Eric Hsiao, an engineer with Tornado Industries, a cleaning equipment company in Chicago, IL, addresses some traditional carpet cleaning procedures that may need to be revisited.
For TFM’s coverage of carpet care in the March 2006, see “Carpet 101” in the current issue.
For decades, carpets have been cleaned using 175/250-rpm floor machines with a bonnet attached. However, just because something is a common practice does not mean it is the most effective cleaning method, or even the best for the carpet.
In fact, many experts believe this form of carpet care is precisely the method that should not be used when performing interim carpet cleaning.
“The reason is that 175/250-rpm buffers are designed for heavy duty scrubbing and stripping of hard surface floors,” says John Garger, of Tandus, manufacturers of carpet and other floor covering materials in Dalton, GA. “The spinning rotary action generates friction and heat build up, which is not beneficial to any carpeted or soft surface floor.”
In fact, Garger adds that on some carpets, it can untwist the face yarns, and laboratory evaluations indicate that permanent yarn distortion and abrasion can occur very shortly after use of a rotary buffer, regardless of the attachments, shampoo brush, or yarn bonnet attached to the interlock.
If bonnet cleaning is to be performed, a more preferable equipment of choice would be to use a cylindrical brush machine, which is not as abrasive to carpets, will not torque in the wrong direction, but will still clean deeply and aggressively.
New Carpet Extraction Methods
Similarly, certain carpet extraction procedures have been used for many years, but new research and technologies indicate they may not be the most effective.
For the sake of productivity, it has been common practice to add cleaning chemical/solution to the water in the solution tank of a self-contained extractor. This solution was then injected into the carpet fibers at a sizable pressure and then simultaneously vacuumed up, leaving an apparently clean carpet—or so it was thought.
The reality of this method is that chemical residue from the solution adheres to the carpet fibers. This substance allows dirt to “stick” to the lower portion of the fibers, and the carpet can end up looking in worse shape than it was before the extraction. In essence, the cure is worse than the illness.
What can be done to prevent this problem? In order to get carpet clean, a chemical is still recommended, however, it should be applied during a pre-spray. The extractor should then be run with only water in the solution tank; this will remove the soapy residue from the carpet fibers, which not only cleans the carpet, but also helps it stay clean.