Cleaning Tips: Wool Carpet — Be Careful!

Practical advice to get the job done more efficiently

Cleaning wool carpet or wool rugs can be a lucrative part of your business. But take care when you land a job to clean a wool carpet or rug.

Wool is expensive — damaging it during the cleaning process can turn the job into a giant headache. What’s more, wool rugs — especially handmade rugs — can be not only expensive but irreplaceable. All of which means that you have good reason to charge more. Simply put, it takes special care and knowledge to get the job done right.

Cleaning wool requires different techniques. As a natural fiber, wool is more sensitive to damage in every way — from the machinery and cleaning agents you use to your cleaning technique. Another crucial factor influencing wool’s sensitivity is the fact that wool is dyed with acid dyes. That means that dye migration can be caused by a variety of factors.

Using a high alkalinity cleaner, using too much water, using water that’s too hot — these can all cause dye migration. And then there’s your cleaning technique. If you’re overly aggressive when you clean, you can end up causing felting. And hot water — again, heat’s the culprit — can cause pile distortion.

Before you begin the job, protect yourself by thoroughly inspecting the carpet or rug for pre-existing damage. If you find anything that could be considered damage and not just normal wear and tear, review your results with your customer.

And it doesn’t hurt to have a photographic record of any pre-existing conditions. Be sure to perform a color fastness test. When you choose your cleaners, be especially careful. Use approved cleaners and an approved acid detergent rinse. Oxidizers can be effective on stains but it can damage wool. There are a few hard and fast “Thou Shalt Nots.”

Thou shalt not use disinfectants, silicone fabric protectors or chlorine bleach. When the job is done, be sure to ensure effective drying. If it sounds like a lot of trouble to clean wool, just remember that that’s the reason the job pays top dollar. Commit yourself to learning proper techniques, take care as you gain experience and you’ll have a nice profitable niche for your business

Cleaning Tips: Become the King of Grout

Sanded grout is both porous and absorbent, which means they require a seal, and it’s pretty safe to assume a sealant was used during installation. Grout lines are generally lower than the tiles, so water fills the grout lines and soil from daily traffic and cleaning are deposited on the grout. That is compounded when sanded grout is used because of the natural porosity of the material. That means — especially with new customers who may not have a regular maintenance program — the grout lines are likely to be discolored. Here are some quick tips to get the grout looking new and keep it looking great.

• Assuming the grout was sealed properly during installation (or additives were used in the grout), step one for new customers is a rigorous scrub and rinse with either a neutral cleaner or all-purpose cleaner.

• Step two is to ensure routine maintenance, consisting of daily sweeping or mopping (depending on amount of floor traffic) with a neutral cleaner. If the tiles are located in restrooms or kitchens, the routine is the same —simply use a degreaser or sanitizer in the solution.

• Be sure to convince your customer of the value of a periodic maintenance plan, because even with daily cleaning grout becomes soiled and needs a more thorough cleaning. This usually involves scrubbing and rinsing, anywhere from weekly to quarterly depending on use.

If the grout has not been well maintained, it may need restoration. For some good advice on restoring grout — and on a more in-depth look at grout cleaning in general — see