Many schools and universities around the country have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic and the transition to e-learning. Thus, foot traffic and the risk of carpet stains have decreased greatly. However, summer still marks a prime opportunity for custodial teams to implement carpet care best practices.
Cleaning carpet is often a daunting task for educational facilities. Some campuses have thousands of square feet of carpet spread across multiple buildings. The wrong strategy will do more harm than good, wasting resources and driving up labor costs. Whether your school is planning to reopen in the fall or wait until 2021 to welcome students and staff back, it’s important to establish an easy-to-follow routine for summer carpet maintenance.
Achieving an Efficient, Effective and Environmentally Friendly Clean
Prioritizing summer carpet maintenance in schools will ultimately create a better learning atmosphere once everyone returns to campus, and it doesn’t have to come at a high cost. Consider the following best practices for each and every building that has carpeted areas:
- Vacuum carpet first – Students track a variety of loose debris from the outside into the building. Excess dirt and debris that sits on top of the carpet can get in the way when conducting a deeper clean of the soils embedded underneath. Investing in an easy-to-maneuver commercial vacuum will make this process smoother for custodial staff. Be sure to follow a map or plan to keep track of which rooms have already been vacuumed. This helps maximize efficiency and avoid forgetfulness when covering thousands of square feet of carpet.
- Prioritize the most heavily trafficked areas – A good rule of thumb in covering all the carpet on campus is to clean the dirtiest places first, one space at a time. Consider carpeted areas near entrances where students or faculty track in soils from the outside. Start with places with the most foot traffic, such as dorm building common areas and libraries. Then, work your way to less trafficked areas. In student centers, pay special attention to areas where students congregate or study, as it’s likely they’ll consume refreshments like soda or coffee. These beverages can spill onto carpet and result in stains.
- Stick to sustainable methods – Schools are the primary institutions that foster the future generation to think and act innovatively. In the same vein, the message behind sustainability is one that is forward-thinking. As an increasing number of schools across grade levels integrate sustainability in their curriculum, it’s important for these organizations to integrate it into their cleaning practices as well. School carpet cleaning can be more environmentally friendly when following a low-moisture encapsulation method that uses 3-12 times less water than hot water extraction. Curbing water usage will allow schools to allocate utility savings toward other important projects not just in the summer, but year-round. To ensure your approach to cleaning is green, look for products that have been awarded either Green Seal or the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
Summer Carpet Maintenance Long-term Benefits for Students and Staff
While some universities have already announced that they will continue e-learning into the fall semester, others, like Purdue University, are keen to have students and staff back on campus beginning in late summer. Regardless of when educational institutions decide to reopen, tending to carpet the right way in the meantime will help universities create an environment that supports student success.
Dirty carpet can result in poor indoor air quality (IAQ) plagued by unseen airborne pollutants called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that are breathed in by building occupants. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the presence of VOCs can result in headaches, fatigue and eye, nose and throat irritation, affecting the productivity and stress levels of students and faculty.
By regularly addressing carpet and removing soils from its deeper fibers, custodial staff are helping to improve IAQ and create healthier learning spaces. Removing pollutants and allergens that become trapped in carpet enables students and staff to breathe easier and stay focused.
Additionally, carpet maintenance for school facilities produces a better overall appearance throughout the campus. A place that both looks and feels clean is sure to boost student morale. Students will find it easier to stay motivated in their work and will be proud to attend a school that prioritizes cleanliness.
Summer is certainly an ideal time for facility maintenance professionals to conduct a thorough cleaning of all school buildings, but it’s important to remember that the above best practices for carpet care are not exclusive to one season. Carpet care is a year-round task that is made easier by choosing a cost-effective and efficient method such as low-moisture encapsulation.