Do carpet protectors really work?
Most all carpets today come with a protector on them from the factory. For the purpose of this article though, we will just be talking about after-market protectors that are typically applied after a carpet cleaning. A carpet protector is a chemical applied to the carpet that attempts to affect the surface properties of the carpet fiber so that the carpet will look cleaner longer. It is generally sprayed down after the carpet is cleaned and groomed into the carpet and allowed to dry.
What does a carpet protector attempt to do
A carpet protector attempts to do four things. It attempts to repel liquid, resist dry soil from scratching the fiber, resist spills or spots from becoming stains, and improve the cleaning ability of the fiber so that it stays looking cleaner longer.
What are the main type of protectors on the market
There are four main types of protectors on the market. First are fluorochemicals which generally have the best soil resistance, best water and oil repellency, and some stain resistance which comes from the repellency. Next there are silicas and acrylic polymers which offer little repellency and a little soil resistance. Then there are silicones which have poor soil resistance, good water repellency and very little oil repellency. These also have a tendency to cause rapid resoiling of the fiber. Lastly, there are phenolic chemicals which are great at stain resistance but not good at repelling either water or oil. For this reason phenolic chemicals are usually paired with a fluorochemical. In the carpet cleaning industry fluorochemicals are the most used.
The misconception in the market place is that a protector will make your carpet bullet proof and it will not. It will however offer you a level of protection you can’t get on an unprotected carpet. A protector will work for certain household food and beverage spills but will not work to prevent urine from the family pet getting into the carpet. Also a carpet protector will wear off over time. Everything from sunlight to traffic to vacuuming the carpet will break down or remove the protector over time. This is why a reapplication of the product is necessary after a carpet cleaning is done. These carpet protector products do work but need to be reapplied after a carpet cleaning to keep the effectiveness of them high. The more traffic over an area the more often the protector will need to be applied to keep the effectiveness that you are wanting.