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3 Out Of 4 Causing A Spot Of Bother…

Most of us realise that when it comes to garnering information or seeking advice on the internet there are some dubious sources out there and we shouldn’t believe everything we see and read. So how do we decide who to trust? For the news we might look for a recognised broadcaster like the BBC or national broadsheets and tabloid newspapers. For consumers looking for help in making purchasing decisions Which? is one of the most popular sources of advice.

This is what makes the discovery that their recent product testing procedures were seriously flawed so disappointing.

Which? recently tested several carpet spot removal products and graded them on price, ease of use and how well they removed spills. Which? also looked at home remedies and, in their wisdom, recommended using washing up liquid to remove spills from carpet. It was this very poor advice that caught our eye and WoolSafe began to dig a bit deeper.

The reason why Which? can recommend washing up liquid is because they don’t test the rate of soiling after application. What is the point of cleaning up a spill only for all the dirt to stick to the washing up liquid residue left behind? You just end up with a dirty great big stain.

WoolSafe also found, under controlled testing, that some of the spotters recommended by Which? caused rapid soiling, bleaching, colour run and one was even highly combustible!

We decided to broaden the testing to even more products on the High Street and this is our alarming discovery:

  • 75% – that’s 3 out of 4! – of the random selection of spot removers FAILED the WoolSafe standard tests (and are therefore not suitable for use on all carpet fibres, including wool)
  • Over half of the products will cause rapid soiling, leaving your carpet in a worse state than if you had done nothing!
  • Half the products are not even effective spot removers!
  • 25% will adversely affect the colour fastness of the carpet!

Of the 3 highest rated ‘Best Buys’ the top product failed WoolSafe testing on both colour fastness and rapid soiling….

So if you can’t trust 3 out of 4 spotters not to damage your carpet and you can’t trust Which? Best Buy advice, then how can you be sure you are choosing a safe and effective product?

The answer is really simple: look for the respected WoolSafe Certification Mark on the bottle or packaging. WoolSafe have been identifying the very best cleaning and maintenance products for over 25 years.

For FREE and professional advice watch the WoolSafe spot removal videos and download the award-winning Carpet Stain Cleaning Guide App at


Is ‘bleach cleaning’ your carpet a good idea?

If you walk into any carpet retailer up and down the land you will find posters, stickers and labels proclaiming that certain ‘stain proof’ carpets are ‘bleach cleanable’. There are even images on sample books and in magazine advertising showing pictures of children on carpets together with an image of a bottle of bleach.

So, is cleaning your carpet with bleach a good idea? Well, consider the following facts and make your own mind up.

Bleach can damage the carpet backing and sub-floor

When carrying out spot removal not all the cleaning solution will remain on the carpet’s surface, some will soak down to the backing; this is especially true of polypropylene carpet. So, even if the carpet’s face fibre is tolerant to strong chemicals, as the bleach migrates down the pile it can damage the carpet backing and underlay. If tracked around it may also damage the fibre and strip colour from other, non-polypropylene carpet in your home.

Bleach is hazardous, especially to children and pets

Bleach remains active unless it is ‘neutralised’. Do you know how to neutralise bleach? The vast majority don’t. If your pet comes into the home with wet feet and walks over, or sits, on the area that has been treated with bleach they could potentially suffer chemical burns. Babies crawl over, and children play on the carpet, why would you put them at risk?

Bleach is bad for your respiratory system

All the while you are leaning over a spill and cleaning it with a bleach solution you are breathing it in. Bleach is bad for your lungs and causes other side effects including skin burns, damage to the nervous system, asthma flares, headaches, migraines and vomiting….remember it was used in world war one as a weapon. If you can smell it then it is doing you harm!

Bleach is bad for the environment

Bleach pollutes the air and water supply, accumulating over time. It is consumed first by micro-organisms which serve as food for larger species, and then as you continue up the food chain each species accumulates an ever increasing level of toxins.

Bleach is not even a good cleaner!

Although a fairly good disinfectant, bleach has no detergency and is therefore no more effective at cleaning than water.

…. it smells pretty bad too!

If you want to remove a spill from any carpet, regardless of the fibre type, you should use a dedicated carpet spot remover. WoolSafe don’t sell them, but we do have a very long list on our website of all the best ones on the market.

You can also get correct advice from our care leaflets and on the award-winning WoolSafe Carpet Stain Removal Guide App. Free to download on any mobile device.


The Perils of Penny Pinching

At the WoolSafe Organisation we offer free carpet care and spot removal advice to carpet manufacturers, retailers and owners. We seem to be receiving increased numbers of calls from consumers who have employed the services of ‘cut price cleaners’ and have been left, at best, with cleaning results they were disappointed with and at worst, with destroyed carpets.

Invariably the consumer has been enticed by low cleaning rates. We’ve all seen the flyers; £10.00 per room £50.00 the whole house! It turns out that the ‘cheap cleaners’ are actually false economy, the old adage ‘buy cheap, pay twice’ comes to mind or as my old school teacher used to say “if you pay peanuts you get monkeys”.

To be able to quote so low certain cleaning processes are invariably cut short or not carried out at all. A very important first step in carpet cleaning is vacuuming. Over 80% of the soil in carpet is dry particulate that has worked its way to the bottom of the pile. It is this coarse sand and grit that abrades the fibres and if not removed can cause premature wear and pile flattening. In synthetic fibre carpets it is this kind of soiling that ‘scratches’ the fibre causing it to lose its lustre and develop permanent grey/brown traffic lanes.

After dry soil removal, many different methods of cleaning can be employed; however the majority have two distinct steps. The first step is to apply a cleaning product to the carpet, agitate and leave to dwell for a few minutes. Step two is to rinse, in the case of hot water extraction or vacuum away, in the case of low moisture encapsulation and ‘dry compound’ cleaning. With cut price cleaning, step one is often cut short (dwell time and agitation is insufficient) or omitted and the cleaner tries to combine it with step two.

Another way to cut costs is to use cheaper, less effective cleaning products or to dilute the product to a higher ratio. This has an obvious effect on the end results.

Cut price cleaning companies rarely have the resources to invest in professional training for their technicians, leading to potential problems being overlooked, and technicians working without the knowledge of cleaning chemistry necessary for safe and effective cleaning of all the different fibres in the market today.

The last stage in the cleaning of domestic or commercial carpet is drying. Drying times can vary depending on the cleaning process. Dry compound cleaning leaves carpet dry in as little as half an hour, other low moisture methods can be dry in a couple of hours. With hot water extraction air movers are used to speed up drying times so carpets are dry between six to twelve hours maximum. Cut price cleaners rarely invest in this equipment. A common complaint we hear from distraught carpet owners is how their carpet is still wet 24 or 48 hours later! This is very dangerous as mould can start to develop after as little as 12 hours. If the still damp carpets are walked on or have the furniture replaced on them, excessive soiling and permanent staining can be the result.

So how do you find a good cleaner?

Check that they are properly trained by a recognised organisation, association, franchise or quality product manufacturer. Make sure they are members of a reputable industry body such as the National Carpet Cleaners Association (NCCA) or The WoolSafe Organisation, then you can also rest assured that they have full insurance and follow a code of practice. If you have natural fibre carpet then using a WoolSafe Approved Service Provider is the best option. It not only ensures that your comfortable floor covering is being looked after by a natural fibre care specialists but also that only products that have been tested and certified as safe and effective for your carpet are being used on them.

red wine spill on carpet

The cleanability of carpet fibres – Is wool or synthetic carpet easier to clean?

The debate about which carpet fibre is best has raged for decades and doesn’t show signs of letting up any time soon.

Having once been a carpet cleaner, for almost a decade, I have cleaned just about every carpet fibre on the market. Putting aside for now the cellulosic fibres like sisal, coir and linen which need very specialist cleaning methods and techniques you are left with wool and the synthetic fibres. The two most common synthetic fibres used in carpet manufacture today are polypropylene and Nylon with polypropylene now most favoured in the UK for use in domestic installations.

A lot has been said about the ‘cleanability’ of polypropylene, how it is easy-clean and supposedly stain proof. So how does wool compare?

To answer that we need to understand the difference between maintenance and spot removal and look at the different carpet fibre’s appearance retention over its lifecycle.

The most important issue for carpet owners, in my opinion, is how the carpet in which they have invested, and that they want to happily live with for many years, will respond to what modern living will throw at it.

In other words, will it keep looking good, or will its appearance gradually and inevitably deteriorate?

This appearance is made up of a number of things, like loss of texture, loss of thickness, gradual loss of colour and, yes, appearance of spots that won’t come out anymore.

All carpets have their strong points and weaknesses.

Polypropylene carpets, for instance, are promoted and recommended because of their stain resistance. They are indeed almost impossible to stain with water-based staining materials (basically, because pp does not absorb water). However, they DO NOT resist oily or greasy stains very well.

Polypropylene carpets lack the resilience of wool and because the fibres don’t have the memory to bounce back the carpet tends to flatten relatively quickly. Although synthetic fibre carpets have a shiny lustre when new this soon dulls. The reason for this rapid decline in appearance is due to the sandy and gritty components of soil, that is brought into the home on the soles of your shoes, abrading and scratching the fibre. If you imagine dragging sand paper over a plastic surface you’ll get an idea of what I mean.

Wool carpets, on the other hand, are well-known for their long-lasting good appearance, based on their excellent “bouncebackability”, great response to cleaning – both dry and wet – and resistance to soiling and therefore retention of colour. Staining, admittedly, can be an issue, but only if stains are left to soak in and penetrate the fibres. If spills are attended to promptly – and expertly – there is seldom a problem. Wool carpets just have that great reputation for longevity that other fibres seem to lack.

Synthetic fibres, while initially responding well to cleaning, over time seem to clean less and less easily. The reason is that as the fibres get damaged the little cracks and fissures that develop in the individual fibres trap dirt and spillages which then become almost impossible to get out again. The carpets “ugly out”…

When correct cleaning techniques and chemistry are applied wool carpets are easily maintained and retain the highest level of appearance. This is why, despite the slightly higher price tag, they are still the carpet of choice for installations where appearance is paramount.

There is a general lack of knowledge and understanding about how carpets – of all fibre types – are best maintained: by what technique, using which cleaning agents, by whom… That’s where WoolSafe comes in.

For step-by-step advice on how to simply remove common household spills from any fibre carpet download the award-winning WoolSafe Carpet Stain Cleaning Guide App. Free on all mobile device platforms.

WoolSafe Approved Service Providers are Fibre Care Specialists who know how best to clean all carpet types safely and to the highest standards. You can find them and Approved cleaning products on the WoolSafe website.


Naturally Spotless Wool

Wool carpet manufacturers are facing a tough challenge in competing against the new wave of ‘bleach cleanable’ polypropylene fibre carpet. With a combination of slick marketing and stretching the truth polypropylene is winning an increasing share of the market.

After years of ignoring carpet after care because it isn’t as glamorous and easy to sell as design, colour and texture, manufacturers have finally woken up to the fact that consumers do care about cleaning and maintenance, and are making their purchasing decisions based upon it.

There is a false perception amongst consumers that wool fibre carpets are problematic to maintain and that spot cleaning is difficult. There is a belief; especially amongst the older generation that once you have your wool carpet cleaned you will be caught in a cycle of cleaning/rapid soiling/re-cleaning.

Although this may have been true in the past it isn’t true any longer, well not if you use WoolSafe Approved Products. You see, all Approved products have undergone soiling tests and have been found not to cause soiling any quicker than plain water.

When it comes to removing spillages from wool carpet, the sooner the spot can be treated the better the chances of successful removal. In the last couple of weeks I have successfully removed half a pint of Guinness (which my 2 year old spilt) and a glass of red wine from a cream loop pile wool carpet with no specialist cleaning equipment, just kitchen roll and a WoolSafe Approved consumer spotter. The reason I was able to get the spillages completely out is because I know what to do, immediately. Unfortunately many carpet owners, retailers and manufacturers don’t.

It was to address this issue that we developed the WoolSafe Carpet Stain Cleaning Guide App. Always at hand and free for everyone to download on Apple and Android mobile devices. It is hoped that this excellent tool will assist carpet owners in tackling spills quickly and save them hundreds of pounds in replacement costs while improving their perception of the easy clean properties of wool.

The App gives step by step, easy to follow advice on how to remove most common household spills. At the end of each piece of advice, if consumers are unsuccessful in removing the stain, they are directed to the search for an approved cleaner facility.

Along with approved cleaning products WoolSafe Service Providers are also on the App with those nearest to the App user’s location displayed on a map with one touch to call, email or visit member’s websites. It is hoped that the App will work as a vehicle to channel consumers with carpet care issues directly to WoolSafe member products and services at the time they need them most!

Many carpet manufacturers recommend WoolSafe member products and services to their customers and links to the App have been established so let’s hope this drives more carpet owners towards our approved professional carpet cleaners.

No fibre is stain proof and that includes man-made fibres, although polypropylene is hydrophobic it doesn’t release oil based stains well at all. It is much easier to remove oily spots from wool fibre than synthetics.

Incidentally, who in their right mind would pour bleach on their carpet?! Not only is it a health hazard for children and pets crawling around (and anyone else for that matter) but also potentially damaging to the carpet backing and sub-floor, incredibly bad for the environment and stinks!

Have you come across customers bleach cleaning? Were there any adverse effects?


Does a Rolls Royce need servicing?

It is generally accepted that servicing every year is good for your car. It will keep it running trouble-free for longer. Parts are kept lubricated, so don’t wear out prematurely and the performance remains high, adding to the overall enjoyment of owning the car.

Rolls Royce make some of the best cars in the world, yet they still need servicing. The fact that they need servicing doesn’t make them any less attractive.

So why is it that some wool carpet manufacturers and retailers, past and present, promote the notion that wool carpet doesn’t need regular cleaning and that vacuuming alone is sufficient?

If Rolls Royce, in a bid to sell more cars, announces that their cars don’t need servicing, would they sell more? In the short term, possibly, but in year two and three when performance drops and they start breaking down at the side of the road, what happens to their reputation? Consumers are turned off by poor reliability and sales fall.

This is what I believe has happened to wool carpet sales over the last few years and contributed to the sharp rise in popularity of ‘stain free and easy clean’ synthetic carpets.

Wool carpet is very good at hiding soil (which contributes to the myth that they don’t need cleaning) and trapping allergens and pollutants. It acts like a giant filter regulating indoor air quality and humidity. However, for it to be effective this ‘filter’ needs to be cleaned regularly. Correct and frequent maintenance will extend the useful life of the carpet by removing grit and dirt that abrade the fibres and cause loss of pile density and flattening.

Then there is the very important issue of appearance. All carpet fibres, including wool, lose their lustre, colour and definition when oily and sticky soil attaches itself to the pile. This type of soil, coming into our homes on our shoes and through air pollution, cannot be removed by vacuuming, it requires cleaning.

The WoolSafe Organisation recently carried out extensive research into the effects of maintenance on carpet appearance. The tests found that although regular vacuuming helped to slow down soiling, the carpet’s appearance continued to deteriorate. However, as you can see from the purple (‘regularly cleaned’) line in the diagram below, regular annual cleaning maintains the carpet’s appearance at an almost constant level. This means that a wool carpet properly maintained can look great almost indefinitely.