Thursday, October 28, 2010

About time I posted something new.......

Will cleaning rugs with soap and water harm wool?

We are often asked if washing wool rugs with water and detergent is harmful to rugs.

If the wool hasn’t been previously damaged, the proper cleaning solutions in the hands of a professional cleaner won’t harm it. The detergents used are mild and only allowed to stay on the rug for a short time.

Wool for carpets and rugs is taken from sheep that live outdoors all year ‘round and are subjected to all kinds or weather – snow, rain, dew, heat, etc. It will get wet many times before the sheep are finally sheared. The wool is naturally greasy with lanolin to protect the sheep’s skin from the ravages of climate and environment.

When the wool is received for processing into fiber, it contains many impurities like dirt, sand, burrs and grease, all of which must be removed before the fibers can be spun into yarn. Most of these are removed in a scouring bath consisting of warm water, either soap or mild detergent and a mild solution of soda ash or other alkaline compounds. These baths remove the lanolin, which is then used in lubricants, cosmetic and pharmaceutical compounds, as well as the solid materials and allows the fibers to become completely wet.

During the dyeing process, the wool is placed in vats where it is exposed to water at high temperature for several hours. Detergents or other wetting agents help to completely wet out the fibers allowing the dyes to thoroughly penetrate the fibers.

Human hair, which can be compared to the wool in carpeting, is washed pretty frequently with soaps and detergents with little harm. The oils are removed, the hair is wet and although the soils are removed, the process doesn’t damage our hair.

Dry cleaners frequently use steam as a tool to remove spots from wool clothing. It’s only used for a short application and doesn’t harm the fibers.

It’s easy to see that after all the wetting that takes place before the wool is shorn and during the yarn processing at high temperatures, the use of a mild detergent and water wash by a professional rug cleaner will not harm your wool rug.

Kudos to Ned Hopper and NIRC Consumer Bulletin #3 April, 1963
Proof that some things never change. TMS

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Work VS Blog

Wow, I didn't realize that it had been so long since I posted to this thing. In the "real" world, the "work thing" is so much more highly rated than the "social networking thing".

It has been a busy, crazy year and my government stimulus check is obviously in the same place as my Ed Mc Mahon Publishers Clearing House check which means fewer employees and more hours at the shop. My Grandkid thinks I live here. Being President of Carpet Cleaners of the Northwest and on the board for the National Institute of Rug Cleaners has also been a big chunk of time with all the political ins and outs. It will be a relief to be able to get back to basics.

Over the last year of more work, I've come to the realization that people who have time to post limitless blogs about how great their business is or who leave multiple posts on industry chat pages with their limitless knowledge or who till their fields on Farmville obviously aren't working - which makes one question the validity of their claims of being great cleaners. If I had time - I'd question my own sometimes

As I boldly head into 2010, you will see fewer and fewer postings (if that is possible) but hopefully some with creditable content. I will be teaching more this year and look forward to being in Troy Michigan in February for Rug Summit II

in Atlanta Georgia at the Restoration Industry Association Convention in March

and in Seattle in August for a basic two day rug repair class in conjunction with the Restoration Industry Associations Three Day Rug ID Class taught by Ellen Amirkhan and Aaron Groseclose.

Happy New Year to all, best wishes to you and yours.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In Palm Springs for the Restoration Industry Association convention.

If anyone ever follows my Facebook pages, you would know that I am currently in balmy Palm Springs California for the Restoration Industry Association convention. This is amazing on a number of levels: 1. It was totally FREEZING in Seattle when I departed on Monday in the midst of an early spring snowstorm that I was afraid would close the airport. 2. It's about the only place to hang with my peers in rug cleaning and restoration in the United States and
3. Today I had the great pleasure of lunching and visiting with Dr. Khosrow Sobhe in Los Angeles
(well, closer to Beverly Hills if you must know) and meeting his lovely wife and son.

Check out Ashkan's web design pages.

For those of you who may not know Dr. Sobhe, he is the President of Sobco International Trading with offices in Tehran and Los Angeles, He has multiple college degrees, is on the board of the Southern California branch of the Textile MUseum and more! On top of it all, he is just a genuinely nice person. With rugs.

Last year I had the singular pleasure of visiting Iran for the Kish International Handknotted Rug Exhibition, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Sobhe and others. It was a truely moving event for me
and I appreciate everyone's efforts on my behalf. Thank you too, Barry O'Connell for introducing us! Another genuinely nice person.


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Multi Generational Rugs in Seattle

We had a lot of fun here today. An old time client and her husband are moving into a smaller home so it's time to bring the rugs in for cleaning before they go to her daughters house. We've seen these rugs regularly over the years and watched the kids grow up.

She was telling her daughter how they had first purchased the rugs with their first joint income tax refund after they were married for their first home. The daughter was remembering how the rugs were just older than she was and how they had always been the focal point of her parents home and how excited she was that they would continue to be so in hers.

We are cutting new pads as well so they can keep looking their best.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Afghan Next Top Model - seriously

Not my typical blog post, but what the hey! That means it's my own true forum.

I was both heartened and dismayed to hear on NPR this morning that there is going to be an Afghan Next Top Model contest. My deep and sincere hope is that they can truly show the beauty and creativity of modest dressing to inspire young people living within Muslim culture, whatever country they may reside in. I would dislike seeing an attempt to recreate the shallow, unamusing American TV show where the girls (and guys) run around in next to nothing, behaving badly. Read the entire article from Radio Free Europe here.

A web site I love is Hijab Style.

When I've travelled I'm always astounded by how stylish the women are - like Jackie O (and in some areas the Middle Ages) BUT, what I always bring home with me, is how nice it is to be out in public without guys gaping and hooting. I've seen everything from the very stylish European/ Syrian/ Iranian look to pink fuzzy bunny slippers and flannel PJ's peeking out of the bottom of a seriously black draped jilbab and hijab dressed woman in a grocery store to the wild nomadic tribal outfits. Nobody blinks. As long as all of the bases are covered there's this amazing array of fashion that we in the US are not exposed to.

I spent a really delightful couple of hours in the Dubai Historical Museum (it was the only cool place around) watching a gaggle of teenaged girls "push the limits" much like their American counterparts at the mall. While their outfits were certainly modest by US standards, (and technically hijab) I could hear in the back of my mind the parental grumping about tight tops, skirts and jeans. The various headwraps alone and the nuances of those little drapes of fringe could fill volumes!

In Kish Iran last year at a rug show, I was interviewed by a delightful young woman about my opinions on Iranian rugs. Off camera, the questions were all about how I perceived and experienced hijab. My personal experiences have always been great. The first few days always feel awkward, then later when I have to go without headware, I feel really naked and exposed.

All of the women I spoke with there told me that they felt liberated by wearing hijab and judged on their intellegence and ability to do a job rather than their appearance. Funny on how we see a woman wearing hijab in the US and judge her on her appearance rather than her ability......
I'm certainly no expert, but it's refreshing to go out in public and not see anyone's body parts hanging out - female or male.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Am I the Advice Queen of Rugs or What!!

Hi Thea,
This looked more like a Thea question than a Barry question. Got any ideas?

--- On Mon, 2/9/09, Kent Schneider wrote:

From: Kent Schneider
Subject: Rug Pilling
Date: Monday, February 9, 2009, 10:46 AM


My name is Kent Schneider and I own a small furniture and rug shop in Atlanta called Verde Home. I do a monthly newsletter in which I like to research and write an article about topics which my clients ask me about. One topic which has been coming up a great deal lately seems to be rug pilling. I have been in the handmade rug business for about 10 years and am aware that pretty much all rugs will pill. I have also noticed that cheaper rugs (generally tufted or machine made) will tend to pill more heavily and for longer periods of time. I am doing some research on this and would like to write a brief essay on the topic for my next newsletter but am having trouble finding credible sources for information as to why this happens. My hypothesis (from what research I have been able to uncover) is that the cheaper rugs are probably made from cheaper wool. This wool is dryer and of shorter staple length resulting in a more brittle fiber which
will be more prone to breaking and pilling. I also suspect that this effect may be have something to do with the wools treatment and spin but I have not yet been able to connect all the dots.

I was wondering if you had ever written or researched the topic and could point me in the right direction?

Thank you for any help you may be able to provide.

Kent Schneider

*voted best of Atlanta

Hello Kent, Barry has forwarded your question to me and I hope that I can somewhat answer your question.

In a nutshell, pilling is caused by the incomplete slippage of fiber from a tuft. Instead of being completely shed, the fibers collect at the surface of the textile and can cause pills as well as a condition termed "bearding": an entanglement of slipped fibers on a textile surface without the unsightly little balls of material.

Pilling and bearding are not confined to wool fibers but may be found in any staple yarn product.

Lets start with the yarn:

Wool is naturally a staple fiber. When it is sheared from the sheep, it is graded by the length of the fibers as usually determined on where it is taken from the sheep AND by whether the fleece is a fall or spring shear.

Spring shear has had all winter to grow and is a denser, stronger and longer staple. Sheep that have had two shearings have a shorter, lighter staple in the fall and is typically more suitable for sweaters, suits and blankets etc. The quality of wool also depends on the breed of sheep, what they have been grazing on, minerals in the water and the weather. As you can see there are many variables.

Most TUFTED rugs come from India and China. The sheep used in these areas typically
have been inbred with Merinos. These have more lanolin in the wool, needs a more agressive cleaning to get rid of the grease and is a shorter, more brittle staple.

Most KNOTTED rugs from Turkey, Iran, Nepal, etc still use the wool from the indiginous fat tailed sheep. For too many reasons to continue here, the wool has completely different qualities but these have a long dense staple better suited to rug making.

Now on to rug construction:

Are you aware that making a tufted rug is essentially the same process whether or not one is making broadloom in Dalton or a rug in Dehli.

In Dalton, the primary backing is run through a tufting machine that punches the yarns through at a (literally) miles per hour rate, there is a layer of latex applied to the back and it is laminated to the secondary backing with heat and pressure. It is then sheared and inspected, rolled up and sent off.

In Dehli, the primary backing (usually with the pattern drawn on) is stretched into a frame to keep it tight. The yarn is inserted to the rug from the face with a tufting machine. This is an electric device for inserting yarn BUT becuase it IS held by hand, these are sold as "hand tufted" as opposed to "hand knotted". After the face is completed, a layer of latex is applied to the back and a secondary canvas is applied to the back. Other problems inherant with rugs made this way can be latex odor, bleeding color from the canvas backing, leakthrough of colors used to mark the pattern on the canvas and delaminating, brittle latex. This last one has a LOT to do with your pilling question.

Just a bit more: After the rug is tufted it is aggressively washed with(usually) a lye solution to remove the cuticle from the wool and give it luster, but this weakens both the pile and foundatation further.

So the question you're really asking me is how does the yarn slip out of the back and cause pills.

In tufted rugs, the little ball of latex that holds the individual tuft into the backing is called the tuft bundle. It must enclose 100% of all the fibers of the tuft although 80% and up would reasonably be considered within industry standards. The fibers that are not enclosed by the latex slip out to the surface from the abrasion of traffic or vacuuming and they become entangled eventually becoming pills.

Why are the fibers not completely enclosed by glue? Maybe they didn't use enough to start with, or maybe they were running out of glue and added more filler so the glue dried out and it didn't hold the tufts. And who knows what all they put in the glue there anyway???

Pilling and dry powdering latex CAN be remedied by removing the secondary backing, recoating the insides of the carpet with a good quality latex and
reapplying the secondary backing. At this time repairs can be made to any missing pile as needed.

We do these routinely and are not expensive repairs.
I hope this helps.

Thea Sand,CRS IICRC023262
Emmanuel's Rug and Upholstery Cleaners
Seattle WA

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Would the "green cleaning" of area rugs still smell as sweet?

One of the most frequently asked questions that I get is " Do you use chemicals to clean rugs?". I'm assuming that this is because, in an effort to make their cleaning system "special" more cleaners advertise that they use "no chemicals" or "green cleaning" and the public is misinformed and confused. As usual, let me throw some things at the wall and see if they stick.....

Everything in the world as we know it, natural or manmade is created from chemicals. Wikipedia states Chemical substances (also sometimes referred to as a pure substances) are often defined as "any material with a definite chemical composition" in most introductory general chemistry textbooks. According to this definition a chemical substance can either be a pure chemical element or a pure chemical compound. That makes water (H20) and air (02, hydrogen + other elements), wool and cotton chemicals in a literal sense. Water made in a lab is identical in every way to water that comes from a river (except for the silt and debris).

So YES in a real technical sense that when we use soap and water to clean rugs, we do use chemicals. Even natural fiber rugs are made from chemicals.

The confusion lies in the fact that the word chemical also applies to the products (and by-products) of the chemical industry in a broad chemical category including polymers, bulk petrochemicals and intermediates, other derivatives and basic industrials, inorganic chemicals, and fertilizers.

Occasionally we use solvents to remove oil and grease based spots and residue from rugs but typically NO, we don't use those chemicals to clean rugs. In many cases any latex in the backing would dissolve and this kind of cleaning would create other problems. Even after spotting with solvent (which evaporates) the rugs are usually wet cleaned anyway.

The amount of solvent used to spot is so small that there's a very low chance of it affecting your carbon footprint AND if everyone cleaned their things more regularly AND was more careful about what got dropped on the floor, we could use less.

We have our water quality checked yearly by the city of Seattle to see exactly what the heck is going down our drain. We use a good old fashioned washfloor, not an automated cleaning system so the water runs into a drain and screen along the side to collect the solid material that washes off of and out of the rugs (pet hair, lint, gravel, etc.). The remaining water always passes inspection as safe to enter the sanitary sewer system. We did look at a water recycling system a few years ago but it was SOOOOO bulky and expensive not to mention having to retrofit our building to take the system, the city mavens of recycling threw up their hands and told us not to bother.

The soap we use is formulated for wool rugs, about a ph7 which is neutral and is about as mild as a hair shampoo. It has no appreciable odor or fragrance. We use cold water to wash and rinse with unless we're correcting fringes or sanitizing a synthetic urine filled rug.

The rugs are air dried.

What could be greener? Soap, water and air. Clean rugs keep your home healthier, keeps dirty old rugs out of landfills and is economically efficient. Regular cleaning makes them easier to maintain.

Back to "green cleaning" rugs in Seattle......