maintenance wrench vector

Designed to restore appearance and refresh fibers, interim maintenance improves the look of carpet without the labor, downtime, cost and hassle of hot-water extraction.  

“It’s much faster to complete and turn the facility around,” says Cadell. “Because of current labor market conditions, interim maintenance has become the main — if not the only — type of carpet cleaning a facility has time to do.”  

There are many tool and chemistry choices for interim maintenance. Some tools, like rotary bonnet cleaners, are quite familiar and are probably already in a BSC’s arsenal. Unfortunately, they are also a bit controversial.  

“Carpet mills don’t like bonnets as they can unwind the fibers,” says Griffin. “Using them might invalidate the carpet warranty so BSCs advocating for this technique should first review manufacturer guidelines.”  

Counter-rotating brush machines offer a gentler option as their polypropene brushes float on carpet surfaces. Pairing this equipment with encapsulation technology — where encapsulation chemistry surrounds and crystalizes soil particles for easy removal — is rising in popularity.  

“Encapsulation technology, the newest carpet cleaning option, uses the least moisture and has the fastest dry times,” says Cadell. “This process has quickly replaced bonnet cleaning, especially in high traffic areas.” 

Interim carpet maintenance’s success, however, may turn out to be the process’s biggest downside.  

“It’s important, but it may also become a crutch for avoiding necessary deep cleaning,” says Rathey.  

Griffin agrees. “You can’t only use a low-moisture approach and call it good,” he says. “Low moisture is like a sponge bath. After a while you need the ‘full shower’ of deep, restorative cleaning.” 

Going Deep 

Interim cleaning only touches the carpet surface. Restorative cleaning goes deeper, fully extracting ground-in dirt and oxidized oils from the fibers. Restorative cleaning is also the most complicated, time-consuming, labor-intensive and costly step in any carpet care program.  

The process, according to CRI’s Commercial Carpet Standard for Maintenance and Cleaning, includes four steps:  

1. Thorough vacuuming to remove as much dry soil as possible.  

2. Preconditioning to suspend soils. This process uses a combination of chemicals, heat, agitation, and time to separate and hold dirt away from carpet fibers.  

3. Removing suspended soils. Methods may include absorption, adsorption, wet vacuuming, rinsing, or dry residue vacuuming.  

4. Drying carpet to minimize client inconvenience, prevent slips and falls, and discourage mold growth. Fans, HVAC systems, and dehumidifiers speed up the drying process.  

The CRI offers loose guidelines on how often a carpet needs deep cleaning, based on foot traffic patterns. Lightly trafficked spaces may only need one or two deep cleans a year. Heavily-used areas may require more than 20 deep cleans a year. Very soil-prone areas might demand a weekly deep clean.  

Invest Through Training 

The most thoroughly researched, thoughtfully engineered carpet cleaning program will not deliver results without a well-trained staff to pull it off. Even state-of-the-art vacuuming robots, which according to Griffin are still bleeding edge technology, require the supervision of a living, breathing, human operator.   

Griffin also points to advances in cleaning chemistry, like enzymes, probiotics, engineered water, UV lights, and hydrogen peroxide, that might confound even the most experienced carpet technician.  

That means dedicated employee training is still the best way to guarantee well-maintained carpet. Griffin suggests using a hands-on approach for best results.  

“Watching a video for 15 minutes is not enough,” he says. “The more interactivity and practical experience employees gain, the more they will retain.” 

Amy Milshtein is a freelancer based in Portland, Oregon. She is a frequent contributor to Contracting Profits

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How to Create a Carpet Care Program