Come Clean on Carpet Chemical Terms

Come Clean on Carpet Chemical Terms

For those cleaners whose primary focus isn’t carpet care, remembering all the important terms and phrases that go along with carpet cleaning can be troublesome. Check out our downloadable infographic (below) for a review of five of the most important words for talking about carpet cleaning chemicals: 

Detergent is a word you likely know. It’s simply a cleaning agent comprised of various components such as surfactants, emulsifiers, builders, etc.

A builder is an additive used to enhance detergent cleaning efficiency, supply alkalinity, emulsify oil/grease, and prevent soils from redepositing during cleaning. A detergent with a builder is referred to as a “built detergent.”

Preconditioners are detergents, usually built, that are applied prior to cleaning and allowed to dwell for better soil removal.

Surfactant, which is short for “surface active agent,” refers to a detergent that reduces the surface tension of liquid (i.e., water) to allow an even spread of cleaning solution for better cleaning.

A wetting agent is an additive that reduces water’s surface tension to displace air in fabric for better penetration during cleaning.  

Learn about these and other cleaning chemical buzz words, including an in-depth look at carpet protectors, in the handy, downloadable infographic below. Technical information in this infographic is supplied courtesy of the IICRC.

If you missed it, be sure to review Carpet Care Key Terms volume 1.




Posted On August 9, 2018
Infographic image of five carpet care cleaning chemical terms

Carpet Care Key Terms Volume 2

Carpet cleaning is a complex process with many types of cleaners available; it can be hard to keep them all straight. Download our infographic to learn about the different types of carpet protectors and chemicals involved in carpet cleaning.


Amanda Hosey

Amanda Hosey is associate editor for CMM’s sister magazine Cleanfax, the leading magazine for carpet care professionals. She has worked in the editing and publishing field for more than six years. Hosey holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in creative writing. She can be reached at



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