Carpet Series – Natural Fibers, Advantages & Disadvantages.

100_2356My knowledge of today’s carpet construction will better serve the consumer when you call me for carpet cleaning service. Please keep in mind, not all carpets are the same and not all carpet cleaning service providers are either. Let’s take a look at a few of the carpet fibers available, their use and their advantages and disadvantages.

Fibers are the basic building blocks of the face yarns of carpeting that I clean. These fibers are grouped into two categories, 1) Natural and 2) Synthetic.

This will be the first of four pieces in a series that will assist you in not only understanding ]more on what materials your carpets are made of, but also why it is so important to not assume “all carpet cleaner’s are the same”. When it comes to getting good results and protecting the longevity of your investment, call me or another IICRC certified cleaner.

Natural fibers are derived from plants and animals. Natural fibers are also known as cellulose fibers. Cellulose fibers are rarely used in carpet face yarn any longer, but may be encountered in the backings of woven carpets. Area rugs may have cellulose fibers such as cotton, sisal and regenerated cellulose (rayon/ acetate) in their face yarns.

Think about the times you had your area rugs cleaned. Did the service provider take the time to look into the fibers that consume the carpet? Did they take the time to read the label for recommended method of cleaning? Did they just clean it and bill you?

Cotton decades ago was used in pile yarns in wall to wall installations, but because of performance problems this use was discontinued. Today, cotton can be found in some specialty area rugs.When cleaning cotton the disadvantages are slow drying, cotton is very absorbent and slow drying can contribute to mold growth, dye bleeding and cellulose browning. Over wetting cotton may lead to shrinkage. When over wet and especially left with alkaline chemical residues cotton fibers will “brown out”. Advantages of cotton are that the fibers feel soft and has excellent color dye acceptance which again is ideal for area rugs.

Wool comes from a fleece of a lamb or sheep. Wool has excellent soil hiding capabilities and are considered the first rugs ever made. The advantages of using wool carpet and area rugs are that wool resists crushing and are abrasion resistant. The luxurious colors of wool area rugs stand out in contrast to synthetic imitations. Wool is also naturally flame resistant. This feature would make it popular in commercial setting.
Disadvantages of using wool are that wool is expensive. Chemical damage can occur easily when cleaning and spotting if the pH levels of the cleaners being used are not of proper levels. Wool ‘s ability to accept dye means it is easily stained by spills containing dyes, such as beverages.

Rayon fibers are considered to be synthetic by the Federal Trade Commission because they are made from a synthesis of two or more materials. Rayon is made from cellulose materials and have many of the cleaning related problems of cellulose fibers. For this reason, as a professional cleaning technician I must treat these fibers as natural fibers. Many area rugs are labeled as “Art Silk” or “A Silk” are made from Rayon. Advantages of Rayon are that the look and feel of rayon creates the appearance of silk for far less money, considering the popularity of area rugs.
There are several disadvantages of Rayon fibers. One being that they are subject to yellowing or browning from alkalinity or overwetting when cleaning. Rayon rugs may also discolor from sun exposure. When Rayon is discolored by sunlight the condition is not only irreversible but it weakens the fibers considerably. Overwetting from cleaning may create shrinkage problems. Very few stains are removable from this non-durable, often non color fast fiber.

Well that’s enough about natural carpet fibers. Please have a look in again next week for part 2, Synthetic Fibers – Acrylic, Polyester and Olefin.

Until then, have a great week, be accountable for your actions and when in need give someone a hand.

Jamie Strohmeyer
Owner Green Bay Floor Restore
IICRC Certified / Clean Trust Firm