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Tips for Steam Cleaning Your Berber Carpet

Updated on January 21, 2012

Berber carpet, a closed-loop style carpeting, originated with the African Berber. The people of this tribe developed the weaving technique for small rugs, and the technique was adapted by western carpet manufacturers. The carpet yarns run as a continuous length, looped through the backing, to create a tight, dense weave. The technique makes for a strong and durable carpeting.

Wool, olefin or nylon material is used in the manufacture of Berber carpeting. Steam cleaning is the most effective method for cleaning, but each material used for has its quirks.

This closed-loop carpet is developing the fuzzies due to poor vacuuming practices.
This closed-loop carpet is developing the fuzzies due to poor vacuuming practices. | Source

For Wool Woven Berber

Wool is a natural material, giving the carpet a cushiony feel. Wool is also the most expensive of the three materials and requires higher maintenance.

Use tepid water in a steam cleaning machine for wool Berber. Wool shrinks, so the water temperature should be less than 100 degrees.

Select a steam cleaner that uses a minimal amount of moisture during the steaming process. Wool absorbs and holds moisture so if possible, use a steam cleaner that allows for a dry extraction method.

Wool Berber may take about two weeks to dry, during which time the carpet color may appear darker or dingy. Wait until the carpet is completely dry before vacuuming. If you vacuum while the carpet is damp, the fibers loosen and break, making the carpet surface fuzzy. The discoloration fades as the carpet dries; vacuum when the carpet color looks bright and clean.

For Nylon Woven Berber

Nylon is a synthetic material that resists shrinkage when wet, and retains less moisture than wool. The nylon, though, can cause "wicking action" after the carpet is cleaned.

Use a steam cleaner with a low-water option. Because nylon resists shrinkage, you can use a higher water temperature for a more effective cleaning.

During cleaning, moisture is trapped at the base of the carpet and in the pad. After you're through cleaning, the nylon yarns attract the moisture and act as wicks, drawing the moisture back to the top of the loops. The carpet appears splotchy and looks as if it needs to be cleaned again.

Do not re-steam the carpet. It takes several days for the carpet to dry, and you may see these spots come up during the drying time. This is the result of wicking. Simply blot the spots with paper towels or dry cotton cloths.

Just as with the wool carpet, do not vacuum until the carpet is completely dry.

For Olefin Woven Berber

Olefin is a synthetic material and of the three materials is the most resilient. It withstands frequent vacuuming, and the loops are less likely to snag or fray due to its lower pile. This lower pile also reduces the wicking effect after the carpet has been cleaned.

Use the low-water option on the steam cleaner and same water temperature as with nylon. Because the pile is low, and the weave tighter than with nylon or wool, olefin woven Berber retains less moisture during cleaning. It dries more quickly and returns to its normal color sooner.

Vacuum only after the carpet is completely dry.


When vacuuming Berber carpet, remove the beater bar from the vacuum. The beater bar tugs the tops of the loops, causing excessive pressure on the yarns. The fibers may break, resulting in a fuzzy carpet.


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    • Shelly McRae profile image

      Shelly McRae 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thanks for stopping by, sholland10. A shrunken carpet actually looks shriveled - not a pretty site.

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 6 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Shelly, this is great information. I have shrunk a few wool sweaters; I'd had to shrink a whole carpet. Thanks for sharing. Voted up, useful, and interesting! :-)

    • Shelly McRae profile image

      Shelly McRae 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thanks, Donna. Carpet is a bit of a bear for those with allergies. The only type of carpet I know of that people with allergies can tolerate is Puresque, but usually hardwood or tile is better.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 6 years ago from USA

      Great article and so comprehensive, Shelly! We had to get rid of our carpeting because of allergies but I'm sharing this with some other friends who will benefit from it.

    • Shelly McRae profile image

      Shelly McRae 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thanks to K9Keystrokes, tlpoague, and Simone Smith for coming by. Berber carpet is really durable if you take good care of it.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I've never really taken the time to think about carpet types, materials, and maintenance. Most interesting! I guess I should take better care of my own carpeting @_@

    • tlpoague profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago from USA

      Terrific tips! I have never had Berber carpet, but if I ever do, I will be sure to remember these tips. Thanks!

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      Outstanding final tip Shelly! Berber carpet is awesome, and so long lasting when maintained properly. It has such a smooth uniform look, and feels so good on bare feet!

      Nice Hub!