Carpet manufacturing has come a long way. Today’s carpet has great durability, stain resistance, and beauty. We have olefin, nylon, and polyester to thank for the improvements. However, the gold standard for carpet still comes off the backs of sheep. An article I recently read, Cleaning Wool Carpet, said it this way, “Simply stated, Wool is a great fiber! It is the fiber system that all other fiber systems try to emulate…” The article goes on to say, “… and while wool is among the closest fibers to perfection that we will ever know, it is not without its disadvantages.”
If you have a wool carpet, congratulations. Wool truly makes a warm, luxurious, durable carpet. It’s hard to beat nature. The article linked above talks about the unique structure of a wool fiber. It has scale-like structure on the outside which prevents dirt from entering. I bet the sheep like that little feature. Wool can stretch up to thirty percent of its length without breaking and absorb thirty percent of it’s weight in water.
However, even sheep have their weaknesses. Wool can shrink, is sensitive to fading from sunlight, is ruined by the oxy cleaners, does not tolerate bleaching well, and needs residue-free cleaning agents unlike those used in most carpet shampoos. Before I started my business providing carpet cleaning in Portland, Oregon I went to school to learn how to clean carpet properly. I paid special attention of how to clean wool carpet properly.
To avoid soap residue I use a low alkaline cleaning solution without the brighteners used in many commercial carpet shampoos. Residue left in a wool carpet can yellow it. Brighteners can change the color. I use a lower temperature solution to avoid shrinkage. As mentioned above wool has a unique ability to absorb water which explains why wool clothes feel warm in cold, wet weather. However, that ability to absorb liquid also makes wool more difficult to dry.
I have a commercial machine in my van that thoroughly and quickly dries the wool as I clean. Wool holds up to wear well except when wet and warm. Many of store machines and some commercial machine use brushes to clean the carpet which can damage the fibers. I have a special cleaning head called the Rotovac 360i which uses rotating jets of water to clean rather than brushes. This allows me to clean wool without damaging the fibers.
Should you have your wool carpet professionally cleaned? Wool carpet costs more than synthetic. It represents a substantial investment in your home. To me it makes sense to play it safe. Look for a professional that has experience with wool and the equipment to handle it correctly. How can you find that? (1) Ask them for proof. I took classes and have certification of my skills. (2) Ask for references. (3) Using this articles and others see what they know about wool. (4) See if they are part of a professional association.
Hope this information is helpful. Until next time…Sean!