We all have heard of protectors, such as Stainmaster Carpet, ScotchGuard, Teflon, but what do they really do? Do you need them or is this just a way for a business to get your money?

These are good questions and I am going to try to answer these questions. First protector is a  water-based, anionic fluorocarbon. Anionic means that these products have negatively charged ions. A fluorocarbon is a neutral series of fluorine and carbon compounds that are very heat resistant. These products are applied as a liquid and turn into a solid.  Application can be a factory application (high heat produces stronger bond) or topical application (done professionally or by yourself). These products are safe for kids, pets and adults. These protectors are used on apparel as well as furniture and carpets. ScotchGuard has been around since 1956, which is why most people refer to having their carpet and furniture "Scotchguard". Dupont Teflon is the next name recognized. There are also generic brands that have copied the formulas but are less expensive. All companies continue to test and improve their products, providing the customer with a protector for their carpet and upholstery.  Clothes are even now being sold with stain resistant protectors.

With that information we know a little more about what a protector is made of and some of the things it can be used on. There are a couple of things to remember when thinking about protector:

1. It does not last for the life of the carpet and will generally wear off in one to two years.  Various sources will tell you differently but that is about the range. Some cleaning solutions can clean it off, but most professional and do-it-yourself solutions these days have been formulated not to remove the protector.

2. Spills Happen. Stains don't have to. With most spills time makes a difference. No carpet is fully stain-proof. Protector keeps the liquid on the fiber's surface so you can clean it up. The longer the spill stays on the fibers, the more chance it has to penetrate and stain your carpet or upholstery. Clean up immediately and follow our guidelines on how to best clean a spill or spot.

3. Proper application. For the protector to work it has to be applied properly and at the correct concentrations. If you are given a cheap price for protector the cleaner may not be applying it properly. The protector is probably one of the most expensive chemicals the professional cleaner uses.

4. Protector needs to dry completely.  When it dries to a solid this is what forms the protective barrier.  Do what you can to minimize the use of the carpet until the protector has dried.

Benefits of Protectors

  • Vacuuming removes more of the dirt, since the dirt does not cling to the fibers.

  • Reduces wear on traffic areas

  • Professional cleaning will not be needed as frequently and will be more effective when it is done.

  • Stain removal is more successful because the protector provides a barrier for the carpet fibers hindering staining.

  • Reduces permanent stains, some spills might have become permanent but the protector and your quick clean up prevented it from happening.

  • Reduces costly service calls to get a professional stain remover to come and remove stains between cleanings.

Scams to watch out for

  • Cleaner could use an off brand that has not been tested and doesn't really work.

  • Cleaner could water down the protector beyond the proper ratio diluting the effectiveness of the protective barrier.

  • Improper application the cleaner could spray it to thinly on the room which again will not set up a proper protective barrier.


That protector be applied at least annually (normal usage of carpet) at a minimum and every 24 months (light use of carpet) at a maximum. This should be applied in the high traffic areas and high risk areas for spill, such as dining room, family room and children's bedrooms.

We also recommend that protector be reapplied to upholstery each time it is cleaned. Fabrics tend to stain easily and clean poorly. Protector will help keep your furniture look clean, resist stains and last longer.

Protectors will dry stiff but one vacuum will return the carpet to its usual softness. Wait till it is completely dry before vacuuming.

Applying carpet protector to your carpet and upholstery will keep them looking better and extend the life of your carpet and upholstery, avoiding the expense of replacing these high ticket items.


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