While your carpeting may not require the regular cleaning that other
types of flooring demand, your carpet should be professionally cleaned
once every year to 18 months, even if you vacuum regularly. Professional
carpet cleaning extends the life of the carpeting or area rugs and
contributes to better air quality, reducing allergies and illness.
Knowing a little about your carpet construction will help you decide
the best cleaning method for you. Most carpets consist of the top
pile yarn and the backing yarn, The backing yarn holds everything
together and forms the foundation that holds the pile yarn. Hand woven
carpets are very costly and represent less than 10% of the market.
They have very dense pile which can be seen woven trough the backing
from the underside. The vast majority of carpets however are "tufted".
Tufted carpets are made by using a pre-woven backing cloth, into which
the pile fabric is mechanically tufted or punched. The carpet is then
given a 'secondary backing' with a rubber, polyurethane or foam as
a binding method. This is all done on huge machines at very high speed
to provide economy of scale. Tufted carpet is more commonly called
twist pile, cut pile or loop pile. The quality depends on many factors,
but an important one is the pile density - measured in threads per
square inch. The denser the pile the better. Look at a cheap twisted
pile carpet and you can see the backing through the pile.
Pile and backing yarns fall into two categories; natural or synthetic.
Natural yarns are hessian or jute for backing yarn, and wool for the
pile yarn or quite often a wool nylon blend. Synthetic yarns include
nylon, polypropylene, and polyester for the pile yarn. Backing is
almost always a cheaper synthetic.
Wool has been used in carpets and rugs since ancient times and all
other fibers are compared against it. It is luxurious, strong and
comfortable. It repels soil and water yet is easily dyed any color.
Much of the carpet wool comes from New Zealand, Argentina and Australia.
Wool is also easy to clean. Nylon is the most frequently used fiber
in carpeting today. Nylon was introduced in 1938 by Dupont but there
are now many manufacturers of nylon fiber for carpeting, It is lower
cost and stain resistant. Polypropylene or Olefin Fiber was introduced
to the carpet industry in 1950, polypropylene is 100% solution-dyed,
which makes it fade-resistant. Usually found in continuous filament,
it is great for outdoor use as well as indoor use. This fiber is not
as resilient as nylon, but costs less for the manufacturer. Most constructions
for this fiber are in loop pile or Berber loop pile which are more
resistant to crushing they offer exceptional value. Polyester was
introduced to carpeting in the 1960's, polyester offers a little more
tactile hand feel than nylon. Used in cut pile and textured constructions,
polyester is most often used by the industry in staple form. It is
not quite as resilient as nylon but will give excellent performance
if properly constructed. You should look for well-twisted polyesters.
simple test to determine if your carpet is synthetic or natural is
to snip a single loop from an unseen location and hold a match to
it. Natural will burn but synthetic will melt or bead.
In practice the choice of fiber depends on your needs and location.
The trade off is that natural fibers (wool) repel soil but synthetic
fibers do not and wool is easily stained but most synthetics are not.
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