The introduction of Dupont Stainmaster® in 1986 was simply the biggest event in history to impact the carpet industry. Stainmaster propelled the carpet industry into big business. Stainmaster1 was a breakthrough in carpet stain protection. Prior to 1986, Scotchgard® soil treatment was the best hope for repelling carpet stains. The Scotchgard® principal worked in the same manner in which a Teflon® frying pan worked.
Both Teflon® and Scotchgard® initiated surface tension, and like wax on a car, it allowed stains to bead on the surface. For most stains if you attempted quick removal, most of the stain could be removed. However, these treatments were principally soil treatments. Kool-aid®, Gatorade® and other food items, which utilized acid-based dyes, would permanently stain most carpet fibers. In fact, most food products utilize acid-based dyes and carpet, itself, is dyed using acid-based dyes.
StainMaster was a breakthrough in that it resisted these acid-based dyes. In simplistic terms, the chemists at DuPont realized that when carpet is dyed, negatively charged dye particles attach to positively charged dye sites and this enables the fiber to "hold" the dye. Once these dye site were neutralized, they could not accept additional dye.
However, chemists learned that during the dye process, not all dye sites are neutralized and these negatively charged dye sites could accept additional dye from food products. The solution was simple. Introduce a clear, colorless dye after carpet dyeing to neutralize the remaining dye sites and no more stains. While the technology is somewhat different from this description, the theory and explanation is the simplest for a consumer to understand.
While no carpet is stain-proof, the process made carpet nearly stain proof. Spills that are allowed to soak for extended periods will slowly begin to penetrate dye sites, but the solution and results was nothing short of spectacular.
1986 was also a period of rapid change for the carpet industry. Initially, only a few carpet manufacturers could purchase this new chemical and DuPont allotted specific quantities of the chemical based on pounds of Dupont fiber purchased. There were specific construction minimums and the chemistry only could be used on certain yarn systems. The company for whom I worked at the time, Salem Carpets, was lucky enough to be on the leading edge of development and we were given first priority on fiber and chemistry.
Consumers became excited about this technology and "everyone" wanted their old avocado, gold, rust, and dirt colored carpets replaced. All of the sudden, White carpet became fashionable. Pastels were the rage and it seemed as if everyone bought new carpet.
Then came the phone calls from consumers. In 1988, we began getting calls from consumers complaining that their 2 year old carpet was dirty and they wanted it replaced. For the next two years, the carpet industry continually told consumers that Stainmaster did not prevent a carpet from getting dirty, it simply resisted stains better than anything else. This event coincided with the "invention" of carpet cleaning, or so it seems. Even today, if you want "white" carpet, know this- It will show soil. Without the invention of Stainmaster, the carpet Industry would not have matured so quickly. While it is an excellent breakthrough technology, it is not bullet-proof. However, I do wonder. Whatever happened to that devilish little kid that DuPont used in its' commercials that made his mothers' life a living hell?
In May 2004, DuPont spun off their fiber division to Coke Industries. Along with this divestiture went the Stainmaster brand name. Invista, a Coke Industries subsidiary, now owns the Stainmaster brand name. Really not much has changed to The Stainmaster brand name, except the old peas and carrots phrase of "DuPont Stainmaster" is no longer valid. Some of us old timers may have difficulty in eliminating the "DuPont" part of the phrase. After all, DuPont Stainmaster is one of the most of the most recognizable consumer brand names in the world. During the late 1980's the name Dupont stainmaster became synonymous with Stain resistant carpet. Consumer would show up in carpet showrooms asking for "DuPont Stainmaster" even if they were buying a "wear-dated" or "stain release" product. The name Stainmaster® will now be sufficient.
Every Stainmaster® product still receives the same stain resistant treatment and a Teflon® coating. While the Teflon® name has been licensed to Invista, the technology is still owned by DuPont.
1. StainMaster is a registered trademark of Invista and is no longer associated with DuPont. While this copyrighted article was published prior to the Invista purchase of StainMaster, references to Dupont StainMaster remain attached to this article because of the copyright date.
About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.