My current client has the same attitude as many facility managers: They don’t think of the carpet after it’s been installed until its appearance becomes affected. Being aware of the “What, How and Why” of commercial carpet maintenance will be the insurance plan you need to have attractive, functional carpet for many years.
What about soil prevention? “If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, how much does a pound of cure cost?”
Soil accumulates within a building in two ways: it’s either brought into the building or generated from within. If a comprehensive maintenance plan is going to be successful, soil from both sources must be controlled by any reasonably means.
According to industry sources, up to 24 lbs. of dirt can be tracked into a building by as few as 1,000 people in 20 workdays. It costs in excess of $600 to remove each pound of dirt (24 lbs. x $600 per lb. = $14,400). With a cost like that, it’s obvious that soil must be stopped with proper entrance mats and matting.
Your goal is to give a boost to the maintenance plan you’re developing. Start by focusing on these areas:
Parking Lots: Soil is abundant here. Parking lots and garages must be swept regularly to remove the dust and dirt, and must be pressure washed to remove the grease and oil.
Walkway & Entry Aprons: If soils are allowed to accumulate here, they will eventually end up inside of the building. This area needs to be swept regularly and pressure washed periodically.
Exterior Mats, Surface/Recess: These mats are designed to dislodge and scrape off large dirt particles, including snow. Some even have heating elements in them so ice and snow won’t accumulate on them. When specified and maintained properly, these mats will last for years, and provide an excellent defensive against soil intrusion.
Interior Entry-Type Mats: These mats are designed to wipe off light soils, and absorb moisture and oily soils. Additional consideration should be given to placing mats in other areas of the building to control soil or spills (next to the photocopier or coffee maker, on a landing in the stairwell or any place where carpet adjoins a hard surface). Properly placed mats can reduce the time spent on spot and stain removal, and further reduce the spread of interior soils.
So, how often should a carpet be vacuumed? It depends on where the carpet is installed. Entrance mats, the carpet that adjoins hard surfaces, elevators and the lobby/reception areas of some buildings may need to be vacuumed twice a day, whereas some offices and meeting rooms might only need to be vacuumed 2-3 times a week because they’re seldom used.
Finally, vacuuming is the first requirement of any cleaning process. No matter how wonderful your carpet-cleaning method is, pre-vacuuming must be accomplished with a good quality commercial upright vacuum cleaner and/or a power pile lifter. Your goal is the maximum removal of dry soil from carpeting.
Take it upon yourself to educate the person making these purchasing decisions about how color and style affect a given environment. A solid light tan color may work fine in some western or coastal states, but not necessarily in northern states, where it can become a dirt magnifier.
The extreme case is the carpet that has been vacuumed once a week. The professional can spot it right away, and the casual visitor gets an impression that things are soiled—even when the rest of the facility is strictly maintained. The color of the carpet is dark in the trafficked areas, perhaps matted down. Dark areas under the coffee machine or copier reveal spills that weren’t handled properly. The mats look as if you could pick them up and shake off enough soil to start seedlings.
That was the condition of the carpet I was looking at when the manager asked if the carpet would last another year. I was there to inspect for manufacturing defects of color change and matting and crushing. Yes, there was a color difference, and everything was definitely matted down, but there was no defect. With proper maintenance, this carpet could easily last for 15 years or more.
The results of intensive cleaning are:
The results of interim maintenance are:
Some intensive cleaning methods may generate up to 500 square feet of clean carpet per hour, where others will give you up to 1,000. Some methods will leave the carpet wet for several hours, while others are dry and ready for foot traffic in less than 30 minutes.
All interim maintenance methods of cleaning give you high production rates, some as high as 3,000 square feet per hour or more.
When it comes to production rates like this, your staff needs to be motivated and given benchmarks on how long a specific area or building should take to clean. If they aren’t, then they will give you the same production rates as if the carpet were heavily soiled.
As you evaluate your facility, you may decide you need intensive cleaning a few times a year in certain areas. Interim maintenance may need to be performed once a month or more often in the rest of the facility.
Business owners/managers know that the most expensive asset they have are their employees. Maintaining a clean environment means many things: less sickness (absenteeism); improved employee moral (productivity); and longer carpet life.