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Carpet Fibers

The following information is meant to help you understand the differences between carpet fibers and how it affects performance and cleaning.

Wool: is a protein fiber, primarily from sheep raised in Australia or New Zealand, composed of three parts: the epidermis (outer skin), the cortex, and the medulla (hollow core). Wool is naturally opaque, which gives it excellent soil hiding capabilities. It is estimated that a wool carpet can hold up to 1 pound of dirt per square foot before it looks dirty. Wool is easily contact dyed, so certain liquids (Kool-Aid, fruit juice, animal urine) will easily stain wool. Bleach will totally dissolve wool. If poorly trained technicians or improper detergents are used to clean wool, it will degrade and breakdown.

Advantages: nice feel (“hand“), dyes easily, longevity, elasticity, resilience, flame resistant, cleans easily

Disadvantages: cost, stains easily (especially animal urine), dissolves in bleach, “shading” tendency

Nylon: is a synthetic fiber,  first produced by DuPont in 1939. Nylon is strong, resilient, and abrasion resistant. As a general statement, nylon dyes easily, so therefore stains easily. Nylon will also fade from exposure to sunlight. There have been many changes in nylon since it was first introduced (we call these changes “generations“). It responds well to cleaning. Compression marks from furniture will generally respond (bounce back) to “steam” cleaning.

Advantages: resilient, abrasion resistant, dyes easily

Disadvantages: fading, staining (stain resistant, not stain proof), affected by bleach

Polyester: is a synthetic fiber that is extremely colorfast. It is easily cleaned, and is resistant to most dyes, including Kool-Aid and red wine. It is also resistant to sun fading and discoloration from animal urine. It is “oleophilic” which means it likes oils (driveway sealer, cooking oils). If not cleaned regularly, these oils will actually “bond” to the fiber, making removal of the discoloration almost impossible. It is less resilient than nylon, does not hold it’s “crimp” as well, so traffic areas tend to change appearance and look “worn”.

Advantages: colorfast, stain resistant, fade resistant

Disadvantages: wears easily in traffic areas, oils bond to fibers causing discoloration

Olefin: is also a synthetic fiber, extremely colorfast since it is “solution” dyed (the color is added while it is still a liquid, before the fiber is made). Olefin is extremely lightweight; it is the only fiber that is lighter than water, so it floats in water. It does not absorb moisture, so it is extremely difficult to stain.  It is resistant to sun fading and fume fading. It is “oleophilic” (likes oils), so driveway sealers and cooking oils will “bond” to the fiber causing discoloration. It has poor resilience tendencies, and will not return to its original configuration when crushed by traffic or furniture. Narrow hallways and stairs are especially noticeable areas of compression.

Advantages: Inexpensive, extremely stain resistant, colorfast, liquid spills clean up easily

Disadvantages: compresses easily, lacks resilience, oils bond to fibers causing discoloration

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