Carpet/Rug/Upholstery Cleaning

Game Plan: Suspended Soil Removal Methods

August 1, 2012

Game Plan: The intention of this column is to subjectively discuss (my view) the carpet cleaning process in detail and in relation to the IICRC S100. This is best accomplished by following the Five Principles of Cleaning as outlined by S100.

Those principles are:

  • Dry Soil Removal
  • Soil Suspension
  • Suspended Soil Removal
  • Finishing or Grooming
  • Drying

I am currently exploring all of the aspects of Step 3, the removal of suspended soil. I’ve attempted to emphasize the importance of getting the soil fully suspended (Step 2) before trying to remove it from the carpet. The last two discussions centered on using hot water extraction (HWE) as the soil removal method widely used in the industry, particularly in the residential area of the industry.

The next discussion will remain in Step 3, “Suspended Soil Removal,” but with consideration of other cleaning methods. This month, I want to consider the removal of suspended soil using the absorbent pad method. Hot water extraction (HWE) is still referred to by many as “steam cleaning,” the description given originally to the method when it was first developed. Similarly, absorbent pad is often referred to by its original designation of “bonnet cleaning.” This may well be my personal favorite as a tool in the arsenal of cleaning methods. I really like this method because of its versatility. Employing this tool, a technician can do absorbent pad (bonnet) cleaning, agitation prior to HWE, carpet drying, encapsulation cleaning, corrections and shampooing (with proper brush).

How many arrows are in your quiver? I’m referring to the number of cleaning methods you have at your disposal to provide carpet cleaning services. Many of the questions I get directed to me by cleaners involve making corrections to the cleaning process. These are corrections involving situations like browning, yellowing, wicking, etc. Most of these corrections can best be accomplished with a bonnet pad and a 175 rpm low-speed rotary machine. We use a 15-inch machine in our company for shampooing, bonnet cleaning and for doing corrections. Because of this versatility, bonnet cleaning is an important arrow to have in your quiver, a weapon in the arsenal of tools to effectively leave carpet as clean as possible.

Unfortunately, bonnet cleaning has received a bad reputation in some corners of the industry. The reason for this is abuse of the method. Many carpet manufacturers will void the warranty of their carpet if it is maintained with the bonnet system. Having utilized bonnet cleaning for many years in our company, I was a little floored to hear that this was occurring. A discussion with an officer at a major carpet mill shed a little light on the topic. He and another officer were visiting a facility that was having some maintenance issues with one of their carpets. When the two mill reps arrived at the installation, they discovered an in-house technician running a bonnet machine with another technician standing on the machine. They categorically rejected bonnet cleaning on the spot.

On another occasion, I inspected a hospital that was having carpet maintenance issues. Upon asking to see their carpet cleaning tools, I discovered they were using a bonnet machine. That was fine, but when I asked about the frequency of replacing bonnet pads in the process, I was shown one very highly soiled pad that was used for the entire hospital! It was no wonder they were having maintenance issues. Obviously, the problem is not with the method, but rather the incorrect use of the method.

Next month I want to discuss some of the various positive uses of the absorbent pad method, as well as some of its variations.

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