EcoFriendly Carpet Cleans Up In Rhino Challenge

The grudge match is over and the winner has been crowned in the battle between Mohawk® SmartStrand® carpet made with DuPont™ Sorona® renewably sourced polymer, and Ricko The Rhino. The beige carpet emerged victorious in the SmartStrand Rhino Challenge… after two weeks of exposure to Ricko, the 2,800-pound black rhinoceros, the SmartStrand triexta carpeting came clean.

This revolutionary carpet stood up to everything Ricko the Rhino could dish out: the constant tracking in of mud, dirt, and even nastier stains, as well as being trampled on by the animal who weighs in at a staggering 1½ tons.

“I never had a doubt,” said David Duncan, Mohawk's Vice President of Marketing. “SmartStrand’s stain resistance and durability is no match for any stain-maker, whether it’s a rhinoceros or your own pets.”

After more than 14 days, the light-colored carpet showed some severe staining. The Birmingham Zoo’s Ricko, a 12-year-old, Eastern Black Rhinoceros, soiled the carpet in many ways. In the last two weeks, a tropical storm had passed through the Birmingham area, forcing the very muddy rhinoceros into spend an extended amount of time in his enclosure for safety reasons. It was during that time Ricko generated some of his most difficult stains.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect it to come so clean,” said Billy Cochran, a zookeeper who helps care for Ricko. Billy witnessed the cleaning by a crew from Issis & Sons Carpet, a Mohawk Floorscapes retailer from nearby Pelham, Ala. “This carpet was really a mess but now the cleaned sections look like new,” Cochran said.

Using only hot-water extraction and Mohawk FloorCare Essentials Carpet Stain Remover, the dingy, dirty spots washed away. Time-lapse video from the cleaning will be provided later this week in updates on and

“We used the same formula, at the same strength, available to every consumer who purchases Mohawk FloorCare Essentials from their local retailer,” Duncan said. “Because this was designed to be a true test of our carpet, we didn’t clean it using any extraordinary means. And it didn’t need anything outside the norm because SmartStrand triexta proved itself to be that amazingly stain resistant.”

The entire piece of carpeting was not cleaned. As will be visible on the video, sections of carpet were selected for “before and after” displays so that the clean sections would be clearly identifiable.

“We tried to choose areas where you could see a distinct, muddy footprint,” said Bart Rich, Mohawk’s Director of Brand Management. “It will be the same piece of carpet, just half of it cleaned and the other half not, so you can see the distinct different.”

During the two weeks experiment, one of four webcams broadcast the adventures of Ricko the Rhino living on carpeting live at During that time, tens of thousands of visitors witnessed every stain and stomp by the Rhino. A Facebook page for Ricko also garnered thousands of fans who became friends of the Rhino.

“Sure gonna miss watching you play around,” wrote one fan. Another asked, “Are you just going to go away now that the carpet’s gone?”

Ricko the Rhino’s Facebook postings will continue, promised Michael Cheek, Mohawk’s Manager of Internet Technology. “We’ve got a lot more to hear from Ricko and the SmartStrand Challenge.” will continue to be updated with videos, as will Mohawk’s YouTube account. A highlight video from thousands of hours of webcam footage will be assembled for posting along with a wrap-up showing the entire project, Cheek said. Additional information will continue through “tweets” on and postings to

There are currently less than 500 Eastern Black Rhinos left in the wild and Mohawk is committed to helping Ricko’s brothers and sisters. To support rhinoceros conservation efforts, will continue selling the popular “Save the Black Rhino” t-shirts and “Ricko the Rhino” stuffed animals. Profits from both products will be used to benefit The Birmingham Zoo and the International Rhino Foundation.

“We are proud of our preservation efforts in combination with providing a compelling demonstration of SmartStrand’s attributes,” Duncan said. “Just because the Challenge is over doesn’t mean everything ends. Mohawk has a lot more to tell about this extraordinary carpeting.”

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