What are some of the mistakes contributing to these negative impacts? One of the most critical carpet problems is a lack of proper vacuuming, says Yeadon. This oversight can prove especially detrimental when it comes to dry soil removal, since this matter accounts for up to 90 percent of the soil found in carpeting. Dry soil can easily be removed by vacuuming. Skipping this step will only create more work for janitors.

“Once you use water on the carpet, any remaining dry soil becomes mud and is harder to remove,” says Joel Craddock, president of Doc’s Facilities Solutions, Inc., and CEO of Doc’s Facilities Consulting, Inc., both in Rochester, New York. “Additionally, it can potentially build up in the carpet if not fully removed. Companies that skip this step, or clients that reduce the vacuuming schedule, can expect that the carpet won’t stay as clean as a properly maintained carpet.”

Giving vacuuming short shrift won’t make the building service contractor shine either, says Yeadon.

“When vacuuming isn’t done properly, the synthetic fibers can be scratched and abraded, permanently damaging the carpet’s appearance,” he says. “This can’t be fixed and makes it look as if the technician is doing a poor job.”

The problems don’t stop with dry soil removal. There are plenty of other mistakes to be made during more intensive cleaning. One common problem is a janitor using too much soap and not rinsing enough, says Quintis Millsaps, president and CEO of Q’s Cleaning Services, Inc., a South Holland, Illinois-based BSC.

“This can impact the carpeting by constantly attracting soil to the soap residue left in the carpet, which may cause it to look dull,” says Millsaps. “These mistakes can be costly. If a carpet is improperly cleaned it can void the warranty and the contractor may have to replace it.”

The overuse of wet-cleaning, deep-extraction processes can lead to trouble, says Griffin. When done too often, the carpet’s backing can be negatively affected, since the excessive moisture can impact the adhesive on some carpets, causing it to delaminate. Too much moisture can also lead to mold and mildew in the surrounding environment. Additionally, overly wet carpet may result in slips and falls.

Instead of always extracting carpets, low-moisture processes can effectively clean carpets. But these shouldn’t be overused either.

“People need to remember these systems are a surface cleaning and a maintenance process versus a deep cleaning,” says Griffin. “Consequently, the overuse of low-moisture processes can leave a residue buildup over time, which can end up compromising the appearance of the carpet and its lifespan.”

One low-moisture process is encapsulation, which uses a specific kind of detergent to clean. Encapsulation is primarily deployed as an interim cleaning method, says Craddock. One positive is that this process requires very little water compared to typical hot-water extraction methods.

Basically, the detergent encloses the soil in a brittle crystal as the carpeting dries. Craddock says it can take up to 24 hours after the process starts to fully attract and crystallize the dirt, although less time may be required. Once the carpeting dries, vacuuming removes these crystals, taking the soil and dirt with it.

But several factors can undermine the results. One of these, says Griffin, is waiting too long to do the process, trying to clean carpeting that is overly soiled. Not thoroughly vacuuming and removing as much dry soil as possible before beginning encapsulation is another issue.

“Encapsulation can’t dissolve sand and dry soil,” says Griffin. “You want to get the dry stuff out as much as possible, because you want to focus the chemical’s energy on the sticky stuff it can dissolve.”

Another mistake is using encapsulation on the wrong kind of soils. For example, this process may not prove as effective on carpeting typically found in restaurants, movie theaters or factories where there tends to be high levels of greasy soils.

Thoroughly vacuuming after encapsulation is important, says Millsaps, explaining the objective is to remove the dried crystals before they have contact with any moisture, which could cause them to lose their efficacy.

Equipment plays an integral role in the success or failure of the encapsulation process. It’s most effective to use a pile-lift vacuum on the traffic lanes before and after encapsulation, says Griffin. A frequent recommendation is using a dual-motor upright vacuum with a HEPA filter and a paper bag liner to fully remove the dry carpet cleaner, adds Craddock.

“Many companies don’t always have the correct equipment to remove the dry compounds, which can leave residual crystals behind,” says Craddock. “This can cause some minor damage to the fibers if not fully removed over time.”