Care and Maintenance: Wool Blend Carpeting
Cut pile wool blend carpeting looks and feels great, and with proper care will last longer and continue to look great for years to come.
Please note that the following information is specifically addressing carpets that are machine made with wool or wool-blend fibers. Some instructions don’t apply to carpets made with synthetic fibers and may not be appropriate.
THE CARPET CARE PROGRAM: A comprehensive carpet care program consists of four elements:
- Preventive Maintenance
- Stain Removal
- Regular Cleaning
Avoidance is the best preventative maintenance – if you can avoid tracking soil and moisture onto carpeting. Another point to remember is that after cleaning your carpet, allow time for the carpet to completely dry before stepping on the carpet.
The most important step in caring for your carpet is vacuuming. Vacuum thoroughly and frequently, particularly in high traffic areas. Bear in mind that stepping on soiled carpet permits the soil particles to work their way below the surface of the pile where they are far more difficult to remove. Particles left in carpet will wear fibers prematurely. Frequent vacuuming removes these particles from the surface before this happens.
- Vacuum cleaner recommendations:
- Use of a strong suction vacuum without a beater bar for loop pile wool or wool-blend carpets. Carpets with thick, loop pile construction may be sensitive to brushing, rubbing or scraping of the pile surface, which may cause fuzzing and pile distortion.
- Vacuum cleaners with a rotating brush or beater/brush bar are recommended for cut pile wool and wool-blend carpets. The beater/brush bar agitates the carpet pile and mechanically loosens soil for the vacuum to remove.
- A good vacuum cleaner is vital to prolong the life of your carpet. An inexpensive machine will remove surface dirt, but will not effectively remove the hidden dirt and particles embedded in the pile.
Spot and stain removal is the reaction to an unplanned incident. Therefore, it is desirable to have on hand materials needed to treat stains. You may already have some of these on your kitchen shelf. Do not use any other household products other than those listed below, since many household products contain chemicals that may permanently damage your carpet.
Items to keep on hand:
- Mixture of detergent solution of 1/2 teaspoon (no more) of clear, no bleach liquid dishwasher detergent such as Dawn, Joy or clear Ivory to a quart of water in a clear clean spray bottle
- A solution of white vinegar and water (1 part white vinegar to 4 parts water)
- Nail polish remover
- Chewing gum remover (freeze or solid type)
- Dry cleaning fluid
Prompt attention to spots and spills is essential. Remove solids from a spill by gently scraping with a spoon or dull knife. Quickly absorb as much liquid as possible by blotting with white paper towels and replacing them as they become saturated. Always blot spills, never scrub or rub abrasively as a fuzzy area may result. When blotting, work from the outer edge toward the center of the spot to avoid spreading the spill and enlarging the problem. A final rinse by spraying with cool water and blotting is necessary to remove detergent residue that may become sticky and cause rapid re-soiling.
The nature of wool fiber to absorb more water than synthetic fiber without feeling damp makes it critical to remove excess moisture. To absorb any remaining moisture from the carpet, place a half inch layer of white towels over the spot and apply pressure. Change the towels as they become wet and repeat until the carpet is only slightly damp. On the damp area, put more towels weighted down with a heavy non-staining object, such as a plastic milk jug filled with water and leave overnight.
The following recommendations should be used for spot cleaning:
A. Water Soluble Stains: Absorb moisture as much as possible with white paper towels. Blot the stained area with white paper towels dampened with cool water until there is no more transfer of the stain onto the towels. If any of the stain remains, the detergent solution mentioned previously should be sprayed lightly onto the spot and blotted repeatedly with white towels, working from the outer edge in toward the center of the spot to avoid spreading. Rinse thoroughly by spraying with clean water and blotting. Again, it is important not to use too much detergent because the residue will contribute to rapid re-soiling.
A1. Same as above, but treat with white vinegar—one part vinegar to four parts water—before using detergent.
B. Grease: Blot as much as possible with white paper towels. Apply a volatile solvent such as Carbona, Energine or K2R to towels or spotting cloth and repeat blotting. Use sparingly! Do not pour or spray directly on the carpet pile as damage to the backing or adhesive underneath may occur. Apply the solvent to the towels to transport it to the carpet. Repeat as much as necessary. Protective gloves should be worn, as the solvent will quickly remove oils from the skin and may result in irritation. Provide adequate ventilation. Do not use flammable solvents. Follow with procedures in A.
C. Freeze: Freeze stains, such as chewing gum and candle wax, with ice or commercially available products in an aerosol can. Shatter with blunt object.
PRO: professional cleaner.
Applying these spot cleaning procedures to specific stain types:
Warning: Certain products found in most homes can cause irreparable damage to your carpet. Bleaches, tile cleaners, mildew removers, oven cleaners and drain openers are very strong chemicals that can discolor or dissolve carpet fibers. Acne medication containing benzoyl peroxide, a very powerful bleach, are capable of permanently damaging your carpet and most other fabrics as well.
While vacuuming is sufficient to remove most dry dirt, the oily soil which comes from air pollution and tracked in dirt from outside presents a different type of problem. The particles of oily soil deposited on carpet fibers can cause gradual but significant dulling of delicate colors. The color is not lost, but hidden under the film. If this type of film is allowed to accumulate, it begins to attract and hold the dry soil. This is the reason cleaning is so important when dulling of the color is first noticed. If allowed to remain too long, it becomes gummy and difficult to remove.
If carpet is cleaned before it becomes too unsightly, the cleaning chore will be easier and more successful. It is a myth that cleaning the carpet before it is absolutely necessary will cause it to get dirty faster. However, choice of the proper cleaning system is important, in that some systems may leave residue, which promote re-soiling and defeat the purpose of cleaning.
The following recommendations represent the best current cleaning knowledge and should help prolong the time between cleaning.
This provides the best capability for cleaning. The system is commonly referred to as “steam cleaning” though no steam is actually generated. The process consists of spraying a solution of water and detergent into the pile of the carpet and recovering the water and soil with a powerful vacuum into a holding tank.
“Do-It-Yourself” systems: If you decide to rent a steam-cleaning machine and do it yourself, check several different cleaning systems before making a selection. Most rental units do not adequately clean and may actually damage your carpet. Consider the following: 1. Some rental companies have cleaning equipment that is similar to what the professionals use. The cleaning equipment should have enough vacuum power to allow the carpet to dry within 6 to 12 hours after cleaning. Avoid rental units found in many retail and grocery stores that do not have enough power to clean the carpet adequately and could actually damage the carpet due to over wetting. 2. Use only approved cleaning solutions for wool and wool-blend carpet. The pH level of the cleaning solution should be near neutral (pH between 5 and 7). A solution with an alkaline pH above 7 can actually strip color from wool fibers. 3. Bleach or optical brightening agents are not acceptable. 4. Most problems in do-it-yourself cleaning are due to over wetting and use of excessive detergent.
Note: Wool can retain as much as 33% of its weight in moisture without feeling wet. It is important to allow adequate time for thorough drying after cleaning before walking on carpet.
In summary, with proper care and cleaning, your wool blend carpet will provide many years of service, and look great all the while.