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The Home Depot

Top Causes of Discolored Carpet

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Carpeting > Top Causes of Discolored Carpet
Top Causes of Discolored Carpet

The carpeted floors in your home provide comfort and attractive decor throughout your interior rooms. Because carpet can be a significant expense, keeping it in good repair is often a priority for the homeowner. If stains or discoloration occurs, you’ll want to find the underlying cause of the issues.


Because carpet stains can occur from a variety of sources, it’s important to determine the cause of the stains. The University of Kentucky website has valuable information about common causes of stains and discoloration in carpeting. There are two classifications of stains – from wear and from chemicals.


Once you know the top causes of discolored carpet, you can take steps to minimize existing stains and prevent further stains from happening.

  1. Stains that occur from normal use and wear can be treated and minimized while stains that occur from chemicals are usually permanent.


    Carpeting located in basements or rooms without natural light may develop a yellowing over the surface. This yellowing can occur from BHT present in carpet pads and some adhesives. With moisture, a lack of ventilation and low natural light, BHT may change to a gas, which can cause discoloring.


    This yellowing often occurs under furniture with skirting due to a lack of ventilation in these areas. Another common area for yellowing to occur is under area rugs, runners or mats laid on top of carpeting.


    Remedy yellowing by spraying a solution of citric acid over the carpeting. Brush the solution into the carpet fibers to remove the yellow color.

  2. 2.Graying

    It’s common for traffic areas of carpeting to exhibit a graying from soiling and abrasion. You can minimize this discoloration by placing a runner over the area and by vacuuming frequently to prevent dirt and debris from becoming ground into the carpet fibers.


    Carpet cleaning solutions made for high-traffic areas can help you reduce this graying discoloration and restore your carpet back to its original color.

  3. 3.Browning

    When carpet fibers or the backing contains cellulosic fibers, you may notice a brown discoloration over time. Sometimes this discoloration does not become obvious until after you clean the carpets professionally.


    To remedy browning discoloration, apply acetic acid to the carpet.

  5. 4.Bleaching

    Ingredients in fertilizer can cause bleaching of carpet fibers if people track fertilizer in onto the carpet. Sometimes this bleaching isn’t obvious until after professional carpeting cleaning. Ice-melting chemicals can also cause a loss of pigment in carpet fibers and difficulty keeping carpets clean.

  6. 5.Solutions

    As you attempt to remedy a discolored carpet, it’s important to determine what caused the staining. Stains that occur from normal use and wear can be treated and minimized while stains that occur from chemicals are usually permanent. By identifying the issue prior to taking any steps to resolve it, you may save yourself some time and effort.


    When identifying carpet stains, consider the location of the stain and whether any chemicals would typically be used in this area. Notice the color of the stain to identify what might have caused it. Consider what might be tracked over the carpeting in that area as well. A spill typically has a larger area in the center with spots or sprayed areas spreading out from the center. Check for odors associated with the stains, also.

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