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Carpet spots and spills are going to happen. More than 70 percent of the floors in commercial facilities are carpeted, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI). With such an abundance of soft flooring, building service contractors need a strategic, cost-effective plan to remove carpet spots before they become permanent stains.

Most carpet wears out or devolves to an unacceptable appearance long before it should, for three reasons: little effort is made to keep soil out of the carpet; little effort is made to get newly deposited soil or spots out of the carpet on a routine basis; and facility managers fail to schedule regular carpet extractions.

Carpets are more stain-resistant than ever, making them easier to clean and maintain. This also correlates with a greater reliance on frequent carpet spotting rather than periodic carpet extraction.

It doesn’t take a lot to incorporate carpet spotting into cleaning programs. In fact, BSCs already utilizing team cleaning methods can leverage existing custodial staffs and nightly work routes to ensure carpets are maintained.

Predicting carpet spots

To be able to effectively and quickly address carpet spots, it’s helpful to predict where spills are most likely to occur. It’s important to understand how the building occupants use and travel through facilities’ various spaces.

A first step is to conduct a site survey and develop a facility profile (a cleaning organization may already have this information as part of a workloading survey). The profile will segment the various spaces by expected levels of traffic: high, medium or low. CRI has “guidelines for levels of traffic by category” as a reference.

Start by identifying locations and travel paths from entrances, including the most highly used entrances — keep in mind they may not be the main entrance. In these locations, define the type of traffic — examples being foot traffic, supply carts, catering, wheelchairs, etc.

It’s also a good idea to take note of the locations of dining, vending, coffee and break areas as they are frequently visited spaces and also likely for spills. In addition, note the travel paths facility occupants use to get to these places.

Identify other locations likely to have spills, and then what type of spills, such as food, chemical or another type. All of this information together will provide insight and allow BSCs to proactively develop a carpet spot cleaning plan.

Daily carpet spotting

Carpet spots need to be removed as soon as they appear. The sooner they are removed, the lower the likelihood of them turning into a stain and permanently damaging the carpet. Traditional carpet spotting frequencies are once per week or less. It’s a good practice to spot a few days per week and a great practice to spot daily.

A fresh carpet spot can often be removed with just clean water and a towel. In team cleaning, it’s a great practice to outfit a light duty or utility specialist with a spray bottle filled with water and a white, absorbent towel to blot fresh liquid spills. (For dry spills, remove soils with a vacuum. Pouring liquid on a dry spill can cause additional problems). After cleaning the spot, have the specialist note the location of the stain on a notepad and report to the shift supervisor. A trained technician with a spotting kit can be dispatched if blotting didn’t lift the spot. Knowledge of the stain, immediate action and spot management can reduce the probability of a permanent stain.

BSCs know spills and spots are going to happen. It’s how they proactively plan to manage these problems that can improve the carpet’s health, extend the deep extraction cleaning cycle, improve the carpet life cycle and appearance, and ultimately save time and money.

BJ Mandelstam is the founder and president of Cleaning Matters, a Denver-based custodial consulting practice. Previously, she was the owner of an award-winning contract cleaning company.