Carpet care

An effective carpet care program requires a comprehensive approach, says McGarvey, with no phase omitted. 

“Historically, many cared for their carpets by vacuuming daily and extracting once a year,” he says. “This has resulted in countless carpets being removed, sent to landfills and replaced far sooner than they should have been. According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, a poorly maintained carpet can go from new to requiring replacement in one to three years.” 

Cadell outlines the strategy he believes essential for preserving carpeting’s integrity and appearance. Proper matting for soil containment comprises the first step, followed by a regular vacuum schedule using commercial vacuums. The rest of an effective carpet care program includes spotting as soon as stains/spills arise; interim/low-moisture cleaning, such as encapsulation; and restorative/full extraction cleaning done once or twice annually depending on foot traffic.  

An effective process is essential, but products must also be considered. To that point, equipment upkeep is a must. 

“When it comes to carpet equipment maintenance, remember to always pretreat the carpet from a tank sprayer and only put fresh water with no chemical into the machine. This helps prevent the jets from clogging and allows the chemical time to properly dwell and do its job,” says Cadell. 

It’s also important to train staff to empty and rinse the recovery tank after each use, and remove any fibers from the machine’s brush that could obstruct its spin. Experts also stress the importance of rinsing the spray tips nozzles — especially if an encapsulation-type shampoo has been used. This should help prevent blockages.  

“If spray tips are clogged, never dig into the jet with a paperclip or other sharp implement. Instead, they should be soaked in an acidic solution to loosen the blockage,” McGarvey cautions. “Also check brush condition, rinse the brushes and vacuum shoes, and charge the batteries according to manufacturer recommendation.” 

When it comes to routine-use vacuums, regularly check for proper filtration and airflow. Also make sure that all components are in good working order. Allen advises thoroughly checking equipment on a quarterly, semi-annual or annual basis for bigger tasks. It’s a proactive approach that lessens the likeliness of needing an emergency backup plan and helps to ensure the effectiveness of the equipment.  

A tidy, clean custodial closet will also lead to better outcomes. And although McGarvey says facilities can sometimes find adequate storage space hard to come by, there should be at-minimum a water source and sanitary sewer — along with the necessary ventilation if battery charging is occurring there. 

Last but certainly not least, McGarvey stresses the importance of keeping equipment itself looking like new.  

“All equipment should be kept as clean as possible,” he says. “Cleaning with dirty-looking equipment will not enhance your reputation.” 

When it comes to equipment care and use, staff training is integral to achieving strong results. Although training typically occurs at the time of purchase and is conducted in large groups to provide a basic understanding, Flaherty says follow-up training at the facility and department level is vital. Keeping track of who is using each piece of equipment can also ward off problems. 

“With the number of frontline employees in each department, the number of pieces of equipment, and not always having the same individual assigned to an area or machine, keeping the equipment functioning according to manufacturer specs never ends,” explains Flaherty. “It would be helpful if each department had sign-out/in sheets for each piece of equipment that included the daily, weekly, and monthly points of service specific to that equipment and what is necessary for proper maintenance.” 

Whether it’s maintaining equipment or the carpets they’re used to clean, departments can simplify the laborious tasks with streamlined procedures and an optimal fleet of tools.  

Pamela Mills-Senn is a freelance writer from Long Beach, California.  

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