Choosing Chemistry for Rug Cleaning

Laboratory research in science and medical setting.

Wool approved chemistry and products have been designed for on-location cleaning of machine made wool installed carpet, and not for in-plant cleaning of wool woven rugs.

The residue left behind from on-location cleaning methods can lead to problems for wool in particular, so these products are designed to reduce those associated risks.

Especially with colorful wool rugs, leaving residue that is on the alkaline side and using high temperatures in the cleaning process can contribute to yellowing, loss of color and future dye migration of acid dyes left in a buffered alkaline state.

Acid rinses can help to bring the pH of wool fibers back to a “safe” range, but by its very nature with wool rugs it is always best to wash these rugs in a cleaning facility rather than cleaning on-site.

Most rug washing facilities predate the creation of “wool safe” solutions and their teams are skilled in the art of caring for wool rugs. With thorough washing, they are not utilizing the techniques that create the concerns we see with installed wool carpet.

When does a “wool approved” product really matter? When you are cleaning wool with a portable or truckmount.

Acidic solutions

One tool to always have in your rug cleaning chemistry tool box is an acidic rinse.

While most fiber rinses have surfactants, you might choose to use a rinse with no added surfactants, because that limits residues left behind. Acetic acid and citric acid are a choice of many rug cleaners.

With acid dyed wool rugs, an acidic application can be used to stabilize the dyes during the cleaning process.

Acid can be used to pre-treat pet urine stains on wool to help remove odor-causing urine salts embedded in the foundation fibers.

An acidic rinse on wool can help remove cleaning solution residue, and on cotton fringes it can help alleviate or reverse cellulose browning.

The right acid can be a multi-use tool that can help make you a better rug cleaner.


Lisa Wagner is a second-generation rug care expert, NIRC Certified Rug Specialist and an owner of K. Blatchford”s San Diego Rug Cleaning Company. She was recognized as the 2006 Cleanfax magazine Person of the Year for her industry contributions. For a copy of her latest free report “Rug Disasters — and How To Avoid Them” visit her rug education website at www.RugChick.com.

Lisa Wagner

Lisa Wagner is a second-generation rug care expert, NIRC Certified Rug Specialist, and an owner of K. Blatchford’s San Diego Rug Cleaning Company. She was recognized as the 2006 Cleanfax magazine Person of the Year for her industry contributions. For online rug course and training event details, visit www.RugClass.com.

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