Copyright (c) 2006 The Janitorial Store

Carpet is no doubt a common floor covering in most of the buildings that your company cleans. Carpet is inviting, sound-absorbing and helps with a building's overall health by capturing dust particles and keeping them out of the air. However, if not properly taken care of carpet can be almost impossible to keep clean and can give a negative impression of the cleaning staff. But with the right maintenance program and the right cleaning chemicals, keeping carpet looking great is not an impossible task.

It is important to:

* make sure your staff has proper training and understands the carpet cleaning process

* use the right equipment and keep it properly maintained

* use the right cleaning chemicals for the carpet you are cleaning

* use the chemicals properly

Hard floors receive daily care and are usually thoroughly cleaned at least once a week. On the other hand, you may spot-vacuum carpets daily, but only thoroughly clean carpets once or twice a year. In addition, many cleaning companies do not properly train their employees to clean carpets. To top it all off, the wrong cleaning chemicals are often used which makes the carpet vulnerable to quick resoiling.

Most cleaning contractors clean carpet by either a hot water extraction method or a low moisture method. The hot water method flushes dirt and debris by circulating clean water and detergents through the carpet. Water pressure and vacuuming creates the agitation needed to loosen the dirt from the carpet fibers. If using the low moisture method, you'll spray detergent onto the carpet, give it dwell time, and then agitate it into the fibers. Then you'll vacuum the chemicals away to complete the cleaning process.

So what is this encapsulation and why is it important to carpet cleaning? In a nutshell, encapsulation chemicals clean the carpet better and help it to stay clean longer.

The first thing to remember about carpet cleaning detergents is that they are sticky. These chemicals are designed to be sticky so they attract and suspend dirt. An encapsulating compound surrounds dirt with a crystallizing polymer. The polymer dries to a hard crystal type material, which you'll vacuum up. There is little "sticky" residue left behind. It is the sticky residue left behind by inexperienced cleaners and the improper choice of chemicals that causes carpets to resoil quickly and causes wicking.

Encapsulation technology can effectively remove most carpet soil and the detergents used in the process. However, the effectiveness of this procedure can vary for many reasons including:

* The type of carpet being cleaned

* The type of chemical being used

* Effectiveness of the cleaning equipment

* The skills of the carpet cleaning technician (or cleaning crew)

If you do not address the above reasons, there may be excess residue left on the carpet. The more residue left, the more resoiling. Have you ever worked diligently to clean a carpet and then noticed spots reappearing over the next couple of days? This problem is due to wicking. Spills that have spread deep into the carpet backing and padding are dissolved when they become wet during the carpet cleaning process. The spills then climb up the fibers like a candle wick until they reach the carpet's surface. This process goes on until the carpet is thoroughly dry.

No matter what carpet cleaning method your company uses the reality is there will always be some detergent residue left. And, of course, the "stickier" the detergent the higher the risks are that the carpet will resoil quickly. Using proper carpet cleaning techniques and using products that contain an encapsulating compound that counteracts the effects of sticky detergents will go a long way to keeping your carpets looking cleaner longer. Clean carpets make the whole building look cleaner and your clients will love you for it!

About the author:

Steve Hanson is co-founder of, an online community for owners of cleaning companies. Sign up for Trash Talk:Tip of the Week at . Read success stories at .

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