Carpet Care: Nursing Home Cleaning Procedures & Tips

Carpet Care: Nursing Home Cleaning Procedures & Tips

Long-term care facilities strive to replicate home-like environments for their residents. To accomplish this through interior design, many incorporate calming color palettes and carpet in areas like resident rooms, hallways and common areas, since carpet creates a welcoming at-home environment. However, these high-traffic facilities must anticipate and manage a range of carpet stains. It’s important for custodial teams to efficiently and effectively care for carpet in these settings.

Why Carpet?

Not only is carpet aesthetically pleasing and comfortable to walk upon, it can help cushion falls in long-term care facilities. Carpet also provides acoustic and insulating qualities that are favorable to these types of communities.

In facilities like nursing homes or assisted living centers, keeping carpet clean is crucial to the health and safety of employees, residents and visitors. According to a report by the Office of the Inspector General, more than 12% of nursing home hospitalizations are caused by lower respiratory issues such as pneumonia and COPD-related problems. Additionally, a study conducted by Dr. Michael Berry of the Cleaning Industry Research Institute found that the air quality above carpeting was better than above hard surface flooring.

Common Stains

Carpet in senior living facilities can be plagued with a variety of stains, including:

  • Food stains – Food spills tend to occur in carpeted settings like dining areas and resident rooms. It’s best to remove excess solids and blot the stain from the outside in to prevent spreading.
  • Beverage stains –Some drink spills, such as coffee or soda, can be blotted immediately and rinsed with water if caught on the spot. However, a set-in beverage stain will be harder to remove from carpet without the use of specialty spotting chemistry.
  • Body fluid stains – Accidents happen in nursing homes and can lead to organic stains on carpet. To keep these unsightly and potentially foul-smelling stains from impacting a facility’s appearance and reputation, it’s important to address body fluid stains as promptly as possible while wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves. To avoid cross contamination, thoroughly clean stain removal equipment after each use.

Best Practices for Maintaining Carpet

A maintenance regimen that combines regular vacuuming with interim maintenance and deep cleaning is essential to ensure that nursing and retirement homes keep carpet clean over time.

Here are some best practices for maintaining carpet in long-term care facilities:

  1. Conduct regular vacuuming –If possible, facilities should create and follow a daily schedule to keep dirt and debris from building up in carpet fibers. Consider using cordless vacuums to eliminate the possibility of trips or falls and invest in a commercial grade vacuum with a HEPA filtration system. As a rule of thumb, the heavier the level of foot traffic on the carpet, the more you should vacuum.
  2. Rely on the low-moisture encapsulation process – This trusted, and proven technique involves applying a solution of crystalizing polymers and detergent components to carpet. With agitation the process captures particles that vacuuming may miss, and removes any soils stuck to carpet fibers that can impact the appearance. The process returns areas to use in around 30 minutes by using much less water than other carpet cleaning methods.

Whittaker’s Smart Care® machines are easy to use and require minimal training. These machines use multiple cylindrical brushes and encapsulation chemistry to extract embedded soils from carpet fibers. Whittaker’s CRYSTAL® Chemistry products have earned Green Seal Certification, making them an ideal choice for environments with people who may have compromised immune systems. Conduct interim maintenance regularly to keep a long-term care facility looking its best.

  1. Check for spots – The sooner you treat a spot, the easier it is to remove completely from carpet. Conduct visual inspections of carpet throughout the facility. If a spot is found, first simply blot with a clean rag to remove excess liquid and prevent it from setting deeper. Invest in appropriate spot-treating products that are safe for generalized cleaning. For instance, Whittaker’s Crystal Spot Toollifts stains by gently agitating the affected area. Coupled with the Carpet Roamer Spotting Tool, which features two bristle settings that can adapt to various carpet types, users can effectively remove embedded soils.
  2. Schedule as-needed hot-water extraction – A more intensive and disruptive process than low-moisture encapsulation, the hot-water extraction method provides an extremely thorough deep-clean for carpet. It also helps eliminate stains and odors by loosening dirt and oils from carpet fibers, which can be especially useful for long-term care facilities. With a low-moisture system in place, facilities can go longer between hot water extraction (potentially just once every year or every other year).

Installing a comprehensive carpet care system in long-term care facilities is an important step in creating a healthy living environment.. By following the above tips and techniques, organizations can better protect carpet and promote the wellbeing of residents and staff.

To learn more about carpet care essentials from Whittaker, like Smart Care® TWIN and TRIO machines and CRYSTAL® Chemistry, contact us at 800.422.7686 or


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