Association News

Carpet & Fabric Protectors, Part II

January 8, 2001
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The carpet or fabric protector you apply is only as good as the application method, dilution ratios, and the aftercare that follows.

As mentioned in my previous article, fiber protection is not a magical compound that prevents carpets from getting soiled, but is to be considered only as a step that prevents carpet from getting soiled and maintaining its condition. There are several steps in completing a successful application of carpet protection.

The first is that the protector must be carefully applied, usually at the rate of 200 sq. ft./gal. diluted solution on a relatively dry carpet (20 oz. to a standard chair). The product should be applied slowly in a checkerboard fashion and of course, allowed to dry without any disturbance. As for carpets, foot traffic should not be allowed. This is recommended not only for safety reasons, but also to avoid creating imprints that would affect the carpets shade appearance.

It should also be noted that raking is important, not only in grooming, but to further condition the protection of the product. Raking breaks up the viscosity of the product that helps coat the fiber more completely. The best feeling of achievement is when you stand over the carpet and see how good it looks, knowing you extended its life.

Your work isn’t finished though. There are several important factors that must be acknowledged by the homeowner. It’s important they realize that the carpet protector will assure the carpet’s life only with proper maintenance. Just as location is the prime factor in real estate, vacuuming is the prime factor in carpet maintenance and longevity. Without vacuuming, the protection you’ve applied is wasted.

In addition, we would all like to believe that in exercising care in application, each and every fiber has been protected from top to bottom. But we know this is not possible. Somewhere, somehow, a staining spill will come across a non-protected fiber and penetrate it. Therefore, it’s imperative that you emphasize this to the customer. All spills should be removed immediately, not left for later removal. Many complaints I receive are from homeowners who were disappointed with poor stain resistance due to delay in stain removal.

Proper application, vacuuming, and immediate stain removal are the important factors that must be understood in order to achieve a successful carpet program application.

Scotchgard(TM): Safety & Credibility

Whether it’s carpet, raincoats, upholstery, or anything that has to do with fiber, Scotchgard(TM) appears to pop up as the protective choice for fabric care. I’ve had the opportunity to visit a location in Two Harbors, Minn., where 100 years ago, a fledging company started out by making an abrasion paper for the automobile industry. This is where Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. began, and became the well-known 3M Corp.

It stands to reason that because of the high number of products manufactured by 3M that the potential for unforeseen problems can occur and they must be prepared for the unexpected when they do occur. I have personally been involved with predicaments that had to be resolved in companies far smaller than 3M. However, one unforeseen problem that occurred with 3M’s Scotchgard(TM) protector was the discovery of perfluoro octane sulfonate (otherwise labeled as POSF) in tests conducted by Cornell University. The university uncovered POSF in blood serum at parts per billion (ppb).

In my college days, ppb was unheard of. When we would evaluate chemical purity, it would be classified as parts per million (ppm). Classification as ppm was about as pure as you were going to get. In fact, ppm was often listed as a trace condition whereby anything higher would be non-existent. But with the new technology currently in use, ppb has become the norm.

Have you ever wondered what a billion represents? Quite often, grains of sands are expressed as equal to all the sands in the world, or all the stars you can see. However, one interpretation really brings it home: If you were to pull a hair off your head and multiply it by a million, it would be the thickness of an average door. Then, multiply that door by a million to a billion and it would be the size of a city block.

As a consequence of what a billion would represent, Cornell University must posses some of the world’s most powerful laboratory equipment to have uncovered POSF at ppb in blood serum.

To 3M’s credit, when Cornell University reported their findings, the company made a voluntary decision to bring it to the EPA’s attention. And to further their concerns, 3M decided not to incorporate POSF into Scotchgard(TM), which would cancel out future production of the product. Now we aren’t talking about small production, but a market worth more than $300 million.

I presume they will soon manufacture a Scotchgard X product that will satisfy the strong name recognition and the needs of the fiber protection markets. But, the final test will be the one conducted by carpet and upholstery cleaners—the product’s performance approval.

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