Poorly maintained carpets could act like indoor sponges, trapping all types of dirt, mold, insect faeces, dead skin cells, pollutants and allergens that can lead to serious health problems even in healthy individuals. Raju Seth, Trainer at IP Cleaning India, explains the methods of ensuring a healthy carpet and indoor air.
Carpets, no doubt, enhance the aesthetics, but also act as a source of insulation, safety, acoustics and good air quality. It is important to regularly clean and maintain carpets, which are largely made from synthetic fibres, including nylon, polyester, acrylic, wool and olefin or polypropylene.
The fibres in the carpet are designed to hide soil and lack of periodic maintenance could “ugly out” the carpets before their time. To ensure prolonged life and to maintain the appearance of carpets, it is important that a proper carpet care regimen is in place.
A properly designed program enhances effective life, its appearance level and reduces the use of water and detergents used for cleaning them. A well-maintained carpet reduces indoor pollutants and allergies because of its particle trapping ability. It is needless to say that the improved life of carpets has a positive effect on the overall costs of operation and eventually operational cost comes down.
Scheduling a carpet care program is less complex and hassle free to practice with the right maintenance schedules – Preventive, Daily, Interim and Scheduled.
Vacuuming of Daily Mats/ Dirt Trap Areas: Industry studies estimate that as much as 94% of the soil in any given facility was tracked in from the outside. The more soil we stop from entering the building, the less we have to clean.
Sweeping Outside Areas: Sweeping of sidewalks, entry ways and parking lots which should also be pressure washed regularly to remove oils that accumulate from atmospheric pollutants, leaking cars and other sources.
Matting at Outside Entrance Areas: The more the matting, the more effective preventive cleaning would be. Bi-level scraper mats outside all entrances help absorb large particles, soil and moisture that might otherwise be tracked inside.
Matting Inside the Entrance Areas: Select a carpet mat that provides enough length for minimum of 4-5 footsteps to clean shoes before stepping onto the floor.
Carpets should be maintained on a regular basis, even though all areas may not require the same maintenance needs. The key to a successful daily maintenance program is identifying high, medium and low traffic areas and constructing a carpet care program to reflect the traffic volume. For example, a carpeted lobby that receives traffic all day long will need to be vacuumed daily, while a lower traffic office at the back of the building may only need vacuuming once or twice in a week.
Vacuuming is the most effective way to remove unbounded dry soil, which is a major cause of carpet wear. If not removed, dry soil could become abrasive and harmful to carpet fibres. Under the weight and movement of foot traffic, soil can scratch and cut the fibres, leading to fading lustre or scratching abrasion. Dry soils are most effectively removed in a dry state through vacuuming with a high-quality vacuum.
Spotting helps to address spills immediately and reduces the possibility of a permanent stain. It is advisable to always pre-test spotting chemicals in an inconspicuous area for colour removal. Chemicals should be used sparingly and whatever goes into the carpet must be extracted out as the spot could re-occur. The process includes application of just enough chemical to remove the spot, rinsing completely with neutralizing rinse or water and tapping it dry.
In order to extend the time between scheduled extractions, interim maintenance helps improve carpet appearance and is best accomplished with encapsulation method, which cleans faster with long-lasting results. A good program of interim maintenance can extend the time period between scheduled deep extractions by six to 12 months, depending on the specific facility needs.
The Encapsulation Process
• The encapsulation chemical is lightly sprayed onto the carpet and is agitated and distributed on to the carpet pile with a dual counter-rotating brush machine
• The chemical is allowed to dwell in the carpet, breaking down and surrounding the soils and other residues
• The chemical dries into hard and non-sticky crystals, encasing the soil in about 20 minutes
• The dried crystals can easily be removed by vacuuming
This process not only restores the carpet to a useable state quickly, but also cuts down on water and chemical usage. Interim maintenance is a key ingredient in the carpet maintenance program, as it is time-saving, cost-effective, and good for the environment.
The goal of scheduled maintenance is to remove deeply embedded soils and restore the appearance of the carpet to as close as its original state. This is achieved through deep, restorative cleaning via hot water extraction.
Vacuum: Pre-spray the carpet and allow time for chemical contact with the bonded soils that are embedded in the carpet fibres. The chemical will pull the soils from the fibres into suspension so they are ready for removal. For virtually all synthetic carpets, the pre-spray chemical should be alkaline so that it can most effectively neutralize the soils in the carpet, which are usually acidic in nature. For wool or natural fibre carpets, the pre-spray should be neutral or slightly acidic as alkalis will damage the fibres.
For large carpeted areas inside buildings, specially equipped machines like walk behind and mechanised ride -on sweepers can sweep and vacuum the carpets at the same time and deliver excellent results.
Rinse and Extract: The next step is rinsing the suspended oil out of the carpet through extraction. The best extractors only recover about 80-85% of the original solution put into the carpet. If left to dry, the detergents will cause re-soiling to occur. The chemical for this step should be an acidic or neutralizing rinse. While many people try water it is not effective in removing the residues and soils from the prespray. Rinsing with hard water will only remove about 15% of the residue, and rinsing with soft water will only remove 30%. But rinsing with an acidic or neutralizing rinse will remove over 90% of the residue.
Dry: The last step is to dry the carpet as quickly as possible to prevent wicking and any potential for mold growth.