Taking care of your carpet
A new wool or wool-based carpet will last longer and look better if a routine of regular vacuuming, periodic cleaning and immediate removal of spots and spills is followed. With many alternative carpet materials offering easy-clean properties, it’s important to know how best natural products can be maintained.
Wool is dirt-resistant because the fibre is opaque and dirt doesn’t show as much as with some clearer, brighter man-made fibres. It also has a matt, uneven surface to which dirt does not stick easily. Its surface – it has scales like those on a fish, coated with a thin water-repellent layer – also makes it easier to remove dry dirt by vacuum cleaning and greasy dirt with detergents.
Its ability to release dirt when cleaned means that wool carpets and rugs will retain their colour, and consequently their pattern and design, despite heavy use and frequent cleaning. This also means they can be used in lighter and brighter colours.
If something spills on to your carpet
- DO deal with spillages as soon as possible: scoop, scrape or blot up using white tissue.
- DON’T rub the pile (it causes pile burst, fuzzing and lightening of the colour.)
- DON’T pour white wine on a red wine spill! Use a little water instead, but blot it up as soon as possible.
- DON’T pour salt on a liquid spillage: all it does is make a strong salt solution and this can change the colour of some dyes permanently.
- DON’T use detergents such as dish washing liquids, soaps or other cleaners recommended for general household use. Although they may clean your carpet satisfactorily they will almost certainly cause problems such as rapid re-soiling, colour bleeding or other damage to the pile or backing of the carpet.
Always work from the edge of the spot inwards.
- DO apply small quantities of spot remover (approved for wool) at a time and work it into the spot with a small brush, cloth or sponge.
- DO thoroughly rinse the spot afterwards if water-based spotters have been used.
- DO dry the spot with a hairdryer if possible and brush cut pile (velour) carpets in the direction of the natural pile lay.
The following three methods are recommended for dealing with stains. If the first attempt is not a complete success, there is a follow up method, but always blot excess liquid and allow to dry between steps:
Blot with clean, white absorbent material. When the excess liquid is removed, use a solution made from one teaspoon of detergent for washing woolens to half a pint of warm water. Sponge gently and then rinse in clean, warm water. Blot thoroughly and gently brush the pile to its natural direction.
Sponge the stain with a household dry-cleaning fluid following the maker’s instructions. Do NOT soak. Open windows and the air the room thoroughly.
Sponge gently with a solution of one part white vinegar to three parts of clean warm water. Leave for 15 minutes, and then sponge with clean warm water. Blot thoroughly and gently brush the pile to its natural direction.
Animal and Baby Accidents – Method A
Ball Point Pen – Sponge with methylated spirits, followed by Method A
Beers, Wines and Spirits – Method A
Bleach – Method A
Blood – Method B, followed by Method A
Butter – Method B, followed by Method A
Chewing Gum – Apply a freezing agent and break away gum when hard, followed by Method B
Chocolate – Scrape off excess, followed by Method A
Cola (Soft drinks) – Method C, followed by Method A
Cooking Oil – Method B
Cosmetics and Lipstick – Method B, if unsuccessful try Method A
Cream – Method B, followed by Method A
Egg – Method A
Floor Wax – Method B
Fruit Juice – Method C, followed by Method A
Furniture and Shoe Polish – Method B, followed by Method A
Gravy and Sauces – Method C, followed by Method A
Grease and Oil – Method B, followed by Method A
Ink (fountain pen) – Method C, followed by method A
Mineral & Tonic Water – Method A
Milk – Method C, followed by Method A
Mustard – Method A
Metal Polish – Method B, followed by Method A
Nail Polish – Dab with nail polish remover, followed by Method B
Paint (Emulsion) – Blot excess, apply Method C, followed by Method A
Paint (Oil Based) – Dab with white spirit or turpentine, followed by Method B
Rust – Method B, followed by Method A
Salad Dressing – Method A, followed by Method B
Soot – Vacuum thoroughly, followed by method A
Tar – Method B. If necessary follow by dabbing with eucalyptus oil
Tea and Coffee – Method C, followed by Method A
Tomato Juice – Method A
Urine – Method A
Vomit – Method A
Wax – Scrape off excess, iron at a low temperature over brown paper, finally apply Method B
Nationwide networks of accredited cleaning companies operate in the UK and Ireland and these companies are committed to using approved products when cleaning wool carpets and rugs. If unsure, ask the experts at The Woolsafe Organisation for the free Directory. Visit www.woolsafe.org for more details.
General maintenance and appearance retention
The most important aspect of carpet care is vacuuming. This should start from the moment the carpet is fitted. Daily vacuuming with a well serviced upright cleaner, incorporating a beater bar/brush head is the ideal. It removes dirt and grit to prevent it from collecting and acting as an abrasive, causing premature wear.
Concentrate on the areas that are subject to most wear, such as in front of chairs, in corridors and on stairs. If you have a loop pile carpet it should only be cleaned with a suction head. Beater bars may catch the fibres and give the carpet a hairy appearance.
There are a number of precautions to reduce wear and tear:
- Changing the position of furniture to equalise the wear.
- Shifting stair carpets can compensate for heavy wear, particularly on the nosings.
- Provide an extra length of carpet at the top and bottom for shifting.
- Using a rug or mat near to external doors to catch dirt and grit.
- Outdoor shoes and trainers can tear at the pile, particularly in turning areas and on stairs.
To give carpets their smooth level surface, manufacturers put them through a shearing process. It’s possible that some of the carpet tufts may be missed and these can work their way to the surface. Pets may also snag or pull the tufts. NEVER pull a tuft, simply cut it off level with a sharp pair of scissors.
All newly fitted carpets will tend to shed, or fluff, which is perfectly normal and will diminish naturally in a few weeks. The only efficient way to remove this is by vacuuming.
When carpets are stored in warehouse racks, they are subject to considerable and sustained pressure. As a result, crush lines may be visible when the carpet is first unrolled and may be more noticeable in lighter, open ground shades. This is normal and the lines will disappear within a few weeks.
Shading and Pile Pressure
Through use and in time, all carpets will flatten to a certain degree and as a result, cut pile carpets will tend to shade or show what’s called pile pressure. A light, open ground or plain carpet is more likely to show greater shading than a darker, heavily patterned carpet.
Daily vacuuming may help to restore a more uniform colour. It is important to vacuum against the natural lay of the pile. This will lift the tufts upright again. The use of castor cups under heavy furniture will spread the weight over a larger area and minimise dents in the carpets surface.