My Carpet Turned Yellow After Cleaning: How to Fix and Prevent Discoloration

We all expect to see a sparkling, nice-smelling carpet after cleaning. Sadly, it doesn't always happen that way! Many people have lamented that their carpets turned yellow after carpet cleaning.

What causes the carpet yellowing?

Carpet yellowing after cleaning may result from wicking or a chemical reaction.

The chemical reaction on carpets results from:

  • Using cleaners with high pH
  • Exposing carpets to too much sunlight
  • Using fluorescent brightening agents
  • Using household bleaches or other household products
  • Exposing silicone protectors to sunlight or cleaning chemicals
  • Phenolic yellowing

Other things that can yellow carpets are things like nicotine stains from smoking and carpet wicking.

Well, Zerorez® carpet cleaners have been cleaning carpets since 2001. We are the Experts in the Science of Clean™. When we clean your carpets, they don't turn yellow!

Since knowledge is power, let's first discuss why a carpet turns yellow after cleaning.

The Carpet Turned Yellow After Cleaning

Here are common reasons why your carpet turned yellow after cleaning.

Use of Cleaners With High pH

If you clean a carpet made of nylon or wool using cleaning detergents with a high pH (10 or more), it will become yellow. These products react with the carpet fiber composition, thereby causing discoloration.

Zerorez has special training on cleaning specific carpet fibers, and some locations are even a Wool Safe Certified Service Provider.

If your wool carpet turned yellow after cleaning, see if you can find a WoolSafe Approved color restorer near you, and they can help restore your wool carpet or rug to its original color and beauty.

Fluorescent Brightening Agents (FBAs)

Fluorescent brightening agents, sometimes called optical brighteners, are added to most laundry detergents to brighten or lighten clothing. They do this by absorbing UV light and re-emitting visible (blue-violet) light.

When carpet cleaning your carpet, it's really important you are using the right carpet cleaning solutions, and choose one without brightening agents. Several consumer carpet cleaning or upholstery cleaning detergents and shampoos sold in stores include them.

Here's why they aren't good for your carpet (or you):

  • They may make the carpet look clean, but they only changes how the light reflects on it
  • They stay on your carpet and can't be removed
  • Over time, they break down and turn your carpet yellow
  • They can damage wool carpets
  • Some people may have allergic reactions to them

Avoid using such harsh chemicals as they damage carpets and harm your health. Besides, carpet manufacturers don't recommend using them.

Only buy cleaning products without any fluorescent brightening agents.

If you hire Zerorez professional carpet cleaners to clean your carpets, you don't have to worry about this, as we clean with Zr Water®, which is free of harsh chemicals, soaps, and detergents. Plus, we have the necessary skills and tools to dry your carpet faster.

Gloved hand holding a bottle of Clorox Cleaner plus Bleach

Household Bleaches

Did you use any household bleaching agent when cleaning your carpet? That's why your carpet turned yellow after cleaning. Avoid using bleaching agents to brighten white carpets or remove carpet stains.

Contact us if you're in a dilemma about fixing discolored, faded, and bleached carpet stains. Our carpet cleaning services are available almost every day, and we're only a call away!

Picture of sunlight hitting on a carpet emphasizing how too much sunlight can cause yellowing of carpets due to photooxidation

Photo Oxidation - Exposure of Carpets to Too Much Sunlight

Photodegration, or photooxidation, refers to the degradation of carpet fibers or dyes due to exposure to light, particularly UV radiation from sunlight. Yellowing is a common manifestation of photooxidation in carpets. The breakdown of chemical bonds in the carpet fibers or dyes can result in a shift in color, often towards a yellowish tint. This effect is particularly noticeable in carpets that are exposed to prolonged sunlight or artificial light containing UV radiation.

Carpets made of polypropylene, silk, or wool fibers are more susceptible to photooxidation and it can cause those carpets to turn yellow more readily.

To mitigate yellowing and other color changes caused by photooxidation, using carpets with UV stabilizers, employing protective window coverings, and regular cleaning and maintenance are recommended. Additionally, selecting carpet materials and dyes that are less susceptible to photooxidation can contribute to maintaining the carpet's original color over time.

It's best to avoid cleaning carpets by yourself, especially if it is made of polypropylene (olefin), silk, or wool fibers. Hire the professionals at Zerorez if you don't know how to clean wool carpets correctly. Regardless of the type of carpet, we shall clean and dry it fast.

What's more? There will be no carpet smells after carpet cleaning!

Exposure of Silicone Protectors to Sunlight or Cleaning Chemicals

Silicone protectors for carpets are products designed to provide a protective barrier against stains, spills, and dirt. These protectors typically contain silicone-based compounds that create a water- and stain-resistant layer on the carpet fibers. Yellowing may occur if the silicone protector is not applied correctly or if excess product is not properly removed during the application process.

Also, silicone, a polymer, oxidizes and degrades when exposed to certain cleaning chemicals, heat, and sometimes sunlight.

You must, therefore, avoid using cleaning chemicals when cleaning your carpet if it had a silicone protector applied after it was cleaned. Otherwise, it can turn yellow. This is especially common to stain-resistant carpets made of nylon.

Zerorez applies an optional water-based Premium Fiber Protector that doesn't put your carpet at risk of yellowing. We also advise when it's best to vacuum your carpet after its cleaned. It's a plus!

Phenolic Yellowing of Carpets

Phenolic yellowing in carpets is a discoloration issue primarily associated with nylon fibers, a common material in carpets, as nylon has a propensity to react with certain chemicals, and when exposed to phenolic compounds, it can undergo a yellowing reaction. The reaction is more prominent in nylon fibers than in some other carpet materials.

Common sources of phenolic compounds are various household items such as some cleaning agents, adhesives, paints, and plastics.

If phenolic compounds are present in the carpet adhesive or padding, it could contribute to phenolic yellowing, though BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene, an antioxidant commonly used in products including some adhesives) itself is not known for causing yellowing in carpet.

To prevent phenolic yellowing in carpets:

  1. Choose cleaning products made specifically for nylon carpets
  2. Ensure proper indoor ventilation to disperse airborne pollutants and new carpet off-gassing, including
  3. Maintain moderate indoor temperatures and humidity levels
  4. Vacuum regularly
  5. Schedule regular professional carpet cleaning to remove accumulated pollutants from your carpet
  6. Apply Premium Fiber Protectors after cleaning specifically suited for nylon carpets

Carpet Wicking

After steam cleaning or shampooing a carpet with a deep yellow stain, the dirt trapped underneath moves up the fibers as it dries, causing the the stain reappear, in a process called carpet wicking. Sadly, it can be challenging to deal with wicking stains if you don't have the necessary skill or equipment.

Thankfully, you don't have to stress about such situations. Here's how to get rid of wicking stains in carpets, professionally.

Close up of the front of the Zerorez Zr Wand® with a white stripe of clean carpet pulled up

How to Fix Carpet Turned Yellow After Cleaning

If you want to fix a carpet that turned yellow after cleaning it at home, here are some workable options.

Acid Rinse

If not properly rinsed out, alkaline cleaning products cause carpets to turn yellow. Thoroughly rinsing the carpet using an acid rinse removes the chemical residue and stabilizes and neutralizes the carpet dye. Hence, it restores the original color of your carpet. You can, however, avoid these mistakes that leave you with a yellow-stained carpet by hiring us. Our Zr Water® technology leaves a clean carpet.

Hot Water Extraction Cleaning

Cleaning carpets using hot water extraction helps remove the yellow stain and the trapped dirt underneath your carpet. But, it could still leave your carpet with a yellow stain if not done professionally or properly. Hence, you need the professionals at Zerorez to help you deep clean your carpet correctly. Professional hot water extraction removes the trapped dirt from your carpet fibers, extracts any previously used chemical residue, and removes yellow stains, leaving little to no chance for the carpet to turn yellow after cleaning.


Here's how to fix a carpet that has turned yellow after cleaning.

  1. Make a solution of vinegar and water (1:1).
  2. Apply the solution on a white cloth, sponge, or white towel and use it to remove the yellow stain by blotting.
  3. Naturally, allow the carpet to dry.

While cleaning a carpet or fixing one that turned yellow after cleaning at home may be cheaper, it could cost you more in the long run, if you don't do it right. Hence, avoid using harsh chemicals or home bleaches, as they only damage your carpet, and could harm you too.

Male Zerorez carpet cleaning technician cleaning with the Zr Wand to get a white carpet in a living room clean

Stay Safe; Hire Zerorez!

We have the right products, equipment, and skills to help clean your carpet safely and correctly. Besides, we have Certified Carpet Cleaning (CCT) technicians in all our Zerorez locations. They can easily identify the carpet fiber, choose the best cleaning method and tools, and use safe cleaning products. Plus, our customers are always impressed with our professional, courteous, and hardworking our technicians are, as you can see in many of our Zerorez carpet cleaning reviews.

You can rest assured we will clean with Zero Residue® and the carpet won't turn yellow after cleaning it. Guaranteed!

Call us at 866-937-6739 or schedule a service online for all your carpet cleaning needs today.

Book a Cleaning with Zerorez Today!