Carpet in school buildings like student centers, libraries, and dorms is exposed to numerous hazards on a daily basis. From muddied shoes in the spring to wet boots covered in moisture and ice-melt products in the winter to spilled beverages and foods enjoyed while studying. It can seem like a nearly impossible task to keep carpet clean and free of stains, especially on campuses with large expanses of carpet and thousands of students and staff walking upon it.
So how can facility maintenance teams simplify their approach to carpet care in educational settings? Enter stain block, a secret weapon for protecting carpet from unintentional spills and stains. Read on to learn more about what stain block is and how to effectively use it to provide an extra layer of protection for carpet.
What is Carpet Stain Block?
Stain block gets its name from its ability to keep carpet cleaner for longer. Carpet mills typically add stain block to the surface of carpet when it is manufactured. This means that upon installation, stain block is already ready to do its work. As this product wears away over time, it is important to apply additional stain block to minimize the impact of carpet stains in your buildings.
Unfortunately, the industry has a dark history with stain block, as certain chemicals used to protect carpet were actually revealed to be harmful to people’s health. For example, some poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) like PFOS and PFOA chemicals, have since been phased out due to these concerns. However, some of the alternative PFAS are still not as safe and sustainable as they should be. Thus, it is important to understand if your carpet manufacturer has applied PFAS chemicals to the carpet, as well as carefully vet the stain block products you intend to use on carpet during its lifespan. Using safe products will not only result in better outcomes for building occupants, but also the environment.
When selecting a stain block for carpet, consider the following:
- Compatibility with carpet – Look for a stain block product that is approved by the WoolSafe Organization so you can be sure it will not cause damage to your carpet. It is always best to follow the rule of testing the carpet in a small area before applying it to all carpeted sections just in case there is an issue.
- Safety – Your stain block solution should not contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and have a neutral pH. VOCs negatively impact indoor air quality, which is a major concern in learning environments. Non-toxic products also protect the employees who will be applying the solution.
- Ease of application – Products that are easy to use enhance productivity when it comes time to re-apply stain block to carpeted areas of school buildings. Review the product manufacturer’s instructions so you can determine whether the process will be simple and require minimal downtime.
When and How to Use Stain Block
Knowing when to apply stain block is the key to keeping carpet looking its best. Mill-applied stain block will not last forever. In fact, the barrier typically wears away after about five years. However, carpet in high-traffic facilities may require application of stain block solution sooner. If you notice that, despite regular cleaning, your carpet is becoming more prone to lingering stains, this could be a sign that your stain block protection has faded. Often, facilities choose to do apply stain block after a deep clean like hot water extraction.
Effective application of stain block products ensures total coverage and maximum protection. Before getting started, either remove furniture onto non-carpeted flooring or cover it so that the product will not be sprayed onto these surfaces. Evaluate the product in a small area first to make sure that it is compatible with your carpet and will not negatively impact the coloring. Apply the product, being careful to thoroughly address all areas. This can be done when carpet is dry or wet (such as after a cleaning). Then, do not reopen carpeted areas until the product has had an opportunity to dry.
To prolong the power of your stain block, vacuum regularly. This keeps soils from wearing down the layer of stain block. Additionally, re-apply the product as needed to help carpet last for years to come.
Preventing Carpet Stains
Stain block enables facilities to limit the risk of carpet stains, thus reducing the need for frequent stain removal. This saves cleaning professionals time and allows them to focus on other important facility maintenance tasks like cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and vacuuming. When selecting stain block, there are certain key features to look for to ensure the product will actually help protect your school’s carpet. With the right product in your custodial closet, your employees will be able to apply stain block with ease to improve the appearance of carpet and extend its lifespan..