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CARPET & RESTORATION
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Carpet cleaners are often confronted
with carpet that has lost some colour.
What may start as a dark mark may
appear lighter than the surrounding
carpet after cleaning. The dark mark may
be dirt sticking to residues but the colour
loss underneath the dirt wasn’t noticed
until the dirt was removed, which was
hiding a bleach spot. It’s important to
be aware of the possible reasons for the
colour loss so you can point these out to
customers prior to the clean.
Identifying the carpet fibre
A thorough pre-inspection should first identify the carpet fibre. From
this, you can identify the cleaning and staining characteristics of that
specific fibre. Conducting a thorough pre-inspection can also tell you
if that fibre is likely to encounter colour gain or loss issues.
Different fibres require different methods and various types of dyes
in order to achieve the desired colour. Some fibres are solution dyed,
which means colour is put in at the time the molten plastic is made
ready for extrusion into a fibre. This colour is permanent.
But other fibres, such as wool and some nylon fibres, start off white
and are dyed later. This process can take place in the finishing stages
of making a carpet. For a fibre to accept a dye later means it can
also accept other foreign dyes as well. Red cordial happens to be
coloured with the same type of dye used in wool and nylon, so if you
spill red cordial on a wool or nylon carpet you now have red carpet!
If colour can be added to a fibre then it is usually possible to lose
a bit of colour as well. There can be many reasons for colour loss.
Bleaching chemicals, ultra violet light, ozone, as well as something
as simple as prolonged moisture can affect some dyes. Depending on
the dye type, even simple household spills can affect the colour, not
to mention the spot cleaners used by the customer.
Wool carpet can lose some colour over time. Oxygen in the air can
react with sulphur in the wool proteins causing it to oxidise into a
gas, the loss of natural sulphur causes a loss of yellow. But other
colour components may be affected by environmental conditions
within the building. Fume fading from gas heaters or even ozone
laden air passing across a carpet can cause colours to fade – even in
Removing stains can also take out carpet dyes, especially with spotters
designed to remove difficult stains. This is not necessarily the fault of
the spotter, but instead may be due to poor dye fastness or the poor
selection or application of dyes by the carpet manufacturer.
Spotters designed to remove a broad spectrum of stains including
other natural dyes such as the tannins in tea and coffee and even
red wine, can easily damage the dyes in some carpet, while not
necessarily damaging the fibre itself.
Then there are some spotters that leave a crystalline residue that
are not fully removed with vacuuming and these can look like bleach
marks. These are relatively easy to deal with by simply rinsing the
But if the colour is actually removed, then only colour repair can
fix the problem. Having colour repair skills up your sleeve can
actually make you money because you can solve your customer’s
problems by adding the right colours back in.
Colin Nation has 35 years’ experience in the carpet and upholstery
cleaning industry and with his wife Rose, runs Abbsolve Services,
a specialty cleaning service on the Sunshine Coast. They also run
Nation Training, an independent contract training school. Colin has
also served on the Standards Australia TX-9 Committee responsible
for the writing and review of Australian Standards particularly A/
NZ Standard 3733 for carpet cleaning.
To bleach or not to bleach, that is the question
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