The Importance of Interim Carpet Maintenance

The Importance of Interim Carpet Maintenance

There are four important parts to an effective carpet care program –

  1. Matting: Preventing soil from being tracked throughout a building
  2. Vacuum & Spotting: Removing dry soil, carpet spots and spills
  3. Interim Maintenance: Removing oily soils and pile lifting
  4. Restorative Cleaning: Removing soils that reach the base of carpet fibers 

The third part is low-moisture interim carpet maintenance. Interim maintenance is highly recommended by leading carpet mills and the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI). The goal is to enhance carpet appearance by removing oily soils and operating as a carpet pile lifter. Although this process requires less labor and material costs than vacuuming or restoration, it delivers the best ‘bang for your buck’ in regard to appearance. 

This simple process restores carpet pile fibers to their original open and non-sticky condition, which improves the recovery of dry and abrasive soils from vacuuming. Not only will consistent carpet maintenance produce the best appearance, it will also reduce long-term costs that arise when carpet fibers are matted and damaged and require replacement.


The Benefits of Interim Carpet Maintenance

Interim carpet maintenance releases embedded dry and oily soil to keep carpet looking new. It’s an ideal cleaning method because it does not harm carpet fibers or leave sticky residues that accelerate re-soiling.

Interim carpet maintenance offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Extending the lifespan of the carpet.

Carpet is built to last for years, but only if it’s properly cared for over time. Depending on the type of carpet and the square footage, it can be extremely costly to replace, especially if replacement is the result of inadequate or improper care. Additionally, the removal of old carpet and installation of new carpet can be very disruptive to building occupants and guests.

  • Ensuring consistent appearance levels over time.

The residents, employees, visitors and customers of a facility should always be greeted with clean carpet. Interim maintenance ensures that carpet looks great month after month and never negatively impacts anyone’s perception of the facility.

  • Meeting environmental criteria for a healthy indoor environment.

Interim maintenance helps to remove built up dirt, dust and debris from carpet. If left unaddressed, dust mites, bacteria and even allergens can negatively impact the health of building occupants. Whether someone has respiratory issues or allergies, they can be triggered by carpet that has not been regularly or properly cleaned.

  • Keeping costs low.

Despite recommendations to perform multiple applications per year, interim maintenance is an incredibly quick and easy process. With lightweight and user-friendly equipment, employees can improve the appearance of carpet often in less time than to vacuuming. This keeps labor costs in line with a facility’s budget.

  • Reducing the need for large volumes of water to clean carpet.

Over-wetting occurs when too much water is used to clean carpet or water is not properly extracted and dried. The water soaks into the carpet fibers and can result in mold and mildew that damage the carpet and can aggravate health issues such as asthma. Low-moisture interim maintenance helps facilities be more sustainable and reduces the risk of over-wetting floors.


Best Practices for Protecting Carpet

It’s important to follow interim carpet maintenance best practices for quality results. Low-moisture encapsulation cleaning is the preferred method since it effectively combines mill recommended pile-lifting and interim cleaning into a single step, saving time and labor costs. A thorough low-moisture interim carpet maintenance program can also extend the time between restorative hot water extraction cleaning.

Look for a system that has the CRI’s Seal of Approval. Systems with this seal are tested on soiled control carpets and meet strict standards in the “Efficacy Evaluation” and “Surface Appearance” categories. They are also tested against criteria such as the rate of re-soiling, pH, optical brighteners and colorfastness. Purchasing and using equipment and chemistry that meet these requirements can give facility managers more peace of mind regarding carpet care.

To perform low-moisture interim carpet maintenance:

  • Add the appropriate chemistry and water to the machine mounted tank. Chemical should be CRI approved, Green Seal certified and WoolSafe™ approved.
  • Apply the chemistry/water mixture to the carpet while agitating with the cylindrical brush machine. The polymers in the chemistry encapsulate soils while the machine lifts the pile of the carpet.
  • Vacuum once the chemistry has dried completely, typically after about 20-30 minutes. 


Cleaning Frequency

The frequency of interim carpet maintenance will vary depending on several factors, including traffic patterns and weather. For instance, a facility with a lot of carpet and steady foot traffic may want to perform interim cleaning once or twice per month, whereas low traffic carpet areas may be cleaned with this method every other month. High-traffic environments that see thousands of visitors per day may even want to perform cleaning as frequently as once or twice per week to keep carpet appearance in line with visitor expectations.

To best protect carpet, create a maintenance schedule that is well-matched to the facility’s needs. Train employees so that they understand how to operate the equipment as well as how to maintain it. For example, rotating brushes, emptying the collection tray and flushing out the spray nozzle after each use will ensure the equipment works as expected during the next cleaning.

Interim carpet maintenance is just one of four cornerstones of carpet maintenance. To learn more about the entire process, visit our website. For more information about carpet care the Whittaker way, access our video tutorials, articles and case studies, or contact us at 800.422.7686 or

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