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Polypropylene Carpet – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The carpet that is overwhelmingly being used in the new estates popping up around Penrith, including Ropes Crossing, Jordan Springs, Glenmore Park Ridge, Mulgoa Rise etc is polypropylene.

With an increased frequency, I’m being asked by some of the property managers I do work for, to have a look if anything can be done to improve the appearance of the carpet, usually after a tenant has vacated and had another business do the carpet cleaning. Sometimes the issue is the quality of the carpet cleaner used to do the job as there are ALOT of poor quality sub-contractor carpet cleaners around at the moment, but perhaps the most frequent issue is the unsuitability of the carpet selected.

Polypropylene has some redeeming features. It can’t be bleached, won’t fade in sunlight, it’s relatively inexpensive and can’t be dye stained. My recommendation of use for this carpet is to lay it in rental properties where there is a high likelyhood of needing replacement within 2-3 years of it being layed – because the tenants are likely to abuse it. Abusive tenants, and some suburbs are rife with with them, are going to destroy anything you lay. The new suburbs and estates where I’m seeing this carpet being layed do not typically have these types of tenants.

So what is the issue?

Polypropylene has very little resilience. In other words, it won’t bounce back into it’s original form after being bent, compressed or stretched. Carpet undergoes a significant amount of stress as a floor covering from foot traffic, and furniture. Traffic will tend to compress or fold the fibre, and when light reflects off crushed/bent pile, it creates an inconsistent appearance – which can make it look dirty.

The other issue is that this polypropylene has a very low melting point, so low in fact that simply sliding a lounge suit or chair across it will permanently distort the fibre. These typically look like dark, dirty streaks on a carpet. I can’t count the amount of times I have gone to inspect a rental polypropylene carpet where another carpet cleaner has been in, and DAYS later, these distorted streaks are still wet because the cleaner thought they were dirty marks, and over-cleaned them.

Polypropylene is a cheap floor finish, and you only ever get what you pay for. If you are serious about the longevity and maintenance of carpet in your new home, send me through an email and I’ll give you some recommendations from a carpet cleaners perspective.

Dark marks indicate pile distortion from furniture dragging.
Dark marks indicate pile distortion from furniture dragging.


Lounge Cleaning in Penrith

Mighty Clean Carpet the premier upholstery and lounge cleaning business, servicing the Greater Penrith Area, the Blue Mountains, and the Hawkesbury.

Using laminar flow technology, hot streams of water are sheared across the surface of the fabric, allowing the furniture to be cleaned and left significantly drier than with traditional tools.

The picture below shows a polyester fabric sofa, being cleaned with said tools. This lounge has been rather soiled from pet oils, shampooed with an appropriate and safe shampoo. The final process is rinsing the textiles with incredibly hot water, minimizing residue and leaving the fabric with a soft hand, and smelling fresh.

Isn’t it time you called Mighty Clean Carpet!

Carpet Cleaning image 1 Carpet Cleaning image 2

Re-Visiting the Cleaning of Harvey Norman SmartStrand, EcoStrand & Triexta based Carpets.

It’s been a few years since I first posted on the cleaning of Triexta based carpet fibres, and I thought that the topic should be re-visited again.

There are two types of polyester. PET polyester (think plastic coke bottle), and PTT polyester (also known as Triexta). It is my understanding that PTT polyester was either invented, or patented by DuPont in the early 1940’s. PTT has much greater resilience (re-bound elasticity) than PET polyester. PTT (Triexta) is typically manufactured from crude oil derivatives. Sorona on the other hand, uses oil derived from corn starch. You might think of this in the same way as what ethanol is to unleaded petrol. One is derived from crude oils, the other from plant oils.

I am coming across more and more Triexta all the time in my carpet cleaning travels, and recently cleaned no less than 5 homes in a single week that had Triexta based carpets. In addition to this, I maintain regular dialogue with several carpet inspectors, and know and maintain dialogue with a number of the representatives that conduct warranty work on behalf of the retailers of Triexta carpets. So I feel as though I am in a good position to give my professional opinion on how I see this carpet performing in the field, over time.

So lets dispel some myths.

Myth 1. Does Triexta stand up to use by rhinos? There are two parts to this question. Wear, and soiling. I have never bothered to read the clauses in a carpet warranty, but I have seen elongation of, and mild fuzziness in the traffic lanes of some Triexta carpets. If abrasive soils like sand are not regularly vacuumed out of a carpet, they act as sand paper and microscopically etch the fibre. If concrete can be worn down with usage, you can bet plastic carpet will wear as well. The second part of this is soiling, which I’ll answer next. But lets be honest here, rhino use on carpet is not representative of how carpets are used in the home.

Myth 2. Can Triexta be cleaned with water alone? The short answer is absolutely NOT! Rhino’s basically excrete water soluble soils. Imagine a tarpaulin on which a pet has done its business. You can hose it off with water. So there are some soils that can be removed with water alone (coffee, tea, urine*, faeces, cordial, wine etc). But there are other soils such as fats, oils, some inks, solvent based paints, grease, texta, particle soiling, soot etc that not only do NOT clean out with water, but are either absorbed by the fibre, or form an electrostatic charge with the fibre. For the very reason you clean your dishes with dishwashing detergent, we need detergency to remove oily substances from Triexta. There is a good reason Triexta is not demonstrated for 2 weeks in a mechanics workshop. It wouldn’t stand up to it!

Myth 3. Is Triexta pet proof? The short answer is again NO! Wall to wall carpet can not be taken outside and hosed down, and anybody who thinks steam cleaning results in complete exhaustion of soiling is grossly mistaken (see my article here). When a pet urinates on a carpet, gravity acts on the urine and it is quickly taken into the backing of the carpet (and sometimes into the underlay or beyond). The sheer limitations of the physics of the onsite extraction cleaning process, coupled with practical limitations for drying present a problem to the carpet cleaner. Small, localised urine deposits may be able to be treated, but if the carpet is being used as a kitty litter, it’s write off – no matter what the salesperson tells you! The rhino adverts for Triexta are misleading in that the surface soiling is removed by water, but you are not shown the underside of the carpet, and the re-emerging stains that would undoubtedly appear upon drying. Not to mention the unrecovered odours!

Myth 4. Is Triexta easy to clean? The short answer is sometimes, but not always. Water soluble soils that reside in the top of the pile clean with ease, but most water soluble soils are acted upon by gravity, and rarely stay in the top of the pile. For this reason wicking (re-emerging stains after cleaning) are a frequent problem with cleaning Triexta. Oily soils are absorbed into the fibre, and required intense agitation coupled with high alkalinity to be separated from fibre. Now for reasons I don’t quite understand, fine particle soiling is also a frequent problem in traffic lanes, edges, door junctions etc on Triexta. Fine, dark coloured particles can form an electrostatic charge with the fibre, and because the fibres are so soft and fine, there is a lot of surface area for soil to accumulate. Unless the correct hydrotropes are used in the cleaning process, no amount of cleaning will remove it. Think of this type of soil bond in the same way toner is bound to paper in the photocopying process.

Myth 5. If the triexta won’t clean up, the retailer will replace it. Everything I have said up to now seems to be disparaging of triexta as a carpet fibre (and I’ll address this point below). Under certain conditions it can be problematic, and I talk with carpet cleaners all over the country who despite strictly following the cleaning regime outlined in the Australian Standard (AS/NZS3733), have problems getting acceptable cleaning results on Triexta. In too many cases the retailer will send somebody out, who will get some soil transfer onto a white microfibre cloth (read here to see why this is a cheap parlour trick with no basis as an acceptable measure of cleaning efficacy). Unfortunately this is usually an attempt to discredit the carpet cleaner and be absolved from any responsibility. I can’t answer as to whether retailers have replaced Triexta based carpets due to conditions not captured in the warranty, or for public relations reasons, but I do know that replacement is unlikely to happen.

Myth 6. I shouldn’t buy triexta. Providing the carpet is well maintained, used within the limits specified in the warranty, including regular vacuuming maintenance, spot cleaning immediately when required, and 6-12 monthly professional carpet cleaning by a reputable carpet cleaner, triexta provides a wonderfully soft and visually appealing soft floor covering that has excellent appearance retention. The point in this post has been to point out some of the limitations this particular carpet has. We need to rememeber that the product is a soft furnishing, not a slab of impermeable quartz!

Pictures to accompany this post are still to come. Stay tuned!

How Clean Should I Expect a Carpet to be After Carpet Cleaning?

How clean should a carpet be after it has been freshly cleaned? No other question will perplex most carpet cleaners as this very question, and with good reason.

The dictionary definition of clean is free from dirt, marks, or stains. So should a carpet be free from dirt, marks or stains once it is cleaned? Hardly! Hardly you said? Indeed. Let me explain.

No other question in the world of cleaning is so controversial as to define what is an acceptable level of clean, but we must recognise that complete of exhaustion of soil from a carpet is limited by sheers physics and time contraints. We can only ever reduce the level of soiling in a carpet.

Let me give some real-world examples to illustrate this before a semi-technical explanation.

Example 1. Take your dirty car to a DIY pressure cleaning car wash, and give it a thorough blast and clean. Let it dry in the sun. Then re-wet a section of the car with some water some water and wipe it with a white cloth. You will notice that there is some level of soil transfer to the cloth.

Example 2. Throw a freshly cleaned load of laundry back through the washing machine, and collect the effluent from the second wash in a bucket. I bet its still got some dirt in it!

Unfortunately, we can not get even close to the level of clean that either of the examples above are able to achieve on a fixed, wall to wall installation of carpet, unfortunately. Here is one semi-technical explanation as to why.

For the illustration, I will let you imagine a cup full of urine. Yuk! If I empty the cup and rinse it once with water, would you be prepared to drink from it? Of course not! You instantly recognize that a small amount of urine has clung to the inside wall of the glass, and some small quantity of urine is still going to be present after one rinse.

When we clean a carpet with an extraction wand, the same limitations are at play. The individual carpet fibre is under vacuum, and the soil embedded emulsion closest to the fibre moves at the least velocity due to parasitic drag. This is not intended to be a discussion on fluid dynamics, but in fact the physics governing fluid motion guarantees that some level of soil will always remain. With the carpet cleaning process, we are essentially undertaking a process of DILUTION, NOT complete EXHAUSTION/REMOVAL.

The quantity of soiling that is removed from a carpet, and the quantity of soil that remains is difficult and impractical to measure. The best practical tool we have to getting acceptable soil reduction levels is utilising the steam cleaning (hwe) process cleaning system recognised in the standard AS/NZS 3733 Textile Floor Coverings – Cleaning Maintenance, which is the most effective soil reduction process, through to the lesser capable dry cleaning (low moisture) systems, coupled with experience (to know which system is of best fit). There exists no acceptable and recognized method for concluding whether a carpet has been cleaned properly other than to review the regime undertaken by the carpet cleaner, and compare it to the standard. Re-wetting a carpet and wiping it with a white cloth will yield some soil transfer on a freshly cleaned carpet for all the reasons specified above, and is NOT an acceptable measure of the quality of a carpet cleaning service. In fact, AS/NZS3733 tacitly acknowledges that soil will be removed from a freshly cleaned carpet, by stating the carpet cleaning process needs to be followed up with post vacuuming upon drying of carpets AFTER cleaning. The purpose being to remove unrecovered dry soil.

The take away message in all of this is that regular carpet maintenance, which includes bi-weekly vacuuming (preferably with an upright, cylindrical brush vacuum or equivalent), and periodic professional carpet cleaning (cleaning before large quantities of soil are visible), is the best way to promote hygiene, appearance and longevity of a carpet, and to keep soil load to a minimum.

Tile and Grout Cleaning in Penrith

Mighty Clean Carpet can provide a no fuss, high pressure indoor tile and grout cleaning service.

In particularly grout, but also any porosity on a tile, will accumulate soil over a period of time. If you’ve ever moved a piece of furniture that has protected a section of tiles for a period of time, you’ll notice just how soiled your tiles and grout get in the traffic lanes.

Regular mopping is important for routine maintenance, and addressing spills etc, but without a rinsing and extraction system, a buildup of mineral deposits, detergent and grime accumulates on the tile surface, and the grout.

Mighty Clean use high grade industrial cleaning solutions, that strip away mineral deposits, fats, oils, grime, dirt and detergent residue. Utilising a powerful truckmounted extraction system, we deliver a high pressure cleaning that will leave you tiles squeaky clean.

Porcelain, ceramic, natural stone and terracotta tiles are all able to be cleaned by Mighty Clean.

We can provide you with an obligation free measure, quote and demonstration. Give us a call on 0434 020 726

Very Low Moisture Encapsulation Carpet Cleaning

Mighty Clean Carpet offer a particular type of carpet cleaning service that incorporates a technology called “Encapsulation”.

Encapsulation utilises a specific, polymer based detergent, that dries down to a non-sticky substance. Encapsulation detergents can be used with the steam cleaning (more correctly known as hot water extraction) system, but are more typically incorporated into dry cleaning (more correctly known as low moisture) cleaning systems.

How is Encapsulation performed?

Typically, encapsulation, when used in a low moisture cleaning regime, is either sprayed or shower fed onto the carpet. A mechanical means of agitation brings the encapsulating detergent into contact with the soil in in the carpet, helping separate it from the fibres.

Is the soil removed?

Low moisture encapsulation can be performed in a variety of ways. One way is to use bonnets. Bonnets are a type of fabric pad, which have both scrubbing and absorption properties. When encapsulation is performed with bonnets, the detergent is brought into contact with the soil and scrubbed, and some of it is absorbed and removed. Encapsulation can also be performed with non-absorbing scrubbing pads and brushes. In this instance, the soil is scrubbed into the solution, and the solution is left in the carpet to dry. The encapsulated soil is removed subsequently through regular vacuuming.

If encapsulated soil is still in the carpet, does it look clean?

Providing the soil load has not reached a certain threshold, and the soil type is compatible with the detergent, the answer is yes – the carpet does look clean. Essentially the soil is brought into contact with the detergent, and distributes itself over larger volume of carpet. The reduction is soil intensity in any given area is one of the reasons the carpet looks immediately clean. The polymers in the encapsulating detergent also help (temporarily) repair scratches on the fibre which make carpet look dull, and have a crystalline structure which reflect light.

So is the soil still in the carpet after cleaning?

Yes, but it is wrapped in a very fine polymer coating, and distributed in such a way that it is not visible (when performed in the correct situation). The next dozen or so vacuuming cycles will typically snap and chip the dried up polymer, completing the cleaning cycle.

What advantages does encapsulation offer?

Encapsulation can allow for large areas of carpet to be cleaned quickly, quietly and efficiently. There are enormous reductions in water usage (compared to extraction cleaning), and in some instances the residual polymer provides some protection and barrier to future soiling.

In what instance would you use encapsulation, and wouldn’t use it.

Very low moisture encapsulation was designed as a commercial carpet cleaning system, where carpets are frequently vacuumed, and require rapid drying times with good visual outcomes. Deep spills and soils are not addressed as well with encapsulation, and encapsulation is not suitable for pathogen control (removing blood, urine, faeces or vomit) from carpet. The soils we encounter in most instances domestically, require extraction cleaning. Domestic carpets are typically lived on (sat on, layed down on, crawled on). In most instances domestic carpets are better suited to deep extraction cleaning, although there are exceptions to this.

Cheap Carpet Cleaning – Penrith

If you are looking for the cheapest carpet cleaning in Penrith – you need to read this

Look at the two photos below. Photo 1 is from a competitor. The vacating tenant choose a cheap carpet cleaner. The property manager wasn’t happy, and requested the tenant ask they come back and re-do the living area. The carpet cleaner refused and claimed this was the best he could do – which was probably correct.

Cheap Carpet Cleaning in Penrith – Poor Results
Cheap Carpet Cleaning in Penrith – Poor Results

Photo 2 is after Mighty Clean Carpet Cleaning Penrith went back to fix up this other cleaners failure. The tenant had to incurr the cost of this – so the carpet cleaner was no longer cheap.

The result from the best carpet cleaners in Penrith – Mighty Clean Carpet
The result from the best carpet cleaners in Penrith – Mighty Clean Carpet

If you want the job done properly the first time call Mighty Clean Carpet 0434 020 726. In the rare case that you or your property manager is dissatisfied for any reason we will gladly return at no charge.

The Stains Came Back – Preventing Re-occuring Carpet Stains

I was recently called out to see if there was anything I could do to clean a section of carpet where some hand moisturising cream had fallen into the carpet. As a second generation carpet cleaner with many years experience, I recognise these types of jobs as being potentially problematic – for the simple fact that hand cream is oil based, therefore working its way into the nooks and crannies of the fibre – and is difficult to rinse.

The problem won’t be when I clean it. It will be sometime between a few days and two weeks after I clean it, when the spot re-emerges, because I haven’t successfully rinsed it all out. And there is no way to really know if it’s all out – we can only see what’s happening in the visible top section of the pile.

So what’s the solution?

The first step is to use a good quality, water rinseable grease and oil emulsifier. This helps breakdown the oils in the cremam, and create a water miscible solution. This is then steam cleaned out of the carpet with long, deliberate, low pressure passes.

The second step is to have a way of capturing any hand cream residue that the cleaning process misses (and it will always miss some)! I use a concentrated, new generation encapsulating polymer. These work by coating the carpet fibre, and crystalising as they dry – thus locking any remaining oils into the dried up polymer. You don’t see the polymer, and it comes out with subsequent vacuuming. By taking these measures, Mighty Clean Carpet can give satisifaction guarantee’s on our stain removal work.

Pictures of situation below.





Carpet Cleaning Sub-Contractors – The Issues

Once upon a time carpet cleaners would place a big ad in the yellow pages, and the bulk of new business would come from the yellows. These days, yellow pages is out, and online marketing has taken over. Google Adwords, and driving online traffic to your website is the name of the game for making sales.

This change in advertising dynamics has spawned a new type of carpet cleaning environment. An environment where marketing gurus, with zero carpet cleaning knowledge are using there marketing expertise to drive sales. They use sub-contract carpet cleaners to conduct the work. Is this bad? The answer is mostly YES for the consumer.

Why do I say this? Because there has been a rapid increase in the amount of carpets I am having to go back and fix after a sub-contract carpet cleaner has had an attempt at cleaning. Usually the carpets are over-wet, browned out, or look dirty or dirtier than before the job was started. So what is going on here?

The answer is simple. Many of these “carpet cleaners” are backpackers and travellers, or inexperienced people who have never cleaned carpets before. The marketing company is usually taking 50% or more of what is charged, and the sub contractor is left to pay for fuel, vehicle, equipment, chemicals, clothing and the costs of running a business. So if you were enticed with a $72 for 3 room offer, guess what? The sub contractor is getting $36. This is simply not enough income to spend the time required to do a thorough job. So the operator has two choices. One is to try and pressure the consumer into spending more. The other is to race through the job. I’m hearing that 20 mins for 3 rooms is about the average for these rogues. In contrast, 3 rooms will generally take a skilled operator closer to an hour.

Before making a decision on a carpet cleaner, we recommend that you read some reviews. Most of these companies have SCATHING reviews! In contrast, Mighty Clean Carpet Cleaning have a 5 star google and TrueLocal review rating. Hands done, we are the best choice for Penrith carpet cleaning!

Cleaning Harvey Norman SmartStrand, EcoStrand & Triexta based Carpets.

I’m going to say it. As a carpet cleaner, if I was to lay new carpet through my home, I’d be using Harvey Norman SmartStrand IQ or one of the equivalent Triexta based carpets from one of the independent carpet retails such as eco-strand.

Triexta is the latest carpet fibre to reach the market, and is a sub-class of polyester. Unlike polyester, it has much better resilience (stands up to traffic and furniture).

While I recognise that Triexta is by no means perfect, and certainly isn’t cheap, it has some features that make it a great choice for the home owner. These include;

  1. It can’t be dye stained – as the fibre itself does not have dye sites. This gives it a significant advantage over wool and nylon.
  2. Can’t be urine stained – for the same reason as above. Urine contains urochrome pigment. Triexta has no dye sites – so no urine staining! This makes it a better (not necessarily ideal) option for pets. Note that pet odour is not so easy to deal with here!
  3. Doesn’t crush easily like other synthetics such as polypropylene and polyester.
  4. Has a very fine denier, and is soft and luxurious.
  5. Will not sun fade! Can’t be bleached! The dyes are locked into the fibre in molten state during manufacture.

Given all these great features, this carpet would be easily to professionally clean right? WRONG! Being a new carpet fibre, and with scant instructions from the manufacturers, carpet cleaners have been on their own, sussing out the best way to clean SmartStrand, EcoStrand and other Triexta derivatives. Having cleaned a number of these, and having assisted carpet cleaners who have run into problems and issues with cleaning SmartStrand, I have developed a method of professionally carpet cleaning Triexta that is very effective.

  1. Thorough vacuuming with an industrial grade upright vacuum with cylindrical brush. This is important when cleaning any carpet, but VERY important when cleaning SmartStrand. Why? The fibre has no capacity for water absorption, and water runs straight down the fibre, and into the depths of a carpet (and sometimes beyond), where the finest soils can accumulate, but where wet cleaning can not reach. As the carpet dries through capillary action, these soils migrate up the fibre stem, and settle on the tips of the carpet. Thorough industrial vacuuming minimises this.
  2. If the carpet is only lightly soiled, we would recommend low moisture encapsulation cleaning with an absorbent pad. The pad collects a good portion of the detergent soluble soiling, and what is left behind is encapsulated and removed during subsequent vacuuming. The advantage of low moisture encapsulation over steam cleaning is there is less chance of activating any deep seated fine soils, and any wicking that occurs is absorbed into the residual encapsulant – which is not seen, and which vacuums out.
  3. If the carpet is heavily soiled, we would recommend bonnet cleaning the traffic lanes with a volatile dry solvent, used sparingly. The rest of the carpet will need to be preconditioned by a rotary scrubbing machine or equivalent, using a hot citrus based, alkaline degreaser, and thoroughly rinsed at low pressure. As a final measure, a light misting of encapsulant should be applied to the carpet, and cotton pad dried.

The challenge when cleaning Triexta carpets lies with two things. The first being the lack of water absorption, which can aggrivate wicking. It is not uncommon for carpet cleaners to have multiple revisits to clean SmartStrand or other Triexta based carpets, to clean re-occuring spots and stains. The initial carpet clean removes stains/spots, but they re-emerges due to wicking. Hence the use of encapsulating polymer based detergents. The second challenge is that this carpet absorbs oil/fats/grease like a sponge, primarily because it oil based (like absorbs like). Oil, fats and grease are typically the glue that holds dirt and soil to a carpet. This is the reason we recommend citrus based detergents with alkaline degreasing. The citrus and alkalinity dissolve and breakdown oils/fats/grease, and the steam cleaning process removes the greasy solution. The post encapsulation process with a cotton bonnet assists with rapid drying, and greatly prevents wicking and soil redeposition.

If you have a SmartStrand carpet, and are located in the Penrith or Blue Mountains area, call Mighty Clean Carpet Cleaning Penrith.

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