Universities aim to impress potential students and their families while also providing a comfortable and clean learning environment for current students and faculty. In areas like dorms, libraries, student centers and study rooms, carpet is used to limit noise and provide an at-home atmosphere.
With the proper carpet care procedures in place, universities and colleges can prolong carpet lifespan and prevent it from ending up in landfills prematurely. Taking care of carpet also prevents costly replacement, which requires closures to busy areas when new carpet is installed. With the right equipment, tools and chemistry, facility managers can implement an A+ carpet care program for their university.
Carpet Care 101
Many higher education facilities are open year-round for sporting events, summer and winter classes, community gatherings and more, putting a strain on flooring and making it challenging for workers to properly care for carpet without closing off certain areas. Depending on the location and season, visitors may track in dirt, mud, sand, salt, snow and other debris that can impact carpet appearance. Additionally, students and staff often bring their food and drink with them to class and study areas, increasing the number of spills.
To maintain carpet in higher education environments, follow these best practices:
- Implement a matting program. Did you know that 85% of the dirt in a building comes from the soles of people’s shoes? In fact, it can take as little as one week for a square yard of carpeting to accumulate one pound of dirt, and up to twice as much during inclement weather. One of the most effective ways to keep debris from entering your building is to place walk-off mats at entrances and in high traffic areas. The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) recommends choosing an entrance mat based on the level of foot traffic entering your facility, as some matting is designed to capture more dirt and water than others.
- Vacuum carpet every day. With the right vacuum, you can remove 80-90% of dry soil accumulation. However, not all vacuums are built the same and all require regular maintenance to properly collect dirt and debris from carpet. Make sure your vacuum is certified by the CRI and has the proper features your facility needs, such as noise-reduction, high airflow, HEPA filtration and more. Vacuuming should be incorporated into daily cleaning schedules and machines should be routinely checked to ensure best performance. Tip: Vacuum each building’s entrance (including the matting) as far as its power cord reaches (approximately 30 ft). You will spend far less time removing this soil than if you waited for it to be tracked throughout your facility.
- Invest in commercial carpet cleaning equipment. Carpet care methods continue to evolve. Rotary spin-bonneting, once a commonly used cleaning method, is now prohibited by all leading carpet mills, due to the fiber damage it can cause. They recommend low-moisture encapsulation with cylindrical brushes as a better option for performing interim maintenance. By using crystalizing polymers and an effective detergent, low-moisture cleaning provides consistent carpet appearance by removing oily or abrasive soils and extends carpet life. Since low-moisture cleaning machines are easy to use and allow carpet to dry quickly, your staff won’t have to close off areas of school buildings for long periods of time.
- Keep an eye out for spots. In addition to regular maintenance to uphold carpet appearance, it’s important to routinely conduct visual checks for spots to keep permanent stains from setting in carpet fibers. Whether its pen ink, paint or a sports drink that spills on carpet, accidents happen and should be addressed as soon as possible. Tip: Train the staff who perform vacuuming to immediately report spots, or better yet, to clean them quickly as soon as they see them.
- Use the proper chemistry. Treat all spots you find with the proper chemistry and low-moisture cleaning methods. Be sure to match the chemistry to the stain type to increase the probability of removing it. Look for chemistry that has a Green Seal Certification, is safe to use on wool carpet and is certified by the CRI. For specific stains caused by crayon, red food dye and coffee, check out our spot cleaning instructions.
- Perform restorative maintenance as needed. During quieter times, such as holiday breaks or summer months, take a close look at carpet. Odds are, it may need a deep cleaning to remove embedded dry soil, oily substances or residue build-up that occurs naturally over time. Depending on the level of foot traffic and use of the space, hot water extraction is recommended once after every three to six interim low-moisture cleanings.
Long Term Carpet Care
Between study nights fueled by caffeine and sudden blizzards tracking in snow and salt, university flooring sees it all. Even community events and other activities held on campus throughout the off season may contribute to spills and stains, requiring schools to have a year-round carpet maintenance plan in place.
With the proper carpet care program, colleges and universities can protect their carpet investment and continually provide students, faculty and visitors with consistently clean carpet.
To learn more about carpet care in higher education facilities, visit our website. For more information about carpet care essentials, like our Smart Care® machines and CRYSTAL® Chemistry, contact us at 800.422.7686 or firstname.lastname@example.org.