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Encapsulation vs Hot Water Extraction Carpet Cleaning

Encapsulation vs Hot Water Extraction Carpet Cleaning

There are numerous ways to clean commercial carpet, and it’s true that some approaches are better suited than others for the demands that carpet faces on a daily basis. This is because some carpet cleaning methods can actually damage carpet fibers and lead to a shorter lifespan. Given the investment that you put into purchasing and installing carpet, and the role that carpet plays in shaping guest perceptions of your facility, it’s important that your carpet always looks its best.

Hot water extraction and low-moisture encapsulation cleaning are both fairly common carpet cleaning techniques. So how do these processes relate? And should you incorporate both approaches into your cleaning program? Below, learn the ins and outs of hot water extraction and low-moisture encapsulation cleaning so that the first thing guests see upon entering your facility is clean carpet.  

What is Hot Water Extraction Carpet Cleaning?

Often referred to as steam cleaning, hot water extraction is the process of using very hot water to release dirt trapped deep within carpet fibers. Typically, cleaning professionals conducting hot water extraction use water that is 180-220 degreesFahrenheit. The hot water is coupled with cleaning solution to target everything from lingering stains to allergens to sand and salt contaminants. The final step is suctioning out the moisture used during the process. Strong suction is key, as this ensures that carpets are not oversaturated. Overwetting carpet leads to long dry times and can even encourage the growth of mold and bacteria.

Many facilities choose to conduct hot water extraction because it reduces the risk of damaging carpet fibers compared to other methods, like bonnet cleaning. However, it is important for you to work with cleaning professionals who have the expertise and the equipment to successfully conduct hot water extraction. Plus, it’s important to remember that while hot water extraction is incredibly effective at restoring the look of carpet, it can be extremely costly to conduct this process on a regular basis.

​What is Low-moisture Encapsulation Carpet Cleaning?

Think of low-moisture encapsulation cleaning as a go-to interim maintenance method. You can conduct low-moisture encapsulation as frequently as every day, as is common in the lobbies of Las Vegas hotels, or even once a month if your facility has fewer carpeted areas or does not deal with lots of soiling. Low-moisture encapsulation carpet cleaning advantages include cost-effectiveness, sustainability and safety.  

How does this interim maintenance process work?  

Encapsulation cleaning relies on crystalizing polymers and detergent components to emulsify embedded soils and then bind with these particles. It captures both dry and oily soils on the surface of the carpet fibers and those stuck deep within the pile. When the carpet dries after about 30 minutes, you are left with small, brittle crystals. These can be removed immediately through vacuuming or during the next scheduled vacuuming. You can wait to remove the soils because they are encased in a clear polymer and cannot be seen by the naked eye. Conducting low-moisture encapsulation at least once per month enables you to reduce the frequency of hot water extraction to annually.

It’s important to understand the equipment, chemistry and tools that will help you successfully conduct low-moisture encapsulation.

  • Carpet agitator machine – You can either opt for a two-brush machine or a three-brush machine to conduct your cleaning. Look for a model with counter rotating brushes that will effectively agitate the cleaning solution into the carpet pile to remove all soils. Some facilities choose an economical machine that has a detached sprayer while others select a model with a machine-mounted solution tank.
  • Effective chemistry – The formulation of the chemistry you use with your machines and tools is important. You do not want the carpet cleaning chemicals to leave a sticky residue on the carpet fibers, as this will attract more dirt and require more frequent cleaning. Look for products recommended by the Carpet and Rug Institute, approved by the WoolSafe Organisation or certified by Green Seal. The products should protect the color and appearance of your carpet.
  • Tools – There are handheld tools that can help you agitate carpet without the need for a machine every time. You can use these tools to treat specific stains, like those caused by protein, coffee/tea/wine or oil and grease.

Cleaner Carpet = Happier Guests

Clean carpet is essential for maintaining guest satisfaction in facilities like hotels, long-term care facilities, schools, airports, retail stores and more. In fact, dirty carpet can result in guest complaints, negative word of mouth and lost sales. This can have a long-term impact on a business or organization.

Carpet cleaning with hot water extraction and low-moisture encapsulation can help remove soils and keep your carpet looking like new. Many facilities opt to regularly conduct low-moisture cleaning, depending on the size of their facility and the level of foot traffic. Combining this encapsulation cleaning with annual hot water extraction can make commercial carpet cleaner than ever.

To learn more about carpet care the Whittaker way, view our video tutorials, articles and case studies, or contact us at 800.422.7686 or sales@whittakersystem.com.

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