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Carpet Cleaning FAQ 4

Q: Are folks determining cleaning based on appearance? How do you see this as relevant to indoor air issues?

A:Unfortunately, that’s the norm rather than the exception; always has been. It takes a lot of persistence on the cleaner’s part to change that attitude. I can get visually acceptable appearance with very little soil removal. Obviously, that leaves particles, microorganisms or parts thereof, even VOCs around to contribute to diminished IEQ. I always enjoy working with allergists in helping their patients improve their IEQ, including fabric cleaning methods, intervals, etc. They are educable, and they realize the value of the effort. Moreover, they usually keep doing what they are taught.

In my judgement, failure to vacuum frequently and thoroughly enough, and trap the particles efficiently, is a big issue in IEQ discussions. On frequently used carpet, I’d recommend cleaning annually, semi-annually in more soiled environments, or to resolve specific problems.


Q: When cleaning, do you really attempt to saponify the oils? Doesn’t this have a pretty big impact on carpet longevity?

A:When I refer to saponification of oily soils (animal, vegetable oils), I envision pretreating carpet with a built detergent (pH 9-11). Solutions are mixed hot, sprayed warm, and given 15-20 minutes of dwell time. I’m no chemist, so I’m not prepared to argue how much saponification versus emulsification, etc., takes place. The thermoplastic polymers, of which most carpet is made, is unaffected by this treatment, if that’s what you’re asking. Indeed, carpet mills use hot detergents built with TSP to remove spin finishes and soils.

The biggest detriment to carpet longevity is abrasive soil, which causes it to ugly out prematurely. Carpet virtually never wears out.

Anticipating another question, dyeing takes place at temperature ranging from 160-325 degrees F (pressure vat), and heat-setting of yarns goes up to 390 F (Suessen setting). Generally, the maximum temperature a cleaner can achieve on carpet is about 160-165 F.


Q: Does Scotchgard or Teflon come out during cleaning? How often do you need to reapply it?

A:You may rest assured that fluorochemcial carpet protectors – properly formulated, mixed, applied, distributed and cured – do not come out with normal cleaning. This may be a somewhat moot point, however, since they are removed from heavy use areas by traffic and maintenance. Generally, it’s unwise to apply fluorochemical protectors more than every other cleaning. The buildup of residual protector can cause problems with fiber stiffening, potential yellowing, etc.

Excess fluorochemcial protector is removed by preconditioners built with glycol solvent additives, followed by thorough hot water extraction. If you’re cleaning a fluorochemical out easily, then it wasn’t applied properly to begin with.


Q: What is carpet surging?

A:I think we’re talking “serging” here. It’s a method of finishing the cut side edges of a textile by whipping or sewing loops of thread or yarn along the entire edge. Normally, a serging machine is used.

It’s not to be confused with serge fabric – any smooth faced cloth made in many weights, textures, and fibers with two-up and two-down twill weaving, which usually is piece dyed.

All that from the CRIS Glossary.


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