Hospitality, corporates, guest houses, IT houses, and many others have carpet flooring essentially to add to the ambiance of the interior. Carpets have remained a symbol of luxury but require all the right tools and processes to keep it luxurious, clean and healthy. Carpet cleaning is definitely not simple; with the complex nature of the textile and the weave that go into the making of those luxurious carpets, it requires an expert hand to keep it luscious. Yogesh Suvarna of CLR Services, veteran in this space, enumerates the complexities in carpets and its cleaning.
The beauty of the carpets is in its upkeep
We ponder so much on selection of carpet, its type, it’s form, feel of texture, pile thickness, it’s weave, density, colours etc., and rightly so, because of the high investment cost involved. But, as a carpet care specialist for last 30 years, we have observed that a right maintenance programme is always neglected most of the time. One must understand that value for carpet investment is its maintenance!
Maintenance of the carpet must be seen from hygienic perspective than cleaning perspective – shifting of lens is required from the owners, custodians & users. Carpet is like an ice-berg, what is seen on the surface is much lesser than what is stored beneath. Carpet can entrap or hide multiple times more dust than your entire interior; it’s a heaven for all the unwanted things like dust, dirt, mites, germs & pathogens.
Where do we go on in carpet maintenance?
As stated previously, Carpet can be optically very deceptive, in a sense that, what looks cleaner may not be so & what looks unclean may be more unclean or may be less unclean from inside. This illusion can only be addressed with a pre-defined maintenance programme. Maintenance can be categorised into three sections:
• Keeping facility peripheral area clean
• Keeping dust entrapping mats, spread out at least for 7 steps.
• Blinds or curtains to avoid direct sun light, which may cause discoloration.
• Furniture with carpet protectors.
2. Day to day:
• Vacuuming with upright
• Cleaning of door mats
• High Traffic, Monthly, preferably encapsulation
• Entire area, Quarterly, preferably encapsulation
• Entire Area, Half – yearly, injection extraction treatment
There are many methods for interim cleaning of the carpet, like conventional carpet shampooing with single disc, injection extraction, dry foam shampooing, steam cleaning, micro powder method, bonnet cleaning etc.; it is rather impractical to be equipped with all methodologies available in one setup. But, considering the climatic conditions of India, type of carpet which are largely installed, the consumables / machines available in India, the budget provided for the maintenance, we can assume that the best method can be a combination of encapsulation and injection extraction method. Any carpet cleaning technique must ensure minimum chemical residue, thorough rinsing process, rejuvenation of piles, less drying time with minimum moisture & non-toxic or eco-friendly consumables.
Why do we need the right chemicals & machines
While all three Ms – manpower, machinery & materials – are important in carpet maintenance, type of machine is very crucial; for me, with 30 years of carpet cleaning research, disc machine is completely NO. For any type of carpet, cylindrical brush propelled machinery is always recommended, for the pure fact that, it opens up the pile, agitates & combs the carpet piles in one direction. It provides complete rejuvenation mechanism. However, contradictory to cylindrical brush advantages, the disc brushes flattens the carpet, cleans only from surface & reduces the softness. Same is applicable for vacuum machines too, machines with motor propelled cylindrical brushes & upright machines provide optimum results. This formula is applicable to cut-piled or loop piled or blended piles.
As far as carpet cleaning detergents are concerned, there are many branded & local chemicals in India. The most effective ones are from Taski for injection extraction; TR103 is not replaceable as yet. We couldn’t find any chemical which is parallel to or near to this chemical for carpet injection extraction treatment. For encapsulation, products like Betco from US & icapsol from Karcher are very effective products. Whichever the chemical brands, the pH level must be in between 7.00 to 7.5, which is considered to be the safest for any type of carpet fibre.
Chemical dilution composition is one more important aspect of carpet cleaning. More chemical infusion or strong dilution will make the carpet extra stickier & will rapid the soil attraction, thus increasing the cleaning frequency. Conventionally, we use carpet shampoo while cleaning, but lesser the carpet shampoo on the carpet is better for the carpet. Encapsulation and extraction chemicals are nonstickier, low VOC and does not attract soil, so it is recommended for all type of carpet and all through the seasons. The drying time post this treatment is less than 60 minutes for average soiled carpet; recommended specially for hospitality industry where carpet can be cleaned just before the guest check-in or in BPO’s or in 24×7 operational facility.
As we understand, nowadays, housekeeping boys without any experience of carpet maintenance do a routine cleaning of the carpet, which, we believe is a dangerous trend. The machine operator must be well versed in knowing the carpet type, must understand the soil level, the dilution of chemical to be used, type of spot removal to be used against type of spot etc. Also, while operating the machines, he must safe guard the assets of the client, ensure the machine is not pressed or brushed / banged on to wall, glass, furniture etc and at the same time, even shielding his machine from any damage.
What should be the schedule of cleaning
The daily care program is more important than the interim cleaning of the carpet. Vacuuming daily will address 50% of the carpet woes. It is being noticed that, generally in corporate segment carpet vacuum is done on weekly basis, that too it is more of picking up rags than pulling out the dust. Dedication in overlapping of wand strokes are key for vacuuming, repetition of wand strokes are required for high traffic areas to pull the embedded dust. Besides daily vacuuming, daily spotting is a must. The best cure for an unwanted spill is a fast response. Blotting and immediately cleaning spills to prevent staining is compulsory, in order to maintain a clean carpet for longer period of time. Spills when allowed to settle form adamant stains which are difficult to remove using traditional methods and even might result in the damage or discolouration of the carpet.
Interim deep cleaning of the carpet is generally decided as per the foot-falls, type of carpet, colour of the carpet, the floor level, number of occupants etc., as a thumb rule, and preferable too, high traffic can be attended on monthly basis & entire area on quarterly basis. An injection extraction deep cleaning can be executed on half yearly basis.
How unclean carpets have become a health hazard
In India, the perspective is about cleaning & not hygiene. Dirty carpet can cause serious health hazard. Since carpet can be a heaven for germs, dusts, allergens, mites & pathogens, it may be unhealthy for asthma, allergy and eczema patients. Dusty carpet can smoke up your lungs. Carpet can be a comfortable home for Pests like bed bugs which can crawl more than 100 feet in the night, caterpillar can use carpet fibre as cocoon, mature fleas can dwell for longer period in carpet’s dry temperature. Even the smell / odour of the carpet can act as allergic to some. So, it is necessary for us to have a holistic approach to maintenance to safeguard the health of the users.
Prevention, daily maintenance and interim maintenance is the key for carpet upkeep; in-house daily maintenance and professional cleaners for interim should be the ideal way for maintaining the carpet & it’s beauty!