Stores all across the country carry a range of cleaning products for getting dirt out of carpets, and thousands of websites bristle with tips and advice. Like health care, though, the best approach may be prevention rather than cure. For those whose carpets did not come stain treated from the factory, there are easy-to-use sprays to repel stains and keep carpet looking cleaner, longer.
How They Work
Carpets are unfortunately adept at trapping dirt. Most homes contain hundreds of square feet of carpet fibers, working like a giant brush to capture dirt and soil from everything that passes over them. Common spills such as food and drink, and allergens such as pet hair, are trapped between the carpet's fibers and retained. The fibers may also absorb pigment or oils from greasy food spills or wet spills, such as wine or fruit juice. Carpet stain-proofing treatments coat or permeate the carpet's fibers with a substance that prevents soil from sticking, making them easier to clean.
The oldest such treatment is the 3M company's ScotchGard product, which was first introduced in 1954. Also available for furniture, clothing and other fabric-based surfaces, ScotchGard has been reformulated several times over its history to maintain its effectiveness on new types of fabric and fiber. In recent years environmental issues have also driven some changes to the formula, including 3M's voluntary withdrawal of perfluorooctanyl chemical compounds from all of their ScotchGard products.
Home Decorators Rug and Fabric Shield
The Home Decorators brand of products, from retail giant Home Depot, includes a carpet stain protection spray. Called the Rug and Fabric Shield Stain Protector, the spray comes in a 10 oz. can, which is adequate for 40 square feet of carpet. Home Depot recommends treating the carpet every 12 months in high-traffic areas, and every 24 months elsewhere. Like any protective spray, it should be applied to a clean carpet. Applying the spray to a carpet still wet from steam cleaning, before normal traffic resumes, is best.
Vectra Protection was founded in 1982, and offers a range of home cleaning products. Their Vectra 22 spray penetrates the carpet's fibers, making it less prone to wear off in high traffic areas or after cleaning. The Vectra product is sold online through their own website, Amazon's website and Home Depot's website. Vectra 22 is not available in Home Depot stores. Vectra also makes a spot remover, available separately or in a bundle with the carpet protector.
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