Carpet Care 101: 4 Essentials of a Commercial Carpet Care Program
Carpets can have a large impact on the way your facility is perceived. If your facility's carpets are worn, stained or dirty, people will notice and leave with a negative impression of your business.
Commercial carpeting, especially in high traffic areas, will experience noticeable wear and damage if it is not properly maintained. Once damaged, there is no way to hide it. Unlike in homes, you can’t just move a sofa or table over the bad spots. The only way to hide damage is to prevent it.
Carpets are easily damaged by soils and require preventative, routine, and deep cleaning to protect them from the effects of liquids and abrasive soils.
The best way to preserve the appearance of your carpet, extend the life of your carpet, and protect your commercial carpet investment is with a comprehensive commercial carpet care program.
A comprehensive carpet care program will include preventative care as well as regularly scheduled cleaning and maintenance procedures to preserve and maintain the appearance and life of your carpet.
Below, we will go over the four essential components of a complete carpet care program.
- Soil Prevention
- Routine Vacuuming
- Routine Spot and Spill Removal
- Carpet Extraction (Deep Cleaning)
1. Soil Prevention
The best way to protect your floors is to prevent soil from entering the building in the first place.
Soils, like salt and sand, are abrasive and can cut carpet fibers, dulling carpet appearance and creating lasting damage.
Entry matting is cheaper, more easily replaceable than commercial carpet. Entry matting is used to trap soil, preventing it from being tracked beyond the entrance of your building.
A visitor should be able to take about 8 to 10 steps on the entry matting before reaching your carpeted floor. This typically calls for 15 feet of matting outside and an additional 15 feet inside your building.
Proper entry matting will remove and contain 95% of soils from guest's shoes.
Entry mats have a limit to the amount of dirt that they can trap. Mats which have too much dirt buildup are not effective at removing additional dirt from guest’s shoes and allow the soil to be tracked beyond the entrance of your facility.
To prevent buildup, mats should be vacuumed every day. Sometimes entry mats in extremely high traffic areas will need to be vacuumed more than once a day.
2. Routine Vacuuming
Vacuuming is the most important component of carpet maintenance.
Routine vacuuming removes the soils that made it past entry matting. Preventing soil buildup will minimize its impact on the appearance of the carpet.
There are several types of vacuums that can help remove soils from your floor. Determining the best vacuum will depend on the area, soil, and the level of traffic you are dealing with.
If you need help choosing which vacuum or vacuums you should be using, check out our article: “5 Types of Commercial Vacuums: Which is Best For Your Facility?”
Pro Tip: Not all janitorial cleaning equipment is the same. Choose a vacuum that has been certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute’s (CRI) Seal of Approval (SOA) program. A CRI approved “Seal of Approval/Green Label (SOA/GL)” vacuum is certified by a third party and ensures that the piece of equipment removes a specified amount of soil from the carpet without causing damage to the carpet. The minimum performance standard for soil removal is the bronze seal, which certifies 40-49% of soils are removed from the carpet.
How often should you vacuum?
The Carpet and Rug Institute generally recommends:
- Vacuum daily in high-traffic areas.
- Vacuum twice weekly in medium-traffic areas.
- Vacuum weekly in light-traffic areas.
- Use attachments at carpet edges and above the floor surfaces as needed.
3. Routine Spot and Spill Removal
Carpets are affected by spills (unwanted liquid soils) and spots (localized discolorations from recently dried spills). It is critical to the life and appearance of your facility’s carpet to identify and remove spills and spots from your carpet as soon as possible.
Spills and spots that are not removed in a timely manner will result in more permanent carpet stains which will require deep cleaning.
The best way to remove carpet spills and spots is by using the appropriate commercial or industrial carpet cleaner and following proper spotting techniques.
If you are looking for the best commercial carpet cleaner and right procedure to remove spills, spots, and stains, check out our article, “How to Identify and Remove Carpet Stains by Choosing the Best Spotter.”
The first step in removing a carpet stain is identifying the type of soil that caused the stain. If you are not told what the soil or nature of the stain is, you can use the location, appearance, and smell to determine the soil type.
Determining the soil type is critical to choosing the best industrial carpet cleaner. The second and most important step in removing any carpet stain is to balance the stain’s pH with the selected commercial carpet cleaner.
After identifying the source of the stain, you will likely know if you are dealing with acidic soil, such as soda, or alkaline soil, such as rust. Acidic soils require alkaline commercial carpet cleaners. Alkaline soils require acidic carpet cleaners.
Once you have identified the stain and chosen the proper commercial carpet cleaner, it is time to remove the soil.
For best results, follow these Steps to Spotting a Carpet.
4. Carpet Extraction (Deep Cleaning)
Carpet extraction will remove the most heavily embedded soils, but it is also the most time and labor intensive. Carpet extraction is performed to restore the appearance of your carpet and remove deeply embedded stains that carpet spotting could not.
In high traffic areas, this procedure should be performed at least four times a year (or quarterly). In moderate traffic areas, this should be performed one to two times a year.
Choosing a good performing carpet extractor can increase cleaning efficiency and produce better cleaning results. Similar to vacuums, you should be looking for a carpet extractor that is CRI certified.
When performing carpet extraction procedures, you should always vacuum first. If you do not remove dry soils with a vacuum before using a carpet extractor, the carpet extractor will create a muddy solution. The muddy solution will be more difficult to remove. When the carpet begins to dry, soils that were not removed will experience a “wicking” from the carpet backing.
Pro Tip: What is wicking? Wicking is the result of an improperly cleaned stain. As carpet begins to dry, wet soil that was not fully removed from the carpet backing as a part of the extraction process can be drawn up to the top of the carpet fibers. This “wicking” action causes recurring stains.
After vacuuming, use a pump up sprayer to apply carpet cleaner according to manufacturer’s specifications. Dirt is acidic. You should use an alkaline cleaner to remove dirt.
Pro Tip: You should never put carpet cleaner in the extractor, only extraction rinse. The commercial carpet cleaner should be applied first, then removed with a carpet extractor and extraction rinse.
When performing carpet extraction procedures, make sure to add extraction rinse to the tank of the extractor. Extraction rinse is an acidic product and will neutralize any soap residue in the carpet.
It is critical to the appearance of the carpet to remove as much soap and water residue as possible. Any soap that is left behind will attract dirt, causing your carpet to get dirtier faster. Preventing the attraction and buildup of dirt will allow you to extend the time between deep cleanings.
After performing any cleaning procedure that requires you to wet (use water or chemical) the carpet, make sure the carpet is completely dry before replacing furniture or walking on the surface.
If you do not let a carpet dry completely before replacing furniture, the metal legs of furniture can cause rust stains on the carpet. Additionally, walking on the surface while it is still wet can attract dirt. It will also allow for the carpet to remain damp for longer, providing a breeding ground for bacteria.
To accelerate dry time, you can use an air mover or floor blower.
Placing an air mover at the entryway or door of an area will remove moisture and allow the carpet to dry faster. Point the air mover or floor blower facing out so that the damp air is being circulated out of the room.
The faster your carpet dries, the better the results will be.
Each component of a complete commercial carpet care program is essential to keeping your carpet looking great, extending its life, and safeguarding your facility’s investment.
Using proper cleaning techniques and best practices will ensure that your program is yielding best results. A clean and well maintained carpet will keep guests and tenants happy.
If carpet stains are a problem in your facility, let an EBP Expert help.
EBP has been a leading provider of commercial cleaning solutions for over 100 years, and we offer a variety of commercial cleaning supplies and janitorial cleaning equipment including commercial carpet cleaners and carpet extractors to help you build a successful carpet care program.
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