Steve Bakker, The Woolsafe Organisation
This month, The Campaign for Wool’s annual wool week revolved around the careability of wool. The highlight was a pop-up installation with two huge containers decked out with woolly fashion, furnishings and flooring, and fitted with 40 AEG washing machines showing how easy wool is to care for.
If you missed it, fret not. Steve Bakker of The Woolsafe Organisation tells us all about the spills and thrills of caring for wool. This organisation is a cleaning industry service provider, devoted to promoting best practice in carpet and rug care.
Here’s our Q&A…
How did you become involved with wool?
I was born and brought up in sheep country on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales so have always been surrounded by sheep farms and with friends that breed them. My first experience with how easy wool is to clean and maintain came when I established a carpet cleaning business at the tender age of 21. I was always so happy to arrive at a client’s home or business premises to be faced with wool carpet.
What properties make wool a wonder fibre?
Inherent in wool’s DNA (Dynamic Natural Abilities) are so many winning properties but I’ll concentrate on what WoolSafe are the authority on, Careability.
Wool fibre has an outer layer of waxy scales that naturally repel spills (like water off a duck’s back) and help to keep dry soil near the surface so it can be easily vacuumed away. Synthetic fibres scratch and abrade (imagine rubbing a matchbox on a plastic surface) leaving carpets dull and looking dirty, even after cleaning. Wool carpet on the other hand is the only one that, after cleaning, can look like new even after several decades. There are wool rugs that are hundreds of years old and still look amazing!
What are your top tips for wool carpet care?
The sooner you treat spills the quicker and easier the wool will release them. Wool is easy to clean but needs the correct chemistry. Choose a WoolSafe Approved product, there are scores to choose from, and keep it under the sink ready to tackle any little accidents.
What are the nation’s top household carpet stains and best treatments?
Coffee, fruit juice and red wine are very common. There is a free WoolSafe app you can download which lists dozens of common household stains and explains step by step how to remove them. On the WoolSafe website there are several videos showing correct spot removal including the spills mentioned above.
Tell us about the three-day carpet stain demos.
I had a fantastic three days in Covent Garden demonstrating how easy it is to remove red wine, coffee and fruit juice from wool carpet. It was great to see the amazement on the faces of those watching the demonstrations. How did we forget how naturally great wool is?
Steve at the Wool Care pop up in Covent Garden
Getting involved with Wool Care fun at the pop up in Covent Garden
What are the sins of stain removal?
The two deadly sins of wool care are:
Scrubbing! There is no need to scrub, it only drives the spill further into the carpet and distorts the pile. Just blot until there is no more transfer onto the kitchen roll or towel and if some staining remains add a LITTLE WoolSafe Approved spotter and blot again.
Bad chemistry! Don’t use the first thing you find under the sink, wool does not like strong alkali or bleaches. Washing up liquid may remove a spill but because it leaves a sticky residue will cause rapid soiling and you will end up with a big grey stain wherethe soil is attracted to it.
Give a few woolly facts?
We domesticated sheep 10,000 years ago and we believe rug weaving began up to 4000 years ago… the oldest known example is the Pazyryk rug, 2500 years old and it still survives today!
Three words why you love wool?
Appearance, acoustics and warmth.
Finally, name your favourite wool product in your home and wardrobe?
My 100% wool carpet, of course!
Take care of wool and wool will take care of you.
Read more about WoolSafe here https://www.woolsafe.org/
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