Encapsulation chemicals can be used with a wide range of equipment, including rotary and oscillating floor machines. According to Yeadon, carpet manufacturers often favor counter rotating brush machines that not only brush and agitate the product, but also pick up any loose debris. In addition to their versatility, these machines require little maintenance and can be purchased for under $2,000 — a bargain compared to high-end portable extractors and truck mount units.

More important than the equipment, however, is the chemistry. Carpet care experts stress the need for a quality encapsulation polymer and encourage users to put theirs to the test.

“A good encapsulation polymer dries brittle,” says Gelinas. “That’s critical to successful encapsulation cleaning because the polymer becomes the vehicle to carry soil out of the carpet.”

Gelinas likens the dry polymer to an eggshell that cracks and separates from the carpet fiber when vacuumed.

To ensure the polymer’s validity, McDonald recommends mixing it to its dilution ratio and putting an ounce or so of the mixed detergent in a Petri dish to dry out.

“You want it to look like broken ice,” he says. “Leave it overnight, and if it’s tacky or it doesn’t break into a crystalline detergent medium, it’s not something you want.”

McDonald also advises facilities to focus their attention on vacuuming — both before and after applying encapsulation chemicals.

“Vacuuming is one of the things that most companies never do,” he says. “You need to vacuum before to get the dirt out. Then you need to vacuum thoroughly afterward to get out whatever dirt is encapsulated.”

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