Protectors for Oleophilic Fibers


by Tom Forsythe

Over the years, manufacturers and distributors of protectors for oleophilic fibers and fabrics have hosted many seminars focusing on both performance and profitability of applying protector to every surface cleaned.

The focus is on selling it, not in applying the best protector for the surface being protected.

Everyone wants to keep it simple, so the focus is on profits and not on maximizing performance, which would result in the surfaces looking better and lasting longer. This is the real benefit for the customer. The cleaner needs to focus on serving his customer, not himself.

Our industry has been blessed with “salt of the earth” cleaners. These cleaners will not sell anything unless they clearly see the benefit for their customers. This does complicate the process, though, since not all protectors are the same, and a cleaner should know how to select the protector best suited for the surface being protected.

In a previous Cleanfax article, I focused on nylon and wool carpet and how to protect them. My conclusion is that the best protector for these fibers needs to have an acid dye resister. The acid dye resister fills up open dye sites in these fibers, making it more difficult for them to stain due to spills from artificial dyes, such as Kool-Aid and similar beverages.

Water and oil repellency

Water repellency is useful for easier removal of spills, but olefin, polyester, and triexta carpet fibers are considered inherently stain resistant because they do not absorb liquids. Upholstery fabrics are blends of many materials, with some of them subject to staining.

Based on my experience in the industry, extreme soiling bonded to oils is the most difficult issue to effectively solve in these types of fibers. If soils bonded to oils are the primary concern, then we need to use a protector which best limits the bonding of oil to the fibers.

For protecting olefin, polyester, and triexta carpet, along with upholstery fabrics, one easily can argue that oil resistance demonstrated by repellency would be the primary feature desired in this type of protector.

Surface repellency has long been oversold for use on nylon and wool carpet. Stain resistance is the most important feature needed in a protector for these fibers. However, we need to recognize that oil repellency is the most important feature of a protector for oleophilic carpet fibers and upholstery. Also, since we have customers who value protection only if it demonstrates repellency, we need to honor their opinion by applying a surface repellent protector to nylon and wool fibers as well when they request it.

A common problem in our industry is that cleaners have a difficult time identifying the fiber or fabrics they are cleaning. Without proper identification, it is difficult to sell the protector that is best suited for what they are protecting. Selling without conviction is difficult for our conscientious technicians. They want to be convinced about what they are selling, and education provides the information necessary to build conviction.

Real value and benefits

It is not about the money. It is about providing a service with real value to the customer. Cleaners need real-world experiences, which is why I recommend that owners make sure their technicians’ own carpet and upholstery are cleaned and well protected on a regular basis to provide them with their own war stories.

In short, you will realize there is a need to carry two protectors in your truck, one for fibers requiring stain resistance and another for fibers requiring oil repellency. When you match conviction, technical awareness, and personal experiences together, you will see your protector sales increase.

Add a bonus plan to motivate the expression of their conviction, along with a powerful demonstration, and you will see customers buying protector and not being sold protector.


Tom Forsythe has worked as chemist for Bridgepoint Systems for 15 years and has developed more than 150 products. He has formulated 10 protector products in both the original C8 version and the current C6 versions.

Cleanfax Staff

Cleanfax provides cleaning and restoration professionals with information designed to help them manage and grow their businesses.

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