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

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