Archive for May, 2010

Forgotten stains & spills

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Sometimes stains that have been hidden by soil are revealed after cleaning. These stains, which did not immediately cause discolouration, are often from spilled liquid containing colourless sugar that remained on the fibres. After long exposure to the air, they changed to insoluble brown stains. The stains may look like brownish discolourations, but often they remain unnoticed because of the accumulated soil covering them. Some food and drink stains may inevitably turn even darker from the necessary drying action after a thorough cleaning.

Other kinds of stains can be caused by water soaking through and dissolving materials that cause browning, or dissolving fugitive dyes from the back of the carpet, rug or upholstery. Because the fibres act as wicks, moisture will rise to the surface to evaporate, and discolouration will be left. Consumers who try to remove stains by using the wrong cleaning compounds and procedures may only make the stained areas more noticeable.

As professional cleaners we use specialty cleaning and stain removal treatments to improve the appearance of forgotten drink spills – cola, coffee, tea, alcoholic beverages, soda and others. Even with the best treatments, some coloured residue or caramelized sugar stain resulting from the prior spillage may remain.

To lessen the possibility of stain damage, immediate action should be taken. It is helpful if you take the following steps:-

Thoroughly absorb all moisture and, when possible, put a half-inch thickness of clean, white absorbent material, such as paper or cloth towelling, over the area and weight it down.

Keep replacing with fresh absorbent material and repeat as needed.

Old Wives’ Tales

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Old Wives’ Tales

1. My carpet will soil quicker after cleaning

There is historically a lot of truth in this. Early carpet shampoos were cationic, ie they had a positive electrical charge. The sticky residues were strongly attached to both the carpet fibre and newly introduced soils. This wasn’t so much of a problem with wool, but was a nightmare with the (then) ‘revolutionary’ new carpet fibre Nylon. These shampoos were quickly superseded by newer generations, which dried to harder crystals, which were more easily vacuumed away upon completion of drying. Modern technology has virtually eliminated this problem as long as the correct solutions are used for any given carpet/yarn/fibre combination.

2. Carpets can take up to a week to dry

Over wetting is as common today as in the past. It maybe due to under-performing equipment, inappropriate cleaning systems, poor technique or simply under drying, the results are always the same. I’m not comfortable with the term Over Wetting as this statement implies that too much water has been used. I much prefer to use Under Drying, which is more appropriate. Good drying is dependent upon the specification of the equipment, the skill of the technician and the drying environment post-clean. Depending upon the many variables involved, a correctly cleaned carpet will dry within hours, not days.

3. Cleaning will strip all of the natural oils from my wool carpet

There have been many tales of carpets, especially with wool yarns, looking dull, lifeless and being hard to the touch after being cleaned. This isn’t caused by the cleaning itself it’s caused by poor cleaning. Lanolin is the natural oil/grease found on wool. It’s removed during processing, if it wasn’t removed dye would not take to the fibre and the carpet would soil rapidly. According to NCCA Industry Partner The Woolsafe Organisation, “Good scouring results in residual wool grease contents (and hence lanolin contents) well below 1%”.  So this tells us that there is hardly any natural oil left in finished wool. The primary reason for the degradation of wool fibres post clean is the inappropriate use of harsh, aggressive cleaning solutions. The correct use of ‘safe for wool’ cleaning chemistry will eliminate this problem.

4. Cleaning will shrink my carpets

This is a potential problem that is as relevant today as in the past. Cleaning will shrink some types of carpet, but can be avoided or controlled if the knowledge gained from your NCCA training is applied correctly. It is predominantly woven carpets that shrink. Your pre-cleaning inspection will reveal the type of construction and fibres used in the carpet. If your conclusion is that a carpet has the potential for shrinkage, you will need to check the security of the fitting and fittings and use an appropriate cleaning system and technique. Drying should be completed in the shortest time possible. The carpet may tighten, but it will not shrink.