Surfactants…what is it?

The interaction between water, surfactant, and surface is called “surface activity.” In fact, the name surfactant comes from the phrase “SURFace ACTive AgeNT.”  They reduce the surface tension of the water by helping it to spread out evenly. So it basically makes water “wetter”. Surfactants can also help penetrate, loosen and trap soil so you’re really cleaning, not just moving dirt around. This article will help you understand how surfactants work, the cleaning power of surfactants on carpet and the chemistry that makes cleaning effective. 

How Surfactants Work

If you have seen drops of water form little beads on kitchen countertops or maybe in your shower, then you’ve seen surface tension in action. Just plain water doesn’t contain surfactants so water molecules will stick together. When surfactants are added to water it weakens the tension and spreads out the water.  Surfactants are molecules made up of two parts.  The head (hydrophilic)  is water-loving and the tail (hydrophobic) is  water-hating. The tail will move away from the water and the head will move towards it.  

The Cleaning Power of Surfactants on Carpets

The hydrophobic tail of a surfactant hates water so it will cling to a surface such as soil and grime, loosening and lifting it from your carpets.  Once the soil and grime cling to the tail it moves away from the water. Then the soil is held captive in the cleaning solution that creates a bubble-like arrangement which is then removed thru a high heat steam and vacuum process. Check out this video for a demonstration.   

The Chemistry of Effective Cleaning

Almost all commercially produced cleaning products contain surfactants. The combination of wetting and lifting soil and grim helps to make cleaning easier and more effective. So when your cleaning your carpets on your own or if you bring in the professional, just know the surfactants will be hard a work to get your carpets clean.  

If you are looking for a professional carpet cleaning company Swift Services is a name you can trust.  Call us today for a FREE estimate. (405) 887-9438