Carpet Cleaning Frequencies

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By James Tole

Editors’ Note: Cleanfax visited with James Tole recently and asked six questions about the value of improving cleaning frequencies in both homes and facilities. The guidance from the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC), as explained by Tole, is in place for both cleaning professionals and consumers.

Q: What typically prompts someone to have their carpet cleaned?

For residential settings, it is usually having friends over or planning a family event. Homeowners know there are spots on the carpet, but the upcoming visit prompts concern about how everything looks, especially the carpet. We all see this in many of the jobs we take. The soil build-up can be extreme, and we all know many customers have their carpet cleaned infrequently. Some several years in between cleanings, and others never use carpet cleaning services.

For commercial work and facilities, often it is also the visual look of the carpet. Ignoring a regular schedule is detrimental, as regular cleaning prolongs the life of the carpet and greatly improves the indoor environment.

Q: Why do individuals typically delay carpet cleaning services?

Honestly, I see this problem more often nowadays as already stated. Unless there is a significant incident or someone mentions the visible state of the floor, it isn’t top of mind. Interestingly enough, some have said they don’t recall the last time the carpet was cleaned, and then it dawns on them it’s time, so it might get scheduled. For commercial, the larger the facility, the more likely they have someone charged with a maintenance schedule.

Q: What does the IICRC recommend for residential carpet cleaning frequencies?

The recommendation for residential is 12 to 18 months between cleanings. This has always been the standard agreed upon within our industry. That would be for average soil in an average home. Pets, traffic volume, and other specifics may warrant more routine cleaning. Following the pandemic and entering regular customers’ homes after two years was often a source of personal humor as we saw a new level of soil developing as a direct result of choosing to or having to wait for service. As a professional carpet cleaner, I regularly suggest to my clients more routine cleaning of small high-use areas where required to prolong the life and appearance of their home.

Q: What does the IICRC recommend for commercial carpet cleaning frequencies?  

Commercial carpet is generally cleaned on a program based on traffic and soil levels. A carpet lobby in a medical building may require service with low moisture cleaning, multiple times a week, while low traffic and far away sections of common corridors may receive annual or biannual cleaning. Multiple methods of cleaning are normally employed at different frequencies to control soil and maintain a high level of appearance in commercial buildings.

Q: What is the financial impact of lack of maintenance on carpeted surfaces, and how can industry professionals convince those they work for to increase cleaning frequency?  

The financial impact would be significant commercially, but even in the residential setting. When we walk into a home with five or six carpeted steps going up to the main floor, we often see they have been neglected by the customer or previous cleaners. If these steps become damaged due to infrequent or neglected cleaning processes, the entire carpeted area will need to be replaced far sooner than required, maybe within only a few years. Technicians can and should modify their methods of cleaning based on low, medium, and heavy soil areas within any property as well as within each area in order to service these areas properly.

Q: How does a strategic carpet cleaning frequency plan affect health?  

Cleaning simply removes the soil from the carpet. The strategic part is focusing the processes where they are best suited so we can “under clean” the areas that are lightly soiled and heavily focus on areas where they require more attention. A strategic plan for either residential or commercial targets the resources where they need to be for maximum effect. A regular cleaning program in an office with 50 cubicle work areas prevents a buildup of trafficked soils and improves the air that people are breathing daily. Controlling soils where they originate to prevent them from migrating throughout a building is far less costly than trying to restore neglected carpet.

The bottom line is increasing cleaning frequency is good from many angles. The financial impact, the visual improvement, better indoor air environment, and better health are just a few important aspects to consider.

Carpet is a great flooring product that needs regular maintenance just like any other surface.

View the full interview with Jame Tole below.


James Tole is an IICRC-approved instructor and has worked in the cleaning and restoration industry for 30 years and has trained hundreds of companies in the USA and Canada. He has extensive field and management experience in the handling of contents after insured losses and specializes in packout procedures, individual job management, contents estimating, and inventory software.

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