Why Should I Care How Carpet Is Dyed?
This information may make you money directly through learning to offer spot dye and color repair services. Understanding dye systems can also save them serious money. I regularly hear from cleaners who have accidentally removed color from carpet or upholstery. Maybe they were using their favorite recipe to take a Kool Aid spill out a carpet and also removed some of the original color.
On a commercial carpet cleaning project I worked on, the carpet was dyed by multiple methods. One color would have come off during our standard cleaning while the others remained. I was able to know that before the cleaning was started.
Being able to speak knowledgeably about dye systems when talking with large commercial accounts or potential high end clients can really help set you apart as an expert and may lead to landing new accounts.
The topic is too long to cover in one session. But let’s get started.
The most common method used to dye nylon carpet is a continuous dye range. This is like a conveyor belt. The carpet moves along under jets that spray on the color. The color can be varied using foam, gum or gels that either attract or repel the dye. This can produce a pattern with darker or lighter shades of a color.
Olefin carpet and some nylon is solution dyed. Small pellets of colored plastic are added to the polymer before it is melted and then extruded into fibers. So the color is all the way through the fiber.
The color on continuous dyed carpet fiber is like the red on a radish, just on the outside. It can be removed and leave the fiber with no color. While the color of a solution dyed fiber is like the orange of a carrot. It goes all the way through the fiber. If something were to remove some of the color, there is more of the same underneath. So solution dyed fiber can withstand many harsh chemicals that might remove color from fibers dyed by other methods.
What is the significance of this to the carpet cleaner?
A key point for the carpet cleaner is that there are many points along the way of manufacturing a carpet that the color can be added. As a general rule, the earlier in the manufacturing process the color is added, the more stable and durable the color is. There is less likelihood of fading when a carpet is exposed to on-going sunlight, less chance that something spilled on the carpet removes the color; more aggressive cleaning products can be used when necessary for spot and stain removal on carpets that are solution dyed or have the color agent introduced to the fiber early in the manufacturing process.
This is important. Let me repeat – the earlier in the manufacturing process the color is added, the more stable and durable the color is.
OK, if solution dyeing produces superior results, why do we have all these other methods of dyeing?
There are several reasons for that. Carpet sales are largely driven by style, what colors are popular right now. Sometimes you may even go into a house and see the color of the carpet and know when it was installed because you remember when that color was popular.
A manufacturer may offer hundreds of colors choices. With solution dyeing, that manufacturer would need to produce fibers in all those colors and keep many rolls of every color in stock.
If one color proved very popular, he could run out and have to start the manufacturing more of that popular color right from the fiber extrusion process. If one of those colors is not popular, the manufacturer could be left with shelves full of carpet that was not selling.
On the other hand with continuous dyed carpet. He only needs to have undyed carpet in stock, called greige goods. This can be dyed with the popular colors as needed. This reduces the amount of inventory and the space needed to store the inventory. In practical terms it is not only less expensive, keeping the cost of carpet down, but it allows a manufacturer to offer more choices in color.
I’ve received a few questions about carpet dyes that glow in the dark. Are there any special considerations when cleaning these carpets?
These fluorescent dyes have been popular in bowling alleys, night clubs and some other locations. They are very sensitive to cleaning process. They may look fine after cleaning if viewed in daylight, they can quickly loose their brightness or glow in the dark quality.
The prespray and other cleaning agents should have a mildly alkaline pH. Manufacturers suggest a pH less than 8.5 or 9. Most presprays are stronger than this, so you may not be safe using the prespray you use on most of your jobs.
To be able to get the carpet clean with what we would have to call a rather mild cleaner, such as Hydro Break rinsed with End Zone. The customer can not allow the carpet to get heavily soiled before getting it cleaned. It needs to be cleaned frequently.
Important to remember are low pH prespray followed by an acid rinse. Rotary machines, bonnets or any aggressive agitation or not recommended. The Technical Resources section here on Cleanwiki.com includes a guide for cleaning this type of carpet with more detailed information.
In coming weeks, I intend to discuss stock dyeing, space dyeing, print dyeing and several other dye related subjects.
Scott Warrington has over 40 years experience in the carpet cleaning industry. He currently serves a director of technical support for Bridgepoint Systems and Interlink Supply.
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