Clean Like a Pro:
By: Dale R. Silbaugh
As Synthetic Fibers of carpeting are becoming a popular choice amongst consumers, manufacturers of synthetic fibers have invested time and money improving the performance characteristics of their product. That is why you will hear of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and now 6th generation fibers. There are still many early generation fiber carpets around, which can make cleaning and stain removal results somewhat unpredictable.
Early generation fibers benefited from fluorocarbon treatments, but recent environmental regulations have resulted in forced reformulation of fluorocarbons rendering them less effective. To overcome this decrease in performance, new stain blockers have been incorporated into the treatments. Stain blockers attach to unused dye sites, taking the place of any natural and synthetic food dyes that may come in contact with the carpet fiber in the future.
Aside from these new additives, the main constituent of carpet treatments are fluorochemicals. Fluorochemicals work by lowering the surface tension of a fiber. Just like in golf, the lowest number wins. In order for a fiber to repel a stain, its surface tension must be lower than that of the stain.
All man-made fibers have a lower surface tension than water; they are naturally resistant to staining by water-based soils. However, the surface tension of water can be lowered by oxygen exposure, additives like those found in beverages, or heat. When coated with fluorochemicals, the surface tension of a fiber is lowered to that of the repellent. DuPont® rates their carpet treatment at 15 dyn/cm².
So, without taking into account environmental variations, it will repel any soils or stains with a higher surface tension.
The low surface tension of the above items shows why many foods and beverages will soil a carpet, even when it has been treated with fluorochemicals. Most, if not all, carpet manufacturers will not cover staining caused by many of these oils.
Although carpet treatments may help extend the beauty and life of a carpet fiber, it is not a permanent solution. Generally speaking, the effectiveness of fluorochemicals is reduced by 30% with each carpet cleaning. This can increase to as much as 50% if more aggressive cleaning is needed due to heavy soil.
The Science of Stain
The Common Stain
Two main processes transfer these soils and stains to carpet: airborne and direct contact.
Airborne, or electrostatic, soiling is considered relatively minor and in general, easy to remove. Direct contact soiling is more difficult to remove, being responsible for 80% of all carpet spots and stains.
The forces that hold direct contact stains to the fiber are of two types: geometric and oil (sorptive) bonding. Geometric bonds are relatively weak and usually can be removed by vacuuming. However, the sorptive bond of a soil coated with oil or grease may be extremely difficult to remove. As contact time increases and oxidation occurs, chemical changes can occur. In addition to chemical changes, foot traffic can drive soil through the hydrophobic barrier present in man-made fibers, Once these events occur, special stain removal chemicals and techniques will most likely be needed.
The Chemical Stain
When knowing how stains work and how they should be properly treated, you can direct your customers to choosing the perfect stain remover and/or carpet protector!
Kleenco Effortless: The Safe Solution
Effortless is a neutral pH spot remover formulated to penetrate and dissolve hydrophobic soils and also add an anti-soiling treatment to the fiber. It is safe to use on all natural and man-made fibers including nylon, polyester, olefins, and wool carpet.
Effortless has the ability to remove oily soils that easily become stains and permanently change the color of carpeting. It is formulated with a triple combination of surfactants that allow for the solvents to be delivered directly to the face or surface of the fiber. The solvent is then able to solubilize the oils, grease, proteins, and dyes, breaking the adhesion forces that bind the soil to the fiber. Once the adhesion force has been broken, the soil is emulsified and suspended it can be blotted away.
Even once the spot is gone, Effortless does not stop working. Effortless contains a unique polymer that fortifies the fibers and dye blockers, which help prevent future stains.
Never rub or scrub as this can disturb the twist and resiliency of the carpet fiber. If the spot is especially tenacious, apply more solution to the spot, cover with an absorbent towel, and tamp the area with a spotting brush. Difficult spots may take repeated application.
Once satisfactory results have been obtained, rinse with clean warm water, blotting up any excess liquid. Say goodbye to the spot and hello to the clean, bright, and soft carpeting that we all love!