Cleaning Wool Carpets Effectively & Safely
Maintenance and regular cleaning will increase the life span of a wool carpet and also maintain its good appearance. Your cleaning should be equal to the amount of soiling to which your carpet is subjected – the more dirt is deposited on the carpet, the more maintenance and cleaning you need.
There is a big difference between cleaning and maintenance:
– cleaning is the removal of accumulated dirt and is best carried out annually or more often
– maintenance is a planned procedure, such as regular vacuuming, spot removal and using mats at doorways, started on the day the carpet is installed and ongoing to retain a carpet\’s good appearance. Planned cleaning can also be considered maintenance.
How Wool Carpets Get Dirty
Dirt particles are carried into a building on the soles of shoes or by air currents, and are deposited on the carpet surface and stick to the pile fibres. These dirt particles are held by mechanical forces, or by adhering to the fibre surface because they are sticky (oily) themselves, or because the fibre is sticky, damaged, or has other sites where soil can lodge.
The more your carpet soils, the more difficult and often expensive, it becomes to clean it. So it makes sense to try to reduce the rate at which carpets soil by trying to reduce the amount of soil reaching the carpet. This can be done by making sure you take off outdoor shoes and use walk-off mats.
Recommended Cleaning Methods for Wool Carpets
There are no hard and fast rules on which cleaning technique is the best for wool carpets. It depends largely on the type of carpet concerned and the degree and type of soiling.
According to Woolsafe, all wet processes cause some untwisting of yarn in cut pile carpets, depending on the amount of moisture applied, mechanical action, degree of \”setting\” of the yarn, etc. Ridging on extremely long pile carpets can be caused by some spray extraction cleaning tools (steam cleaning).
The basic requirements of cleaning products for use on wool are:
– low alkalinity,
– non-sticky residue on drying,
– good cleaning power,
– no added bleaches, dyes etc.
– safe in use and safe once applied to the carpet.
The reasons for these requirements are:
High alkalinity (often, but by no means always, reflected in high pH) can cause colour bleeding with dyed yarns, pigment bleeding in natural Berbers, jute staining of pile surface in light coloured carpets, and – in extreme cases – yellowing and weakening of wool fibres;
Sticky residues cause quicker re-soiling;
Poor cleaning performance necessitates excessive mechanical agitation of
the pile and added risk of pile distortion;
Additives can cause uneven cleaning, bleaching or change of colour.
Some commercially available carpet cleaning chemicals do not conform to one or more of the above requirements. To identify those that are safe to use, an approval programme for wool carpet maintenance products was established in 1991, called WoolSafe.
It\’s Not Just The Products…
In addition to products, wool is best cleaned using lower temperatures and pressures. However, some modern high powered machines can clean at extremely high temperatures and pressures that are totally inappropriate for delicate fibres such as wool. So the know-how, (and ethic) of the cleaning technician can be a vital factor in the effective and safe cleaning of wool carpets.
It is vitally important that the carpet cleaner cleaning wool carpets understands that using the wrong cleaning products, wrong techniques, wrong heat and pressure and getting the carpet too wet can be catastrophic. Usually, these things happen because the wrong products are cheap, as is not getting trained properly!
Any reputable carpet cleaner will use approved products and techniques when cleaning wool carpets.
But not all do.
If you’re looking for someone to safely and effectively clean your wool carpets please feel free to call me.
If you’re going to try somewhere else, please use the information above to help you choose the right people.
I hope you have found this article helpful.