The blue dye problem
with nylon carpets
.                  This snake-in-the-grass may only bite you once or twice if
you spend a life-time in the business but if it ever does you will wish
you had read this article first.  

.                   First let us repeat the important point from the first olefin
article.  Olefin is inferior to nylon because the melting point of olefin is
so low that just the friction of people walking on it will cause the pile
to be permanently distorted which results in dark, shaded areas.  Test
this for yourself by passing a cigarette lighter quickly over the surface
of an unwanted olefin scrap and it will melt a path almost faster than
you can pull it away.  This results in traffic lanes that defy the cleaner’
s efforts to restore because they are damaged beyond our ability to
“un-melt” them.  Therefore the light reflects and refracts differently
from the fibers laying in different directions and still looks dirty from
one direction and clean from the other end of the room.
(There are
methods of brightening the olefin and mitigating this "velvet" effect.  
Read the Olefin Problems and the Hue Renew™ articles on this
.  However, olefin does have just ONE advantage over nylon.  
It is colorfast.  Sunlight, unburned hydrocarbons from heating
systems, pool chlorine walk-off and improper chemicals do not
usually affect it.

.                  While nylon fibers sometimes have colorfast problems they
are still the best choice for most applications.  Even the original
DuPont 501 from the 1950's were still around thirty years later.  You
almost could not wear it out and it could be cleaned to look really
good even after all those years.  Test nylon's resistance to friction
and heat damage for yourself by briefly holding a cigarette lighter to
the surface of an unwanted scrap of nylon carpet and see how much
more difficult it is to mark it.  Today’s nylons are even better and if
cared for they may be around until the end of the world.
Unfortunately nylon has one giant creature feature that they have not
been able to solve.  Compared to olefin, nylon dyes are more fragile
and sunlight and many chemicals will damage the dyes especially in
the blue range of colors.  Where nylon carpets cannot be protected
from sunlight, they should be selected in earth-tones.  These are the
least noticeable when
color damage takes place.  

.                    In addition to sunlight, nylon is also vulnerable to furnace
fumes, chlorine walk-off from swimming pools, janitorial chemicals,
etc, especially those of blue range of colors including gray, green,
etc.  Here is the dirty little secret that has been a real snake-in-the-
grass for carpet cleaners for 50 years.  Red nylon dye fades to pink
and earth tones generally fade to the yellow side but when blue
nylon fades it turns light brown on the tips.  This mimics pH
browning and the condition is often treated with acid or oxygen
products and re-cleaning.  All of this activity can lighten the dyes
even further.  This loose or damaged dye flushes right out with the
normal cleaning process.  Even plain water would do it and this dye
loss is not apparent until completely dry, which in most cases is the
following day or so.  Then you get a customer call saying “you
ruined my carpet because it turned brown this morning”.  

.                  Our experience is to be wary of cleaning blue range nylons
and treat any “browning” on blues and grays as color loss, which
will only get worse with treatment until you know better about the true
cause of the problem.  We have learned of an art-form test for blue
range nylon dye damage that can be performed during your pre-
cleaning inspection that usually works but it is subject to light
conditions and the cleaning technician's ability.  With practice you
may be able to even improve on the method that we will outline for
you.  If so, let us know so that we can pass it on.

.                   Blue dye color loss can be nearly transparent and invisible
before cleaning but often it can be discovered as well.  It will appear
as slight beige color at the very tips of the carpet yarn.  This will be
camouflaged by soil and matting of the yarn and extremely difficult to
see.  Get down close to the carpet and fluff up the fiber.  Concentrate
on the yarn tips for discoloration and think brown while you are
doing it.  If the slightest beige is present on the tips, you can
conclude that it will be much worse after the carpet is rinsed and
dried.  Call the customer over and show them the discoloration and
explain that while the carpet may otherwise look nearly brand new
after cleaning, this dye-loss will probably be even more apparent at
least the first few days until re-matting begins to take place.
Call us today at  800 523-3430  
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800 523-3430
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Speciality Chemicals since 1978
fax (313) 538-5324