|The Olefin Crisis
for Carpet Cleaners
|The are many problems challenging
carpet cleaners and #1 on the list is
the distortion and dull, grey pallor of
olefin carpet yarns after a few
months of just average use.
Why are olefin carpets a problem?
. The melting point of olefin is so low that just the friction of
people walking on it will cause the yarn to be permanently distorted.
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 distorted fibers laying in different directions and
still looks dirty from one direction and extra clean from another.
(There are methods of brightening the olefin and mitigating this
"velvet" effect. Read the Hue Renew article on this website).
However, olefin does have just ONE advantage over nylon. That is, it
is colorfast. Sunlight, unburned hydrocarbons from heating
systems, chlorine and most chemicals do not effect it.
. To the cleaning customer, this distortion which results in
these dark, shaded looking areas is often thought to be soil that was
not removed properly when cleaning. This can be quickly debunked
by walking around the shaded area. You will see that from one
direction where the yarn is laying away from you, like a field of wheat,
it is brighter. From the other directions as you are looking into the
fibers the area appears dark. After paying to get their carpet cleaned
the carpet owner doesn't expect to see these ugly shaded areas and
even when the distortion is demonstrated they are often skeptical of
the cleaners explanation.
. As if the distortion wasn't enough, there is also a
dullness that affects many olefin carpets that comes from pollutants
in the air. These pollutants cause the residues that we pickup on our
shoes and bring into the building. It is no longer just greasy, sooting
residue from manufacturing and diesel engines. In this new age of
plastics and polymers it is these substances that are being ground
into the carpets making cleaning chemistry a little more complicated
than it used to be. We call this "polymer polluted, plastic dirt". This
new polymer pollution residue is bonding with the soft polymer
construction of olefin carpet and virtually becomes part of the
carpet. Fortunately we can deal quite effectively with this dullness
using Chemeisters® Hue Renew™.
(Read the Hue Renew page on this website).
. Another method of using Hue Renew™ to treat the "olefin
look" is to follow "steam" cleaning with Hue Renew™ using a bonnet
or pad. It takes overnight for the carpets to fully brighten but it works
fantastic and the carpet is genuinely brighter and better for having
had the treatment. A regular bonnet cleaner or polymer product or
other low moisture chemical is often used with or in place of Hue
Renew™. This leaves surfactant or polymer residue on the carpet
which causes the olefin to look much brighter immediately as light
reflects and refracts camouflaging the olefin fiber distortion. This is a
more cosmetic approach with more potential residues that we think
is inferior to using Hue Renew™. At least the chemical should be
used very sparingly to keep the residues to a minimum. Many
cleaners have also found that finishing with a dry pad or bonnet after
"steam cleaning" is an effective method of relieving the top yarn of
moisture that serves as a vehicle for deep re-wicking residues that
have been left by previous cleaning attempts or spills, etc.
Why are olefin carpets so popular?
. Three reasons. First, olefin is much cheaper than nylon.
Second, the carpet buyer is simply ignorant of the olefin
shortcomings and the third reason is that in the carpet showroom
the olefin is softer and "prettier" than the nylon sample. The buyer
needs to know that the olefin will show signs of distortion in a few
weeks and the nylon if cared for will be restorable for years.
Why don't the carpet salespeople tell the truth?
. They probably don't know the truth and if they do, they
cannot afford to trust their customer with it. They have never had to
clean olefin and confront this problem after it has been down and no
one they trust has ever told them about olefin so how would they
know? You have to understand the mind of the carpet salesperson
in this regard also. If they know the truth and if they tell their
customer that olefin is no good and they recommended the more
expensive nylon, their customer will shop their competitor who will
sell it to them. Everyone in the salespersons life looses at this point
including his kid's dentist, etc. So they are telling themselves "I'm
not committing any crime here, I just show them the samples and let
Why do the carpet mills and fiber producers make this stuff?
. Our conclusion is that the carpet producers were
obviously suffering on nylon warranties because of the vulnerable
nylon dyes. They were highly motivated to find the "perfect" fiber for
tough use at popular prices. It has not turned out perfect as yet but
they did succeed in getting a product with stable dyes and we can
hope that they will figure out how to pick up some friction resistance
along the way. We are afraid that they are no longer as highly
motivated now that they have solved their warranty problems to such
a large extent. The carpet mills are probably in the same do or die
position as the retailer. Since the retail carpet buyer is in the dark
when they buy, the manufacturer cannot make only nylon because
they are afraid that their carpet mill competitor will continue to make
the cheaper olefin and take away their market share. So they are also
telling themselves "we're not committing any crime here, we just
make this stuff and let 'em choose".
. How do we get customers to buy nylon carpets so that the
carpet cleaner's life can return to being a bed of roses? We can see
only one way. AN EDUCATED RETAIL CARPET BUYER.
So who's going to educate them?
. YOU ARE and the rest of the carpet cleaning community
because we are all that's left in this story. The trouble is that we are
going against the carpet retailer and the carpet manufacturer who
command more standing and we are trying to make the truth stick
after the carpet has been cleaned and we are the last one standing
there trying to "face the music".
So what usually happens next?
. We know carpet cleaners to be wonderful people who care
intensely about their business and the satisfaction of their
customers. The cleaner wants desperately to satisfy the customer
and retain their good will and referral stream. So they will usually
continue near futile cleaning and spotting attempts. The customer is
often not satisfied with the results and the cleaner's explanations.
The carpet producers do not seem to be listening and we hope they
will begin to listen soon because every cleaner knows it.
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registered trademarks by Chemeisters, Inc. - Redford, MI
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Chemeisters, Inc. - Redford, MI
26202 West Seven Mile Road - Redford, MI - 48240
Speciality Chemicals since 1978
fax (313) 538-5324