Deep cleaning carpets can be expensive and time-consuming carpet care practice — not to mention hit or miss when factoring in the potential for over-saturation and improper use of carpet chemicals. Unlike hard flooring, carpet fibers absorb liquid, making them prone to stains and permanent damage that can shorten a carpet’s lifespan.
Proper carpet care, especially extraction, is essential to their longevity — but the wrong methods can have the opposite effect, leaving them lackluster and turning them into dirt magnets. Fortunately, custodians can take simple steps to prepare carpets for extraction, as well as boost the extraction process itself.
Vacuums Suck It Up
Considering about 80 percent of particulate in carpets is dry, the first principal of carpet care extraction is vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.
“As far as we’re concerned, dry soil removal is the most important part of maintaining carpet,” says Tom Murphy, sales manager for RoVic Inc., Manchester, Conn. “The problem is most people don’t vacuum often enough.”
To determine how often custodial workers should vacuum their carpets, Murphy recommends calculating the number of footfalls and the amount of traffic in the building.
Dan Ott, co-owner of Facility Supply Systems Inc. in West Chicago, suggests that custodians vacuum carpets on a daily basis.
“We want to make sure we’re vacuuming, even though the carpet may not appear dirty,” he says, “because once the carpet’s reached the point of appearing dirty, then it’s reached the restoration stage, and we want to put that off as long as possible.”
That said, facilities vary in size and daily vacuuming can be challenging. With that in mind, distributors recommend regularly scheduled vacuuming on a rotating basis.
“You don’t have to vacuum every square inch every day,” explains Ott, “but you do want to pay attention to high-traffic areas on a daily basis. For example, in a high-rise building on floors one through five, you might want to vacuum the entire floor on Monday and then focus on high-traffic areas for the rest of the floors. On Tuesday, you’d vacuum floors six through ten and just do hotspots on the other floors. No matter what, you’re going to get the entire building done in a week, maybe two, depending on its size.”
Experts also advise training custodial workers to carry a carpet-spotting chemical with them when vacuuming. With chemicals handy, workers can address spots as soon as possible, reducing the possibility of long-term damage.
“The difference between a spot you can remove and a permanent stain is time,” says Ott. “The longer something stays on a carpet the more it becomes part of the carpet.”