A reader writes: “I am struggling with the differences between bonnet cleaning, hot water extraction and encapsulation. Any tips would be appreciated.”

First of all, let’s clarify that our goal is to clean the carpet effectively and efficiently so that it looks good, smells good and does not show any spots or stains. The three areas of carpet maintenance are 1) daily, 2) interim and 3) deep or periodic cleaning. We can assume that you already understand the importance of a quality walk off mat system maintained by regular vacuuming as well as regular spotting of spills and tracked in soils.

Daily vacuuming (or how many times you service the area) is crucial in that you want to pull up soils such as grit and sand before they become embedded in the carpet fibers. This means that on a regular schedule, you thoroughly vacuum the carpet with a unit that has good/great suction. You also need to focus on “eyeing” the carpet for spots and spills that need to be treated promptly before they become stains. I will discuss a “Flag Spot” system in a later article.

Interim cleaning can include the Bonnet or Encapsulation systems that depend on the right crystallizing product, physical agitation and dry time to remove the crystals before they are exposed to moisture. Encapsulation cleaning which is built on three primary areas: 1) using a solution mist that crystalizes and attracts soils to be vacuumed up when it dries, 2) physical agitation using a brush or pad system for penetration and 3) regular vacuuming to keep soils from becoming embedded. If implemented correctly, encapsulation can extend the cycle for more intense cleaning thereby saving labor as well as extending the carpet life.

Your last resort should be HWE (Hot Water Extraction or steam cleaning). The goal should be to use periodic cleaning only on areas that need it think of it deep washing the carpet fibers from soils and well as detergents. HWE is very labor intensive and oftentimes can damage carpet if used incorrectly. Too often, a well-meaning, untrained worker simply soaks the carpet with detergent and fails to remove the solution resulting in potential re-soiling and even mold issues.

Which system do you think will help to achieve your goals of effectiveness and efficiency in most cases? Be sure that you stay within carpet manufacturer warranty guidelines.

Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean…

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.