The Impact of Encapsulation

Teaching carpet cleaning across the country, I am often asked about encapsulation cleaning systems. A common question is, “Where does all the dirt go?” The answer lies in the advancement of the polymer-based cleaning formulations used in encapsulation.

This chemistry provides clean carpet that resists re-soiling and wicking of stains, keeping carpets cleaner for a longer period of time by coating the fiber with anti-re-soiling polymers.

Systems that use fast drying technologies that limit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and residues left behind after cleaning are of primary interest for professionals looking to deliver cleaning that not only improves the visual appeal of the facility.

The cleaning must be analyzed from a health and indoor air quality perspective that the professional textile cleaner must always consider when employing carpet cleaning systems.

Encapsulation cleaning is a true minimum-moisture method that crystallizes oils and soils. Carpet-cleaning technologies employed today constantly strive to clean carpet better and leave the fiber not only visually clean, but in a healthy condition after cleaning.

Pre-vacuuming carpet with a pile lifter or commercial-grade, high-performance vacuuming system is essential before and after the encapsulation process in order to leave the carpet as clean and healthy as possible.

Encapsulation cleaning leaves the fiber in a state where oils and soils have a more difficult time attaching to the carpet fibers. Therefore, the majority of soil will be vacuumed away much easier during routine vacuuming after the use of encapsulation cleaning.

There are encapsulation products available with stain resistance added to help prevent future stains. There are also “green” encapsulation products available.

Your local distributor will be well versed in the science and application methods used for encapsulation cleaning.

Equipment Specifications and Applications

Most encapsulation machines use either a rotary brush or cylindrical system because agitation and the function of the polymer-based chemistry are the keys to crystallizing the soil for easy removal.

Many encapsulation machines have a solution tank with a shower feed device that dispenses solution into a rotary or cylindrical brush that agitates solution into the carpet.

The polymer solution dissolves, suspends and emulsifies the soil; the brush or a bonnet can also be used to dislodge soils from the carpet yarns. The polymers will dry to brittle crystal with the soil and oils attached ready for vacuuming within 20 to 60 minutes after the application and proper agitation of the cleaning solution.

There are machines that use a combination of different pads for various soiling and carpet construction characteristics. Rotary machines that use shampoo brushes, fiber pads and bonnets are available. Check with the manufacturer before choosing the type of equipment and brushes or pads you will use.

Carpet mills will recommend a specific type of machine or cleaning system to maintain carpet warranties.

True Low-Moisture Carpet Cleaning

As stated above, encapsulation cleaning is a true minimum-moisture method, an excellent interior maintenance system.

For carpets that exhibit severe soil-load conditions, hot-water extraction is essential to use in combination with low-moisture maintenance systems.

Encapsulation cleaning in large facilities reduces facilities maintenance costs and limits certain forms of liability, especially when it comes to slip and falls. The faster a carpet dries, especially in a public area, the better.

Low-moisture carpet cleaning systems limit VOCs because of this fast dry time. Encapsulation chemistry minimizes re-soiling, creating a healthier indoor environment, especially when complemented with periodic hot-water extraction cleaning. 

Superior Production Rates

There are encapsulation machines that can clean 3,000 to 5,000 square feet per hour, translating to superior production rates; as you might guess, profitability is excellent.

There are no alternative fuels to purchase. Technicians quickly become very proficient using encapsulation equipment, making training for companies a little easier on the pocket book.

It’s a win-win for all concerned. The facility receives clean carpet that stays cleaner longer. The contractor can realize a good profit. Technicians find the system fun and easy to use.

Take into account the environmentally friendly aspects of the system, and encapsulation cleaning should continue on its path to a bright future.

Hot-Water Extraction and Encapsulation Chemistry

Encapsulation technology is now used in many detergent applications where cleaning residues and cleaning for health is of primary concern. Many detergents and spotters used in hot-water extraction now contain encapsulation chemistry.

There are detergent rinses that encompass acid-side emulsification coupled with encapsulation polymer technology to avoid wicking and help fibers to stay clean longer. Post-neutralizing acid-side encapsulates are available for both residential and commercial carpet.

Shampoos, dry foams and bonnet cleaning solutions will often be developed incorporating encapsulation chemistry.

The Professional Choice

Professionals must consistently strive to learn and improve, accepting and adapting to changes critical to business survival in today’s unpredictable economy.

Do not be afraid to embrace change or to be different. Study encapsulation cleaning; add the system to your cleaning arsenal. Your business will realize increased revenue while achieving our goal as professionals to improve the indoor environment.

To learn more about encapsulation cleaning, go to the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification website at The Low Moisture Carpet Cleaners Association ( is another great resource to learn more about low-moisture cleaning systems.

Your local trade association will often sponsor cleaning classes that demonstrate and discuss encapsulation cleaning systems. Partner with your local distributor, who provides educational opportunities related to all textile cleaning systems.

On a personal note, after two years of writing for ICS, I am putting up my pen. Thanks very much for allowing me to be your teacher. My family has sacrificed a lot to allow me to both write and teach, and my goal is to give back to them for awhile. My wife Mary and daughter Erin, who is now 13 years old, are my inspiration to better myself and reach out to others through education. I am one lucky guy and would not change a thing. Well, maybe a little less time on the road….

Remember, education will unleash your true potential!

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