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Olefin has the lowest melting temperature of all fibers. To keep it from disintegrating from friction during manufacturing, a spin finish and/or lubricants are applied as a coolant. Occasionally, these oily substances do not get removed before shipping and the end user gets a new carpet that rapidly soils. This problem is correctable a through steam cleaning that involves specialized detergents such as the Olefin Cleaner from the Prochem Company, 325 South Price Rd., Chandler, AZ 85224 480.899.7000, Fax: 480.786.9538, Toll Free 800.776.2436.
If deemed necessary, spin finish and/or lubricants can be confirmed through laboratory testing for extractable matter. Either ASTM D2257 using Ethyl Alcohol or AATCC 20A using Chloroform will yield a percentage of soluble material. A result of more than 2 percent could indicate that the carpet is defective beyond repair. However, in most cases, the carpet is salvageable.
It is important to note some of the advantages and disadvantages of olefin. Under advantages:
1. It is naturally resistant to dye stains such as Kool-Aid. Unlike nylon's stain resistance, this characteristic cannot be diminished with cleaning and usage.
2. It is chemically resistant to mild bleaching solutions. Chlorine bleach will dissolve wool and will cause color loss in nylon.
3. It dries faster than all fibers after cleaning because it is the least absorbent of water.
Under its disadvantages:
1. It is the least resilient of all yarns. This lack of resiliency is often confused with soiling problems because it too is an aesthetics issue. Once it is crushed, aggressive cleaning will not restore its nap. Thus, olefin's attractiveness is often short lived unless the faceyarn density is high enough to resist crushing.
2. It is lipophilic, meaning that oily soils and oily stains can be difficult to remove. Only polyester is more oil loving. However, this problem can be controlled with repeated applications of fluorochemical soil protectants such as TeflonŽ.
3. It often turns brown after steam cleaning due to a process called wicking. Wicking is the migration of soil to the tips of the yarns during the drying process. It is easy to correct, but it can be prevented by extra thorough pre-vacuuming prior to the extraction process.
4. It is the most heat sensitive of all yarns. Solution couplers used in association with truckmount steam cleaning machines may cause permanent distortions and so will dragging heavy furniture across it.