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Special Care for Special Carpet Fibers

Everyone knows that it is regular vacuuming and quick attention to the inevitable spots and stains that keep a carpet looking its best.  But even with the most diligent attention to regular carpet care, all carpets will need a deep extraction cleaning every 12 to 18 months to remove stubborn and embedded soil, it may also be required for warranty purposes.  These deep cleaning systems will keep carpets looking, feeling and smelling fresh and new.  The cleaning – either by wet or dry extraction -- may be done by professional carpet cleaners, or do-it-yourselfers may tackle the job with purchased or rented equipment.  Professional carpet cleaners may be found through referrals from friends and family members or even a carpet store.   The do-it-yourselfers will be able to rent the correct equipment from any local rental store.  The essential key to determining what is the best method for cleaning your carpeting is the construction of the carpet itself.

Most carpets manufactured today incorporate synthetic fibers, such as nylon, polyester, or olefin, and most deep cleaning methods are appropriate for them. In all cases, follow the manufacturers’ cleaning recommendations.  Natural fibers, however, may require special care. 

Wool carpets can withstand most cleaning methods.  Caution should be taken with wool however, to avoid excessive agitation and excessive heat.  Do not use cleaning equipment with heavy brushes or beaters on wool carpet.  Wool is also easily damaged by bleaches and or detergents that are highly alkaline, so be sure to use a pH neutral cleaning solution on wool.  Quick drying is important to avoid yellowing.

Silk carpets should be cleaned using a dry cleaning process.  The beautiful silks in antique and contemporary area rugs and room sized carpets can be damaged by high temperatures, sunlight, and high pH solutions, and the fibers will lose strength when wet.  Except for light spot removal, deep cleaning of silk carpets should be assigned to carpet cleaning professionals.

Cotton and rayon, popular both as pure carpet fibers as well as blended with other fibers, are made of cellulose, a plant fiber, and can withstand cleaning by almost all methods.  All plant fibers are subject to yellowing if they remain wet too long, and too much moisture may cause the fibers to shrink.  Be careful not to over-saturate cotton and rayon carpets, and if they do become too wet, dry the carpet as quickly as possible.  As with all but the sturdiest synthetic fibers, avoid heavy agitation by the cleaning equipment, which can weaken and damage the fibers.

Sisal, jute and other plant fibers, including coconut, ramie, and hemp, have characteristics very similar to cotton and rayon.  Most cleaning methods are appropriate for these plant fibers, but dry extraction or dry foam methods are usually recommended.  As with cotton, too much moisture may cause these natural fibers to shrink, and cause discoloration.  To reduce the chance of color transfer, only use a mild detergent, and dry the carpet quickly.  For these specialized carpets, it is probably best to use a professional carpet cleaner.

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