Knowing where to encapsulate or how often depends on the type of facility and carpeting, as well as traffic levels. Many industry experts agree that when encapsulation is used as an interim carpet cleaning method, it can extend the time between hot water extractions.

“In a really busy building, you may do encapsulation on a bi-monthly or quarterly basis, and then do hot water extraction toward the end of the year,” says Yeadon. “So long-term, it saves an enormous amount of money and keeps the carpet always looking good.”

Some carpet care professionals believe that encapsulation can also be used as a restorative method, further reducing the need for hot water extractions or eliminating them completely. For example, McDonald’s company uses encapsulation for its 1-million-sq.-ft. facility, which includes carpets that haven’t been hot-water extracted for five or six years.

To help determine if a carpet needs encapsulation or hot water extraction, Gelinas recommends a thorough evaluation.

“Get down on your hands and knees in traffic areas, pry apart the carpet and shine a light on the backing,” he says. “If you keep it well maintained, you should see the white bottom of the carpet. If it’s grey or discolored, you have a problem on your hands. You have a lot of soil down there and you need hot water extraction.”

Although encapsulation can potentially decrease or even eliminate deep cleanings when incorporated into a carpet care program, there are still situations in which hot water extraction is essential.

“Encapsulation doesn’t work well on oil or grease,” says Yeadon. “So if you have carpet in the break room or cafeteria, you will need to use hot water extraction.”

Whether a facility uses encapsulation or a combination of encapsulation and hot water extraction, carpet care experts concur: When done correctly and with a quality polymer, encapsulation will save the company time and money, and will restore lackluster carpets to a like-new condition. 

KASSANDRA KANIA is a freelancer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

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Putting Carpet Cleaning Polymers To The Test