Claims file: Mysterious blue spots

Home Columns Claims file: Mysterious blue spots

by Lew Migliore

A dealer recently posed a carpet concern: It seems after the fairly expensive, name-brand beige carpet he sold to a customer was professionally cleaned, several blue spots, which weren’t there before, appeared. He said the professional cleaner, who used the hot water extraction process, noticed the spots appearing while he was cleaning the carpet. The cleaner tried to treat one of the spots specifically to see if he could remove it but it actually spread, stating he’d never seen a carpet do this before. “What do you think could be going on here?” he asked.

What we can say for sure is that carpet does not have any- thing in it that would allow for blue or any other colored spots to appear when wet cleaned, or cleaned by any other method. Dyes are fully set when the carpet is manufactured. No colorants or other indicating agents would be present in the carpet.

There are however, colorants used on the yarn at times, often blue or red, to identify a particular lot or type of yarn but they are rinsed off during the pre- washing of the carpet during the dyeing process. These indicators would be rinsed from the carpet when it was cleaned. Since they are only a lightly applied colorant the chances they remained are virtually nil.

More than likely

The most likely cause of the blue spots—and they could have been any color—is the introduction of a substance that, when wet, ran and dyed the carpet. The most likely agent would be a material that was in a powdered form that clumped and fell onto the carpet. It could have been colored pencil lead or some other marking material. It could also be a colored substance from a child’s drawing crayons or even a fine particle of colored paper, women’s makeup of some kind or a powdered food coloring that got on the carpet. It could even be blue chalk from the installers chalk line. All of these substances could fall into the carpet pile, go unnoticed and not cause any problems until they were wetted by the cleaning process. These substances could also migrate or run when wet.

A catalyst

Since this type of particulate matter could be trapped in the yarn fiber and not be vacuumed out or fall to the base of the carpet, it could sit without incident until affected by water. At this point, the wetting and extraction by the cleaning system could activate the suspect substance and pull it up the yarn, causing it to migrate.

Now, so you don’t get the impression I’m clairvoyant, this is purely a plausible speculation. What we can say with great certainty is that nothing inherent in the manufacturing or dyeing of carpet would cause such a speculation to manifest itself or exist.

With all the colored identifiers used on undyed carpet yarn we’d have an epidemic of complaints due to colored spots in carpet. Believe me, nothing will survive the flooding, soaking and rinsing an undyed carpet receives before it is actually dyed.

So we can’t look to the carpet as the cause. We have to look to an outside source as having contaminated the carpet, likely without knowing or realizing it was happening or anticipating the consequences. You have to truly understand carpet, the manufacturing process, the components and what it goes through before it ends up on the floor.

It is, when you truly understand it, a predictable product and pinpointing a manufacturing related problem, either visible or latent, is not that hard. In this case someone did something, but it wasn’t the fault of the carpet.

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