Tuesday, May 1, 2012

To Dye Test, or not to Dye Test

 To Dye Test, or not to Dye Test: that is the question. When William Shakespeare wrote “To be, or not to be” (from Hamlet 3/1) he was writing of the question of doing something or doing nothing and then suffering the consequences;
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

When we turn to the question of Dye Testing Rugs we are not confined to a simple choice of testing or not testing and then suffering the consequences. There is in fact a third alternative which methinks may be the wiser course if you can manage it. So when the pundits demand that everyone must dye test every rug I think they are offering a false dichotomy.
The point of Dye Testing an Oriental Rug is to determine if it is likely to bleed or crock so that they can prepare to handle the dye migration. Some would have us believe that everyone MUST do a 10 minute hot water crocking test. The problem with the 10 minute Hot and Wet Crocking test is that it is a crocking test and may or may not catch all dye bleeding. To properly dye test one is then compelled to use the Overnight Press Test. There are variations but normally you put a little surfactant on a white cloth or paper towel and hold it to the rug overnight. This is often done with a clamp or brick and obviously it means that you cannot inspect and wash on the same work shift. This has a host of problems, it slows down production, it is space intensive and it is not suited to a volume shop.
So then if you are not satisfied with either the risky Hot and Wet test or the slow Overnight Press test what choice do you have? Well if the point of the dye test is to determine if it will bleed so that you can then prepare to deal with it why not bypass the test and treat every rug as if it is a bleeder. Obviously this is not for everyone. Some washers test and take the bad ones to a more experienced cleaner. Others do the best they can hoping not to buy the rug. But experienced rug washers have the option of assuming that every rug will bleed and act accordingly.  So let me put it this way, “Dye Tests? I don’t need no stinkin Dye Tests”.

A word to the wise, if you go this route you had better know what to do when the bleeding starts but that discussion is for another day.
N.B.  In a thread on facebook Thea Sand of Emmanuel's Rug & Upholstery Cleaners made some pertinent comments.
 “Eventually you recognize them by sight”
“You'd get nothing done sitting around waiting for test results.....swilling coffee and swapping lies.”

The important part is that Thea and her staff know how to handle every situation. In fact Thea is the GOTO person for other cleaners who make a mistake and need it fixed,