Cleaning & Restoration Association News

Brush, Bonnet, or Pad?

There it is: 40,000 square feet staring me in the face. With 7 hours to clean it and have it dry for traffic in the morning, how were we ever going to get this done?

I knew we couldn't get away with straight extraction cleaning. This commercial carpet had been heavily neglected and was fully impacted with soil in and past the backing. Experience had taught me that the more times I extracted it, the worse it would look.

I had bid it as an extraction job, but I had to get creative in order to finish this in the time allotted and have it look good at the same time. Six hours later the carpet was cleaned (but not fully free from soil), dry, looking good, and the customer was thrilled.

We were locked in the building for the 7 hours it was closed. It was a department store along the lines of a ShopKo. We used two high-powered electric auto-feed-and-dump extractors, two 18-inch drag wands, two 320-RPM high-speed 20-inch, single-disc rotaries, and six techs divided into two teams. One ran the extractor, one the rotary and the other pre-sprayed and kept the other two moving - no stopping allowed.

The key to this process turned out to be the bonnets we used for a pre-scrub and follow-up bonnet effect. We pre-sprayed with a heavy-duty solution. We then ran over the carpet with a damp bonnet consisting of rayon and polypropylene strips (Astro Turf) for extra agitation. We then did a single extraction stroke, removing much of the soil from the surface while leaving the deeply impacted soil deep in the backing and beyond. We followed the extraction with a dry cotton bonnet to absorb remaining surface soil and aid in drying. The carpet was dry in one hour and it actually looked very good considering its age and condition.

Last month we talked about encapsulation and the equipment you might use. I wanted to tell you about this experience to impress upon you the many possible uses of the equipment, bonnets, and pads that are used in both encapsulation and other processes. By utilizing two different bonnets with different fibers and construction we were able to be effective and make our customer very happy. Here is a look at the carpet contact medium that may be used with machines during encapsulation cleaning.

As mentioned last month, most carpet manufacturers do not endorse bonnet cleaning, but it continues to be used extensively, especially in commercial applications. The bonnets or towels used with rotaries or oscillating equipment may be made from several different fibers.

Cotton is widely used and very effective at agitation and extraction. Caution should be used in that cotton has a tendency to grab, especially if it is not lubricated and hits dry carpet. Cotton bonnets come in high profil e that looks more like short strands from a cotton mop to very low profile where actual cotton towels are used. Use cotton when you need aggressive agitation and good soil extraction.

Synthetic fibers will generally be more forgiving and glide on the carpet easier. These bonnets can be made from rayon (popular because it absorbs more than most synthetics), polyester, nylon, and polypropylene used for scrubbing strips. These bonnets may be used for encapsulation where speed and agitation are important, but extraction of soil in the wet state is not a big consideration.

Micro-fiber has been highly touted for its cleaning ability and absorbency. Just a few short years ago it was introduced as a fiber for use in carpet bonnets. Many professionals who use these bonnets swear by them and will use nothing else. Micro-fiber is made of 80 percent polyester and 20 percent polyamide (nylon). The fibers are interwoven and put through a process where each filament is split into 16 sections with 16 interval spaces. The polyester turns into wedge-shaped sections with a filament size 1/10 to 1/20 the diameter of fine silk. The wedge shape turns the micro-fiber into an aggressive dirt scrubber and collector. Micro-fiber will hold almost seven times its weight in liquid.


Synthetic pads are a newer addition to carpet cleaning. Actually, there has been a white pad on the market years made specifically for carpet cleaning. It is not widely distributed or used much in the professional carpet-cleaning market. The pad currently used and suggested for use on carpet is a beige pad. The makeup of this type of pad may be a "secret" formula for some, but for the most part they are made with a polyester fiber and a rubberized-type coating to give them a bit more aggressive action on the carpet. Test to make sure they are safe on the particular carpet you may be cleaning.


Brushes are available for use on virtually all machines used for encapsulation. While some different synthetic fibers are used, and occasionally you will see a natural fibrous material, most brushes are made from nylon fiber. The different types, denier (thickness), and processing of the fiber will dictate its relative softness or firmness. Brushes with thousands of independent bristles can be very effective at working carpet fibers for maximum agitation. Whether used on the counter rotating machine or the Cimex-type machine, the brush will give aggressive agitation without fiber distortion as long as the proper brush is chosen. Your equipment distributor can help you choose the proper brush for your needs.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to i Cleaning Specialist Magazine.

Recent Articles by Gordon Hanks

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

The 2014 Experience Conference and Exhibition

A look in photos at the 2014 Experience Conference and Exhibition, which was held from April 24-26 at the Embassy Suites Convention Center and Spa in Frisco, Texas.


Yes, it's only February now - several weeks or months before the thaw depending on where you live - and hopefully this winter has been a profitable one for your business during the historical slow season. But now's also the time to start planning for the busy season - spring - so that you can hit the ground running. In this episode of The Hitman Advertising Show, John Braun shares tips and tricks on how to make this spring your most profitable yet.
More Podcasts

ICS Cleaning Specialist Magazine


2015 March

The March ICS issue features content on cleaning services, green chemistry, encapsulation, terrazzo floors, educating clients and new products.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Janitorial Work

In addition to residential and commercial carpet cleaning, do you do any janitorial work on the side?
View Results Poll Archive


The Carpet Cleaner's Book of Unlimited Success! (ebook)

Don’t worry about the recession or about your competition.  Now you can be the owner of over 400 ways for carpet cleaning professionals to make more money and get more jobs!

More Products


Director_Buyer.jpgThe premier resource and reference guide for the cleaning and restoration industries.

Click here to view


facebook_40.png twitter_40px.png youtube_40px.png


Truckmount.jpgEquipment listings and specifications from the leading industry manufacturers.

Click here to view