Maintaining Your Wool Carpet
Please note that the information in this booklet specifically pertains to carpets constructed of wool or wool-blend fibers. Some instructions do not 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
- Regular vacuuming
- Removal of spots and spills
- Overall cleaning on a regular basis
- Walk-off mats should be used at all entrances to absorb soil and moisture, and mats should be cleaned on a regular basis, so they don’t become sources of soil themselves, especially during inclement weather. Ask your local retailer about purchasing quality walk-off mats and try to keep your sidewalks and entranceways free of excessive dirt and substances which can be tracked into the home.
- Use a quality pad under your carpet, particularly on stairs. Good pad not only gives better resilience underfoot, but it can also add to the life of your carpet. Some pad recommendations are: prime urethane (8 lb. density or better, 3/8 to 5/16 for loop constructions, 7/16 for cut pile and tip sheared constructions), hair & jute, wool needlepunch, rubber and rubber waffle pads. Rebond is not recommended. Some carpets carry warranties with specific pad density and thickness requirements. Before purchasing your carpet pad, review your warranty.
- When moving heavy wheeled furniture (pianos, buffets, etc.), prevent damage by placing a protective barrier of heavy cardboard or plywood between the wheels and roller cups.
- When using chairs or appliances with rollers or casters on carpet over pad, use protective roller cups.
- If you use area rugs over your carpet, be sure to remove and clean them regularly. Clean and restore the pile of the carpet underneath. After cleaning your carpet, remember to allow complete drying before replacing rugs or walking on carpet.
- Protect your carpet from prolonged periods of direct sunlight with blinds, shades, or awnings.
- Keep in mind that light colored carpets will show soil more than dark colors, and dark colors will show more lint than light colors. Tweeds and patterned carpets are especially effective in hiding soil.
The most important step in caring for your wool and wool blend carpet is vacuuming using a suction only vacuum and not a vacuum with a beater bar, rotating brushes or nylon bristles around the perimeter of the suction head. This is to prevent excessive pilling, fuzzing, pulls and pile distortion. If the vacuum has an adjustable beater bar, position the beater bar at its highest level and ensure the beater bar is not making direct contact with the face of the carpet. (A simple check is to place a piece of paper between the carpet and the beater bar to confirm it is not striking the face directly.) Vacuum thoroughly and frequently, particularly in high traffic areas. Bear in mind that walking 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. Frequent vacuuming removes these particles from the surface before this happens.
For rooms with light traffic, vacuum the traffic lanes twice weekly and the entire area once weekly. Those areas with heavier traffic require that the traffic lanes be vacuumed daily and the entire area twice weekly. Up to three passes of the machine will suffice for light soiling. But five to seven passes are necessary for heavily soiled areas. Vacuuming across the traffic pattern occasionally, rather than in the usual direction of the traffic, will help prevent matting.
It is normal for wool pile to shed then minimize over time. Wool carpets are created from natural fibers and will shed initially after installation. This is expected and is not a defect. To minimize this effect, change the vacuum bags or empty the canister when half full and this will maximize the suction of the vacuum. Make sure all the vacuum hoses and lines are clear of obstruction.
Vacuum Cleaner Recommendations
- 1) Decorative Concepts recommends the use of a strong suction vacuum and NO vacuum with a beater bar or rotating brushes for wool and wool-blend carpets. This is the best recommendation in preventing pilling, fuzzing, pulls and pile distortion. If a vacuum with a beater bar, rotating brushes, or nylon bristles around the perimeter of the suction only powerhead is used on any Decorative Concepts’ wool and wool blend carpets, it is considered a maintenance issue and not a claim.
- A good vacuum cleaner is vital to prolonging 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.
Stain Removal Procedure Spot and Spill Removal
All carpet care procedures mentioned thus far have been planned; spot and stain removal is the reaction to an unplanned incident. Therefore, it is desirable to have on hand the materials needed to treat stains. You may already have some of these on your kitchen shelf. Do not use any household cleaners other than those listed, since many household products contain chemicals that may permanently damage your carpet.
Items To Keep On Hand For Spots and Spills
- Mix a detergent solution of ½ teaspoon (no more) of clear, nonbleach liquid dishwashing detergent such as Dawn, Joy, or clear Ivory to a quart of water in a clean spray bottle
- A solution of white vinegar and water (1-part 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; never scrub or rub abrasively as a fuzzy area may result. When blotting, work from the outer edge in 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 the wool fiber to absorb more water than synthetic fibers without feeling damp makes it critical to remove all excess moisture. To absorb any remaining moisture from the carpet, place a halfinch layer of white paper towels over the spot and apply pressure. Change 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. The numbers are keyed to the stain, and all instructions should be used in the recommended sequence. Some stains are marked PRO, indicating that professional knowledge and equipment are necessary.
A. WATER SOLUBLE STAINS: Absorb 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 paper 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, do not use too much detergent because the residue will contribute to rapid re-soiling.
A-1. As above but treat with white vinegar—one-part white 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 result; 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 product in aerosol can. Shatter with a blunt object.
D. PRO: Professional cleaner
Specific Stain Removal Procedures For Wool And Wool-Blend Carpets
|Blood (Dry)||A, PRO|
|Deicer (Calcium Chloride)||VACUUM, A|
|Furniture Polish||A, B, PRO|
|Grease (Auto)||B, PRO|
|Ink (Ballpoint)||B, PRO|
|Ink (Permanent)||B, PRO|
|Ink (Washable)||A, PRO|
|Nail Polish||Polish Remover (non-oil)|
|Paint (Latex, Wet)||A|
|Paint (Latex, Dry)||B|
|Paint (Oil)||B, PRO|
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 enough to remove most dry soil, the oily solid which comes from cooking vapors, air pollution, and tracked in dirt from outside presents a different type of problem. The particles of oily solid deposited on carpet fibers can cause gradual but significant dulling of delicate pastel colors; the color isn’t lost but is hidden under the film. If this type of soil can 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 necessary will cause it to get dirty faster. However, choice of the proper cleaning system is important, in that some systems may leave residues which promote re-soiling and defeat the whole purpose of cleaning.
The following recommendations represent the best current cleaning knowledge and should help prolong the time between cleanings.
Decorative Concepts recommends a professional service if using the hot water extraction method. Research indicates hot water extraction provides the best capability for cleaning. This system is commonly referred to as “steam cleaning” although no steam is actually generated. The process consists of spraying a solution of water and detergent into the pile and recovering the water and soil with a powerful vacuum into a holding tank. This can be done from a truck-mounted unit outside the home with only the hose and wand brought inside or where a truck-mounted unit cannot reach, by a portable, self-contained system brought into the home. A do-it-yourself steam cleaning is not recommended due to over-wetting and the use of excessive detergent resulting in the inability to extract enough of the solvents and water used in the process leaving behind re-soiling issues.
It is important to use the proper pH setting with the cleaning materials used with wool and wool blend carpets. To ensure the proper setting, make your professional cleaner aware that the carpet consists of wool fiber content. The pH level of the cleaning solution should be near neutral (between 5 and 7). A solution with an alkaline pH (above 7) can actually strip color from wool fibers. Bleach or optical brightening agents are not acceptable.
BONNET CLEANING SYSTEMS
Decorative Concepts does not recommend this cleaning system. The bonnet system has very limited capability for soil removal and leaves much of the detergent in the pile since it employs no real extraction. As a result, rapid re-soiling often occurs. Another disadvantage of this system is that the spinning bonnet may distort the pile of wool carpets, causing overall fuzzing.
CARPET PERFORMANCE CHARACTERISTICS
SPROUTING: If loose ends of “sprouts” extend above the rest of the pile, clip them off even with the pile surface. Never try to pull them out. After clipping, smooth the area with your fingers. Sharp edges on your vacuum cleaner, a child’s toy, high heels, or animal claws can cause the condition.
PILE CRUSHING: All carpet fibers will crush under heavy stationary loads. Crushing can be reduced by shifting furniture regularly. Crushed areas can usually be restored by covering the area with a damp, clean white cloth and then applying heat to the cloth with an electric iron on a low setting. Remove the cloth and restore the pile while it is still hot by brushing it lightly. Keep traffic off the carpet until it is dry.
SHADING: After certain cut pile carpet styles have been subjected to traffic, you may notice areas that appear lighter or darker in certain areas. Don’t be alarmed! Shading is the result of the change in direction of the pile due to pressures from footsteps and vacuuming. Brushing the pile all in one direction may temporarily correct shading; however, shading is part of the carpet styling and should be expected in varying degrees. Do not mistake shading for color fading.
PILE DISTORTION/ROLL CRUSH: When carpet is manufactured, inspected, handled, and shipped, it is rolled and unrolled many times. A common problem called pile distortion or roll crush can occur when this happens. It can be corrected only after the carpet is installed.
Follow These steps:
- Vacuum the carpet.
- Increase the relative humidity in the room to 50% or more.
- Allow several weeks in humid conditions and slightly longer in low humidity conditions for the pile to recover.
Decorative Concepts, LLC
1803 Abutment Road
Dalton, GA 30721