Optical Brightener Carpet Cleaning Danger

rob allen

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Sep 5, 2007
39,342
20,197
113
Va.
www.drynclean.com
Real Name
Robert Allen,Jr.
Business Location
United States
Optical brighteners. They are everywhere. Especially in laundry detergents. They are synthetic chemical compounds that are bad for fibers, pets and humans. They are slid insidiously into our laundry and most of the public is unaware, many times under names that the public can't recognize. They are fooled, bamboozled and really scammed. They see clothes that “appear” brighter and therefore assume it is cleaner. Wrong!

Actually Optical Brighteners just fluoresce or luminesce. It is the phenomenon of causing something to appear clean when in actuality it is not. It fools the human eye. So in carpet cleaning if some types optical brighteners are used, carpets look good at first or more reflective but then they start to “yellow” out and deteriorate fibers according to some research. Many OB’s leave behind harsh chemicals and thats not good for you or your clients. This is why most all chemical manufacturing companies have moved away from optical brighteners.


Rightfully so, it is a disservice in my opinion if a company uses optical brighteners in their products. It is a shortcut, basically a “bait and switch” type tactic in my opinion and experience that dupes unsuspecting cleaners into believing that their product of choice works to varying degrees. They trick your eyes into believing something is cleaner, whiter or brighter than it really is. It is smoke and mirrors. Adding “blue” color to a product is a decades old practice of making something appear brighter. But it is a short term or rapid emission response that fades away after drying leaving a stick like glue chemical that usually shows up under a UV light.


Yes, looks good at first, but then later the carpets return to looking worse or “dingy” and resoil faster depending on what agents are used. Basically they are chemical additives (see partial list chemical names) and many times they do not include it in their ingredient lists. Many of them cause allergic reactions when coming into contact with skin. Do you really want you clients children or pets rolling around in them? (See the list of chemicals, names and abbreviations used for optical brighteners). Another important point, they VOID carpet warranties.


To me, its a shortcut inexpensive way to make cleaners and clients think they are getting great appearance results. Treated areas remit more light in the visible region and "makes fibers look brighter than bright”. Yes you get the short term bright look but it comes with the price of long term damage. I personally prefer getting carpets as clean as possible by using presprays and rinses that don't contain optical brighteners or their closely related cousins. When I did my top 50 carpet cleaning products tests I was surprised how many used optical brighteners in this day and time. Their right, but my right to not use them.

Now if I do use a “whitening agent” it is a natural one like h2o2 (buffered peroxide), TMF Pure02 w/Citrus for example. Instead of fooling the eye for short term it makes carpet pop after they are dry. Isn’t that better for you and your clients? You avoid stacking up chemicals in clients homes. A lot of “green” laundry companies are using the fact they have no Optical Brighteners as a unique selling point. Seventh Generation uses this statement in their advertisements “Who needs a blue goo” to make laundry appear brighter than they are?


Many laundry companies or carpet cleaning formulators do not list what chemicals they put in their products. In fact many don’t even list that they are in there. Even if they did, they would call it another name so as to disguise whats really in a product. Remember the problem is they are designed to bind to clothes and fibers and they stick like glue. Why so? If you could rinse them off then they wouldn’t be doing their job of fooling unsuspecting cleaners. And because these chemicals remain on fibers they come into contact with skin. Not healthy for clients and can cause rashes and allergic reactions.

They are also not easily biodegradable therefore are harmful to plants, fish and animals. They are just plain bad for the environment and cleaners in general. Thats why many laundry companies are going “green” and advertising NO optical brighteners. With the being said, should you as a “professional” cleaner introduce optical brighteners into an unsuspecting clients home, potentially harming them and the environment? Shouldn’t we leave that to “hacks” who use Tide and other laundry detergents?


Sometimes it is difficult to determine if a manufacturer has Optical Brighteners with so many synonyms and tricky wording. So use caution when choosing your cleaning chemistry. I am not saying it is “bad”, maybe “unethical” as no laws are broken. Some cleaners are the “wham bam thank you ma’am” or “hit it and get it” style cleaners. Others are more conscientious and are seeking to be more detailed in their craft. Therefore they avoid the Optical Brighteners or whatever name they try to hide it with. So here is a sample short list, Keep your eyes open to Optical Brighteners and the dangers they pose!



Here is a partial sample of names;

OB (Optical Brightener)

OBA (Optical Brightener Agents)

FBA (Fluorescent Brightening Agents)

FWA (Fluorescent Whitening Agents)

DAS (Diamino Stilbene)

DSBP (Distryl Biphenyl)

(AB) Artificial Brighteners

FB (Fluorescent bleach)

OW (Optical Whiteners

Benzoxazol

Triazole

Oxadiazole

Thiadiazole

Coumarins

Glycoside

Disodium Diaminostilben Disulfinate

CRI view OB's

http://www.carpet-rug.org/cleaning-solution-testing-criteria.html



Here is some actual product information labels on a industry chemicals I did just by searching Google...

https://www.wagnersupply.com/p/SPA-3096-04/Spartan-Xtraction-II-Carpet-Cleaner-Gal/

https://www.imagesupplyinc.com/catalog/p/581/Carpet-Brightener-Gal/

https://www.sun-beltusa.com/premier-extraction-cleaner.html

http://https://shop.truckmountforums.com/kleenrite-spinkleen-bonnet-cleaner.html

http://https://shop.truckmountforum...earch-heavy-duty-liquid-extraction-rinse.html



optical brightener label .JPEG




*Optical brighteners are a danger to our industry in my opinion and many other chemical formulators agree in our industry. If one chooses to use them then that is their right however.
 

Cameron RDS

Well-Known Member
Jun 2, 2015
1,797
693
113
31
Real Name
Cameron Duty
I once remember you saying when it comes to encap cleaning, we cleaners are in the appearance industry. If optical brighteners make the appearance of carpet look great then isn't this fitting your standard of appearance cleaning?
 

rob allen

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Sep 5, 2007
39,342
20,197
113
Va.
www.drynclean.com
Real Name
Robert Allen,Jr.
Business Location
United States
I once remember you saying when it comes to encap cleaning, we cleaners are in the appearance industry. If optical brighteners make the appearance of carpet look great then isn't this fitting your standard of appearance cleaning?
Not apples to apples. Encap with peroxide give the pop without needless exposure. So is a half hour of appearance bliss worth the trade off of chemical exposure to your clients loved ones and deterioration of their fine furnishings?
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1031fraser

Cameron RDS

Well-Known Member
Jun 2, 2015
1,797
693
113
31
Real Name
Cameron Duty
Not apples to apples. Is a half hour of appearance bliss worth the trade off of chemical exposure to your clients loved ones and deterioration of their fine furnishings?
I've used that product before, and I can say that it didn't bother me. I used the powder version. Nor did I see any immediate deterioration of my personal carpets. How long would this deterioration take to happen?
 

rob allen

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Sep 5, 2007
39,342
20,197
113
Va.
www.drynclean.com
Real Name
Robert Allen,Jr.
Business Location
United States
I've used that product before, and I can say that it didn't bother me. I used the powder version. Nor did I see any immediate deterioration of my personal carpets. How long would this deterioration take to happen?
I'm not going to argue semantics with you. All the top chemists in our industry recognize the hazards of Optical Brighteners. Chemspec said they stopped using them in their ads. Tom Forsythe of Bridgepoint and many other leading chemists agree and they stopped using them. After researching on my own, it seems it was for good reason. All "green" laundry companies have stopped using them. If you research them and like them then use them.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cameron RDS

sbsscn

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2009
2,902
1,029
113
california
Real Name
Arm Ben
Business Location
United States
I know what you mean Rob, I am completely against OB, dont like em, and I dont think I ever will. They are in my opinion a nightmare. I always discourage my clients on the use of over the counter spotters, laundry detergents. And try using a UV light to diagnose a pet urine issue, it gets in the way. I stay with green cleaning products that are certified and I do research on the product to reassure me. My clients pay me very well to deliver.
 

smart n kleen

Smart N Kleen
Premium VIP
Mar 12, 2010
9,576
3,074
113
oregon
Real Name
Rick K
Business Location
United States
I use a brightener to make carpets look better but I also clean as good as I can. I use Cobb powdered brightener. Is it safe Rob? I want to clean not mess up carpet. Please let me know if what I’m using is safe. Thanks Rob.
Not apples to apples. Encap with peroxide give the pop without needless exposure. So is a half hour of appearance bliss worth the trade off of chemical exposure to your clients loved ones and deterioration of their fine furnishings?
 

Scott W

Preferred Vendor
Premium VIP
Feb 14, 2006
16,374
7,022
113
70
West Jordan, UT
Every carpet manufacturer that I know of states that the use of optical brighteners will void the warranty on the carpet. That alone should be a reason not to use it on any carpet new enough to still be covered by warranty.

The florescence and blue will gradually yellow with exposure to UV light. This can come quickly from sunlight (3 to 6 weeks) or slowly with other types of lighting (several months).

It does not clean off easily. However, 20 to 40 minutes in a washing machine with hot water and agitation will remove it from clothing. So, clothing manufacturers usually don't object to use of OB in laundry detergent. It gets washed off as a new fresh does is being applied and so clothes do not usually suffer yellowing issues.

As Rob mentioned, some green laundry products specifically avoid OB and promote this fact. It can cause a reaction for some people, but it is rare. Most of us have worn clothing washed in OB. IT is just so common in laundry detergent. Sometimes someone will get a rash or other adverse reaction from the laundry detergent they use, but it is not a problem for most people.

I don't have strong opinion on using OB in the laundry, but I would never use it on carpet. It is a disservice to your clients.
 

Scott W

Preferred Vendor
Premium VIP
Feb 14, 2006
16,374
7,022
113
70
West Jordan, UT
Does it have the chemicals in it that can damage carpet? Please pm me if you don’t want to post the answer. I want what’s best for my customers.

Only Larry or someone at Cobb's could tell you for sure. It appears to me to be an oxidizing brightener. This would be similar to Bridgepoint's Boost All. I don't think the Cobb product would harm the carpet.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Johnny Bravo

admin

Staff member
Administrator
Sep 4, 2007
7,441
1,894
113
Real Name
Robert Allen III 'Tre'
Business Location
United States

rob allen

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Sep 5, 2007
39,342
20,197
113
Va.
www.drynclean.com
Real Name
Robert Allen,Jr.
Business Location
United States
@matt30577 what kind dirt is this? I notice the description for the recommended Mark Saiger rinse has been changed since I wrote this article. Here is the link and the screenshot from Google. Wedsnday when I wrote this article Optical Brighteners was there. Now it is gone. Can you explain that?

http://https://shop.truckmountforum...earch-heavy-duty-liquid-extraction-rinse.html

harvard-saiger-sauce-optical-brighteners.png


nooptical.png
 
  • Like
Reactions: admin

admin

Staff member
Administrator
Sep 4, 2007
7,441
1,894
113
Real Name
Robert Allen III 'Tre'
Business Location
United States
Im just waiting for Mark to edit his posts. . . Here is an image before we listed the article.
full-page-https://shop.truckmountforums.com-optical-brighteners copy.png
 

rob allen

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Sep 5, 2007
39,342
20,197
113
Va.
www.drynclean.com
Real Name
Robert Allen,Jr.
Business Location
United States
Hey pansie. Unblock mark and he’ll be glad to answer your question.

lol. Pansie? What does that make your buddies who run all the other forums and groups that have banned me? They and you run me down all the time and never let me reply for years.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: admin and Kyle8

Swani21

Well-Known Member
Oct 8, 2015
927
439
63
Real Name
Nick S.
@matt30577 what kind dirt is this? I notice the description for the recommended Mark Saiger rinse has been changed since I wrote this article. Here is the link and the screenshot from Google. Wedsnday when I wrote this article Optical Brighteners was there. Now it is gone. Can you explain that?

http://https://shop.truckmountforum...earch-heavy-duty-liquid-extraction-rinse.html

View attachment 73974

View attachment 73975
What Mark is referring to in that thread is his sample of Code Red not Harvard's Heavy Duty Extraction Rinse.