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The Two-Pronged Approach: Cleaning in The Last Frontier

When a major carpet mill was faced with a soft floor covering problem in the Anchorage, Alaska warehouse of one of their clients, they turned to Bob Reynolds and J&S Steamway Inc. to resolve it.

Photos courtesy of J&S Steamway and XL-North

When a major carpet mill was faced with a soft floor covering problem in the Anchorage, Alaska warehouse of one of their clients, they turned to Bob Reynolds and J&S Steamway Inc. to resolve it.

Reynolds, a senior textile inspector, has been in the cleaning industry for more than 27 years. His company operates six vans with HWE truck-mounted systems, several portable extraction units and one low-moisture cleaning system. This last would seem easy to dismiss, save for one thing: at this writing, Reynolds is the only service provider in Alaska certified in low-moisture cleaning. J&S Steamway focuses primarily on the residential sector, but after this project, Reynolds says he may well shift his attention more toward the commercial side of the business.

The Task

The job consisted of cleaning and restoring 1,600 square feet of soft floor covering located in the administrative area of the client’s warehouse. Although the carpet had been installed just two years prior, its appearance suggested it was not holding up and would quite probably need replacing. Reynolds' actions proved this was not the case.

The Techniques

Reynolds took a two-pronged approach to resolving the problem, using both low-moisture cleaning and hot-water extraction.

1. Low-Moisture Cleaning
Prior to hot-water extraction, a near-neutral pH pre-spray was applied to the affected area; less than 2 gallons per 1,000 square feet was dispersed. A dual cylindrical brush agitator/pile lifter was used to scrub the area in preparation for extraction.

Image 1

Encapsulant cleaning itself does not normally remove soil and debris; rather, it relies on either dry extraction with a commercial-grade vacuum cleaner, or else through a hot-water rinse. In this particular case, though, the scrubber was equipped with a recovery tray, which picked up a large amount of soil and debris (Image 1). Without the tray, the debris would simply have been re-deposited on the surface.

The results from Step 1 were quite impressive. Had the process been performed on an on-going basis, it may well have postponed the need for hot-water extraction for some time. In this case, however, the job called for a full restoration of the floor covering, and so hot-water extraction would be used as well to achieve the best possible appearance and maximize soil removal.

2. Hot-Water Extraction
Full restoration includes one or more hot-water extractions, which for this project were actually high-pressure rinses. Only water was put into the extractor (an acid neutralizer and defoamer might be added, in the event that there is a buildup of soap).

Commercial carpet can be difficult to extract, as it’s tightly constructed and often has an impermeable backing. While HWE systems provide plenty of water for the task, in some cases extraction can be hampered by reduced or impeded suction, requiring three or four “dry” strokes for every “wet” stroke made.

The hot-water extraction enhanced the already startling results brought about by the low-moisture approach in Step 1, bringing the carpet back to an almost-new condition while recovering the maximum amount of water possible.

A job well done!


“The results were awesome, much better than I expected,” Reynolds said. “I’m a firm believer in this two-step process.” The job was a prime example of a situation where the client’s belief that the carpet has failed or is deficient can be changed to reflect the more accurate truth that the “failure” is instead the result of improper, infrequent and ineffective carpet maintenance.

In this case, Reynolds and J&S Steamway brought the carpet back from the brink, coupling low-moisture with hot-water extraction to achieve the best possible result (a technique directly in-line with what all the carpet mills are now recommending to maintain soft floor coverings). Following the restorative action, the client should have the carpet cleaned on a monthly basis using a low-moisture, non-disruptive method. If and when (hopefully after a much more extended period of time) the carpet no longer responds to the low-moisture action, hot-water extraction can again be employed.

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