Carpet Care and Maintenance
Carpet Care and Maintenance
Proper regular care can add years of life to your carpet and help retain the original appearance. The most important thing you can do is vacuum thoroughly and frequently, particularly in high traffic areas.
Vacuuming helps remove dirt particles, which can damage the carpet and dull the appearance. Use a vacuum cleaner with beater bars and good suction for best results. Keep bags, filters and recovery tanks clean.
Soiling is a buildup of soil particles and oily materials that cling to the carpet fibers and dull the beauty of the carpet. Time causes foot traffic to drive the soil particles deep into the carpet. When this condition cannot be corrected with vacuuming, it is time to have your carpet cleaned by SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County.
How often you will need professional cleaning depends on soil buildup, traffic, type and color of carpeting. A good rule of thumb would be to professionally clean your carpet every twelve months.
Most professionals use hot water extraction cleaning (also known as steam cleaning). Hot water extraction cleaning is the method recommended by DuPont, Monsanto and Allied Fibers. Other common cleaning methods include absorbent pad or bonnet cleaning and rotary shampoo (often referred to as Showcase Cleaning).
A Word About Do-It-Yourself Cleaning
Professional cleaning is recommended for any carpet, especially stain-resistant carpet. However, if you decide to do it yourself, carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions and use the correct products for the job.
Common Carpet Characteristics
After carpeting has been subjected to foot traffic, moving of furniture, vacuuming and other forms of mechanical agitation, fuzzing or the working out of loose fiber ends in the pile can be observed. When an entire fiber is removed, it is called shedding or fluffing. In some cases, only one end of the fiber is worked out; in others, it is tightly twisted or entangled in the tuft. When this situation occurs in local areas, the long fibers become entangled and form a pill.
Pilling is common and is not a problem when the pills break or are pulled out by the vacuum as they form. However, a strong elastic fiber such as nylon will resist this breaking. This results in small spider-like pills over the entire surface of the carpet, perhaps more concentrated in the areas of greatest traffic.
These pills can generally be removed by lifting the main ball portion with the thumb and forefinger, and using scissors to cut the fiber which holds the pill onto the carpet. Take care not to pull any excess fibers from the carpet which may damage the pile when cutting.
Carpeting is made under tension. Tension is necessary so that the loom or machine will function properly, producing fabric uniform from one portion to the next. Carpeting differs from many textiles. The back of the carpet may be composed of several layers which are not generally pre-shrunk. When backing yarns absorb moisture, the fibers swell, resulting in the relaxation of the yarns previously held under tension.
Moisture, which produces swelling, may result from humidity, spills or improper cleaning methods.
If two adjacent areas are not manufactured under the same identical tension, unevenness or rippling will develop. Rippling will also happen if the tension of the second back is not uniform with the primary rug backing.
Ripples can be caused by dragging heavy furniture across the carpeting or by the sliding and pulling of carpeting in traffic areas caused by walking. Each case is different. Ripples may extend across the entire width of the rug, from the edge to the middle, in the middle only, along the edges or in one small section. This situation can sometimes be corrected by wetting backing yarns and tacking the rug out in a stretched position. However, the ripples may reoccur when moisture is again present.
Shading is an apparent color difference between areas of the same carpet. This results from random differences in pile lay direction caused by normal wear.
Shading is a characteristic of all cut-pile carpet. Shading is not a manufacturing defect. The physical cause is the difference between cut end luster and side luster of fibers. The sides of fibers reflect more light and appear brighter and lighter in color than the ends which absorb more light and appear to be duller and darker in color.
Little can be done to prevent or correct shading. Shading is an inherent characteristic of certain types of carpet. Shading can be slowed down by vacuuming or brushing the pile in one direction during daily or weekly maintenance.
Do you experience light shocks after walking across your carpet? This is static formed by the friction of your shoes against fibers in the carpet. Usually there is enough moisture or humidity in the air to carry off the static charge as it is formed, but when the weather turns dry and the humidity is low, watch out!
The tendency to generate a static charge at low humidity varies from carpet to carpet. Some of the new carpets have anti-static agents built into the fibers. Other carpets use very fine metal wires or even conductive latex within the carpet to carry off the static. Anti-static protection of this type usually lasts for the life of the carpet.
If your carpet has none of these innovations and acquires static in dry weather, it may still be possible to obtain some relief through increasing the humidity or by the use of an anti-static agent sprayed on the face of the carpet. Many home products of this type are available from your local store. These, however, are not permanent and generally become less effective after a period of time.
Almost every carpet will lighten in color or fade over a period of time. The extent of damage depends on the location, exposure, color, intensity and type of dye and method of dyeing of the carpet.
A solution-dyed carpet (dyed during the synthetic fiber producing process) is least susceptible to sun fading. The pigments are added to the polymer before the fibers are formed, locking in the color. Most polypropylene (olefin), many acrylics and some polyester carpets are dyed by this method. Lighter shades will usually fade more quickly than darker shades because they contain less dye. Most dyes are composed of two or more colors. If one color is affected more than the other, the fading may appear as a color change rather than a lightening of the color. For example, a green carpet yarn is made from blue and yellow dyes. If the yellow dye is affected and the blue is not affected, the green carpet may seem to be turning bluer. In other cases, the colors may fade uniformly, appearing as a lighter shade of the original color. In severe cases, the color may be
completely removed and can appear to be bleached white. The fiber itself can also deteriorate.
You may be able to prevent carpets from fading in sunny locations by keeping the windows covered by draperies or by treating the windows with a protective coating which filters the ultra-violet rays. If you live in an area where sunlight fading is a problem, shop carefully for your next carpet purchase.
The Forgotten Spill
Sometimes stains are hidden by soil and revealed after cleaning. These stains, which did not immediately cause discoloration, are usually from spilled liquids containing colorless sugar which remains on the fibers. After long exposure to the air, hidden stains change to insoluble brown stains, but are not noticed because of dirt covering them.
Other kinds of stains can be caused by water soaking through and absorbing sizing, browning or fugitive dyes from the backs of the material. Because the fibers act as wicks, moisture will rise to the surface and evaporate, and discoloration will be left. Carpet owners who try to remove stains by using the wrong cleaning compounds and procedures may make the stained areas more noticeable.
To lessen the possibility of stain damage, immediate action should be taken. Thoroughly absorb all moisture and, when possible, put a ½ inch thickness of clean, white absorbent material over the area, weighing it down. Then call SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County to learn how to remove the spot safely before it becomes a permanent stain.
Cats may be considered one of the cleanest animals and dogs may be man’s best friend, but neither is necessarily a carpet’s best friend. Neglected animal stains have always been a problem.
Two types of reaction can take place between the chemicals in the urine and those in the fiber dye. Some dyes change color as soon as urine comes in contact with them. Often original color can be restored by immediate addition of a weak solution of ammonia and white vinegar. Pick an inconspicuous area of the carpet and test small amounts of solution to determine its effect on the fiber and dye.
The other change develops slowly over a period of several months and results in permanent change of fiber dye. Along with the dye change, some fibers become weakened or destroyed. After cleaning, these areas are more obvious because the soil, which hid the true color, has been removed.
The next time you are confronted with an animal accident, immediately absorb as much liquid as possible and wash the area with a solution of one teaspoon of neutral detergent (which contains no bleach) to one cup of lukewarm water. Absorb into white tissues or toweling. Add a white vinegar solution (one part white vinegar to two parts water). Absorb as dry as possible. Place a ½ inch layer of white absorbent material over the area and weight down. Allow to dry for about six hours.
If immediate action is taken to remove the stain in this manner, no change in color should occur, and that forgotten accident will not become apparent after your carpet has been professionally cleaned.
The Right Stain Removal Techniques
Stains can make a carpet appear more soiled than it really is, so no carpet cleaning method is complete unless all removable stains have disappeared.
A basic knowledge of different stains and chemicals for spot cleaning and removal is vital, since improper or indiscriminate use of spotting chemicals can worsen a problem.
Helpful Tips on Spotting
- Always blot or scrape up as much material as possible before it soaks into the carpet.
- For blotting liquids, use white paper towels or tissues. You might use a cloth, but it is less desirable. If used too long, the matter soaked into the cloth will re-deposit into the fibers and spread the stain.
- For scraping solid matter, use a table knife. Never use a sharp instrument.
- Never use soap. This frequently leaves a sticky residue that causes rapid re-soiling.
- Do not allow solvent-based products to penetrate to the backing. They might damage and soften the latex compound used to strengthen the carpet backing.
Since late 1986, the carpet industry has undergone a drastic change in carpet fibers. With the introduction of Stain- Resistant carpeting by DuPont, Allied Fibers and Monsanto, it is wise to take a different approach to cleaning and spot removal in order to maintain the carpet warranty. The first thing to consider is the help that each one of these companies can offer you.
Carpet companies all provide a "help" number with the warranty, and this should be consulted before you attempt to remove a spot. (This does not mean that you cannot remove material with a clean white towel and water. Sometimes this may be enough). If the method they recommend does not work, the carpet company can recommend a professional cleaner in your area, like SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County.
Furniture legs may cause depressions in your carpet if allowed to stay too long in one position. If furniture is moved, the carpet will spring up in time, but often can take weeks or even months. For immediate care, cover the furniture depression with a damp cloth, steam with a warm iron and then brush pile briskly with a coin or kitchen butter knife that is not sharp. Correct professional cleaning by SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County will usually remove depressions.
SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County employs only the highest quality standards and workmanship to prevent shrinkage, over-wetting, rapid re-soiling and many other problem areas that come with inexperience.
Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County's carpet cleaning services.