The introduction of DuPont Stainmaster® in 1986 brought about a revolution in the carpet industry. Prior to this introduction, most consumers purchased carpet in colors designed to hide soil and stains. Some spills, such as Kool-Aid, soda spills, and coffee could easily become permanent stains.
This new technology was a breakthrough in stain resistance, but common sense must be used when selecting carpet color and you must realize that some spills, while not permanent, may require significant effort and proper chemicals to remove. The care section of this site has been designed to be as comprehensive a guide as you will find for maintaining your new carpet purchase, but there are never any guarantees for removal when it comes to spills.
The technology of how these topical treatments work is really quite simple. They work in a similar manner in which dyes attach to the carpet fiber. Fibers have dye sites, which allow dye to penetrate the fiber. In residential fibers, these dye sites have a positive electrical charge. Dyes, having a negative electrical charge, are applied to the fiber and these opposite charges neutralize one another. This allows the dye to bond to the fiber. Many food items like Kool-Aid®, and Gatorade® use the same negatively charged dyes to add color to the drink. When spilled on untreated fiber, these dyes bond to the fiber in the same way as dyes used in coloring fibers. This bond results in a permanent stain.
The principle of stain-resist chemistry is such that in dyeing carpet fibers, not all dye sites are neutralized by the dyes. These positively-charged dye sites remain available to accepted unwanted dyes. In essence, a clear colorless dye is added to the carpet face fiber after dyeing, which neutralizes all remaining dye sites and limits the acceptance of new dyes from common household spills. While the technology is a bit different from this description, this is a simple explanation of the theory involved.
In shopping for new carpet, you may encounter a number of brand names for topical treatments. The majority are variations of the same chemistry. Some treatments may offer warrantees, while others may not offer warrantees. A warranty should not be your primary selection criteria. In carefully reading the warranty, you may note that you should contact a carpet cleaner. If the carpet cleaner can remove a spill, then you will be responsible for paying for the carpet cleaning professionals service fee. If the spill is one of the covered spills, (some spills are not warranted) that portion of carpet may be replaced or repaired. New dye technologies have allowed for areas to be bleached free of color and spot-dyed. Do not expect to use the carpet for 5 years and ask for full replacement when a permanent stain occurs.
Before the introduction of Stainmaster, Scotchgard® and Teflon® were the primary fabric treatments available. These treatments added surface tension to the fiber, which caused spills to bead up on the surface of the fiber. This property acted in much the same manner as a Teflon frying pan. Spills were repelled by the treatment and, if removal was attempted immediately, many spills could be removed. Dry soil was repelled in much the same manner, allowing the soil to release more easily, thus improving carpet cleaning results. However, these treatments have the tendency to slowly wash away with routine carpet cleaning and foot traffic tends to wear these treatments away. These treatments should be reapplied every 3 to 5 years.
These treatments are different from stain treatments, in that stain treatments are designed to prevent permanent staining and never need to be reapplied. Soil treatments are designed to make carpet cleaning easier and should be reapplied every three to five years. In dyeing carpet, bleaches and stripping agents are used to remove carpet dye. Remember, since stain resist treatments are similar to carpet dye, these treatments are stripped, as well. In dyeing carpet, make sure you have the carpet dye technician, reapply the stain resist treatment after dyeing.
Before 1986, carpet staining was not a consumer concern. Consumers would buy carpet in colors that helped hide carpet stains. DuPont StainMaster was engineered to prevent carpet stains. Spills should not become permanent stains if stain removal is attempted quickly.