Cleaning & Restoration Association News

Solid Maintenance Plan Keeps Carpets Looking New in Summer

July 12, 2005
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July brings summer fun in the sun, picnics, pool parties and extra daylight to enjoy outdoor activities. But for carpet care professionals, it's no fun in the sun. The spills and tracked in dirt and grime don't take a summer vacation, which means the soft floor maintenance schedules must be sustained through the dog days of summer.

Carpet is a very popular floor covering choice for many homes and business alike. According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, approximately 53 percent of carpet sales in recent years were for residential applications and 47 percent for commercial applications. Carpet in a commercial setting continues to be a popular floor covering choice for many reasons:

  • Aesthetics - as a vibrant focal point of a facility, carpet sets the stage for the environment's decorations.
  • Safety from slips and falls - carpet is not only a great cushion for feet, it can help prevent slips and falls.
  • Sound reduction - carpet is a sound-reducer and is quieter than hard flooring.
  • Insulation - carpet can retain warm air longer during the cool season and can insulate against heat in warm climates.

    For whatever reason a facility manager chooses carpet, it's a significant investment, both in financial terms as well as the overall facility image. The weight of preserving this investment falls to the carpet care professionals who are charged with the important task of keeping the carpet looking like new. Carpet care professionals are not only preserving the appearance of the carpet - and preventing it from being prematurely replaced - they are helping to maintain a positive impression of the facility.

    Cleaning professionals know that preserving carpet is not an easy task, especially when faced with the challenge of addressing spots that aren't typically visible until they turn into much harder-to-treat stains. But, maintaining carpet to a building's high standards can be easily achieved provided a successful carpet maintenance program is implemented.

    Designing and implementing a carpet maintenance program should ideally start as soon as the carpet is installed. To make sure a cleaning staff is caring for carpets in the most effective way, it's important to study the building's layout to determine what the high traffic areas are so those spots can be tended to daily. Looking at the layout can also help determine foot-traffic patterns and loading areas to determine where the majority of dirt and soils will be tracked in. Another key reason to study the building layout is to determine the entryways and plan a matting system to prevent a majority of the dirt from being tracked along the carpet. Additionally, it's not a bad idea to always keep in mind how much it would cost to replace the carpet. With that dollar figure in mind, you and your staff will be more motivated to keep the carpets in their best condition.

    Preventative Maintenance
    Arguably, the building's biggest line of defense can be found in a matting system. Remember that every floor care system starts at the door. Proper matting is the first step to keeping grit and moisture off the floor. For this reason, your daily maintenance steps should include vacuuming walk-off mats. Entrance mats that become soiled should be cleaned or replaced if they get too messy.

    Daily Maintenance
    Daily maintenance is designed to keep the surface clean and free of loose soils and spots, and is considered the most important aspect of carpet care maintenance. Vacuuming, which can remove more than 80 percent of dry soil, is the most important element of a daily maintenance program, along with a plan to address spots.

    Carpet spots - something that will come out of the carpet - frequently turn up in all areas of a building. According to the CRI, items such as coffee, coffee grounds, glue, cosmetics, gum, mustard, wax, plant food, nail polishes and lipstick are the office spills that are the most common substances that are almost impossible to clean without the use of cleaning products.

    It's critical that spots are quickly addressed, or else they can become deep soils that can cause the carpet to look old and result in premature carpet replacement. While spills and soils take their toll on carpets, the deep soiling is preventable if the carpet is treated with effective and reliable carpet cleaning products. The following maintenance measures can have a high impact on tough-to-remove items, provided they are implemented soon after the spill occurs:

  • Remove as much soil as possible by vacuuming or blotting the spot.
  • Next, work on the spot from the outside to inside without scrubbing the area by using the appropriate cleaning product. Apply a weight or pressure to help pick up as much dirty solution as possible.
  • Avoid over-wetting the carpet.
  • Rinse the affected area thoroughly with cold water.
  • Blot dry.

    It's wise to choose a carpet spot remover designed to treat a variety of spots since you likely won't know what caused the spots. It all comes down to having products that not only perform well, but that will address a variety of spots. The broader the applicability of a spot lifter, the better chances you'll have of successfully removing the spot.

    It's helpful to choose products that combine a variety of different technologies to effectively work on the broad range of soils that can be found in a commercial environment. For example, combining enzymes with the right surfactants, builders, solvents, agent to neutralize iodine and the right pH, an effective spot remover will break down protein and food spots as well as penetrate to remove most common soils.

    Beyond common soils, more specialized spotters can be used for specific tasks, such as removing tannin and rust spots, organic soils such as blood or milk and chewing gum. When spots aren't addressed immediately, or if something is spilled on the carpet that can immediately damage it, a stain can result. It's important to note that carpet-spot removers are designed to remove spots, not stains. Carpet professionals can try to remove it with repeated applications of an appropriate spot remover. But, in most cases, more "specialty" cleaners and procedures to restore the carpet will need to be called in. If a spot becomes a stain, it must be treated accordingly.

    Interim Maintenance
    Interim maintenance measures, which include bonnet cleaning, are used when daily maintenance does not leave the carpet at a standard level. Bonnet cleaning, typically used when carpets look slightly soiled, will clean the top fiber sections of carpet. During this step, it's helpful to use a bonnet cleaner that penetrates and removes soils without damaging carpets or leaving a harmful residue.

    Restorative Maintenance
    Restorative maintenance, which includes extraction cleaning, is performed when carpets appear heavily soiled. Designed to clean the entire length of the carpet fiber, extraction cleaning typically occurs one to four times a year. The key is to use a carpet extraction product that is both an extraction cleaner and sanitizer. Using a two-in-one extraction product will attack mold, mildew and effectively sanitize against odor-causing bacteria. In addition to poor carpet appearance, odors are one of the primary reasons for carpet replacement.

    The best way to preserve carpet boils down to two important tactics: defining a regular maintenance schedule for carpet cleaning, and product performance. The products you use and the ability to apply them correctly are critical to achieving increased productivity, profitability and the satisfaction of your customers.

    Implementing a program that allows you to meet your client's appearance goals within an identified budget is a win-win situation, both during these hot days of summer and all-year round.

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