Chemistry, Physics, Carpets

By Byron Kitkousky
Wednesday - May 31, 2006
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Byron Kitkousky demonstrates how to use one of his heavy-duty vacuums during a recent carpet cleaning job in Kailua
Byron Kitkousky demonstrates how to use one of his
heavy-duty vacuums during a recent carpet cleaning
job in Kailua

Hi there. My name is Byron Kitkousky, aka “Bear,” owner of Bears Carpet Care LLC.

I was born and raised in Honolulu and have been married to my wife Gayle for 14 years. I live in Pearl City, but clean carpets islandwide. I retired from music after 20 years to become a carpet-cleaning business owner. I have taken just about every cleaning and restoration class available. I’m also one of the few certified master textile cleaners, master restorer, master cleaning technician, master water restorer and master fire restorers in the state.

Well, that’s enough about me. Let’s get to the real point of this column: carpet cleaning.

Carpet cleaning is a science. It may not be as complicated as rocket science, but it is based on chemistry and physics. To begin with, carpet is a man-made product made up of either synthetic (nylon or olefin) or natural (wool, cotton or silk) fibers.

Stains and soil can be made up of any number of chemical ingredients, from proteins like grass, ketchup and blood, to other organic stains like coffee, tea and urine.

There is no one product or chemical that will safely remove all of these stains, but each of these stains can be removed by using a cleaning product specific to the particular stain. For example, organic stains respond well to an oxidizing agent, while a synthetic stain responds to a reducing agent. Grass stains and blood need an enzyme and a specific protein detergent.

By using this basic chemistry technique, we can usually remove just about any stain you might have, as long as you have not made an attempt at cleaning it yourself using everything under the kitchen sink! Because once you add your own mixture of cleaning supplies, you have altered the chemical makeup of the stain and have thereby reduced the chances of chemical neutralizing taking place.

Sometimes, the addition of extreme heat is required to release the synthetic dyes and allow them to transfer onto a damp cloth. This is done with a steam iron and a very careful touch (don’t burn yourself or the carpet). The way heat works is basic physics: Heat accelerates the molecules in the cleaning product and amplifies their effectiveness.

It is also helpful to know what the pH level of any stain is, and whether to use an acidic, neutral or alkaline cleaner. One should also know what level of pH the carpet prefers (low or acidic for wool, high or alkaline for synthetic).

PH stands for “power of hydrogen,” and describes the amount and activity of hydrogen in the cleaner, stain or carpet.

Any carpet cleaner should have a basic understanding of these principles. However, many cleaners do not take the time and effort to further their knowledge base. If a company’s technicians are not certified (typically by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification). I would recommend that you choose a company that is. The carpet cleaning industry in general has to overcome the stigma of untrained, uneducated and sometimes just unscrupulous cleaners running wild in an unregulated industry. That’s where the IICRC comes in (of which I am a member). This organization is as close as we can get to regulating the cleaning and restoration industry. Members are required to get certifications, which are comprised of instructional training classes, testing, field work and a code of ethics for members.

I want consumers to know a lot about carpet cleaning, how to choose a cleaner, air-quality concerns, ethics questions and more, because that’s what Bears Carpet Care is all about. We have 12 years of cleaning experience in Hawaii. You even get a free stuffed bear toy with every cleaning!

We offer all methods of cleaning, dry-chem, deep steam, rotary shampoo, anti-allergen cleaning and Scotchgard application. We are also members of the Low-moisture Carpet Cleaners Association, an organization dedicated to promoting safe cleaning procedures using safe cleaning products with low-moisture delivery methods.

Call 455-6174 for appointments, or call our info line at 1-888-779-7987. Visit us on the web at bearscarpetcare.netor

Next Week: Jan Schmidt, owner of the Cozy Cat Lodge

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