6 Tests of Effective Carpet Cleaning Solutions

The Carpet and Rug Institue tests and certifies a wide variety of products in the carpet cleaning industry.  They offer a Seal of Approval to products that meet their rigorous criteria.  The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) Seal of Approval ensures the highest level of quality and safety in the products it adorns.

The best carpet cleaning solutions are those that have achieved the CRI Seal of Approval.  CRI has tested these solutions for 6 important factors: their overall effectiveness, their rate of resoiling, their pH, their surface texture change, their optical brighteners and their colorfastness.

That’s a lot of technical terms.  So, let’s go through each one.  And if you really want to get technical, you can read more about CRI’s process and search for specific products on their website.

1. Overall effectiveness: When CRI evaluates the overall cleaning effectiveness of a solution, they ensure that it removes soils and spots better than plain water.  Can you believe that there are some solutions out there that don’t do a better job of removing soils and spots than just plain old water does?!

2. Rate of resoiling: CRI also evaluates the rate of resoiling for each solution.  Resoiling is when the carpet attracts new soils after it’s been cleaned.  CRI tests the solutions to make sure that the cleaned areas do not attract dirt and soils faster than the non-cleaned areas.  Basically, they’re testing to make sure the solution doesn’t make the carpet dirtier faster than if the carpet hadn’t been cleaned at all.  Can you imagine that?  I solution that speeds up how dirty your carpet gets?!

3. pH: CRI tests the pH of each solution as well.  pH is the measure of acidity or basicity of a solution.  Solutions with a pH less than 7 are acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic.  As a point of reference, pure water has a pH very close to 7. Some carpet cleaning solutions have a high pH (they are very basic) to ensure their ability to break down the toughest soils. Other solutions have a more neutral pH (closer to a pH of 7). These more neutral pH solutions are most effective and safe for routine cleaning as they do not harm carpet fibers or cause dye-loss.

4. Surface texture change:  CRI also measures the change, if any, to the surface texture of the carpet after cleaning.  According to CRI, effective cleaning solutions do not greatly change the carpet pile after repeated cleanings.  This means the carpet fibers are not being ruined by the solution.  Effective cleaning solutions ensure that routine cleaning is safe for your carpet.  This makes routine cleanings safe and smart.

5. Optical brighteners:  Cleaning solutions that contain optical brighteners do not receive CRI’s Seal of Approval.  Optical brighteners are dyes that make your carpet look less yellow by increasing the amount of blue light that they reflect.  Sometimes this is called a whitening effect.  Cleaning solutions that contain optical brighteners do not meet CRI’s standards because they can leave some patches of carpet looking lighter than the rest.  Don’t you want your carpet to be truly clean, not just whitened?

6. Colorfastness:  The last test that CRI performs on cleaning solutions is a test of colorfastness.  Colorfastness is the ability to keep the same color when washed or placed in light.  CRI ensures that cleaning solutions do not cause a color change in the carpet during cleaning.  The last thing a homeowner needs is a cleaning solution that is so aggressive that the color of the carpet changes.  This last criteria ensures that your carpet will be the same color after cleaning (but better) than it was before cleaning!