Maintenance One

Carpet Cleaning – Easier Said Than Done

Cleaning always depends on the nature of the materials being treated. Professional cleaners, for instance, know that carpet manufacturers use several types of fibers and that each type poses different cleaning challenges. Most people, however, cannot differentiate nylon from acrylic or polypropylene fibers.

Either made of natural or synthetic fibers, carpets come in a variety of textures and materials. Texture and materials determine the feeling of a carpet; but also the extent to which dirt and germs adhere to it.  Likewise, the technology used in the manufacture of the carpet has an impact in the cleaning process.

Most carpets, for example, consist of at least two layers: a bottom sheet holds in place an upper stratum of knotted, woven or tufted fibers. Applying a heat treatment, manufacturers ensure that the fibers will retain their shape.

Synthetic, natural or blended?
Manufacturers choose fibers for economic and aesthetic reasons and take into account ease of dyeing, durability, resistance and costs. Natural fibers (long strands of material that can be found in plants and animals), for example, can be easily dyed, although generally more expensive than synthetic materials.

The most commonly used natural fibers are: wool, for the upper layer; cotton, for the edges (of rugs); and jute or hemp for the bottom layer.

Expensive, but long-lasting and abundant, wool is usually blended with synthetic fibers.  Commercial cleaning services should avoid heat and bleaching products when cleaning wool-made carpets and rugs; otherwise, the structure will be irreversibly damaged.

Synthetic fibers are: polypropylene, nylon, polyester and acrylic.

Polypropylene (also known as olefin) combines resistance to stain and abrasion with a warmth feeling. As this colorfast material absorbs no water, office cleaning services can handle coffee, tea and similar waterborne stains without difficulty.

Unlike wool, olefin can be treated with bleach and lukewarm water thanks to its colorfast property. Dry cleaning, however, may swell polypropylene fibers and must be avoided.

Chemically related to wool (believe it or not), nylon fibers have positive-charged sites that attract negative-charged stains; i.e., nylon carpets show a tendency to stain.  Manufacturers reduce the number of available dye sites with acid dye blockers, resins with negative charge that fill the spots. The acid dyes in beverage stains cannot attach themselves to the nylon strings.

Carpet cleaners also must take into account the neutralizing effect of some bactericides and anti-static products.  These chemicals have positive charge; if applied to a nylon carpet, they will only make it more prone to staining.

Should you clean it yourself or hire professional janitorial services? As you can see, carpet cleaning is more complicated than it seems. If you need to clean a large area carpet, first find out what materials it is made. Then, pick the right detergent solution and use adequate rinse procedure.

However, if you have no idea of the type of fibers or if you feel unsure about the adequate products, call a professional cleaning company. Efficient commercial and office cleaning services cost much less than having to replace an irreversibly damaged carpet.

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