Resource Guide

Resource Guide

Special Report #1
Ugly Black Lines Along My Baseboards and Under My Doors

If you have light-colored carpet, you may have experienced dark lines that appear on the carpet. This soiling is called filtration soiling because it comes from air passing through the carpet as it is attempting to get through the crack between the carpet and the baseboard.

As the air passes through the edge of the carpet pile, microscopic soiling is deposited there (hence the term filtration soiling). This occurs over a significant period of time and is not noticed until a buildup has occurred.

This type of soiling is difficult to remove because the soil particles are so fine that they penetrate deep into the carpet pile, even sometimes into the backing of the carpet. Can filtration spoiling be removed? Sometimes. With special products, time, and effort, reasonable results can be achieved.

To help prevent filtration soiling, vacuum and wipe the edge of the carpeting on a regular basis. Be careful around the tack-strip on the edge of the carpeting; it could nick your fingers!

Special Report #2

Cleaning Raw Plant Material

Jute, sisal, sea grass, coir and hemp are names associated with floor coverings made form raw plant materials. Ranging from mats to wall-to-wall, some with backings, some without, this type of material is in a very raw state. Therefore, an understanding of how the fibers react to everyday soiling and how they respond to cleaning is helpful. One of the unique characteristics of this type of floor-covering material is the tendency to develop mysterious dark spots when cleaned, regardless of the method used. Generally, efforts to bring a “worn” sisal back to its original state are a lost cause. Also, sisal stains very easily. One of the best things to do is have a protected with a solvent-based fabric protecter, providing some resistance against spots that result from any type of spillage. In addition to developing dark spots, sisal may also “lighten” when cleaned. The best way to clean plant materials is with a low-moisture approach. The bottom line is that these products are not very spillage, traffic or cleaning friendly. However, you can’t beat the look.

Place this type of floor coverings in non-traffic, non-spillage areas to prevent over use. Have a light, maintenance cleaning done about once a year to remove surface soils, pollen, asphalt, exhaust, and other foreign matter that finds its way into our homes.

A final note about sisal: some wool carpets come in a “sisal style.” These products are made to look like sisal, but are actually an entirely different material.

Special Report #3

What Carpet Fiber Should I Choose?

When purchasing a carpet, the biggest questions is, “how long will it last?”

In asking that question, one must consider the clean-ability of that particular carpet. Even though the construction of the carpet plays a significant role in the life of the carpet, the fiber type is extremely important.

Before getting into this report, let it be made clear that this advice is NOT to override the recommendations of your carpet retailer. This report simply states some of the characteristics of three fiber types commonly used in carpeting, in order to provide an understanding of how fiber plays a role in soiling and particularly in wear.

There are many fiber types used in carpet manufacturing; however, for the purpose of this article we will focus on the three main players.

Olefin has become extremely popular in recent years. The first attraction to olefin is the price. Olefin is generally-although not always- less expensive than other fibers. The second appeal is that this fiber will not absorb any liquid. If you were to take a yarn from an olefin carpet and place it in a glass of water the fiber would float on the top of the water. Nylon and wool would not, since each would absorb a certain amount of water. The point is this: when something is spilled on olefin carpet, it will not be absorbed into the fiber. The value is that permanent staining from spillage is reduced. In addition, olefin carpets are solution dyed, which means that the color is introduced into the molten plastic before the fiber is made.

The characteristic of being non-absorbent can present unique cleaning challenges. Sometimes when spillage occurs, it runs down the side of the yarn into the backing of the carpeting. Many times this can cause wicking problems as the spill gets trapped in the backing of the carpet and is not effectively removed. Therefore, it continues to wick up the surface over time. In addition, if an inexperienced carpet cleaner leaves too much liquid in the carpet after cleaning, it simply slides down to the backing of the carpet with the soils, and as the carpet dries, it wicks back to the surface.

The second challenge with olefin is a characteristic that is often over-looked: Olefin fibers are less resilient than others. What that means in plain and simple terms is that when a fiber is crushed, it doesn’t “bounce back” as well as other fibers. It also “scratches” very easily. A very common occurrence with olefin installations is the traffic areas begin to look dingy or worn. In fact what has happened is the fibers have been scratched from foot traffic. Imagine a plastic toy that has a scratch on it: there is nothing you can do to remove that scratch. It’s permanent. The same is true of an olefin fiber-once it is scratched, nothing can be done to correct it. In high traffic area, the carpet may appear completely different then the edges against the wall.

The third interesting characteristic of olefin is that it is an “oil-loving” fiber. In other words, in the same way that is repels water-based soils, it absorbs and accepts oil-based soils, making it difficult to remove common oil-based soils in a household, such as lamp oil, lotion, body oils, and cooking oils. This can be especially important to keep in mind when choosing covering for floors just outside a kitchen area. Some of the higher-quality carpet mills “scour” the olefin to attempt to reduce the oil-attracting properties. Our company uses special cleaning agents manufactured for effectively cleaning olefin carpets.

Nylon has definitely been the most widely used fiber in the residential environment, and for a good reason. Nylon is very resilient, has good dry soil resistance, and doesn’t present as many cleaning challenges.

Nylon is also very resistant to spillage. Since most residential nylon is not solution dyed, but dyed after the carpet is made, it is not impossible to stain; however, if the spot is attended to in a timely manner, one can expect excellent spot removal results. Residential nylon carpets are also treated with a fluorochemical such as 3M Scotchgard or DuPont Teflon which helps tremendously with dry soil resistance and stain resistance.

According to a Consumer Reports article in the August 1998 issue, branded nylons performed better than non-branded ones.

Wool is more resistant to foot traffic than any other fiber. This is the reason that you see Oriental rugs that have lasted for so many generations. Wool hides dry soil naturally and is not adversely affected by it for quite some time. Another wonderful aspect of wool is that it is a great insulator. In the winter your home will be warmer inside and in the summer it will be cooler. However, the cheaper wool stains easily and may not be the choice where children and pets are present.

by J&S Steamway