Heated cleaning solutions, especially those used in the rinsing process, are a valuable component of cleaning.
Without heat, many argue, proper cleaning does not take place. Knowing how chemicals and soils react with heat is important in becoming technically proficient.
Vacuuming, recognized as the first physical step in cleaning, removes most dry, particulate soils. However, carpet fibers also have soils bonded to them, which means what remains after vacuuming are soils “stuck” to the fibers, typically by oily material.
The proper use of the four fundamentals of cleaning (chemical, agitation, time and heat) strips those soils from fibers, resulting in a clean carpet.
Remove one of the four fundamentals and you severely limit your abilities to effectively clean.
The value of heat
It doesn’t take much imagination to think of scenarios where heated cleaning solutions make for better cleaning.
A common scenario is washing dishes. If you take a greasy pan and run cold water over it, even with detergent, there is limited soil removal. But turn up the temperature and you see a huge difference in cleaning effectiveness.
Some cleaners, from time to time, lose heat while on the job due to equipment malfunction and realize they must increase at least one of the other three fundamentals of cleaning.
Many say it still doesn’t make up for the loss of heated rinsing solutions.
While the adage “hotter is better” applies often to cleaning synthetic carpet fibers, when natural fibers are introduced to the equation (whether in carpet or in upholstery), caution must be considered due to the potential of fiber damage.
By adding heat to the cleaning equation, you increase chemical reaction, just how some chemical reactions are increased by introducing complementary chemicals like adding alkalinity to an oxidizing agent or acidity to a reducing agent.
Heating your cleaning solution also reduces surface tension, which means you benefit from better penetration of carpet yarns, suspension, emulsification and removal of soils.
While high heat in the rinsing process can help “reset” carpet twist and help restore the original structure of the yarn, there comes a point when increas- ing solution temperatures loses its benefit — and can even cause damage to carpet fiber structure, although this occurs rarely.
Too much heat can have an adverse affect on chemistry. For instance, some chemicals, such as enzymes, are manufactured and meant to be used in a specific temperature range. Adding too much heat limits the anticipated chemical reaction.
Some soils, as well, are best removed with less heat. Protein soils often fall into this category.
Each fiber type and soiling condition should be considered before cleaning commences.
Most truckmounts and many portables are able to generate a tremendous amount of high heat. This means safety factors must be considered.
The quick disconnect or other fittings can easily burn skin. Using protective sleeves over these areas adds protection. If a customer were to pick up a solution hose, serious burns could occur.
Solution hoses can break. Regular monitoring and replacement, especially of the lead hose going into the home or business, is recommended. Most breaks occur near the floor tool — as that is where most bending of the hose takes place — creating a weak area.
Property damage can occur, as well. A hot hose or fitting can damage some flooring materials, such as natural wood. It has been reported that some carpet fibers, such as olefin, have melted under the intense heat from quick disconnects.
It’s always best to protect any surface that is potentially sensitive to high heat.
Jeff Cross is the executive editor of Cleanfax and an industry trainer and consultant, and offers carpet cleaning marketing, disaster restoration marketing and contract cleaning marketing seminars and classes through Totally Booked University, and also IICRC technical training for carpet and furniture cleaning, spot and stain removal and carpet color repair. For more information, visit his technical training website and marketing training website.