For well over a year I have been concerned with the trend towards Tub Washing of Oriental Rugs. Tub washing in its self is not a bad thing in fact in some cases tub washing is a great idea. Paul Iskyan of Rug Renovating the world’s largest rug washing plant uses tub washing for 5 to 10% of his total volume. But one company has been pushing the idea that any size rug plant can load up all their rugs in tubs which they sell and wash all the rugs together. In my surveys 80% or more of all rugs coming in for cleaning have pet contamination primarily dog and cat urine. Tom Monahan of Centrum Force has assured me personally that Tub washing with their chemicals is safe and effective and he has a lab report that proves his claims. But Tom won’t release the report. Now Tom has admitted in a public forum that he uses Dichlor in the bath. Dichlor is a granular pool chemical commonly used to “Shock” a pool or hot tub by turning to Chlorine Bleach in water. This is so shocking (pardon the pun) that it is best if we read what Tom had to say:
Here is exactly what Tom M posted on a discussion board”
“We use Sodium-Dichlor, as do a number of Centrum Force® wash tub owners. A cup or two for 1200 gallons of water. Tests have proved that this is sufficient for our intended purpose. We do not use it purposely to eradicate urine. We remove Urine by using another product. We saturate a rug with U-Turn chemistry, allow at least 30 minute dwell time, and then flush with water using our Centri-Maxx® horizontal centrifuge.
The reason we use granular Sodium-Dichlor in the wash tub has an obvious two fold objective.
1: It provides a barrier of protection in the water to prevent cross contamination of unwanted bacteria while rugs swim together in the tub during a wash cycle.
2: While charging the water for sanitation is accomplished, its properties help in neutralizing floating fugitive dyes releasing from rugs.
This begs another question: What other additive is put into the same water to help manage dye loose in the water from bleeding rugs? Only Wash Tub owners know that "Secret Sauce."
Here is one product we have used:
You can get something like it where pool and spa supplies are sold.” http://mikeysboard.com/forum/showthread.php?265843-Question
When Tom refused to release his secret report I was suspicious but I never imagined anything this devastatingly terrible and blatant. Chlorine is bad for wool. It breaks down the scales and weakens the fibers. Chlorine is regularly used to descale wool in low chlorine concentration baths. This is used to make wool clothing suitable for machine washable clothing. In that case removing the scales is fine for that specific purpose but not for hand-woven Oriental Rugs. It is not just bad for handwoven Oriental Rugs it is very very bad!
By reducing the felting properties of wool the rug becomes more fragile and causes it to wear faster. Additionally removing the scales which allow felting the wool is weaker again accelerating the wear. But that is not all of it. Over time the scales of good untreated wool open and refract light giving the rug what aficionados refer to as jewel tone colors. Without the scales the rug can never reach that pinnacle of beauty that rug owners often wait 50 years to occur. If a rug survives 50 years or more after regular Tom Monahan style tub washing it will never show the beauty that it would have had with proper care and maintenance.
A special plea to Tom Monahan and the Centrum Force® wash tub owners who use Dichlor: Stop! This is wrong, it is bad for the rugs and if you continue to do this reckless practice you should warn your customers that you will co-mingle their rugs with other rugs that may be contaminated with urine, feces, vomit, blood and a host of other problems in a large tub of chlorinated water.
I hope you enjoyed this review of Tom's article. Comments are welcome and if Tom or his fellow washers find fault with anything I have written they are welcome to contact me and I will post their response here and if I got anything wrong I will correct it.