Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Big Problem with Steam Cleaning (“Hot Water Extraction”)

steam cleaning

Let’s think about this, if dirty water is removed from your carpet, but the carpet is left wet when the cleaning is done, isn’t the moisture left in the carpet just the same dirty water? Tests have proven that in order to remove all the dirty water to an acceptable level in a carpet with Hot Water Extraction (or “Steam Cleaning”); the carpets would have to be rinsed 16 times!

The two biggest complaints from consumers when getting their carpets cleaned are:

1. The carpet was left too wet and took long to dry.
2. The spots and stains resurfaced after the carpet had completely dried.

Many carpet cleaning companies are still trying to clean carpets “the old way”, utilizing old-fashioned Steam Cleaning (“Hot Water Extraction”). You’ve seen them with the big loud vans out front with hoses running across the yard into the house. This is a 40 year old process than can leave your carpets wet for many hours or days.

Steam Cleaning utilizes high water pressure, high pH (alkaline) detergents, and hot water to clean. This process forces chemicals, hot water and dirt to the backing and padding under the carpet. Only 60-80% of the water is sucked out; that is because the carpet and padding are soaked and may take a very long time to dry. This also can cause mold and mildew, odor problems, and fast re-soiling. Not to mention the inconvenience of it all!

The History of Scotchgard

Last week we posted about the benefits of Scotchgarding. This week we bring you the history of Scotchgard!

A young chemical researcher who was hired in 1952 by 3M had the task to develop a new type of rubber that would resists deterioration from aircraft fuels. As it happens many times in the scientific area, she failed at this project but stumbled upon creating Scotchgard instead. In 1953 an assistant to Sherman’s lab accidentally dripped some of this new product on her tennis shoes and she was unable to remove the spots. She tried soaps, alcohol and other cleaning products but to no avail.

But she was fascinated by the resistance and the resiliency of the Scotchgard solution. This brand new product was a development of a fluorochemical polymer that could actually repel oil and water from fabrics.

In 1956 the joint research team of Sherman and Smith launched the Scotchgard name into the marketplace, and a broad line of Scotchgard products were on their way to the public.

Scotchgard brand has remained the world market leader ever since its discovery. Fittingly, it was Smith’s son, a researcher at 3M, who enhanced the environmental performance of the newer Scotchgard products.

Quite literally, Scotchgard was found by accident, and many products designed by 3M were stemmed from accidental discoveries. The company was always in motion, creating and trying new things for decades.

As for Sherman, her continuing career with 3M was one of constant innovation. She eventually became the Manager of Technical Development, and retired in 1992.

The Benefits of Scotchgarding (Fabric Protecting)


Scotchgarding is a process that is used on fabric, carpets, and upholstered furniture to protect it from staining. It also helps keep grime and dirt from attaching to the fibers by acting like a protective seal, and is often used after furniture or carpet cleaning to prolong the benefits of these services. Fabric has tiny “dye sites” that hold the coloring of the fabric, and the Scotchgard or Teflon protectant fill those open dye sites and put a small microscopic protective seal on the top of fabric.

Scotchgarding is very beneficial for several reasons:

  • It protects the carpet and furniture.
  • It protects the life of your carpet and furniture.
  • It saves you money (you need to have the fabric cleaned less frequency as compared to fabric that is not protected).
  • It makes your job easier when you are spot cleaning the fabric.
  • It prolongs the “freshly cleaned” look after carpet and upholstery cleaning.

Scotchgard was discovered by accident by a lab technician who was working on a project and spilled a drop of Scotchgard on her tennis sneakers. After some time she noticed a clean spot on her now dirty shoes, thus the invention of Scotchgard.

Although most companies don’t use actual Scotchgard and Teflon protectants, they are considered generic terms like “Kleenex” or “Coke”. Many protectants are safer and greener than the original kind developed in the 1950’s. There are solvent based and water based protectants. The solvent based ones are a type of “fluorochemical polymers” and the water based ones are just water based protectants. There are benefits and drawbacks to both kinds.

Come back next week to read our blog about the History of Scotchgard.

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