Part two of this three-part article identifies the different types of low-moisture carpet cleaning and their benefits.

Low-moisture methods are typically used for interim carpet maintenance, which can be performed a few times a year to delay the need for extraction. Although there are various methods of low-moisture carpet cleaning, the definition remains the same. If the cleaning method has the carpet clean, dry and back to it’s normal state in about two hours, it’s considered low-moisture cleaning.

Dry foam machines generate a detergent mixture that consists of mostly air, agitate that detergent into the carpet and then suck it back out. In bonnet cleaning, the carpet and machine pad is lightly sprayed with a cleaning solution, then the machine is run over the carpet. Oscillating or orbital floor machines can also be used to clean carpets with an absorbent pad, and unlike bonnet cleaning, this method won’t potentially fray carpet fibers. Many low-moisture methods also use encapsulation, which uses a polymer that binds the detergent and soil into a brittle crystal that can be easily vacuumed up.

“Encapsulation became very popular about 10 years ago to where now most every chemical manufacturer has an encapsulate of some type,” says McDonald.

The equipment needed for these low-moisture methods can cost as little as $2,000.

On the other hand, an average truckmount, which cleans using hot-water extraction, costs $50,000 while high-end models can run $100,000. With that kind of up-front cost, Gelinas says it’s wise to determine how many jobs it would take to recoup the initial investment.

“If you throw down a couple thousand dollars to buy a [low-moisture] machine, you can pay that off pretty fast,” he says. “Any job you do after that is going towards making revenue for the business. It’s going to be a big chunk of money spent each month for a truckmount before you can start generating income.”

Many facilities will still require occasional carpet extractions, but portable machines are available at a lower cost than truckmounts. BSCs may want to explore these options first if planning on performing extractions.

Interim carpet cleaning using low-moisture methods will help extend the life of carpet. Customers can then avoid the expense and hassle of replacing carpet.

“Rather than going down that path, it’s much better to simply take care of the carpet in the first place, so maintaining the carpet with low moisture makes a lot of sense,” says Gelinas.
Although cheaper than new carpeting, extraction is a costly process in its own right. It requires a substantial amount of chemicals, water and labor. Anything BSCs can do to help reduce the need for this deep cleaning will provide substantial cost savings for customers.

For example, encapsulation, which can be done three to four times in between extractions, only uses 8 ounces of chemical and 1 gallon of water per 1,000 square feet. Extraction on the other hand uses 6 to 8 gallons of water and two to three times more chemical, according information given in a webcast presented by Master Textile Cleaner Richard Bodo, an instructor with the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification.

“You’re able to lower the frequency of hot-water extraction and in some cases eliminate it if you’re in a good maintenance program with encapsulation or some other method,” says Gelinas.

Low-moisture methods also tend to be faster, requiring less manpower and lower labor costs.

“I can effectively clean 5,000 square feet per hour, per machine, allowing me to quote fairly competitive levels,” says Richard Davies, owner of Country Rose Carpet Cleaning and Green Earth Commercial Carpet Cleaning in Atkinson, New Hampshire. He also serves on the executive committee of the LMCCA.

Using hot-water extraction, on the other hand, workers can only clean about 1,000 square feet per hour, says Gelinas.

previous page of this article:
Contract Cleaners Find Low-Moisture Methods Effective For Interim Carpet Care, Maintenance
next page of this article:
Low-moisture Carpet Cleaning Proves Environmentally Friendly, Reduces Downtime