Carpet Maintenance of Environmentally Preferred Products – 2016/07/05
Many facilities chose environmentally friendly products to build or redecorate their facilities with. Carpets in the common areas of buildings, office suites and private office areas are often decorated with style and colour in mind. The idea of how to maintain some furnishings is often not considered by designers. This article will identify the most common types of environmentally friendly carpet products, their pros and cons and how to maintain them.
Carpets can be made one of two ways. They can be woven or tufted. Over 95% of the carpets and rugs found in North America are tufted. Tufting carpets is best described as making broadloom carpets on a giant sewing machine and then coating the back of the carpet with an adhesive to anchor the “tufts” and add a secondary backing for dimensional stability. Most tufted carpets have polypropylene primary and secondary backings with face fibers made of nylon, polyester, triexta, olefin and wool.
Of these fibers there are many sustainable products. Triexta is a relatively new fiber made from polymers of the polyester family and corn glucose (instead of petroleum). Some triexta can have up to 37% corn glucose in its composition. With triexta so new in the marketplace there is not enough data to determine the long term performance of these products. But it is safe to say that triexta is almost completely stain resistant and it is lipophilic which means it attracts oily soils. When maintaining triexta it is preferred to use detergent free cleaners as many cleaning solutions contain co-solvents and degreasers and will have their residues cling onto the fibers causing a dull appearance and rapid resoiling.
Polyester is a carpet fiber not seen very much in commercial buildings yet. The statistics say that as many as 50,000,000 pop bottles are recycled into carpet every day. Polyester is another lipophilic fiber. This means that it will attract oily soils to its surfaces. It also does not like water very much, it repels it. Polyester will perform well when it comes to stain removal but will attract and hold oily soils and cleaning residues.
Recycled nylon is a common fiber to be found in commercial carpet. There are two types of nylon- nylon 6 and nylon 6.6. Nylon 6 has been recycled for many years and is repolymerized into carpet fiber. Nylon is considered an excellent carpet fiber. It can be post dyed in patterns or one of a million different colours. It can also be solution dyed. Its versatility and its resilience allow for wonderful styles and colours and long term performance. It is very easy to clean since it does not have an affinity for oily soils, but stains can be a problem since nylon does absorb moisture and can attract acid dyes from soda pop.
Wool is found in both tufted and woven carpets. Wool has an attribute that no other common carpet fiber does- it does not support a flame. Any large Las Vegas hotel must have wool carpet by law because it acts as a flame retardant. Wool used in commercial carpet comes from sheep. The fiber produced by sheep can vary greatly from region to region. Since the fibers are all generated from animals the yarns are shorter (called staple fibers) than synthetic fibers which are miles long. These natural wool fibers are classified as protein fibers. They are very resilient and take in dyes readily which means they can be dyed into millions of different colours but they also stain easily.
When the parties purchasing carpet are trying to buy the “greenest” carpets they often turn to woven carpet. Woven carpets have no adhesive binding the carpet together. Woven carpets often have backings made of natural fibers such as jute and cotton. Jute and cotton are notorious for shrinkage when they are wetted out. Wovens come in three basic categories: axminsters, velvets and wiltons. The wiltons and velvets that have patterns of one or two colours often have backings of multiple natural fibers and can shrink tremendously due to the content of the filling yarns used in the frames. Axminsters also shrink and when they do can only be stretched back in one direction. Great caution should be paid to carpet construction, carpet cleaning methods and drying times when cleaning any woven broadloom.
The other category of natural fibers is cellulosic. Cellulosic fibers come from the seed or stem of a plant. Cotton and jute are commonly found in the backings of woven carpet. These fibers shrink when wetted out. These fibers are not common on commercial carpet. Both jute and sisal are bast cellulosic fibers that are seen in designer rugs. They are found in bound rugs with canvas or leather bindings. These rugs are not resilient and brown out very easily when wetted out or unevenly wetted. The primary cleaning method employed in cleaning jute or sisal rugs is dry powder cleaning. Any water based methods are risky for shrinkage or odd chemical reactions with these bast fibers.
Woven carpets can be combinations of natural fiber backings or synthetic backings and chains with face yarns of naturals, synthetics or blends. The worst case scenario for people maintaining these carpets is using water or too much moisture and using stain/spot removers without testing in an inconspicuous place. Before cleaning any carpet, a diligent attempt to determine the construction of the carpet backing and face fiber type of the carpet must be made.
Cellulosic fibers when used as face yarns on carpet lose colour very easily, very similar to blue jeans and other khakis. Great care should be made to use products and stain removers that are safe for use on naturals and test, test, test before cleaning. Wool can also be damaged by improper chemistry. Wool has cuticles up and down its exterior surface. These cuticles can be damaged by high alkaline cleaning solutions, and the carpet can fade or have dye bleed when improper chemistries are used. Its always recommended to use a cleaning solution carrying the Woolsafe seal of approval when cleaning wool.
The most important first step with any carpet maintenance program is to keep the soil at the door. Good walk off matting and proper vacuuming and extraction of the dirt gathering boot scrapes and walk off matting makes all the difference in the world. When vacuuming, try and vacuum high traffic areas from all four directions. Pile lifting can also be beneficial on synthetic fiber carpets. When vacuuming carpets made of natural fibers never use equipment with a power head attachment or a beater bar. This will cause the face fibers to shed, fuzz or create bearding or pilling.
Hopefully this article reinforces the importance of understanding what your sustainable carpet is made of before vacuuming or cleaning it. Ask the person who sells the carpet for the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance guidelines. Do not trust the retailer’s guidelines as often they are written for regular old synthetic carpet.
How do you effectively Filter The Air in your home ?
Everyone is concerned about better health. We shop for healthy foods. We take our vitamins. We visit our doctor on a regular basis. We drink filtered water. What we might not appreciate is the value of filtered air.
How do you effectively filter the air in your home? You are right… changing the filters in your furnace system on a regular, scheduled basis. If you wait too long, you know it because the filter is just so darned dirty. It makes a mess when you change it. So you vow to do it more often, and maybe you even put it on your wall calendar so you don’t forget. You might even pick up a better quality filter, such as one that uses HEPA standards.
But what about the biggest filter in your home? Wonder what it is? Just look down… if you have carpet, that’s the filter that often gets ignored. If you don’t have much carpet, odds are you have area rugs covering those hard floors. Those area rugs are filters, too.
Carpet in a home is a protection for you, because it traps all kinds of allergens that can be the bane of asthma sufferers. Carpet is a filter and, like all filters, has to be either changed or cleaned. It’s not practical to change your carpet every year or so (heck, no one could afford that!) but you can — and should — have it cleaned.
Remember, allergens are very light and float in the air, and are respiratory concerns, especially for allergy and asthma sufferers. Carpet helps to keep those particulates to a minimum.
There are many documented studies about how homes and facilities, such as schools, are healthier because of carpet and regular cleaning schedules.
So enjoy your carpet… and have it cleaned by your favorite carpet cleaning pro!
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