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Caring for Wool Carpet

"A new wool carpet will last longer and look better if a routine of regular vacuuming, periodic cleaning and immediate removal of spots and spills is followed."

Wool has long been the preferred choice of UK consumers looking for a quality carpet. In the latest in CFR’s series on how retail sales staff can better educate consumers, Paul Bakker explains how wool can be kept in tip top condition.

In an age where many alternative carpet materials offer easy-clean properties, consumers are ever more curious to know if natural products can be so easily maintained. It is the ease of cleaning which is probably the crucial factor in the popularity of wool as a carpeting fibre.

Wool is dirt-resistant because the fibre is opaque and dirt doesn’t show as much as with some clearer, brighter man-made fibres. It also has a matt, uneven surface to which dirt does not stick easily. Its surface – it has scales like those on a fish, coated with a thin water-repellent layer – also makes it easier to remove dry dirt by vacuum cleaning and greasy dirt with detergents.

Its ability to release dirt when cleaned means that wool carpets and rugs will retain their colour, and consequently their pattern and design, despite heavy use and frequent cleaning. This also means they can be used in lighter and brighter colours.

Vacuum clean regularly and thoroughly, which removes gritty dirt that can damage the fibres.

SpoilIf something is spilled:
DO deal with spillages as soon as possible: scoop, scrape or blot it up using white tissues, kitchen towel or even a toilet roll.

DON’T rub the pile (it causes pile burst, fuzzing and lightening of the colour), and DON’T pour white wine on a red wine spill – it’s such a waste of wine! Use a little water instead, but blot it up as soon as possible. Also, DON’T pour salt on a liquid spillage: all it does is make a strong salt solution and this can change the colour of some dyes permanently!

If there is still a stain DO use a proprietary WoolSafe–approved Spot Remover (look for the Mark on the container). DON’T ever use any detergents such as dish washing liquids, soaps or other cleaners recommended for general household use. Although they may clean your carpet satisfactorily they will almost certainly cause problems such as rapid re-soiling, colour bleeding or other damage to the pile or backing of the carpet.

Cleaning carpetDO try to identify unknown spots prior to treatment – if unsure, use a solvent first. Always work from the edge of the spot inwards. DO apply small quantities of spot remover at a time and work it into the spot with a small brush, cloth or sponge. DO thoroughly rinse the spot afterwards if water-based spotters have been used. DO dry the spot with a hairdryer if possible and brush cut pile (velour) carpets in the direction of the natural pile lay.

DON’T persevere if the spot won’t come out, but DO call a professional carpet cleaner, preferably one with the right knowledge and expertise.

Reproduced with kind permission of Carpet and Flooring Review

Other Handy Maintenance Tips

Entrance or walk-off mats

The use of entrance mats at all outside entrances to the house is highly recommended, as it will significantly reduce the rate at which your carpets will soil. They should be as large as possible to allow most of the street dirt to be removed from shoe soles. The mats must be cleaned regularly.

Fibre loss
Many newly installed carpets, particularly those with a cut or velour pile, tend to lose fibre during the first few weeks on the floor. This effect, called shedding or fluffing, is caused by the way the yarn is spun and the carpet is made. It is no reason for alarm, but a natural phenomenon, which will stop eventually. Just vacuum the carpet a little more gently for the first few weeks and empty the dust bag or receptacle regularly.

Protective treatments
Many carpets come with a protective fibre treatment to reduce problems with staining and soiling. These treatments, while effective in many ways, are not bullet-proof and will eventually wear off. Quick response to spills and regular cleaning is still required.

Pile reversal or Shading
Pile reversal, also known as shading, or wrongly, water marking, is the effect whereby areas of velour or velvet carpet appear to become lighter or darker in colour than the surrounding area. It is an optical effect, brought about by localised changes in the direction of pile lay and made visible by the way light is reflected off the carpet surface. It is caused by traffic patterns or unevenness in the floor, but is NOT a carpet defect. Loop pile and many hard-twist carpets are not affected by this.

Occasionally tufts may appear above the surface of the carpet. Do NOT pull them out, but cut them level with the surrounding tufts using small scissors.

Colour change
The carpet may change colour over time for a variety of reasons, usually due to pile flattening, gradual soiling and slight fading of the dyes used to colour the fibres. A good professional cleaning will usually restore the carpet’s appearance.

Draught marking
Carpets may show increased soiling around the edges of a room, under doors and near air ducts. This is called draught marking, soil filtration or fogging and is caused by the pile fibres filtering out dirt particles from the air blowing under skirting boards or doors, or from ducts.

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