Six Essential Pieces of Carpet Care Equipment

March 13, 2006
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Proper carpet maintenance relies on a combination of the right cleaning processes with the right cleaning equipment. A comprehensive carpet care program is a good example: this customized cleaning schedule targets three specific phases of carpet care that requires a minimum of six pieces of carpet care equipment to implement effectively.

A comprehensive carpet care program includes:

  • Daily / preventive maintenance, which is all about the daily removal of soil when it's dry and preventing it from getting further into your facility and your facility's carpet. Daily/preventive maintenance also includes the timely removal of spots and stains.

  • Interim maintenance, which targets the soil that specifically degrades the appearance of the carpet and attempts to target that soil without getting the carpet overly wet.

  • Restorative maintenance, which is about maximum soil removal - trying to get out as much embedded dirt and as many re-occurring stains as possible using virtually any means possible.

By understanding these processes, it's easy to identify the six pieces of equipment that are necessary to implement a comprehensive carpet care program. Those pieces include:

  • a vacuum and a spotter for preventive/daily maintenance,
  • a pump-up sprayer and a low-moisture cleaning machine for interim cleaning, and
  • an extractor and carpet rake for restorative cleaning.

By having access to these six pieces of carpet care equipment, you'll be well equipped to consistently improve both the cleanliness and the appearance of your carpet for years to come. This article provides specific insight into the value each of these six pieces of equipment lends to your comprehensive carpet care program.

Vacuum

If daily/preventive maintenance focuses on the removal of dry soil, then it's clear why a vacuum is a necessary piece of cleaning equipment. A vacuum is the most appropriate piece of cleaning equipment for removing the maximum amount of dry soil and preventing it from becoming imbedded in your carpet. In fact, it is estimated that daily vacuuming can remove 80 percent of the dry soil from your carpet and minimize the need to implement interim or restorative cleaning measures.
To be considered a valuable and truly useful part of your daily/preventive maintenance, a vacuum must do three things for you. First, it needs to remove the soil. For this reason, you might consider an upright vacuum that offers an agitation step to loosen dirt from the carpet. Second, it needs to have a superior filtration system so that the soil does not go through the vacuum and become airborne. This means it must offer the proper combination of suction and airflow; suction to effectively remove the dirt from the carpet, and airflow to help the particulates travel from the carpet to the bag and not back into the carpet or into the air. And third, the vacuum needs to prevent damage to your carpet by offering brush height settings that meet your needs. Ideally, your vacuum will also be as un-intrusive as possible, operating at a low decibel level that allows for anytime cleaning.
A 15-inch dual motor upright vacuum will meet your most critical vacuum needs and provide for maximum dry soil removal.

Spotter

As part of your daily/preventive maintenance, it's important that you spend time removing any spots or stains that appear on the carpet. Getting the stains right away will assist in removing them and not allowing them to become permanent. A spotter that is small, portable, maneuverable, and offers onboard chemical storage is your best bet, as it will make using the spotter easy and manageable. In particular, consider a small suitcase-size spotter. And, try to ensure you have a spotting guide on-board as well so you know how best to use the spotter.

Pump-Up Sprayer

Interim maintenance includes the use of water and chemicals to remove dirt that degrades the carpet's appearance, so a means of applying that chemical to the carpet is a must. And while some carpet-care technicians prefer to add chemical to the clean-water tank, a pump-up sprayer allows you to pre-spray your chemical so that it has more time to work.

Consider that a typical extractor recovers approximately 75 percent of the water and solution put into a carpet. That means that roughly 25 percent of the water and solution remain in the carpet, so repeated cleanings ultimately lead to chemical build-up. Using a pump-up sprayer is implementing an industry best practice because it limits the amount of chemical you put in your carpet by targeting only those areas that need a chemical application. As a result, you use less chemical and reduce the potential for chemical build-up.

A stand-alone 2-gallon sprayer is a wonderful addition to your family of carpet care equipment. Like a portable spotter, it's small, portable and maneuverable, making it easy to use. And it can be used in both your interim and restorative needs.

Low-Moisture Cleaning Machine

Because interim maintenance is not as much about maximum soil removal as it is about improving a carpet's appearance, interim maintenance relies on low-moisture cleaning machines. Any number of low-moisture cleaning machines and techniques are available today, including surface extractors and Tennant's own soil transfer technology. There are also chemical solutions such as encapsulation and damp compounds.

Extractor

Restorative cleaning focuses on removing soil that can't be removed dry or with an interim method, which means you'll want a machine that provides superior cleaning performance. Because restorative cleaning is all about maximum soil removal, you'll want a machine that uses ample water.

The most common wet-cleaning machine is a self-contained extractor that combines solution flow, pressure, agitation and recovery. Such an extractor allows the water to get deep enough into the carpet that it targets and removes the soil, but not so deep that it causes damage to the concrete flooring or the carpet itself or substantially increases dry times. An extractor that relies on agitation is necessary to physically remove the soil without causing carpet damage, and recovery is necessary to remove the dirty water from the carpet. The upside of using an extractor is that you do a good job of actually removing the soil that's embedded in the carpet and you improve the carpet's appearance and extend its life. The down side of using an extractor is that the carpet stays wet longer after cleaning, but, once you get to restorative cleaning there is really no alternative.

Carpet Rake

Don't forget the carpet rake! While this is not a technologically advanced piece of equipment, it is an important one that is often forgotten. Once the carpet is thoroughly clean and still wet, using a carpet rake will ensure the carpet fibers are properly reset to dry consistently. Think of it this way-if you fall asleep with wet hair, you'll wake up with a major case of bed head. The same is essentially true with wet carpet. If it isn't reset before drying, it won't have a consistent look that suggests it's "good as new." With a carpet rake, you'll end up with a much-better-looking carpet after it dries.

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