When Should Carpet Be Cleaned? (Part 2)

A Comprehensive Commercial Carpet Cleaning Plan

Note: This is the second article in a two-part series answering the ever-asked question: When should commerical carpet be cleaned? Read Part 1 here.

A proper maintenance plan aims to maintain the appearance of the carpet at an acceptable level to minimize the risk of early replacement.

Deciding when to clean should be based on levels of foot traffic and weather conditions. Some areas, such as upper level offices, will not need to be cleaned as frequently as main lobbies on the ground floor. Therefore, one set frequency may not be the solution for an entire facility. Rather, a maintenance plan with varying levels should be implemented.

This is important for multiple reasons. A correct frequency will not only make sure that your carpet is being cleaned frequently enough, but it can also determine if cleaning is too frequent, which leads to wasting product, water, electricity and subsequently, money.

There are four cornerstones of a comprehensive maintenance plan that should be utilized to maximize efficiency and are acknowledged by many major carpet manufacturers in their product care manuals. They are:

  1. Preventative Maintenance
    • Stop dirt from entering the building with well placed entrance mats that trap soil and absorb moisture.
  2. Daily Maintenance
    • Schedule vacuuming and utilize a spotting kit to remove spots before they become stains.
  3. Interim Maintenance
    • Establish minimum cleaning frequencies using low-moisture and pile lifting to retain fresh carpet appearance.
  4. Restorative Maintenance
    • Perform scheduled periodic deep cleaning using high performance extraction.

Using Proper Products

One of the important issues to consider is that simply altering the frequency of an existing cleaning program will not necessarily yield better results. There are several factors that could hinder the recovery of the carpet’s appearance regardless of frequency.

It is important to know what the chemical is like that is going into the carpet. One way to test a chemical is to place a couple drops of undiluted solution into a petri dish and allow it to dry over night. Consider the color and texture of the material when it is dry. Even if it may appear to clean the carpeting at first, some chemistry could have adverse effects on the color of the carpet.

Try scraping the chemical off of the dish and see what happens. Does it flake like crystals and remove easily? Or can a fingerprint be pressed into its sticky residue? If it is the latter, imagine what happens when dirt is introduced to a carpet bearing that stickiness.

The chemicals that crystallize are “encapsulation” products, which help eliminate the common carpet cleaning problems relating to reappearing stains. Originated in the 1980’s as an alternative to the reactive and disruptive wet extraction method of cleaning, this method was chosen for the cleaning tests in this study because embedded soil can be released without harming carpet fibers or leaving the sticky residues that accelerate re-soiling. Only a small amount of water is required during interim maintenance, which eliminates facility disruption and carpet damage associated with over-wetting. It effectively combines mill recommended pilelifting and interim cleaning into one step, saving time and labor costs. Low-moisture cleaning reduces friction and any fiber distortion that can be caused by dry agitation. A twin-cylindrical brush machine performs both applications, reducing the need for a separate specialty machine.

In-Field Application

In a 400+ building school district in Nevada, the carpet’s appearance had degraded so significantly that administrators wanted to replace it after only nine years. With the carpet’s warranty listed at 25 years, such a significantly shortened lifespan would be costly. Utilizing the Carpet Appearance Management System, the school was able to identify a target value of appearance and determine whether soiled areas could be restored to, and maintained at, that satisfactory level.

For several months, the carpet was maintained with Whittaker’s SmartCare® Carpet System, and measurements followed. With such a drastic improvement in appearance by the end of the program, the school district decided against replacement and instead instituted a proper maintenance plan. A subsequent study revealed that extending the life of the carpet would save $53,250 of premature replacement cost over five years based on 49,500 square feet of carpet.

Savings & Carpet Life Extension

Planning and implementing a scheduled maintenance program protects your client's capital investment and effectively contains maintenance costs. Properly maintained carpet enhances facility appearance, contributes to a professional image, and protects the capital investment through extended product life cycles that lower overall cost.

As evidenced in the Nevada school district example, savings can be significant. Comparing a $53,250 savings to a chemical and machine startup cost of under $4,000 shows the importance of proper carpet maintenance.

Not everyone will have the time or budget to implement a Carpet Appearance Management System study in their facility in order to create a proper maintenance plan, but using the concepts above, it is possible to maintain a high appearance and maximize the life of your carpet investment.




Note: This is the second article in a two-part series answering the ever-asked question: When should commerical carpet be cleaned? Read Part 1 here.