Wool carpet needs special cleaning care and maintenance due to its unique characteristics. Recently I received a call from someone who needed help with their wool carpet. They had just used a small home carpet steamer on it, and shortly thereafter, yellow stains appeared all over it.
Most carpets found in the average home today are made from synthetic material, usually nylon, that is formulated to be more resistant and less sensitive to certain conditions than wool.
Wool carpet, as the name suggests, is made from the fleece of sheep, and is therefore composed of natural protein fibers. That is why it smells like wet sheep when it is wet. Incidentally, that is the smell of sulphur, one of the natural components of the wool fiber.
Wool carpet is expensive not just because of its composition, but also because of the special processes employed in manufacturing. We will not go into that here, however. Suffice it to say that any home environment is beautifully enhanced with wool carpeting.
Some of the advantages of wool carpeting are:
Beauty. Wool is an opaque fiber whereas synthetics are transparent. It therefore has great soil hiding properties. It absorbs a wide variety of dyes and reacts well to many dyeing techniques. Thus an almost limitless variety of colors and patterns may be used in the manufacturing of wool carpet.
Strength. Wool is a very strong, durable and resilient fiber and will look beautiful even after undergoing the stress of heavy traffic. That is one reason why it is so popular in the finer banks and hotels. It will last on the average for 25-30 years, versus most synthetics which often have to be replaced after 10 years.
It is an excellent insulator.
It is naturally stain resistant.
Has great soil release properties. Moisture makes the fibers swell and release dirt easily.
Naturally flame resistant. Wool fibers will not ignite spontaneously if exposed to flames and they self extinguish quickly.
Some disadvantages, besides the cost, are:
It stains easily. Wool will absorb stains from spills just as easily as it absorbs the beautiful colors from dyes used in manufacturing.
It is very sensitive to certain chemicals. It should not be exposed to chemicals with a pH below 5 or above 9.
It can be damaged by excessive agitation. Fuzzing occurs when it is vacuumed by certain types of vacuum cleaners. Wool carpeting is also very prone to fiber distortion due to excessive agitation.
Because of the above properties, the following care and maintenance procedures are recommended for wool.
- Vacuum often. At least three times per week.
- Blot up spots and spills immediately.
- Maintain cleaning temperatures below 120 degrees F
- Never use chemical brighteners, bleaches, household detergents, or other alkaline products on wool.
- Avoid "oxy" cleaners.
- Do not over wet during cleaning. Use as little water as practicable.
- Dry the carpet as quickly and as thoroughly as possible, immediately after cleaning.
The person mentioned above who experienced the discoloration problem, was calling on behalf of his mother who, he said, had not had the carpet cleaned in over 6 years. She then decided to use a rented carpet cleaning machine and do the job herself.
This might work if you are familiar with the properties of wool carpeting, and know which chemicals to use, and what to avoid when cleaning this type of carpet, but if not, your safest, most economical and best option, is to call in a professional carpet cleaner.