After a lot of prodding and pushing, I have started my Carpet Cleaning blog entry. You wouldn’t think this was such a hard thing to write about, but it is…and to do it right, I am going to do a series of blogs on the subject.
To begin, I am going to give you a shorten version of the training we give to our customer service folks. They are the ones who answer your phone calls so everyone gets Basic Cleaning 101 before they are allowed to talk to you.
If you have ever called in and asked about using Clean+Green to clean a pet mess on your carpet or area rug, you will probably remember being asked the following questions:
Question 1: What kind of carpet are you cleaning?
Question 2: What type of mess you cleaning?
Question 3: How long has the problem existed? new or old?
Question 4: What other products have you used on your carpet?
Well, we are asking you these questions because they are all important for us to help you determine if you should or should not use Clean+Green, and to give you directions on how to clean-up the stain and odor mess.
Question #1 What kind of carpet are you cleaning?
Why is it important to know what kind of carpet you are cleaning? Because the best method of cleaning will depend on the type of carpet you want to clean. Different carpets will respond better to different carpet cleaning treatments. The wrong carpet cleaning method could ruin your carpet!
Carpet Fiber Types Pros & Cons
There are a lot of different carpet fiber types, but I will focus on the four most popular ones and give the pro and cons (as they relate to appearance, features and cleaning) for each:
- Good Elasticity – Nylon will stretch up to 33% of its length and still regain its original shape.
- Very Abrasion Resistant – It even surpasses wool.
- Heat Sets Well – When properly heat set, nylon retains its crimp, twist, and dye extremely well.
- Good resiliency – Nylon can be crushed for long periods and still regain its original shape.
- Non-Absorbent – Nylon dries quickly since it will absorb less than 8% of its weight in H20.
- Mildew Resistant – Nylon provides no food source.
- Nylon responds very well to most professional cleaning methods and treatments.
- Nylon is almost always acid dyed, so it can have problems with bleaching, fading, urine reactions, etc.
- Polyester is usually solution dyed which makes it very resistant to bleaching, fading and soil dye reactions.
- Stain Resistant – This applies only to water based stains.
Low Absorbency – Quick drying
- It is not resistant to oily stains, and in fact an oily spill or spot left without proper cleanup can oxidize and even chemically bond with and become part of the fiber. You need to know that some of these spots just won’t come out.
Olefin has become almost synonymous with one of its trade names “Herculon” a trademark owned by Hercules Corporation, a major manufacturer of olefin.
- Olefin is very moisture resistant. It will absorb only one tenth of 1% of its weight in water.
- Very difficult to stain.
- Chemical Resistant – Most chemicals and bleaches won’t damage it at all
- Solution dyeing makes it resistant to fading.
- It has good cleanability and stain release. (Except oil/petroleum-based stains – see cons)
- Olefin is not a resilient fiber. When crushed it does not regain its original shape easily. Traffic areas tend to lie down, showing “apparent soiling”. Furniture marks can be permanent reminders to the owner of where his furniture used to be.
- It is a very heat sensitive fiber. Its melting point is around 300 degrees but damage can occur at lower temperatures.
- Olefin can be damaged by friction – Even dragging a heavy piece of furniture across an olefin carpet can cause permanent marks from the heat generated by friction.
- Like polyester, extended exposure to oil-based soils may become permanent.
- Olefin is very difficult to dye due to its low absorbency rate. It is almost always solution dyed.
- Quite often, Olefin is in a glue-down situation, which creates a potential to brown from soil wicking from the base of the yarns due to incomplete soil removal. Over wetting and/or slow drying increases the likelihood.
- Wool has excellent soil hiding capabilities. Wool will not exhibit or show soil as much as other fibers.
- Wool is very strong, elastic and resilient. Wool face yarn in a well-constructed carpet will stand up to the heaviest traffic and still look beautiful.
- Good Absorbency – This means that wool reacts well to a number of dye types and techniques. Keep in mind, this means easy staining also.
- Soil Release – Wool responds very well to cleaning as moisture makes the fiber swell and release dirt.
- Wool is naturally flame retardant.
- Fiber Distortion – Wool is very prone to distortion by excess agitations such as jet streaks and wand marks. This is particularly pronounced when it happens under heated conditions.
- Stains Easily – Due to its absorbency and ease of dyeing, wool is also easily stained by wine, Kool-Aid and other acid dyestuffs.
- Chemical Sensitivity – Wool is sensitive to alkaline chemicals above a pH of 9.5 after prolonged exposure. This exposure will tend to make wool brittle and discolor somewhat. Wool is also very sensitive to chlorine bleach; it will completely dissolve wool within a matter of minutes. The New Zealand Wool Bureau recommends water-based cleaning solutions with a pH not lower than 5.5 and not higher than 8 pH.
Solution Dye vs. Acid Dye
Solution dyeing is a yarn coloration process in which pigment is added to the polymer melt before the fiber is extruded into yarn. The color, therefore, is an inherent part of the yarn itself. Although solution dyeing does not offer as wide a color selection as other dye methods, its colors are the most permanent. Solution dyed yarn is highly resistant to color loss through fading from sunlight, ozone, or harsh cleaning agents and bleach. The solution dyeing process is, in addition, environmentally friendly and efficient, using little water or energy.
Acid dyeing is the process of in which dyes are added to the yarn or fabric. They are often applied from an acidic solution in order to intensify the staining. The acid used in the dye bath is often vinegar (acetic acid) or citric acid. The uptake rate of the dye is controlled with the use of sodium chloride. Acid dyes are generally divided into three classes which depend on fastness requirements, level dyeing properties and economy. The classes overlap and generally depend on type of fiber to be colored and also the process used.
Nylon carpets are usually acid dyed so it can have problems with bleaching, fading and urine reactions. It heat sets well so responds well to most professional cleaning methods and treatments.
Polyester carpets are usually solution dyed so they are resistant to bleaching, fading and soil dye reactions. It is not resistant to oily stains, and in fact an oily spill or spot left without proper cleaning can oxidize and even chemically bond with and become part of the fiber. You need to know that some of these spots just won’t come out, so you need to treat a polyester carpet as soon as possible before a stain sets.
Olefin carpets are usually solution dyed so they are resistant to fading. Most chemical and bleaches won’t damage it. However, it is very heat sensitive. Because it is a glue-down situation, over wetting and/or slow drying increases the chance of the carpeting to brown.
Wool carpets stain easily and are the most sensitive carpets to clean. They should never be treated with hot water. In fact, hot water could ruin the carpet. Keep bleach and chemicals as far away from the wool carpet as possible. Only water-based cleaning solutions with a pH not lower than 5.5 and not higher than 8 pH should be used.
Color Fast Testing. Regardless of the carpet type, we ALWAYS recommend that you do a color fast test a hidden spot on your carpet before using any cleaning method or product. Regardless if it is a solution dyed or acid dyed carpet, the quality of the dye job is always a factor as to whether the dye will hold.
Now that you understand why we ask Question 1 (What kind of carpet are you cleaning?), look for my next blog for Question 2 – What type of mess you cleaning?
Quincy and Simon