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VDTA May 2017

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Clean Like a Pro:
The When, How and Why of General Purpose Spot Removers

Kleenco
Kleenco Effortless

By: Dale R. Silbaugh
President, Kleenco Products, Incorporated

Carpet: it pads our steps, softens harsh sounds, feels wonderful under the toes, and gives a spark of color and texture to your home. But what exactly is that fuzzy stuff we walk on? Where does it come from?

The answer, like most things in our modern, technologically-advanced economy, is surprisingly complex. In the past, carpet and rugs were made from only a few materials. Now, advances in Materials Science and manufacturing have multiplied many times over the potential sources from which carpet fibers can be derived.

Broadly, carpet fibers can be grouped into two categories: natural and synthetic. Natural fibers include wool, silk, rayon (believe it or not), cotton, sisa, and jute. Synthetic fibers can be roughly divided into four categories: nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and triexta.

What are these fibers? What are their characteristics? And how can they be preserved so the properties we love so much will not fade away or be trampled underfoot?

Natural Fibers
While there are many benefits of natural fiber carpeting, it can be easily stained by the natural dyes found in grape juice, red wine, and similar beverages. All natural fibers readily absorb both oily and water-soluble soils.

The natural fibers are easy to stain and easy to get dirty, but there is light at the end of the wool tunnel! First of all, natural fibers resist soiling from pet hair, dust, and lint. Plus, since they readily absorb water, with the right detergent they can be made to release both water-soluble and oil-soluble soils.

But, there is a catch! A properly pH-balanced cleaner must be used. Wool, the most popular natural fiber for carpet, will discolor if exposed to especially high or especially low pH cleaners. And cleaners with active oxygen should not be used. Although they will not affect the tensile strength of wool, they will make it alkali-soluble. This means that afterwards, an alkaline solution can actually dissolve the wool, turning it to gelatin (thought the effect may be delayed sometimes for months).

Cotton and rayon, on the other hand, can both be cleaned with high pH solutions ‒ but not low pH. Although the fiber itself is not often damaged by high pH or weak organic acids, the dyes used to color them can be.

When in doubt, treat all natural fibers as you would wool. Use neutral or near neutral pH cleaners and avoid water temperatures greater than 140° F. Also avoid peroxide-type spot removers. And never use chlorine bleach on wool. When questioning if a carpet contains wool, a common test is to submerge a few fibers in bleach and check for dissolution.

Also note, since these fibers are hydrophilic, they absorb more moisture during cleaning and will need longer drying times.

Synthetic Fibers
The four most popular synthetic fibers are nylon, polyester, olefin, and triexta. Synthetics are all to one degree or another hydrophobic ("water-hating") and oleophilic ("oil-loving"). These fibers do not absorb water and most actually repel it. They do, however, readily retain oil and do not easily give it up. Food spills containing oily or greasy material can be difficult to remove from untreated synthetic fibers.

Aside from these commonalities, each synthetic fiber has its particular quirks.

Nylon is almost always acid-dyed. It is rarely solution-dyed, so it can have problems with bleaching, fading, and reactions to urine and other staining materials. Nylon dries quickly since it absorbs less than 8% of its weight in water. It is resistant to abrasion, resistant to mildew, and responds well to most professional cleaning methods.

Polyester is usually solution-dyed, which makes if very resistant to bleaching, fading, and soil-dye reactions. An oily spill or spot left without proper cleanup can oxidize and even chemically bond with and become part of the fiber. Untreated spots can become permanent.

Olefin is very difficult to dye because of its very low absorbency rate, and so Olefin is often solution-dyed. It's very resistant to stains, and most chemicals and bleaches have no effect on it. However, it is very sensitive to heat. Olefin can be damaged by friction: simply dragging furniture across it can cause permanent marks. Like polyester, extended exposure to oil-based soils can cause permanent staining.

Triexta is a newer stain-resisting fiber. Technically Triexta is a polyester fiber, but because of its unique wear and resilient properties, it has been given a classification all its own.

Almost all vacuum dealers have encountered this new type of carpet fiber, which is popularly known as Smartstrand. Triexta is hard to vacuum and usually carries manufacturer warranty restrictions, prohibiting the use of several makes of vacuums. Many vacuum manufacturers have re-engineered their lineup, introduced new models, or retro-fit existing machines to work on this new fiber.

Protecting Synthetic Fibers
Manufacturers of synthetic fibers have invested huge amounts of time and money improving the performance characteristics of their product – making them more soil repellent and stain resistant. 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.

By knowing the composition of carpet fibers and
how they respond to different substances, you can direct your customers to the perfect stain removing or carpet cleaning product.

Kleenco Effortless: The Safe Solution
Spills and stains will always happen, and depending on the carpet fiber type and the soil type, they may become permanent. But they don't have to. Most permanent stains can be prevented by immediate or same-day treatment. Anyone with carpeting in their home or office should also have a safe-to-use spot remover on hand to quickly attend to any accidental soils.

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 held in suspension so 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.

Kleenco June VDTADirections for Use

              • First, soak up excess liquid or dab up excess solids / semi-solids like ketchup and mustard.
              • Once excess soil has been removed, apply a generous amount of Effortless.
              • Allow a few minutes of dwell time for the solution to work.
              • Then cover with a clean white absorbent towel and blot up the solution.

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!

Reprinted from Floor Care & Central Vac Professional, May 2017