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Effective carpet care in high-traffic facilities

September 19, 2010
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Carpets are the largest and most expensive installation in the building(s) you maintain.

If they are soiled, there is very little that can be done to make the building look clean and inviting.

However, if treated kindly, they can outlast all other furnishings.

Pay attention to carpets
Carpets are important enough for your attention — and you and your staff should be in perfect agreement about their care.

Unfortunately, cleaning is usually thought of as an expense and not as an investment in health, well-being and a contribution to the success of an organization.

So, as soon as a company’s bottom line decreases, the maintenance budget usually gets cut first.

Carpet care in high-traffic facilities
If you cannot block an area, you can use a carpet cleaning solution with cotton pad or cotton rug mops.

For example, the program in one airport consists of doing the sweeping one night a week with rug mops dampened in the cleaning solution; five nights with plain water; and using the vacuum only one night a week except immediately in front of the downstairs entrances where considerable red clay is brought in each day.

A backpack vacuum can be used for litter daily.

For areas that can never be blocked, this eliminates the need for costly, hard-to-store machinery and equipment.

Green and safety tips
Green cleaning has become a buzzword, but you need to know what is green.

Green is actually the cleaner or a designation that has been given to the manufacturing process or to the building itself.

Spotters and detergents in your cleaner must dry and, therefore, the residue dries completely in your carpets and can be reactivated with plain water, but mainly it does not present a resoiling problem compared with products that have a liquid emulsifier.

Be sure you have a safe Stoddard solvent and stay away from chlorinated solvents which you may be using for the outside of buildings, busses or airplanes, for examples.

Once they are mixed with water or any water gets into these solvents, it forms hydrochloric acids, which are dangerous to breathe.

Also, be careful of citrus solvents because they can eat through plastic.

Validating claims and good practices
There are now ways to substantiate cleaning products and methods.

And, now there are ways to do so for machines as well.

Wrong methods of cleaning, such as saying a carpet can be cleaned only once a year, shorten the replacement span of carpets.

One effective carpet cleaning method is the bonnet/pad system, which was developed in the 1960s when polyester carpet came out because it was so difficult to clean.

This is a method of mechanically mopping.

Pads and mops must be cotton.

Manufacturers advise that cleaners not spray first because with commercial carpet the fibers are upright, tufted or woven into the backing.

Fibers are usually nylon or olefin, which are more plastic.

Olefin needs a solvent cleaner because of oil.

The soil and stains go down the fibers to the back where they are difficult to remove unless the removal is done at the same time; so if you spray first, more work is required to get much less soil up.

In the next cleaning, more of the concentrated dirty solution is left in the carpet and more residue is added in each cleaning.

Hot-water extraction is quick, but cannot pull soil from hard, flat carpets.

Tightly woven synthetic fibers are harder to clean than bulky loops and flat woven carpets are easiest of all to clean, but you need another method.

Encapsulation would be fine if it successfully removed spots.

Spotting should never be a separate operation because you are likely to get a lot of light spots, which makes the rest look dirty.

When cleaning is done with bonnets/pads or wet mops, removal of soil is being accomplished simultaneously.

Soil stays on the surface until it is pushed into the back.

There is so much that can go wrong and so much to take care of in a large building with high traffic.

If you turn carpet cleaning into a task that can be done using the people who vacuum, you will save a tremendous amount of money on labor and add years to the life of the carpet.

Anne Argo Sanders is president of Argo & Company Inc. Since 1942, Argo & Company has solved carpet problems for schools, hospitals, airlines, resorts, restaurants and other facilities with Argosheen Carpet Cleaner, a complete cleaning
product containing spotters for anything likely to happen to carpet, walls or upholstery. For more information, visit, call 1-800-868-9766 or e-mail
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