|The blue dye problem
with nylon carpets
. This snake-in-the-grass may only bite you once or twice if
you spend a life-time in the business but if it ever does you will wish
you had read this article first.
. First let us repeat the important point from the first olefin
article. Olefin is inferior to nylon because the melting point of olefin
is so low that just the friction of people walking on it will cause the pile
to be permanently distorted which results in dark, shaded areas. Test
this for yourself by passing a cigarette lighter quickly over the surface
of an unwanted olefin scrap and it will melt a path almost faster than
you can pull it away.
This results in traffic lanes that defy the cleaner’s efforts to
restore because they are damaged beyond our ability to “un-melt”
them. Therefore the light reflects and refracts differently from the
fibers laying in different directions and still looks dirty from one
direction and clean from the other end of the room. (There are methods
of brightening the olefin and mitigating this "velvet" effect. Read the
Olefin Problems and the Hue Renew™ articles on this website.
However, olefin does have just ONE advantage over nylon. It is
colorfast. Sunlight, unburned hydrocarbons from heating systems,
pool chlorine walk-off and improper chemicals do not usually affect it.
. While nylon fibers sometimes have colorfast problems
they are still the best choice for most applications. Even the original
DuPont 501 from the 1950's were still around thirty years later. You
almost could not wear it out and it could be cleaned to look really good
even after all those years. Test nylon's resistance to friction and heat
damage for yourself by briefly holding a cigarette lighter to the surface
of an unwanted scrap of nylon carpet and see how much more difficult
it is to mark it. Today’s nylons are even better and if cared for they
may be around until the end of the world. Unfortunately nylon has one
giant creature feature that they have not been able to solve. Compared
to olefin, nylon dyes are more fragile and sunlight and many chemicals
will damage the dyes especially in the blue range of colors. Where
nylon carpets cannot be protected from sunlight, they should be
selected in earth-tones. These are the least noticeable when
color damage takes place.
. In addition to sunlight, nylon is also vulnerable to furnace
fumes, chlorine walk-off from swimming pools, janitorial chemicals,
etc, especially those of blue range of colors including gray, green, etc.
Here is the dirty little secret that has been a real snake-in-the-grass for
carpet cleaners for 50 years. Red nylon dye fades to pink and earth
tones generally fade to the yellow side but when blue nylon fades it
turns light brown on the tips. This mimics pH browning and the
condition is often treated with acid or oxygen products and re-
cleaning. All of this activity can lighten the dyes even further. This
loose or damaged dye flushes right out with the normal cleaning
process. Even plain water would do it and this dye loss is not apparent
until completely dry, which in most cases is the following day or so.
Then you get a customer call saying “you ruined my carpet because it
turned brown this morning”.
. Our experience is to be wary of cleaning blue range nylons
and treat any “browning” on blues and grays as color loss, which will
only get worse with treatment until you know better about the
true cause of the problem. We have learned of an art-form test for blue
range nylon dye damage that can be performed during your
pre-cleaning inspection that usually works but it is subject to light
conditions and the cleaning technician's ability. With practice you
may be able to even improve on the method that we will outline for
you. If so, let us know so that we can pass it on.
SUGGESTED TEST METHOD
. Blue dye color loss can be nearly transparent and invisible
before cleaning but often it can be discovered as well. It will appear as
slight beige color at the very tips of the carpet yarn. This will be
camouflaged by soil and matting of the yarn and extremely difficult to
see. Get down close to the carpet and fluff up the fiber. Concentrate
on the yarn tips for discoloration and think brown while you are doing
it. If the slightest beige is present on the tips, you can conclude that it
will be much worse after the carpet is rinsed and dried. Call the
customer over and show them the discoloration and explain that while
the carpet may otherwise look nearly brand new after cleaning, this
dye loss will probably be even more apparent at least the first few days
until re-matting begins to take place.
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Chemeisters, Inc. - Redford, MI
26202 West Seven Mile Road - Redford, MI - 48240
Speciality Chemicals since 1978
fax (313) 538-5324