|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 em'
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
. 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