifically can be a challenge. As with many looped-style carpets, the low and tight nature of the weave that is indicative of Berber style can cause the carpet cleaning wand to bounce, which can affect its performance. Additionally, excess moisture and soil may wick to the surface if the carpet is allowed to dry too slowly.
For the best results, Jon-Don recommends following these directions when cleaning a Berber rug or carpet. The products recommended are approved for use on all carpet types, including both stain-resistant and wool:
- Dilute Matrix® Confidence Premium Extraction Detergent into your extraction tank per label instructions.
- Use a carpet wand on a PSI setting of 250 or less to clean the carpet. Using single strokes, apply slight pressure to avoid bouncing and extract only on the forward stroke.
- Using a pump-up inline sprayer or extractor, apply Matrix® All Fiber Rinse diluted per label instructions.
- If you anticipate wicking problems, attach a white bonnet to a standard 175 RPM rotary floor machine. Move the device back and forth in steady passes, replacing the bonnet when it becomes saturated.
- Speed dry the carpet with Dri‑Eaz Dri‑Pod Floor Dryer to further prevent wicking.
Minor Stain Removal on Berber Carpet
For minor spot and stain removal, you might be able to remove the spot using a little water and a clean white towel. Pour a little water on the stain then gently blot the area, folding the towel over to use a clean spot as it absorbs the soil and liquid.
If the stain persists, we recommend using either of the following solutions:
- Matrix® Spot Out Spotter: This general-purpose, water-based spot remover will quickly remove the majority of oil- and water-based spots and spills on all types of carpet. Simply apply the spotter undiluted to the spot, then gently blot with a clean white towel.
- Matrix® Vanishing Act: This easy-to-use spotter uses the power of oxidation to quickly remove most organic stains — no scrubbing necessary! Just spray it on and watch the stain disappear.
If the stain persists or a significant area of the carpet is soiled, we recommend hiring a professional carpet cleaner to ensure the best possible results.
The Best Products for Cleaning Berber Carpet
Cleaning Berber carpet is easier with the right products, tools and techniques. For the best results, try the Jon-Don recommend rines, detergents and tools:
For more expert tech tips and training, check out our calendar of carpet cleaning seminars. These instructional sessions are geared towards technicians, owners and managers of carpet cleaning companies to ensure that your clients receive the best care possible.