HomeFix Radio Program with Joe Prin

I had the fun opportunity this morning to talk with Joe Prin on his HomeFix Radio Show, a weekly show dedicated to helping homeowners with projects and services related to taking care of their homes. It is a great show, and I highly recommend listening to it on a weekly basis. He is on AM 670, KBOI, every Saturday between 7am and 10am.

This morning I had a great question regarding Mohawk’s SmartStrand™ carpet. I was asked by the gentleman how the best way to maintain SmartStrand™ was. This is a fantastic question, especially in light of recent announcements by Mohawk of the 3rd generation of Triexta™ fiber.

Over 50 years ago DuPont invented a fiber called Polyester. Most of us are familiar with the characteristics of this fiber: oil attracting, softer fiber that scratches easily, has less resilience than nylon, very difficult to stain, resistant to color fading, etc. Most people are unaware that there are different kinds of polyesters: PET, PTT, and 4GT to name a few.

In 2004 Dupont, in partnership with Mohawk, introduced a new fiber to the flooring industry. This new fiber was touted as having the same (or better) resiliency characteristics as a nylon, and the stain resistance of a polyester. The best of both worlds! The new fiber was marketed as SmartStrand™. In 2009 the FTC granted all PTT fibers the generic name of Triexta.

So this new miracle fiber has been out for over 10 years and has mostly held up to its marketing hype. It does stand up very well, better than many nylons. Triexta™ doesn’t stain, even with mustard, Kool-Aid™, or bleach. But one area of concern comes from the fact that Mohawk has never applied a flourochemical protectant to the fiber at the time of manufacturing. Almost all carpets are protected when they are made; but not this one. Mohawk even went so far as to market the miracle fiber as never needing protectant, ever! You even get a Lifetime Stain Warranty! Triexta™ is solution dyed using a dispersed-dye system so the fiber does not have the natural attraction to many things that would normally stain. Because of this, Mohawk did not apply protectors to the fiber. And they were right in their thinking– if all a customer was worried about was staining, this fiber didn’t need a protectant.

What Mohawk failed to recognize was this cousin of polyester still had some polyester traits – it’s oleophilic. It loves oils and will happily absorb them up. This creates a problem for certain cleaning chemicals, specifically surfactants. These surfactants will absorb into the unprotected fiber and become soil magnets. The carpet that won’t stain will soil. And if the wrong cleaner was hired, the carpet will now soil faster than ever and never stop.  

Cleaning a SmartStrand™ Carpet that has absorbed surfactants and oils can be very difficult if not near impossible without causing additional damage to the carpet. Test results show adding citrus solvent boosters are not effective. Paint, Oil and Grease remover (POG) was the only product found to be strong enough to break the bond and remove the surfactants. This is a very risky approach and is not advised; excessive use of POG can cause delamination and destroy the carpet.

Zerorez®’s own Scott Arkon has been working with several experts in the industry (Bridgepoint, Mohawk and Independent Consultants) to determine the cause and cure for this problem. The root issue is without soil protectors applied at the time of manufacturing, Mohawk cannot guarantee that other carpet cleaners will not create a permanent soiling issue down the road. And when a Zerorez® technician follows the last cleaner, it looks like Zerorez® is the problem because we can’t get the carpets to look clean. Scott, who is still an active Senior Carpet Inspector, stated to me earlier this month that Mohawk soiling claims have dramatically increased in his work this last year.

 “Mohawk Today,” a newsletter from Mohawk, announced this month they are introducing a new version of SmartStrand™ called SmartStrand™ Forever Clean. Quoting the newsletter: “This innovative spill shield makes SmartStrand™ 3X easier to clean. You can now give your SmartStrand™ customers the confidence of knowing their floor cleans faster, better and easier than ordinary carpets.” It appears that Mohawk has seen the rise in claims too and is finally willing to correct an issue that has caused customers (and carpet cleaners) heartburn for several years.

In the past, it has been difficult for us as cleaning professionals to help homeowners understand the importance of the fiber protectant on SmartStrand™ carpets, due to the insistence of the carpet salesman that a protector was not needed for these fibers. We are really excited about this new development and what it will mean to the lifespan of our customers’ carpets.

The best way, then, to maintain SmartStrand™ carpet is regular vacuuming with the proper vacuum, professional hot-water extraction with a non-surfactant cleaning system, such as the system used by Zerorez®, and application of a premium fiber protector, such as the one used by Zerorez®.

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