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Rug GuyGlossary of Carpet Cleaning 
and Maintenance Terms

From "Installation & Cleaning Specialist" Oct. 1993

Absorb - Taking up of a substance into the carpet through pores or small opening (i.e. chalk, talc, and sawdust are absorbent powders).
Acetic Acid Rinse - Acts as neutralizing agent for detergent residues. Sets fugitive colors.
Acid - Any substance, which when dissolved in water, yields a pH below 7.
Adsorb - That which is taken onto the carpet by adherence to the surface (i.e. soot, etc.).
Alkali - Any substance which when dissolved in water, yields pH above7.
Animal Stain - Discoloration of the carpet caused by animal waste.
Anti-microbial - A chemical that prevents the growth of mold, bacteria, mildew, etc., reducing their destructive action to the carpet and eliminating accompanying odors. Applied to carpet at mill level, built into some fibers and applied on-location.
Anti-stat - A chemical substance applied to the carpet, or a special backing, to reduce static electricity to acceptable levels.
Auxiliary Tanks - Means of storing addition supply of water and returned dirty solution in steam carpet cleaning truck mounted units.
Base Unit - The principal power and supply source used in steam carpet cleaning.
Beater - Special equipment used to remove loose dirt or dust from the carpet prior to cleaning.
Biodegradable - Has the capability of being decomposed by naturally occurring micro-organisms.
Bleach - An oxidizing or reducing agent used to remove color.
Bleeding - This is a loss or transfer of color from one section of the carpet to another, usually under hot-wet conditions.
Bone Scraper - A flat blade-shaped tool that is made of bone or plastic. Used to remove or loosen encrusted dirt or material from the surface of the carpet.
Brighteners - Optical whiteners or fluorescent whitening agents used in cleaning process. Under the influence of ultraviolet light, emit a visible blue-white light.
Browning - A yellowish or brownish discoloration of the carpet's face, usually caused by impurities in the cellulosic fibers, such as cotton and jute, which wick up to the face fibers on over wetting. Most often caused by: excess alkalinity in the cleaning agent used in steam cleaning; activated alkaline residue left by previous cleaning efforts; overwetting; a combination of any of these. May sometimes appear in shades other than brown or yellow depending on color of effected carpet.
Buffer - Chemical agents that are used to maintain a constant pH level.
Builder - Material added to detergent formulations to increase their effectiveness by acting as a water softener and alkaline buffer, i.e. borax, sodium tripoly phosphate.
Burn Test - A method of identification by noting the odor and ash from burnt fiber.
Chemical Sponge - A special sponge that contains chemical agents used to remove soot from nearby walls and baseboards.
Circling - Circular streaks left on the carpet after a rotary shampooing because of improper cleaning technique by the operator.
Cleaning Agents - Detergent or emulsifying agent used in the carpet cleaning process.
Cleaning Head - Used in steam carpet cleaning, sometimes called a scrub wand. A lightweight tool used in back and forth motion (spraying on the back stroke, vacuuming on the forward stroke). Contains spray nozzles and vacuum slot solution control valve.
Clouding - Usually caused by over wetting. Residue from previous cleanings which is not removed and left too wet will wick up the carpet fiber and cause a cloudy appearance on the surface. Customer complaint may state that carpet looked dirty after it dried.
Compression - A force which tends to squeeze or press together.
Crocking - This is a loss of the carpets excess color when rubbed in either the wet or dry state.
Defoamer - A surface-active agent that is used in cleaning to reduce detergent foaming.
Degreaser - Solvent used in the cleaning process to remove heavy oils or grease from the carpet.
Deodorizer - Products specifically formulated to destroy, mask or modify unpleasant odors from the carpet.
Detergent - Any substance which is capable of dislodging, removing or emulsifying soils. Generally, the term is used for formulated products that contain surfactant builders, solvents etc.
Digester - A chemical agent, usually an organic enzyme, which is used to break down stains like blood or food products.
Disaster Repair - Those services that relate to cleaning, repairing or restoring carpets, resilient floors, draperies, upholstery etc. damaged as a result of fire, smoke, water etc.
Disinfectant - An agent used to completely destroy all harmful bacteria. Labeling for such materials requires proof of effectiveness for registration with EPA.
Drag Tool - A heavy weighted piece of equipment (wand) used for hot water extraction "steam" carpet cleaning. The wand contains the vacuum head and detergent jets.
Dry Foam Cleaning - In this cleaning method a concentrated foam is used as the cleaning element.
Dry Absorbent Cleaning - A carpet cleaning method that uses an absorbent powder that contains a solvent. The powder is worked into the carpet pile in order to absorb the grease and dirt, allowed to set for a period and then vacuumed.
Dry Room - A large enclosed chamber through which hot air circulates. Carpets are hung in this room to dry after in-plant cleaning.
Dry Rot - Disintegration of carpet backing which is caused by mildew.
Dry Spotter - A stain removal agent which contains dry solvents. Used primarily for grease or oily type stains.
Fatty Acids - Oily acidic materials that are formed by degradation of animal tissues.
Feather In - Use of a bone scraper to work a stain removal agent into the pile of the carpet.
Fluffing - Refers to loose fibers appearing on the surface of the carpet.
Foiled Tabs - Paper or plastic squares, usually about 3" square, used to protect the damp carpet fibers from damage by furniture legs, rust, stain etc.
Fume Fading - Also referred to as gas fading, this is a loss or shift in the dye color of the carpet due to attack by atmospheric contaminants. Ozone, generated by thunder storms, and oxides of nitrogen from gas furnaces are the most common fading agents.
Furniture Protectors - Paper and foil squares set under furniture legs to avoid rust marks after carpet cleaning.
Hg - Inches of mercury. Means of measuring vacuum.
Hydrophilic - The part of a detergent molecule which has a high affinity for water.
Implosion - To burst inward or collapse. The opposite of explosion.
Injection Kit - Device used to inject odor control solution into the source of odor problems.
In-plant Cleaning - Any cleaning process in which the carpet is brought to a plant for cleaning; as opposed to on-location in which the carpet is cleaned in the customer's home, business etc.
L.E.D. - Light emitting diodes used for digital read out.
Location Cleaning - All cleaning work performed in the home, office, store or other area, where equipment is brought to the area, regardless of method.
Micro - So small as to be undetectable to unaided human senses.
Mildew - Fungus growth that can occur on carpet fibers. Causes odor and fiber degradation.
Moisture Regain - The amount of moisture an oven-dry fiber will absorb when it is exposed to the atmosphere. Usually expressed as percent at 70F., 65%RH. Typical values are wool, 15%; nylon, 4%; polyester, 0.4%; olefin, 0%.
Nap Finishing Brush - Long handled, nylon bristled brush used to set carpet pile in one direction.
Neutral Cleaning - Any cleaning product having a pH or 7, and is therefore neither acid nor alkaline.
Odor Control Concentrate - Agent used in absorbing and controlling rancid odors in carpeting.
Oleophilic - That part of a detergent molecule which has a high affinity for oil.
Ozone - A highly reactive gas and oxidizing agent formed by passing a high voltage current through air. Used as a deodorizing agent.
PSI - Pounds per square inch. Measure used in determining solution pressure in steam carpet cleaning.
Perborate - Used in some wet spotting preparations and browning treatment, this is usually sodium perborate. A mild oxidizing agent.
Peroxide - Any one of several strong oxidizing compounds, but generally hydrogen peroxide.
Piezoelectric - Transformation of mechanical force to electricity, or conversely, transformation of electricity to mechanical force.
Pile Distortion - When there is a loss of texture or pattern on the surface of the carpet.
Pile Lay - Direction taken by surface yarn during manufacture.
Pile Lifter - A heavy duty reel-type vacuum which is used to loosen embedded soil and erect the carpet pile. Usually done before cleaning.
P.O.G. - Used to describe agent for removing paint, oil and grease from carpets.
Pre-spotting - Prior to the overall cleaning of the carpet, pre-spotting is done to remove stains.
Reels - Storage facility for hoses on truck mounted steam cleaning units.
Residue - An unremoved material that has been left in the carpet after the carpet has been cleaned.
Rotary Brush Cleaning - A cleaning method in which a high foam shampoo is scrubbed over the fabric by a rotary brush.
Rust Remover - Chemical applied to yarn surface for quick removal of rust and other iron related marks.
Sanitizer - An agent which yields a significant reduction in the level of harmful bacteria. Legal labeling requirements for sanitizers are not as stringent as those for disinfectants.
Sequistrant - A chemical agent which reduces water hardness by forming soluble compounds with calcium, magnesium and iron compounds.
Shag Rake - A rake with plastic tines that is used to align or lift high pile shag after cleaning and yield improved appearance.
Shampoo - Generally a high foam detergent preparation and used for rotary cleaning or in-plant cleaning.
Slot Velocity - The amount of air wash passing the lips of the cleaning head. Measured in feet of air per minute.
Soil Retardant - An agent that is applied to the carpet to retard or decrease the rate of soiling.
Stain Repellent - An agent that is applied to the carpets surface which primarily acts as a water repellent.
Steam Cleaning - The cleaning method in which the detergent solution is forced through jets under high pressure into the carpet pile and immediately removed along with loose and emulsified soil though a wet vacuum. The vacuum head and jets are usually mounted on the same piece of equipment.
Stripper - A strong reducing agent that is used like bleach to remove color.
Surfactant - Specifically, a surface active material used in detergent formulations as a wetting or penetrating agent, emulsifier or dispersant.
Traffic Lane Paper - Paper placed in high traffic areas, which must be opened to foot traffic while the carpet is still damp.
Truck Mounted - Steam carpet cleaning equipment which is mounted in a vehicle. Usually only the cleaning head and hoses are taken onto the premise to be cleaned.
Water Hardness -  The amount of metallic salts, such as calcium, magnesium or iron dissolved in water. These can form in soluble "curds" with some surfactants and reduce the effectiveness of the cleaning.
Wood Blocks - Small blocks of wood, usually 2"x 2"x 1", used to prop up console type furniture and allow air passage under the piece.

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