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With facility executives looking to save money by cutting carpet care frequencies, carpet encapsulation is a cost-effective cleaning method that is growing in popularity. 

Encapsulation carpet cleaning chemicals are designed with polymer technology that forms a very distinct crystal when it dries. The crystal encapsulates the soil and holds it captive until it is vacuumed away. 

The total process involves first vacuuming the carpet. Nearly 80 percent of all carpet soil is dry soil so remove it first. The next step is to prespray heavy-traffic lanes with an encapsulating chemical prespray. Spray enough to just dampen the carpet. Allow a few minutes dwell time but do not allow it to dry.

Next, scrub the carpet with an appropriate machine. Machines should be equipped with solution tanks that allow diluted product to be fed to through the scrub brushes or pads on demand. 

Apply enough solution to wet the floor but take care not to over wet. A good rule of thumb is to use one diluted gallon to clean about 300 square feet.

Usually, two cleaning passes are all that is needed. One pass should be made with the solution valve open and the second pass with the solution turned off. 

The carpet is vacuumed after it dries. The soil that has been encapsulated into the dried crystals is now deposited into the vacuum’s bag or hopper. This can be done the next day. 

Some industry experts claim costs as low as 1⁄3 of a cent per square foot with encapsulation. 

In addition to carpet encapsulation, contractors should focus vacuuming efforts to entry points and adjacent areas where the bulk of dirt is deposited. Attack these areas and less soil will be tracked through the rest of the facility. Of course, the best type of maintenance is a preventative one, so also implement the recommended 12 to 15 feet of matting to capture dirt before it’s brought in.  

Louie E. Davis is a jan/san industry veteran and freelance writer based in Birmingham, Ala.