Although many parts of the United States are experiencing a warmer-than-usual winter, they still have seen quite a bit of rain and snow—both of which can play havoc on carpets. Many facility service providers (FSPs) must play double duty this time of year, finding ways both to prevent carpet soiling and keep carpets looking their best.
And caring for carpets is not just for aesthetics. Soil eats away at fibers, reducing the carpet’s life cycle. And because carpets act as sponges, soiling can cause odors to mount that can affect the environmental quality of the entire facility.
Here are some carpet maintenance recommendations that might be especially handy during the winter—as well as year-round.
• Put a carpet maintenance plan in place. Some items to consider when developing a carpet maintenance plan include the facility’s layout, traffic flow, and use. Based on these factors, the plan should include preventive, interim, and restorative measures to keep carpets looking their best.
• Pay attention to exterior maintenance. In many areas of the country at this time of year, snowmelt covers sidewalks as well as parking lots and building entries. Although it improves safety, salt—as well the contaminants that may be in the salt—can be harmful to carpets. As a preventive measure, keep building exteriors as clean as possible.
• Install matting systems. Matting systems up to 20 feet long that start from the outside of the building and cover the breezeway (space between exterior and interior doors), lobby, and initial sections of hallway will help capture soils. These systems can trap as much as 85 percent of tracked-in soil. And the less dirt that’s tracked in, the less time and effort FSPs will need to spend on carpet maintenance.
• Vacuum regularly. As an interim measure, effective, regular vacuuming is a must—the core of carpet maintenance. The facility should be divided into high-, medium-, and low-traffic areas and vacuumed accordingly. High-traffic areas may need to be vacuumed two, three, or more times per day. Not only does this help clean and protect carpets, but it also keeps the dry dust in carpets from being redistributed throughout a facility.
• Attend to spots. Most spills and spots can be removed relatively easily if attended to quickly. Scrape off any debris, and then vacuum the area using a spotting machine. Mist a small amount of chemical on the affected area and blot, moving from the edges into the center of the spot. Allow for dwell time and then blot again. Thoroughly rinse the spot using the spotting machine once again to remove all chemical—as well as the spot.
• Do periodic carpet extraction. Even with the best of care, carpets will eventually need to be restored using hot-water extraction. This system suspends soils, which are then vacuumed and removed by the carpet extractor. Many FSPs extract carpets by pre-spraying chemical on the area to be cleaned and then water-rinsing with the extractor. This helps reduce chemical usage. And incorporating a low-moisture extractor, which can use as little as .8 gallons per minute, helps carpets dry faster and protects the indoor environment. As part of their carpet maintenance plan, FSPs should focus their greatest efforts near building entries and on lower floors. As mentioned earlier, dust, soils, and contaminants that are brought in from the outside can be redistributed throughout a facility. Spending more time and effort maintaining carpets in entry areas will mean less will be required for the rest of the facility.
This article is by Steve Williams, senior vice president for research and development at U.S. Products. He may be reached at (800) 257-7982.