Month: May 2011


Wool Carpet Characteristics and Why Super Steamer Should be the One Who Cleans it

Wool Fiber Characteristics

Wool comes from the fleece of sheep and lambs or occasionally goats or some other animals.  This is one of the oldest fibers used by man, dating back over four thousand years.  Rugs have been unearthed that have been dated back to around 2000 BC.  It is still one of the finest face yarns available for carpet.  Wool is chemically made up of organic elements including sulfur, which accounts for the wool smell when it is damp.

Wool fiber is composed of three distinct sections:
1. Epidermis or cuticle, which is the tough outer skin of serrated scales which overlap each other.
2. Cortex or the spindle-shaped fibrous bulk of the fiber.
3. Medulla or core of the fiber through which the fiber once received nourishment.


Hides Soil – Wool has excellent soil hiding capabilities. Wool will not exhibit or show soil as much as other fibers.  The reason for this is that wool is an opaque fiber (as opposed to synthetics which are translucent).  In addition wool doesn’t refract and reflect light like synthetics.  The naturally dull appearance and scaly nature of the epidermis hides soil.

Resilient – Wool is very strong, elastic and resilient.  Wool face yarn in a well-constructed carpet will stand up to the heaviest traffic and will look beautiful.  (Notice the carpet in most casinos and finer hotel lobbies and hallways).

Natural Crimp – Natural crimp makes wool and excellent insulator and adds to its superior resiliency.  This gives the fiber its bulk.

Good Absorbency – This means that wool reacts well to a number of dye types and techniques.  Keep in mind, this means easy staining, and slower drying, also.

Soil Release – Wool responds very well to cleaning as moisture makes the fiber swell and release particle soil.

Flame Retardant – Wool is naturally flame retardant.  In many areas fire codes require the use of wool carpet in the entry and exit areas of certain public buildings.


Expensive – This arises mainly from the processing cost, the cleaning, and the preparation, etc., rather than the actual cost of the raw material.

Fiber Distortion – Wool is very prone to distortion by excess agitations such as jet streaks and wand marks.  This is particularly pronounced under heated conditions.  To help prevent this kind of distortion the cleaner should turn the temperature down somewhat on wool cut pile carpet and be sure that the grooming takes place almost immediately after the cleaning process.

Stains Easily – Due to its absorbency and ease of dyeing, wool is also easily stained by wine, Kool-aid and other acid dyestuffs.  Remember that absorbency is the same quality that makes wool so desirable as far as dye acceptance and obtaining the beautiful rich colors that you often find in wool carpets and oriental rugs.

Chemical Sensitivity – Wool is sensitive to excessive alkaline chemicals with prolonged exposure.  This exposure will tend to make wool brittle and somewhat discolored.  Some of the epidermis may be lost.  This shortens the useful life of the carpet.  This problem is sometimes referred to as “felting”  Excessive agitation can aggravate felting.  Wools of New Zealand (WONZ) suggest using cleaning agents with a pH between 4.5 and 8.5.  More importantly, following cleaning, wool fibers should be left at a pH between 4.5 and 7.0.

Wool is very sensitive to chlorine bleach, such as Clorox.  Chlorine bleach will completely dissolve wool within a matter of minutes.

Fuzzing – Remember that fuzzing can be a source of problems because wool only comes as a staple yarn and excess agitation can cause that fuzzing effect.  This will be discussed more fully in another section of the manual.

© Copyright 1993, 2007 Bridgepoint Systems, Inc.

At Super Systems we clean wool with chemicals that are on the pH scale between 4.5 and 8.5, and we leave the carpet at slightly acidic to neutral when we are finished.  We use low pressure (150-200 psi), low heat (below 160 degrees F), and air movers for rapid dry times.  Because wool has the tendency to bleed we use an Acid dye stabilizer to ensure that the dyes won’t run together.  We are trained to maintain your wool carpet properly.


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