Carpet/Rug/Upholstery Cleaning / Restoration

Carpet Cleaning vs. Carpet Restoration

There's a difference between carpet cleaning and carpet restoration.

April 3, 2013
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“Jessika: A friend just bought an Asian food café and the loop-pile nylon carpets haven’t been cleaned in about 2½ years. There are heavy food soils and the walkways are matted with grease. What can I do to clean the carpet?” - Peyton, Hi-Desert Cleaners, CA
 
The first concept that needs to be understood before approaching this project is that this is not a carpet “cleaning” job, but rather a carpet “restoration” project. There is a big difference between carpet “cleaning” and carpet “restoration,” and this is the perfect example.
 
In most cases, for many of us, we are performing carpet cleaning projects. The carpets, whether residential or commercial, have been properly maintained and professionally cleaned on a timely basis. Cleaning projects are fairly simple using the professional-grade chemistry, cleaning tools and industrial equipment that most of us are presently using. We may have some soil wicking occur in heavily soiled areas, and some spot or stain removal procedures, but the issues are usually rectified by a secondary cleaning or the use of a formulated products designed specifically for the situation.
 
When it comes to carpet restoration, a well thought out plan of action is required. The carpet installation, construction, carpet fiber and soil load must be examined so we can properly pre-qualify the project and determine the proper methods and chemistry that will be used to bring the carpet back to a condition that will be acceptable to the client… then set-up a maintenance program to maintain the lifespan of the carpet.
 
Hence, in such a situation, I would likely recommend the following procedures:
  1. Pre-Qualify: Explain that this is not a normal amount of soil and will require extensive carpet restoration services – most likely multiple cleanings to remove the soil. Also, there may be fiber damage and stains that are not readily apparent due to the amount of soil embedded in the carpet.
  2. Inspect the carpet: The installation method, the carpet construction and the fiber. Determine any issues such as faulty installation, damage, pulled loops, separating seams, staining, etc. Note any findings on your inspection sheet and pre-qualify.
  3. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum! Then vacuum again. This will help to prevent any soil wicking, although you should expect soil wicking… it is part of the restoration plan. A pile lifter is recommended, but the use of a carpet rake to lift and separate fibers before vacuuming will help, too.
  4. Primary Cleaning: In this case, for the first cleaning, I would not recommend pre-spotting. This primary cleaning is to loosen top and face fiber soils. Pre-spray the carpet with a professional grade pre-spray formulated with enzymes. Add a citrus solvent booster. Liberally pre-spray carpet and allow dwell time as recommended on manufacturer’s label. 
  5. Agitate: Use a mechanical rotary or cylindrical floor machine with a carpet brush to agitate pre-spray into carpet, applying more pre-spray as necessary, focusing on traffic lanes and heavily soiled areas.
  6. Primary Extract: For the primary extraction, I recommend the hot water extraction method, preferably with a truckmount and a rotary tool, or a carpet light wand. Use a professional grade detergent and lots of flushing. At this point, you will probably leave the carpet a little wetter than normal due to extensive flushing. Remember, this is just the first cleaning, and with the amount of embedded soils, soil wicking is most likely going to occur – and should be expected to occur. Groom with a carpet rake and allow carpets to dry.
  7. After carpets are completely dry, re-inspect. At this point you may be able to determine, with your experience and knowledge, whether multiple cleanings - and how many - will be necessary. I once had a similar situation with an ice cream shop that needed four cleanings and the allowment of soil wicking to remove the microscopic soils embedded in the carpet backing components before the carpet was restored to an acceptable state for use.
  8. After the primary restoration services are preformed, then you can continue to clean the carpet with your normal pre-spot, pre-spray, extract, groom, cleaning methods. I recommend the use of a rotary floor machine with absorbent bonnets and the placement of air movers to help dry the carpet as quickly as possible.
 
After you have removed all of the loose and embedded food soils, grease and grime, it is time to perform your restoration spotting procedures. This example being an Asian food café, I imagine there’s soy and sweet-and-sour sauce staining along with soda and coffee stains. Again, pre-qualify stain removal procedures, emphasizing that due to the amount of time that the stains have been left in the carpet, stain removal procedures may not be effective.
  1. Inspect the stain and try to determine whether the stain has natural (organic) dyes, such as orange juice, soy sauce or coffee, or from a synthetic (inorganic) product that has man-made dyes such as sweet-and-sour sauce and most sodas.
  2. After making your best determination, choose an oxidizing product specifically formulated to remove natural dye pigments or a specially formulated reducing product designed to remove synthetic dyes. Follow manufacturer’s directions for use.
 
After all carpet restoration services have been performed, re-inspect the carpet for any issues that you will want to discuss in your client post-qualification. I always like to take digital before-and-after pictures – as the carpet restoration results are often amazing!

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