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Yellowing / Browning in Carpet


Yellowing / Browning Removal

Yellowing/browning can be caused by many factors. Sometimes it can be removed; sometimes not. Never guarantee complete removal.


The most common factors that cause yellowing are:

  • Over-wetting or High Alkalinity:
    Usually caused by technician error. Over-wetting can also be caused by the jets being clogged or faulty vacuum hoses and cuffs.

  • Cellulosic Browning:
    The wetting of jute backing causes cellulosic browning. This is normally found in older carpeting. The popularity of sisal, hemp, mountain grass, and even paper has seen a resurgence in browning issues. Don’t forget that many woven rugs may have a cotton or jute backing yarn and can cause browning and shrinkage. Browning is also very prevalent in all types of cellulosic fabrics, such as cotton, linen, rayon, and viscose.

  • BHT in Carpet Cushion:
    BHT was used as an antioxidant in the manufacture of rebond cushion. When stain-resist carpet came into existence many yellowing discolorations appeared especially after cleaning. It was traced back to the cushion and pressure from the mills put an end to it. The kind of yellowing is noticeable because it is a VERY BRIGHT canary or legal pad yellow.

  • Formaldehyde:
    While this has been stated as a cause of browning and yellowing in carpet, it has not been used in the manufacture of carpet in over 25 years. Sometimes old information keeps being spread.


The Solution: Basic Method – Cellulosic Browning:

  1. With a pump-up sprayer, apply Matrix Target Tannin Stain Remover undiluted. Apply as lightly as possible to take care of the problem. Over applying can cause re-browning.
  2. Work in with a Grandi Groom. Reminder: the use of an acid rinse in your solution tank may prevent the browning.


Basic Method – BHT:

  1. Dilute Citric Acid at 8-10 tablespoons per gallon of hot water.
  2. Using a pump-up sprayer (or trigger sprayer for small areas), lightly mist the Citric Acid solution. Do this as lightly as possible.
  3. Once the area is dry, vacuum it aggressively. Citric Acid dries like fine sand and can be troublesome to vacuum.


Warning: Always test materials for colorfastness, follow label directions, and never mix products unless specified in the label directions. Each situation reacts differently and results may vary.

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  1. Sale
    Chemspec® Browning Treatment & Coffee Stain Remover
    Chemspec® Browning Treatment & Coffee Stain Remover

    Chemspec Browning Treatment removes or reduces browning caused by coffee, tea, and over-wetting, and bleed through of jute backing. Effective for carpet but can be used safely on upholstery, too!

    • Removes coffee and tea stains
    • Removes browning from jute backing
    • pH: 3.3–4.3
    • Safe for stain-resistant carpet
    • Ready to use

    Starting at $19.95

  2. Matrix® Target Tannin Stain Remover
    Matrix® Target Tannin Stain Remover

    Target is ideal for removing alkalines and tannin stains, such as coffee, tea, urine, perfume, and others. This acid-side spotter can also be used for correcting browning, dye reversal, and setting fugitive dyes. It is also excellent for removing ice melt residue.

    • Acid spotter ideal for correcting browning
    • Removes alkalines, coffee, tea, urine, and perfumes
    • pH: 0.05–1.0
    • Safe for stain-resistant carpet
    • Dilute 2–6 ounces per gallon of water

    Starting at $12.81

  3. Matrix® Oxidizer
    Matrix® Oxidizer

    Oxidizer is a powdered version of hydrogen peroxide—essentially a safe form of bleach—that is specially formulated as an additive booster to make your traffic lane cleaner or extraction detergent work even better. It's ideal for use on stubborn stains, like nicotine stains, or browning on carpet, upholstery, and hard surfaces.

    • Boost your cleaning power and treat browning issues
    • Ideal for stubborn stains on carpet, upholstery, and hard surfaces
    • pH: None
    • Not for use on wool
    • Dilute 1/2–1 ounce per gallon of cleaning solution
  4. Citric Acid Powder
    Citric Acid Powder
    Citric Acid Powder can be used to reverse browning on carpets and upholstery. It can also be used to adjust the pH of carpet before dyeing.
    • Great product for removing BHT yellowing
    • Dries to a fine white powder for easy vacuuming
    • pH: Varies
    • Safe for stain-resistant carpet
    • Dilute 8-10 tablespoons per gallon water
  5. Sale
    Prochem Yellow Rx for Browning
    Prochem Yellow Rx for Browning

    Prochem Yellow Rx removes yellowing and brown discolorations on nylon, olefin, and many natural fiber carpets, as well as wet-cleanable upholstery.

    • Removes yellowing and browning on most carpets
    • Spotter for urine, tannin, coffee, tea, etc.
    • pH: 1.0–1.5
    • Safe for stain-resistant carpet
    • Dilute 13–26 ounces per gallon of water

    Starting at $32.28

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