How to solve three carpet cleaning challenges

If carpet cleaning was always easy, you’d have stiffer competition and more “do-it-yourself” homeowners.

Tough cleaning challenges are what keep the professional cleaner separate from the typical “do-it-yourself” types. Knowing how to solve problems is key.

This technical bulletin will concentrate on three specific carpet cleaning challenges.

1. Recurring spots (spots that mysteriously return)
2. Traffic lanes that never “come clean”
3. Berber carpet, especially olefin

Recurring spots

Spots that return after cleaning are the bane of the professional cleaner.

After cleaning a carpet, and doing what you think is a great job, the inevitable occurs: A telephone call complaining that “those same old spots have returned.”

There are a number of reasons why a freshly-cleaned carpet looks spotted a day or two after cleaning.

These can be:

  • You didn’t remove all of the spot
  • You didn’t remove the cleaning residue
  • What is underneath the cleaning area (the part of the carpet you cleaned) was activated by the cleaning, and “wicks” to the surface

Most of the time, it’s not the cleaning residue that’s the problem… it’s soil (whether tracked dirt or spilled liquids) left behind. Not entirely your fault, since it”s virtually impossible to flush out all soil residues.

Without knowing what is underneath the surface, you would think a simple cleaning would suffice. The problem is what is in the backing of the carpet (and sometimes in the pad and subflooring) will resurface when you add moisture during cleaning.

Traffic lane challenges

The second challenge in this technical bulletin is traffic lane cleaning.

Traffic lanes are tough because soils are typically ground in and left too long in the carpet, resulting in a dirty-looking carpet despite your best cleaning efforts. After all, how often are you able to clean a carpet often enough so that it never looks really dirty?

Normally, you clean carpet that looks dirty, or soiled. It should have been cleaned before this happens.

The solution, many times? Go beyond simple cleaning. Often, chemistry that uses bleaching action is what is necessary.

Although cleaning soil from carpet is a relatively easy chore, cleaning soil that are ground-in and seemingly “permanent” is a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be, with today’s cleaning products that are available.

Don’t forget basic principles of cleaning, too, such as dwell time for your chemistry and the use of agitation tools to work in your detergents and to loosen soils.

Cleaning Berber (especially olefin)

The third challenge is cleaning Berber carpets, especially olefin Berbers.

Besides the fact that olefin is often a tough fiber to clean because of its “oil-loving” characteristic, Berbers are tough because the cleaning tool head doesn’t want to stay on the carpet because of the uneven surface of the carpet. This is often referred to as “wand chatter”.

This leads to problems such as overwetting, streaks in the carpet, wicking of soils that your cleaning machine did not remove, and leaving oily residues behind that make the carpet look more soiled than it should.

The solution to cleaning Berber carpets may be a different method of cleaning, or combining methods. It can be as simple as slowing down on your cleaning, and getting it as dry as possible.

Many cleaners today report that cleaning Berbers with hot water extraction followed by a bonnet is best.

The hot water extraction removes soils, and the bonnet (absorbent pad) removes much more moisture and soils afterwards.

The high agitation of compound cleaning is also effective on many carpet types.

Encapsulation cleaning and related chemistry are great tools to use on Berber carpet.

Some think that encapsulation cleaning is the method alone. But you can use encapsulation cleaning chemicals with your bonnet machine and portable or truckmount equipment.

Encap rinses are terrific tools to cleaning Berber carpet. But to get the full benefit of this technology with hot water extraction, precondition and rinse with the encapsulation chemistry. The typical “uglied out” effect will be minimized and the carpet will look much better after drying.

Cleanfax Staff

Cleanfax provides cleaning and restoration professionals with information designed to help them manage and grow their businesses.

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