Restorative Carpet Cleaning Best Practices

Restorative Carpet Cleaning Best Practices

Even when facilities incorporate preventative, daily and interim maintenance into their carpet care schedule, stubborn soils and stains can still build up in the fibers. Even if not readily visible, certain substances can damage fibers and reduce the lifespan of carpet. Additionally, heavy soils can negatively impact the way your organization is perceived by people like customers, residents or students.

To remove embedded soil and dry substances, and improve the overall appearance of carpet, facilities should rely on restorative carpet cleaning. Facility managers should understand best practices as well as essential equipment that facilitates restorative carpet cleaning.


Six Steps to Achieve Clean Carpet

Restorative carpet cleaning is a multi-step process that revitalizes carpet if performed properly. For best results, make sure employees complete the following six steps:

  1. First, vacuum the carpet to remove any dry dirt or loose soil. This is a crucial step because if there is still dirt in the carpet when you perform hot water extraction, it can further embed the dirt into the carpet, or at least turn to mud and slow down the cleaning process.
  2. Pre-spray high-traffic lane areas and spots prior to hot water extraction. High-traffic areas like entryways, waiting areas and elevator lobbies are likely to see more foot traffic and may have greater levels of soiling. Look for a pre-spray that is specially formulated for heavily soiled carpet, and has a neutral pH. It should also carry the Carpet & Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval. If carpet is wool, always use a WoolSafe™ Approved pre-spray.
  3. Immediately agitate the pre-spray into the carpet with a cylindrical brush machine. To make this process easier, look for a machine that has a sprayer built into the front of the unit and two or three brushes to effectively agitate the chemistry.
  4. Perform hot water extraction. This step injects water at a high pressure to agitate carpet and rinse suspended soils from the deeper parts of the carpet fibers. To avoid leaving extra moisture in the carpet, make several vacuum-only passes with an extractor wand.
  5. Let carpet fully dry. Once hot water extraction is complete, it’s critical that carpet is allowed to fully dry. Mold and mildew can grow if the room doesn’t have an operating HVAC system to help remove moisture, so it’s best to utilize portable fans and dehumidifiers.
  6. Several days after the carpet has dried, perform a walk-through to inspect for any reappearing spots. Due to large amounts of water used with extraction, deeply embedded soils may ‘wick back’ as water dries at the tips of fibers and leaves the soil behind.  If this happens, apply an encapsulation spotting agent that is designed to tackle the stain, agitate it with a handheld spot cleaning tool and vacuum the encapsulated soil when dry.

To reduce the time between restorative carpet cleaning, facilities should also implement daily and interim maintenance processes. Not only will this protect carpet, it will help reduce long-term cleaning costs and improve productivity.


Selecting the Right Equipment

Restorative carpet cleaning requires the right machines to adequately agitate carpet and remove soil. Spin bonneting machines or rotary agitation should not be used during restorative maintenance to clean heavily soiled carpet, as they are prohibited in nearly all commercial carpet warranties. Counterrotating cylindrical brushes are preferred by carpet manufacturers globally.

Look for a portable hot water extraction machine that uses electricity to heat the water to the proper temperature. There are also large-scale truck-mounted machines available through professional carpet cleaning and facility services providers. There are benefits and drawbacks to each option. For example, portable machines can more easily clean hard-to-reach rooms and higher floors within buildings. Meanwhile, the truck-mounted machines can clean and dry carpet more quickly than portable machines. Generally, it’s recommended that facilities rent a hot water extraction machine or enlist the help of a company equipped with these machines, since restorative carpet cleaning is not performed very frequently. You might consider having frontline carpet staff focus their energy on daily vacuuming, spot removal and interim cleaning rather than on the infrequent use of restorative processes.


Maintaining Brand Image

First impressions matter and guests are often quick to notice when carpet doesn’t look clean. With restorative carpet cleaning, facilities can remove unsightly stains and prolong the life of their carpet investment. Ideally, employees will complete hot water extraction once every one or two years. However, factors like foot traffic and weather patterns may impact the condition of carpet and the frequency at which restorative carpet cleaning has to be performed.

Restorative cleaning is the last of the four cornerstones of carpet maintenance. To learn about the role of each cornerstone, visit our website. To learn more about carpet care essentials, like Smart Care® machines and CRYSTAL® Chemistry, contact us at 800.422.7686 or

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