By John Klucznik

When you wash and dry your clothes at home, many made of cotton like tee shirts and blue jeans, you will notice that, after they are dried, you must clean out the dryer’s lint trap. Your cotton bonnet pad will also wear and lose material over time.

Synthetic bonnets will wear at a different rate and also clean differently, so for the purposes of this discussion, we will look at natural fiber bonnets — in this case cotton.

I weighed individual bonnets from a case of 17.5-inch bonnets. Using the average weight per bonnet (10.88 ounces) gives us a starting point. After 10 washings, they weighed 10.2 to 10.4 ounces, which is about a 5 percent loss in material.

The carpet cleaning machine type and its weight; the distance covered by each of the bonnet’s sides; what it cleaned (Did it clean 40 square feet per side in a filthy restaurant or 700 square feet in an apartment hallway?); the amount of moisture used; and the carpet’s fiber type will all play a roll in this discussion. The point to consider is when the time is right to add new recruits to your fleet of bonnets.

Ten cleanings

Based on usage, machine type, and cleaning, I have seen a 5 percent to 6 percent fiber loss for every 10 cleanings. Why is this important? As bonnets age and loose material, they will, at some point, start to lose their “brand new” cleaning ability.

Say you have an important new client you want to impress. Do you grab your bonnet with 30 wash cycles on it or a brand-new bonnet that will show the greatest contrast from the dirty side as you flip it over to show them the clean side and what you just accomplished? You would obviously choose the new bonnet. The same would be true for a service call to a clean a very dirty carpet. Save your aged bonnets for the moderate, soils and introduce your new bonnets to the heavily soiled cleanings.

Just like tires on your car as the treads wear, your performance will gradually start to diminish until the products life has been used up. The same is true for your bonnets. Get rid of the very old and worn ones and introduce some fresh new bonnets into your fleet to help keep your cleaning performance at its peak. This makes your jobs a little easier since, the newer the bonnet, the more soils it can hold. This saves you time and yields the best cleaning results for your valued customers and clients.

How often should you change bonnet pad?

This depends mainly on the soil load of the carpet you clean. One example is shown in the picture below of carpet at the exit of a commercial kitchen.

Example one

Carpet coming out of a dirty kitchen.

These bonnets may only cover 20 to 40 square feet per side. This is due to the extreme amount of oils and soiling that exists in the area since it is essentially the door mat for the rest of the dining room.

Example two

If you’re performing maintenance cleaning on a twelfth-floor hallway, you will likely have a different experience. The carpet probably won’t be in bad shape, so the bonnets may cover as much as 800 square feet per side.

When you estimate how many bonnets to purchase for your needs, you should estimate while considering the types of properties and their degree of soiling as well as how many jobs you service per day along with the total square footage cleaned.

Therefore, a reasonable estimate of 200 to 300 square feet cleaned per side will help get you started.

When is it time to flip a bonnet pad, and when am I finished?

The following picture, from the same commercial kitchen exit job shown earlier, exhibits three levels of soiling. All three bonnets were used to clean the area right outside the kitchen, and both sides of each were used.

You can see almost-black coloring on the first bonnet, a dark brown on the second bonnet, and a lighter brown on the last bonnet. One more bonnet could have been used, but in this case, the rest was left to the encapsulation process.

As you progress, you will get an instinct as to when it’s time to flip the bonnet and when it’s time to finish — when the soiling on the bonnet is so light you have diminishing returns — and it’s time to move on to the next location.


John Klucznik is the founder of Bonnet Pro. He has been a cleaner since 1985.