Is Your Carpet Going to Last?

The average carpet lasts 12 years, and someday you’re going to have to replace yours. But maybe you’re hoping that today isn’t the day. You’re hoping that a thorough professional cleaning might restore your carpet’s youthful brightness and spring. Could it happen? The answer may depend on the type of carpeting you have. When it comes to a carpet’s durability and resilience, the material can make all the difference.

The most common carpet fiber is nylon, which is also the strongest and longest-lasting; it should rebound after a cleaning. Other common carpeting materials are more likely to show their age; examples include polyester, acrylic, rayon, and Olefin. But chances are, if your carpet’s old enough to show its wear, you probably don’t remember what material it’s made of.

Fortunately, my friends at the local Chem-Dry gave me some insight. As it turns out, it’s pretty easy to determine what kind of carpeting you’ve got – even if you’re not one of the best carpet cleaners here in Tacoma. All you’ll need are some scissors, a lighter, tweezers, and a sensitive nose. Here’s what you do:

Cut free a small strand of carpet from a place where it won’t be missed. Bring the strand outside, somewhere burning material may safely drop. Also bring along a lighter and some tweezers. Capture the strand in your tweezers, light it on fire, and then bring it close enough to detect its odor – the key to identifying the material. Don’t breathe too deeply, as some fumes are hazardous.

When burned, more than likely, your strand will melt – that’s means you’ve got a synthetic carpet. The burning strand will probably also have a unique smell. Here are basic descriptions of the odors you’re likely to notice, along with their corresponding materials:

• Plastic or celery – nylon
• Chemical, slightly sweet – polyester
• Chemical, like asphalt or candle wax – Olefin
• Strong, acrid, chemical, fishy – acrylic
• Burning paper, wood, or leaves – rayon
• Chemical, slightly sweet – polyester
• Burning hair, charred meat – wool
• Chemical, slightly sweet – polyester
• Chemical, slightly sweet – Sorona

What if your carpet strand doesn’t melt? If instead of melting, it just breaks apart, your carpets are made from natural fibers like seagrass, coir, jute, sisal, or wool – most likely the latter. If you do have a wool carpet, you’re lucky: Wool is a premium material that offers superior texture retention and resilience; it’s likely to recover well after a cleaning.

No matter what kind of carpet you have, regular vacuuming and occasional deep cleanings will help to extend its lifespan. Vacuuming will help to remove abrasive grit that can damage carpet fibers. Deep cleanings – preferably from your local Chem-Dry – are needed to remove dirt, grit, and grime that are too deeply embedded for a vacuum to reach.