On-location carpet cleaning has come a long way since 1827, when cleansing carpet meant: Thoroughly beat pipe-clay into carpet and let set for two days. Brush, shake, beat and sweep well with corn broom. Tack firmly to floor and wash with flannel, cold water and beef’s gall. Rub off with clean flannel…
While wet extraction “steam cleaning” is widely used today, careless application could result in water damage to the flooring, leave lingering musty odours and promote mold growth while taking days to dry enough for use.
The need for dryer cleaning methods had been recognised for decades and by the 1970s, safer, more effective methods were becoming main stream. These new “low moisture” methods reduced the opportunity for mildew and bacteria amplification, improved customer convenience with shorter drying times, resulted in longer cleaning intervals and extended the life of the carpets. Theses new processes went by many names such as shampooing, dry foam or media and liquid dry-cleaning to name a few. The processes all used minimal amounts of moisture.
With so many variations, the Low Moisture Carpet Cleaners’ Association (LMCCA) in 2006 decided to use a scientific approach which would allow anyone meeting certain criteria to call the system they used “low moisture.” When most people think of low moisture, they think of one of four primary methods.
- Dry Adsorbent or Absorbent Media (DAM)
- Bonnet/Oscillating Pad
- Dry Foam
Many variables that need to be considered in low moisture methods include moisture applied and recovered, drying time, how dry is dry, comparing dryer and wetter climates, and fibre types.
Every carpet exists in a unique environment. The variables include type of construction, installation, substrate, traffic exposure, soil amount and type, temperature, humidity and locale. While one system may not be optimal for all environments, all systems can excel when used by a skilled operator in the right application.
What is low moisture cleaning?
LMC is defined as a method or procedure that allows any fibre to dry to its natural state in less than two hours after cleaning. This may be achieved by using less moisture to clean, using absorbent mediums, higher efficiency vacuums to extract more water from the carpet and by increasing the drying rate of the moisture left after cleaning.
Understanding the effects of moisture carpet fibres
The “dry” state of a fibre is the level of moisture retention in its normal environment. Each fibre type contains a certain amount of moisture in its natural dry state in order to maintain its structure. The resource materials in the White Paper defining LMC (available at www.lmcca.org) are important to the general understanding of fibre moisture content.
When this knowledge is used by a skilled operator it could help determine if a low moisture method is appropriate for the fibre type. Low moisture is less about a system and more about a philosophy to get the carpet clean and dry in a very short period of time. In fact, all methods, including hot water extraction can work to achieving an optimum drying condition.
Of primary concern is moisture control with the procedures used. Allowing excess moisture to freely penetrate into the backing is caused by exceeding the saturation point of the fibre. This increases drying time and provides an opportunity for mold or other damage to affect the carpeting.
Methods which minimize moisture or quickly capture (loop) moisture back into the extraction wand provide better moisture control. Air movers and other means of increasing evaporation also reduce drying time. Cleaned with less moisture, the carpeting dries more quickly and is also less likely to experience stain wicking.
Clients are demanding that carpets dry faster so they can be placed back into service. Clean and dry carpeting yields improved customer satisfaction.Lonnie McDonald Co-Founder & Executive Director, LMCCA, USA