Anti – Soiling and Stain Protection for Carpets

How does soil and stain protection work?

Fluorochemical is the chemistry responsible for the beading of water which is often seen in advertising when a spill is demonstrated on a treated carpet, the spill sits on the surface of the carpet and doesn’t immediately absorb into it allowing more time for the spill to be removed and cleaned up. This is a very important feature with soil and stain resistance as it can prevent permanent staining with both food colouring and organic dyes such as coffee and red wine spills. Some spills such as soft drink dyes can stain the carpet permanently within just seconds of the spill. Fluorochemical gives precious time to remove the spill.

Acid Dye Blockers are another addition to modern carpet stain protectors. Acid dye blockers mimic chemical dyes which are designed to attach to the carpets fibres using an ionic bond. These bonds are permanent. An acid dye blocker functions just like dyes and fixes to the same areas that a spill of coffee or a can of soft drink may stain the carpet. The Acid dye blocker takes up the space leaving no room for the spill to stain the carpet. Acid dye blockers generally do not prevent soiling of carpets and will not help keep them clean; they however have superior resistance against permanent staining of carpets.

Polymers in stain and soil resistance treatments are the new kid on the block. Polymers add a resin type shield around the external surface of the carpets fibres. These polymers can block both soil and stains from absorbing into the fibres and prevent premature wear by shielding carpet fibres from abrasion from dry particulate soils such as sand and dirt.

Which protection is best for my carpets?

The bad news is neither of the above mentioned treatments provides an overall good protection against staining, soiling and wear. When soil and stain protection was in the early stages these formulations could not be used together, so one had to pick the best one of all three which was usually Fluorochemical.

The good news is the industry have made significant changes to how these products are made and often both Fluorochemical and Acid dye blockers come hand in hand with the same product, giving our customers the best of both worlds. Most common carpet protection formulations today are a combination of Fluorochemical base and a varying amount of Acid dye blockers.
Some more specialised manufacturers have produced products with all three Fluorochemical, Acid dye blocker & Polymer included in their carpet stain and soil protection. Most professionals would agree this is the best option as it will provide the best overall protection with its all-inclusive comprehensive product.

Are carpet protection products safe for the environment?

Fabric and carpet protection products have been utilised for decades now and have been commonly applied to carpets at the factory before being sold to customers. In many developed countries stain and soil resistance treatments are routinely applied to both residential and commercial clients carpets after annual cleaning.

Over the years, these formulations have changed quite a bit to provide both better performance and to improve their safety profile for people and the environment.

The suspension (carrier) agents commonly used in the past have been replaced with better components to make them safer, non VOC and non-allergenic.

The manner in which Fluorochemicals are manufactured have changed with the industry adopting methods which are safer and eliminating methods which were shown to persist too long in the environment. Today’s Fluorochemicals are biodegradable.
Many manufacturers have switched from using petro chemicals in their suspension agents and replaced them with aqueous [water based] formulations.

The green approach to fabric protection

Some people have an aversion to Soil and Stain Resistance treatments due to older methods of producing Fluorochemicals. These products are no longer in circulation however there are some products available which do not contain Fluorochemicals rather use only Polymers which act as a resin shield to protect the fibre. These products are considered more users friendly and of course much better than leaving carpets, particularly wool naked with no protection.

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