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The lowdown on low-moisture cleaning

September 19, 2010
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Commercial carpet is especially challenging to clean and maintain because it is often glued directly onto the concrete underneath it and consists of low, closed-loop pile with a rubber backing, which yields no air flow.

Traditional cleaning processes such as hot-water extraction can easily over-saturate the carpet, causing stains to reappear as soon as the next day.

The most common cause of re-occurring stains is due to an action called wicking.

Wicking results from the poor air flow provided by closed-loop carpet, which can trap large amounts of water during the process of hot-water extraction.

As the carpet dries, any dirt still present below the carpet fibers is pulled up or “wicked” back to the top of the carpet, which results in stains.

One way to avoid wicking, and therefore prevent recurring stains, is through the use of a low-moisture carpet cleaning method, such as encapsulation.

The encapsulation explanation
Encapsulation utilizes detergent that contains crystallizing polymers that surround soil particles and pull them away from carpet fibers.

Using a machine that offers good agitation in conjunction with the detergent gives carpet fibers a deep clean by scrubbing the fibers on all sides to remove stains.

Only a small amount of detergent is needed so there is little risk of over-wetting. By using less detergent, the carpet doesn’t become over-saturated, it can breathe easier as it dries and stains are less likely to reappear.

As soon as the detergent is applied, it starts to work, isolating soil particles from the carpet.

Agglomeration, a process during which individual crystallized particles consolidate into larger pieces, also takes place, which makes the particles easier to remove.

As the carpet is left to dry, the encapsulation solution continues to surround trapped soils as it dries to an inert solid.

This means soil removed from the carpet won’t reattach to the carpet fibers, and can actually assist in repelling new soils, keeping the carpet looking clean longer.

Once the carpet is dry, vacuuming removes the crystallized soil particles.

The value of vacuuming
Regular vacuuming is essential both before and after the encapsulation process (for many facilities, daily vacuuming is recommended for soil removal) to keep the carpet looking clean.

Thorough and regular removal of dry soil through vacuuming helps the encapsulation process effectively remove the sticky or oily soils left in the carpet.

Routine vacuuming of encapsulated carpet will continue to keep carpet clean by removing the extra detergent that remains in the fibers and surrounds new spills and stains in between cleanings.

Carpet will look as clean the next day as it did the night before and will remain cleaner longer.


Dennis Jurecki is the vice president for Cimex-USA. For more information, call (866) 284-3255 or visit www.cimex-usa.com.

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