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Carpet Cleaning / October 17, 2023

Seal of ApprovalSpills and spots are inevitable, but they do not have to be permanent. The right cleaning solutions can help keep your facility's carpet looking its best between professional deep cleanings. To identify superior performing cleaning products, CRI has developed the Seal of Approval program.

CRI worked with an independent laboratory to test off-the-shelf spot removers and pre-spray solutions. Of the 25 products tested, only four cleaned a soiled carpet sample better than water alone. Some caused the cleaned carpet area to resoil faster and — worse — some products damaged the carpet's color and texture.

​Strict standards for testing cleaning solutions

The CRI Seal of Approval program was launched in 2004 to test the cleaning effectiveness of spot removers, pre-spray and in-tank cleaning chemicals. To identify which cleaning solutions work best, CRI and an independent laboratory use scientifically accredited cleaning standards. To earn the Seal of Approval, spot removers and pre-spray/in-tank cleaning solutions are tested on the following criteria:
  • Overall cleaning effectiveness — This ensures that the product removes soil and spots better than plain water.
  • Rate of resoiling — This ensures that the product does not attract dirt to the cleaned areas faster than the rest of the carpet.
  • pH — A more neutral pH ensures that carpet dyes and fibers are not adversely affected.
  • Surface texture change— The product must leave the carpet pile minimally changed after repeated cleanings.
  • Optical brighteners — None are allowed, as they can leave some patches of carpet lighter than the rest.
  • Colorfastness — Products must not be so aggressive that they cause a color change in the carpet.

Water is used as a control standard. This means that the performance of a product is measured against the performance of water, for all of the criteria outlined above.

​Spot testing program takes on the toughest stains

Staining agents tested include mustard, ketchup, hot black coffee, grape juice, permanent marker, chocolate syrup, dirty motor oil and American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) synthetic soil.
  • Evaluation of cleaning efficacy is performed using the AATCC Gray Scale for staining and is rated by three independent, trained technicians.
  • Resoiling is tested by applying AATCC synthetic soil to the cleaned carpet sample. As with efficacy, the differential soil level between the cleaned sample and control sample is rated by trained technicians.

​Pre-spray and in-tank products pass multiple spectrophotometer readings

As with spot removing products, pre-spray and in-tank products are applied to carpet according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Cleaning efficacy is based on a product's ability to remove soil and thereby improve the appearance of the carpet. The differential soil level between the cleaned sample and the control is rated instrumentally and by a panel of independent technicians using the AATCC Gray Scale for color change.
  • The rate of resoiling is evaluated by applying the test product to a standard carpet sample. Then, by applying synthetic soil in accordance with ASTM D-6540, the differential soil level between the cleaned sample and the control is rated instrumentally and by trained technicians.

​Pet Stain and Odor Remover

The ability to remove malodorous spots and stains from carpet contributes to its long term performance and consumer satisfaction. The evaluation of the effectiveness of pet stain removal and odor removal chemicals is achieved by rating specific staining agents which have been cleaned with a particular cleaning chemical.
  • Staining agents tested include cat urine, synthetic pet vomit, dog feces and American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) synthetic soil
  • For odor removal evaluations two test specimens are prepared, (2.5 ± 0.5 ml of cat urine within a 37 ± 3 mm (1.5 inch) circle centered in the 50 mm (2 inch) x 50 mm (2 inch) carpet test specimen using a disposable pipette), one to be cleaned with selected cleaning agent and one to be cleaned with distilled water.

​Other testing criteria

Similarly, spot removers, pre-spray and in-tank products are tested for pH levels, optical brightness and colorfastness to light. Some cleaning products that are extremely acidic or alkaline can adversely affect dyes and certain carpet fibers. Seal of Approval certified products have more neutral pH levels. They have no amount of optical brighteners because such additives are known to affect fiber color, appearance and long-term performance. Finally, Seal of Approval carpet cleaning solutions must show that they do not contribute to residue on pile yarn that can accelerate color change.

​Clean and Green

​CRI is also dedicated to protecting the environment. To that end, CRI is partnering with nationally recognized green certifiers such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Design for the Environment program to certify that Seal of Approval cleaning products do not damage the environment. In order to become a Seal of Approval green product, the manufacturer must provide CRI with documentation from one of the green partner organizations proving that its product meets the certifier's environmental requirements.

​The bottom line

Seal of Approval cleaning solutions effectively remove stains and soil without adversely affecting the appearance or the performance of the carpet — a wise investment for commercial and institutional purchasers. So be sure to check that your carpet is being cleaned with CRI Seal of Approval carpet cleaning solutions.