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Common Cleaning Terms

Abrasion resistance Durability of a fabric in the face of surface wear
Absorbent Compound Cleaning A cleaning method where compound is spread by hand or specially designed machine. Brushing is used to spread and agitate the compound that absorbs the suspended soil. Following drying the suspended soil and compound is removed by dry vacuuming
Absorbent Pad (Bonnet /Oscillating Pad) A cleaning method where a machine that cleans carpet with an oscillating pad is used. This provides thorough agitation however does not clean deep into the piles
Acid A substance which has a sour taste, reacts with metals and carbonates and has a pH level less than 7.0
Acid Dye Blocker An anionic compound used to block open dye sites in order to eliminate the attraction of acid staining material such as fruit drinks
Acid Dyes A class of dyes used primarily for protein and nylon fibres
Acrylic A generic term for a man-made fibre composed of acrylonitrile units (at least 85% by weight) which are derived from petrochemical by-products
ADS Alkaline Detergent Spotter. pH levels in the alkaline range
Alkaline A solution of a soluble base that has a pH greater than 7.0
Ammonia Ammonia is a gas that, when dissolved in water, yields ammonium hydroxide. It has an unpleasant odour and is alkaline in nature. It helps saponify oils — converting them to soap — helping them solubilise in water. It will attack copper and copper-based metals, giving a bluish discoloration. It can turn red dyes blue and make some dyes bleed
Animal fibres A general term that refers to all natural-protein fibres, including wool, silk and goat hair
Anionic Negatively charged
Anti-corrosive A chemical compound that, when added to a liquid or gas, decreases the corrosion rate of a metal or an alloy
Antistats Used to reduce or dissipate static electricity
AS Acid/tannin spotter. pH levels in the acid range
BCF - Bulked Continuous Filament Filaments that are drawn, crimped, stretched and bulked which is then wound onto cones and shipped to a yarn facility
Beck/Batch Dyeing A process in which separate pieces of fabric are handled sequentially through dyeing and subsequent processes
Berber Carpet style where there are fat looks with coloured flecks. Originally wool but now mostly olefin
Biodegradable is the chemical breakdown of materials by a physiological environment
Bleaching The basic finishing process by which gray goods are scoured and whitened. Bleaching a fabric that has already been dyed is called stripping.
Bleeding A fault in which a dye stuff runs from one pattern area into another.
Blend Combining two or more different fibres before they are spun into a yarn.
Builders Materials that enhance or maintain the cleaning efficiency of the surfactant by tying up the hard water minerals. It also supplies additional alkalinity for neutralisation of acid soils, aids in keeping soil from redepositing on the carpet and emulsifies oily and greasy soils
Burn test Identifying the fibre by lighting it with a flame and observing the reaction
Carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide is a gas that converts from a solid to a gas at minus 78 degrees Celsius. It forms a weak acid called carbonic acid with a pH of 3.7 when dissolved in water. This acid, being unstable, cannot be isolated as a pure liquid or solid. Carbonic acid rapidly decomposes back to carbon dioxide and water, which are much more stable.
Carpet rippling Caused by failure to power stretch the carpet. Alert the consumer that the carpet should settle to precleaning levels once the humidity has stabilised
Cationic Positively charged
Cellulose Organic fibrous substance found in all vegetation that is the basic constituent of both natural and man-made cellulose fibres such as cotton, linen, jute and rayon
Chlorine Chlorine bleach, or sodium hypochlorite, has little cleaning value but it is a powerful oxidiser, especially in an acidic to neutral state
Citrus Gels Same as POG except in gel form
Colour Abrasion The potential loss of colour, particularly in pigment prints or from poor dye penetration.
Colour Fastness A general term denoting the relative durability of dye or pigment colouration to exposure to light, pollutants, or crocking and cleaning processes.
Commercial Carpet Bubbles Improper use of solvents, improper adhesive or inadequate amount of adhesive can cause bubbles
Compound A substance that contains two or more elements that have been bonded together by a chemical reaction. Soap is a compound
Continuous Dyeing A process in which the fabric or greige goods pass through dyeing and subsequent operations without interruption
Cotton A natural cellulose seed-hair fibre
Crocking The rubbing off of excess dye stuff from dry or wet fabric
Cut Pile A fabric or carpet in which the pile is cut rather than looped
Damage Repair required (Toilet bowl cleaner, Burns)
Defoamer Products designed to eliminate foaming problems in hoses and extractors
Delamination Separation of primary backing and face fibre from secondary backing
Denier A unit of weight that indicates the size of a filament; the higher the yarn, the heavier the yarn
Discolouration Colour removed (Bleach, medicine)
Dry Foam Dense foam is produced by a dry foam machine through mechanical aeration of a liquid detergent. A preconditioner may or may not be used prior to application of the foam detergent. The foam is distributed and agitated via mechanical brush action. Suspended soil and the foam are extracted by the same machine or with a wet vacuum
Dump/Drain/Relief Valve The valve on a cleaning machine in which you open to dump waste that has been vacuumed
Dyes Substances that add colour to textiles
EDS Enzyme digester spotter. Contains enzymes designed to break down protein and carbohydrate materials that have become insoluble.
Emulsification Process of dispersing one liquid into another liquid with which it is immiscible (do not mix such as oil and water)
Encapsulation The cleaning agent is brushed into the carpet using a cylindrical or rotary brush machine. The encapsulation chemistry surrounds each soil particle and crystallises it so it can’t attract other soil. The encapsulated particles release from the fibre and are removed through dry vacuuming
Enzymes Are protein molecules that accelerate chemical reactions by helping to break up other target molecules such as blood, eggs, milk and old urine into smaller soluble pieces
Extrusion The process of drawing single or multi-filament fibres through a spinneret
Fabric The most general textile term, embracing the gamut of cloths, rugs, carpets, tapestries, matting, caning, etc.
Fibre To quality as a textile fibre, a substance must possess a high length-to-breadth ratio, adequate strength, flexibility or pliability, cohesiveness, or good spinning quality and uniformity
Filament A continuous strand of silk or man-made fibre, usually also available in cut-filament or staple form. The diametric size of a filament is measured in deniers
Fluorochemicals The 2 most recognised trade names are 3M Scotchgard and DuPont Advanced Teflon. They improve stain and soil resistance by lowering the surface energy of the fabric and creating a barrier
Frieze A warp-pile fabric with uncut loops
Fume Fading Loss of colour in carpet due to atmospheric pollutants such as ozone and NO2 passing through fibres. May not be apparent until soil filtration is removed
Grooming Raking carpets with a groomer for appearance but also to lift piles so you can get a better spread of chemicals or for quicker drying
Hand Literally, the feel of the goods in the hand, a qualitative term used to describe the tactile properties of a fabric
HEPA - High Efficiency Particulate Air High Efficiency Particulate Air is a filtering efficiency specification for filters developed by the Atomic Energy Commission during World War II to effectively remove radioactive dust from plant exhausts without redistribution
Hot Water Extraction The most common method of carpet cleaning, an extraction machine is used to prespray, rinse and extract
Hydrophilic Moisture-absorbent
Hydrophobic Moisture-repellent
Jute A natural tan fibre used in webbed bases and other areas of construction
Level Loop Carpet style where loops of pile are equal height
Lipophilic Oil-loving
Lipophobic Oil-hating
Man-made Fibres An inclusive term for all manufactured fibres
Metamerism A term for colours that match under some but not all light sources
Multi Level Loop Carpet style where loops of pile are varying height
Napping A finishing process in which circular brushes vigorously raise the fibre ends, forming a pilelike surface
Natural fibre A general term for fibres derived from natural substances such as cellulose, proteins and minerals
NDS Neutral Detergent Spotter. pH levels in the neutral range
Nitrogen Dioxide Loss of the blue or red dye from incomplete combustion may cause permanent yellowing
Non-Ionic No charge
NVDS/POG Non-volatile Dry Solvent/Paint Oil Grease remover. Leaves a residue that needs to be rinsed. Provides more dwell time than VDS
Nylon First produced commercially by DuPont in 1939. Nylon is highly durable because of its remarkable resistance to abrasion.
Olefin/Polypropylene A highly durable fibre almost equals nylon for strength and resistance to moisture and chemical inertness.
Optical Brighteners A colourless compound that, when applied to a fabric, absorbs the ultraviolet in light, but emits radiation in the visible spectrum
Oxidisers Bleaching agent
Ozone Fading Loss of colour, usually blue
Pesticides Applied to the perimeter of the carpet may attack a primary colour and cause a colour change. This damage is permanent
pH The relative acidity or alkalinity of a water-based solution. The pH chart ranges from 0-14. Acids are below 7, neutral is 7, and everything above 7 is alkaline. Each number as it moves from 7 in either direction increases by 10 times the previous number
Pigment An insoluble powdered colouring agent carried in a liquid binder and printed or padded onto the surface of a cloth
Pile A velvety surface produced by an extra set of filling yarns that form raised loops, which may be cut and sheared or left uncut
Pile Reversal Caused by traffic, shading, watermarking, pooling or the installer turned the carpet 180° at the seam. Brushing and sometimes steaming can fix this temporarily
Poly Trimethylene Terephtalate An advanced polymer that can be spun into fibres. These fibres have a unique combination of properties including stretch, recovery, bulk and easy dye
Polyester Man made fibre which is most like cotton in its physical properties and appearance
Polymer A chemical compound consisting of repeating structural units, the basis of most synthetic fibres
Polypropylene/Olefin A highly durable fibre almost equals nylon for strength and resistance to moisture and chemical inertness.
Pre-Inspection To inspect a job (carpets, upholstery etc) before cleaning is commenced
Pre-Spray The workhorse of cleaning. Because most soil is acid most preconditioners and detergents are alkaline. Soil suspension is accomplished primarily with this step
Print Dyeing Application of the dye in a pattern applied through a screen or rollers
Protein Fibres A general term for natural fibres derived from animal protein, such as wool, silk and hair' animal protein is also used for various man-made fibres produced from casein bases
Raw Silk Silk that is not fully degummed' it is stiff, tacky and naturally caramel in colour
Rayon Generic term for a man-made fibre derived from regenerated cellulose
Resilience The stretch and return of a fibre, yarn or fabric
Saponification The process of converting fat into soap or synthetic detergent by treating it with an alkali.
Saxony Cut pile carpet, highly twisted, evenly sheared medium length pile height. Most popular residential style
Screen Printing A hand or machine printing process in which a pattern-making stencil or screen held in a frame is positioned on the cloth and colorant is applied
Seam Separation Separation of seam possibly due to lack of seam sealer
Shading An apparent change in colour when the pile is bent and the light reflects differently off the bent fibres
Shag Loosely tufted carpet with long yarns with wide spacing
Shrinkage The contraction of cloth due to heat and moisture
Side Match Dye lots were not installed sequentially
Silicones Great water repellence but not very effective on oil or dry soil. Starting in 1986 voided stain-resist warranties. Many silicones cause rapid resoiling.
Silk A fine, strong continuous filament, produced by the larva of certain insects, especially the silkworm, when constructing cocoons
Slub A heavy area in an unevenly spun yarn
Soil filtration The microscopic particles of soil that continuously float in the air are filtered by the fibres usually along the perimeters of the room and under closed doors
Soil retardants Filled in crevices of the fibres with Colourless particles to prevent soil from attaching. Carpets became stiff
Soil Shading Abrasion of plastic like fibres causing a difference in the way the light reflects
Solution Dyeing A dyeing process in which colour is induced in man-made fibres in a pre-extrusion state, resulting in a tendency to superior colourfastness
Solvents Designed to emulsify oils
Specific Gravity The ratio of the weight of a material to the weight of an equal volume of water
Spinneret A small metal apparatus with fine holes through which man-made fibres are extruded
Spot Substance added (Gum, tar, food, ink)
Sprouting Sprouts are loose or unattached yarns that protrude above the normal pile height. Occasionally a tuft will work itself loose in any carpet. This is normal and unless very excessive, not considered a manufacturing defect.
Stain Colour added (Wine, Mustard)
Staple fibre Differ in length according to species or breed. Man made filaments can be cut into specific lengths to produce stable fibre
Stock Dyeing The dyeing of staple fibre prior to spinning
Streaking Clean or dirty streaks in carpet caused by:
  • Improper wand stroking
  • Blockage of vacuum slot or Tee jets
  • Wicking
  • Improper preconditioning (clogged sprayer tip)
Surfactant (Surface-active agent) chemical that when added to a liquid, changes the properties of that liquid at the surface. It allows penetration into the material being cleaned
Suspend Most insoluble solids settle to the bottom of a liquid, but some split into tiny particles that spread throughout the liquid. Often a suspension is maintained by electrical forces, as is the case of insoluble soil particles suspended in a detergent solution. This type of mixture is called a suspension. Eg. Milk is a suspension of fat particles in water or mud is a suspension of dirt particles in water
Synergise 2 or more agents combining to create an affect that is unobtainable by any of those agents used separately
Synthetic fibre Fibre derived from petrochemicals or renewable sources
TACT Time, Agitation, Chemical, Temperature - A cleaning fundamental
Traffic Lane Where heavy soiling is evident. Especially around furniture and beds, observe the flow of traffic
Truck Mount A non-portable cleaning machine that is mounted to a truck. Powered by much more powerful motors than a portable machine.
Upholstery Tool A smaller version of the standard carpet cleaning wand, designed to fit in smaller areas for upholstery
VDS (Volatile Dry Solvent) Volatile Dry Solvent. (Evaporates very rapidly) used for spotting, not total cleaning
Velvet/Plush Pile yarns are only slightly twisted and very dense and evenly sheared
Wand A cleaning tool that sprays pressurised solutions and vacuums
Watermarking or Pooling An irreversible, localised change in the orientation of the carpet. Mainly associated with wool.
Wear A loss of face pile in the traffic areas as opposed to the non trafficked areas
Wicking The upward migration of moisture in a fabric. The best analogy is that of a kerosene lantern - The oil wicks the bottom to the top of the wick and is lit
Wool Derived from the hair of sheep
Yarn Dyeing Dyed in yarn form before the fabric stage