Equipment for this interim carpet maintenance falls into three different buckets, according to Luallen. There are the bonnet and dual-cylinder counter-rotating brush machines (CRB) — both of which require applying chemistry before use. The third option combines both steps into a self-contained unit that sprays chemistry and agitates with a CRB.

The bonnet is basically a low-speed floor buffing machine outfitted with an absorbent pad made for carpets. This method is common and quite popular, but generally not recommended by commercial carpet manufacturers. A quick website scan of three major commercial carpet manufacturers — Interface, Mohawk, and Shaw — confirms that, for them, bonnet cleaning is not recommended and, in some cases, may void warranties.

“Part of this may be because the largest carpet mills feel the rotary machines used in absorbent pad cleaning can cause damage to the carpet fibers,” says Yeadon.

Not everyone agrees. In fact, the method is favored by Mike Sawchuk, CIMS-ICE, Sawchuk Consulting in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. While he admits that there is no perfect system for everybody in every situation, Sawchuk insists that with proper training, a skilled operator can achieve good results with a bonnet.

“It is a very effective, safe and productive way to do this work. Most carpet manufacturers recognize that it is done, and they cannot void the warranty if you are doing it properly,” says Sawchuk. “It’s not rocket science. Anybody, no matter their size or strength, can operate the machine. The key is proper training, ongoing coaching and retraining.”

If used correctly, Sawchuck emphasizes that bonnet machines have their advantages. The method is inexpensive, as it uses a machine facility cleaning departments typically have on-hand, and it makes for fast work. Yet professionals have been arguing about the appropriateness of using bonnets for carpet cleaning for years. Naysayers prefer the use of alternative interim cleaning equipment.

A newer choice is the dual-cylinder counter-rotating brush machine. Luallen calls these devices the “preferred, most commonly accepted method” because of their less abrasive action on carpet fibers.

“These machines use polypropene brushes that float on the surface of the carpet,” he says.

As gentle as they are, these devices still provide the agitation needed to dislodge soils. Yeadon agrees with this assessment.

“Encapsulation cleaning performed using counter-rotating brush systems are favored as the cylindrical brushes do not cause damage and act as pile lifters,” Yeadon says.

Luallen is a fan of the self-contained unit that pairs chemistry with CRBs, as opposed to methods that call for spraying chemicals down with one device and then following up with a CRB machine.

“A liquid pump sprayer has to be refilled and that takes time,” he says. “With this machine, the tech fills the vessel once at the beginning of the night.”

Machines represent only half of the equation when it comes to interim carpet maintenance. The chemistry used also plays a huge role in proper carpet care. That said, one of the fastest growing options is encapsulation.

Encapsulation product is first sprayed onto the carpet and then brushed into the fibers. The chemistry works by surrounding and crystalizing soil particles, then trapping those particles, which are then removed by vacuuming. The encapsulation process boasts many benefits, but proper training is still required.

previous page of this article:
Experts Discuss, Debate Interim Carpet Care
next page of this article:
How Often Should Interim Carpet Maintenance Be Done?