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Carpet Care

Selecting Certified Carpet Care Equipment

August 17, 2012
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Facility managers are tasked with the challenge to not only keep their building looking clean and visually appealing, but also to implement sustainable cleaning practices that maintain a facility''s health and flooring longevity.

One component of maintenance procedures is carpet cleaning, which significantly impacts the overall appearance of a facility.

Dirty, worn carpet can negatively affect a patron''s first impression and satisfaction, and indicates an unkempt building.

Carpet is an expensive investment for any facility, making it crucial to maintain with regular vacuuming and annual deep cleaning.

This not only adds to a carpet''s longevity — which increases a facility manager''s bottom line — but also increases the building''s physical condition.

Carpet acts as a filter to capture and hold airborne particles, including dust, dirt and harmful chemicals.

Routine carpet cleaning minimizes exposure to these contaminants, improving indoor air quality and enhancing the health of the facility and its occupants.

When selecting carpet care equipment, it is important to consider several factors, including machine capabilities in terms of performance, efficiency, sustainability and durability.

To assess these factors, cleaning professionals turn to the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), which rates carpet care equipment on their ability to remove soil, contain dust or water — depending on whether it is a vacuum or extractor — and retain quality carpet appearance.

CRI Certification

A CRI Seal of Approval on an extractor or a vacuum indicates the machine meets specific standards for operation and performance.

Equipment manufacturers voluntarily submit their carpet care models for CRI''s independent testing.

An independent board of scientists reviews the test results and recommends whether or not to certify the machine.

The CRI testing program certifies machine performance in three areas, in addition to an appearance assessment:

  • Soil removal: The combination of foot traffic and dust settlement leads to a large amount of soil buildup in carpet. To gain certification, a vacuum must make four passes over a piece of test carpet that contains one-tenth of a gram of soil per square inch of carpet. Extractors must be able to remove 55 to 70 percent of soil to receive bronze certification, 70 to 80 percent earns silver distinction and more than 80 percent achieves gold certification.
  • Dust containment: This protocol evaluates the total amount of dust released into the air during the act of vacuuming, requiring that the vacuum release no more than 100 micrograms of dust particles per cubic meter into the surrounding air.
  • Water containment: Since moisture residue in carpet can cause any number of problems, from mold to fostering bacteria growth, it is important that no excess water remain after the extractor finishes cleaning an area. To test an extractor, the machine is allowed four passes over a carpet sample that contains a set quantity of water to remove as much water as possible. To receive certification, the machine can leave no more than eight ounces of water behind per square yard of carpet.
  • Carpet appearance retention: Over time, dust accumulation can wear down carpet fibers and diminish the appearance of carpet. This test is designed to assess the impact of a particular machine on carpet appearance. A cut-pile carpet is subjected to one year of simulated use, including vacuuming or extracting and walking. Researchers compare before-and-after photographs to determine the amount of wear incurred using a technique called Spectrographic analysis. The vacuum or extractor receives a passing grade if the degree of wear is judged to be equal to or less than one year of standard use.
Results from all three tests are peer reviewed by experts in the field of maintenance and indoor air quality (IAQ) to assure their validity.

Advantages Of CRI-certified Carpet Care Equipment

Vacuums and carpet extractors featuring CRI certification can positively affect a facility''s cleaning program, enhancing its appearance, health and sustainability.

CRI-certified equipment provides improved indoor air quality, lowered costs and longer lasting carpet.


IAQ is a measure of the quality of the air in an indoor environment and can affect both a facility''s and its occupants'' health.

Superior IAQ depends on many factors, including effective building design, up-to-date maintenance and the selection and use of "green" cleaning products.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that improving IAQ can reduce health problems, improve worker productivity and improve the efficiency of cooling and ventilation systems.

Dust frequently contains pollen, fungal spores, dust mites and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be harmful to health and affect IAQ.

Residual cleaning products and poor ventilation can also impact IAQ.

A certified extractor effectively improves IAQ by extracting the most soil during cleaning as possible.

In addition, better removal of soil by extraction reduces the amount of cleaning solutions needed.

On the other hand, a Seal of Approval-certified vacuum enhances IAQ by minimizing the dust that becomes airborne during vacuuming, which also reduces the amount of cleaning solution needed.

• Costs

Industry-sponsored studies estimate that as much as 95 percent of total cleaning costs are from labor.

CRI-certified extractors and vacuums are more effective at removing soil, dust and other contaminants, which results in enhanced cleaning efficiency and less time spent on labor.

Other studies have shown that improved IAQ helps reduce employee absenteeism and liability issues which, in turn, contributes to cost reduction.

• Carpet Longevity

The soil in carpet is not only unsightly and unhealthy, but it can also be destructive.

Carpet soil includes sharp and abrasive microscopic particles which, when walked on, cut into carpet fibers and abrade them, causing the carpet to continuously appear dirty.

Over time, the wear caused by soil requires replacement of the carpet sooner than would otherwise be necessary.

CRI-certified machines effectively remove dust particles to enhance a carpet''s overall appearance.

A certified machine also helps to remove the water from the carpet, significantly reducing the potential for mold and bacteria growth.

When considering carpet care equipment, it is important to verify first and foremost that the machine features CRI certification, as it guarantees the performance required to enhance facility cleaning.

The environmental benefits and performance of CRI-tested and approved vacuums and extractors can help maximize carpet care and facility appearance, all while reducing time and labor costs.

Bob Abrams is a product manager with Nilfisk-Advance, responsible for commercial vacuum cleaners and carpet cleaning equipment. With over 25 years of business development experience in both equipment and chemicals for professional carpet care, Abrams is one of the cleaning industry''s foremost experts. For more information, please visit

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