Working with the Industry. Looking Out for Consumers. A Guide to CRI’s Seal of Approval Program

This Guide to the CRI’s Seal of Approval (SOA) Program is the 18th in a series of 18 articles designed to share some of the Carpet and Rug Institute’s (CRI) best online assets – a collection of downloadable fact sheets. Developed as easy-to-use, one-page position statements, the CRI Fact Sheets cover four main carpet-related topic areas: Indoor Air Quality, Asthma and Allergy, Cleaning Products, and Environmental Sustainability.

Each of these topics is addressed from the perspective of various market segments: carpet dealers and consumers; architects, designers and builders; school administrators and facility managers, and healthcare administrators and facility managers. There are also separate fact sheets explaining CRI’s Green Label Plus Indoor Air Quality and Seal of Approval carpet cleaning standards – 18 fact sheets in all.

The fact sheet on the Seal of Approval testing and certification program for carpet cleaning products and equipment begins:

What’s the Seal of Approval Program?

“The CRI Seal of Approval program tests the effectiveness of carpet cleaning products and certifies those products that remove difficult stains or a sufficient amount of soil without damage to the carpet. Not all products clean well enough to earn this distinction. Seeing the CRI Seal of Approval logo on products helps consumers recognize that they are buying quality products.” It continues:

What types of products are tested?

Under the Seal of Approval program, tests are conducted on cleaning solutions and deep cleaning machines. Each product is tested at an independent laboratory against control samples to assess product performance using scientifically accredited cleaning standards.

• Spot removers and pre-spray/in-tank cleaning solutions are tested for overall cleaning effectiveness, pet stain and odor removal effectiveness, rate of resoiling, pH, optical brighteners and colorfastness to light.

• Deep cleaning extractors are tested for soil removal efficacy, amount of residual moisture and appearance retention.

• Deep cleaning systems (which use a specific machine used with a particular cleaning agent, following a set procedure) are tested for soil removal efficacy, resoiling, appearance retention, residual moisture, surface appearance change with repeated cleaning, colorfastness, pH and optical brighteners.

• Vacuums are tested for soil removal, soil containment and wear to the carpet.

Why is the Seal of Approval program necessary?

Not all cleaning equipment and solutions achieve the same results. Independent testing has shown that various cleaning detergents and spot removers clean no better than water. Worse, they can leave a sticky residue that attracts soil at a faster rate. Also, the equipment used to clean carpet varies widely in its ability to remove soil, recover water and maintain a carpet’s appearance.

How does the Seal of Approval program benefit customers?

Effective carpet cleaning helps maintain the life and beauty of the carpet. This means customers get more enjoyment out of their carpet and more value for their investment. Also, helping carpet maintain its life-cycle cuts down on its premature removal to landfills. And that benefits everyone. Finally, some carpet companies require the use of Seal of Approval products as part of their carpet warranties.

What is Space Foundation Certification?

An important feature of the Seal of Approval program is the use of XRF technology to measure the amount of soil removed from the carpet. Because the Space Foundation recognizes the XRF component of the Seal of Approval program as a Certified Space Technology©, companies with certified products are eligible to display the Space Foundation Seal along with the CRI Seal of Approval. This is an excellent way to showcase how space science applies to everyday life.

Why are some Seals platinum, gold, silver or bronze?

The Seal of Approval program utilizes X-ray fluorescence (XRF) technology to measure precisely how much soil a product removes from a carpet sample. Those that meet the stringent minimum requirements for the Seal of Approval qualify for the bronze rating. Those achieving higher soil removal receive a silver rating. Products achieving an even higher level of measurable soil removal are awarded a gold level Seal of Approval. Recently, a platinum level was added for those products that reach the highest level of efficacy.

What else should people know about carpet cleaning?

Today’s carpets are more stain resistant and durable than ever, making them relatively easy to clean and maintain. However, preserving the life and beauty of carpet depends on several factors: the quality of products and equipment used to clean carpets; the frequency which carpets are cleaned; and the skill and knowledge of the people doing the cleaning.

CRI wants to be known not just as the science-based source of information about carpet, but as the first stop for any and all questions about this useful floor covering.

For the complete list of Carpet and Rug Institute Downloadable Fact Sheets, click on this link.