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Olefin Carpeting | Cleaning Methods & Facts

Olefin, also known as polypropylene, is a synthetic fiber made from petroleum products.  Thirty percent of the carpeting manufactured in the United States is olefin.  Olefin is inexpensive, very color fast, and naturally stain resistant.  These attributes may it a good buy for tight family budgets.

Olefin resists bleaching and fading, because the dye used is added while the fiber is being made.  However, olefin is not very resilient, and after a period of time shows crushing wear and tear that cannot be “fluffed” back.  If the pile height is fairly low, olefin wears well.  But if air is added to the fiber to give it more bulk, then it is very crushable. So, large loop Berbers and cut pile styles of carpeting do not do well when made of olefin.

 Olefin also has as low melting point.  This means heavy furniture dragged across it can actually melt the fibers with the friction.  Olefin also resists water, so moisture stains, mildew, and water damage are usually not an issue for this carpet fiber.  It can be damaged by excessive sunlight, as the sunlight causes the fibers to weaken and deteriorate.

Being naturally stain resistant, olefin is considered a good fiber for family rooms.  The one type of stain that causes problems is an oily stain.  Being petroleum based fiber; oily stains have a natural affinity for bonding into the fiber itself.

Olefin will tolerate a variety of cleaning methods.  Carpet shampooing with rotary heads can cause too much abrasion for olefin fibers, but steam cleaning, dry cleaning, and dry foam cleaning all will work.  When steam cleaning, an encapsulation rinse should be used to prevent wicking.  Wicking happens when a synthetic fiber does not absorb water, so dirt and soil travel up the fiber and remain on the surface after drying.  This makes the carpeting look dirty or brownish immediately after drying.  Using an encapsulation rinse can help prevent this from occurring. 

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