Total carpet care revolves around a schedule of daily, interim and restorative duties that satisfies a facility’s organizational objectives. For instance, at a facility that’s open 24/7, such as a hospital or airport, noise is a big consideration, as are dry surfaces for safety, and a high level of indoor air quality.

A knowledgeable distributor can consult different facilities on types and sizes of vacuums, spot cleaners, extractors and drying equipment that will work together for the best overall return on their carpet care investment.

“Matching the customer to the product is very important,” says Steve Hanson, owner of Brainerd Lakes Cleaning & Supply, Brainerd, Minn. “When we get a call from a prospect we meet at their location, do a walk through, ask a lot of questions about types of soil, amounts of foot traffic, and frequency of cleaning in their existing floor program.”

Daily Floor Care
The first step in daily carpet care is having a system in place that prevents damaging debris from entering the facility.

Facilities should place exterior and interior walk-off mats — which get vacuumed every day and deep cleaned on a routine basis — in the entranceway.

Facilities would also find it worthwhile to invest in manual or walk-behind sweepers as well for keeping sidewalks and parking lots clean.

“They come in a variety of sizes from 20- to 30-inch machines that can be used on a regular basis to sweep sand, gravel and grit off the walks,” says Rick Faber, central region president of AmSan, Omaha, Neb.

Inside the facility, vacuuming should be done daily.

Vacuums should be specified for specific areas, and depending on the client’s needs for flexibility and speed, could be a canister, upright, backpack or ride-on.

“If I vacuum with a 14-inch dual motor upright, I’m covering 3,200 square feet per hour,” Faber says. “If I use a backpack with the same 14-inch tool, I cover up to 7,400 square feet per hour. If I go to a large, wide area vacuum such as a 28-inch that I would walk behind or ride, I would jump from 8,000 to 10,000 square feet per hour. And with a walk-behind or riding, I won’t get nearly as tired.”

In office buildings, many cleaning crews use backpack vacuums because of their versatility.

“You can get in and out of offices quicker, and more efficiently,” Faber notes. “Efficiency for getting around individual offices, under and around things is much quicker. On low-nap carpet, they do a very effective job, as good as a vacuum with a motor and brush.”

In hospitals and long-term care facilities, battery-operated or manual carpet sweepers with low decibels are popular, says Faber. Plus, non-cleaning staff aren’t reluctant to using them for quick clean-ups.

Spot cleaning is also part of the daily routine. Faber notes that a BSC’s spotting equipment typically is different than an in-house staffs. For BSC-cleaned facilities he suggests having absorbent granular product available, and/or absorbent pads to be stepped on to apply weight, and then leaving these down to notify the BSC of the spot. The BSC can then vacuum and use a hand-held extractor when they arrive.

“With spot cleaning you can address 95 percent of the spots with two different types of spotters, an all-purpose and general purpose degreasing spotter,” says Rich Casse Bender, president of BCB Janitorial Supply Co., Hackensack, N.J. “The spots you can’t get with those are more specialized, and we recommend having one or two people trained on how to address those spots, such as chewing gum, indelible ink, candle wax and red wine.”

Bender also recommends a small portable extractor be required for a larger facility.

“A 10 to 20,000 square foot area needs the proper equipment,” he explains. “They’ve been called briefcase extractors, because they’re the same size as a briefcase, and are easy to pick up. Training-wise, these machines are typically very easy to use.”

Interim Carpet Care
Between restorative cleanings, interim cleaning lifts and cleans the upper layer of the carpet nap using low-moisture, which is especially useful in high traffic zones.

A vertically-rotating brush machine paired with a prespray or granular product with a half or one-gallon tank weighs around 15 pounds, so it’s easy for employees to handle.

“The brush that comes with them is six inches wide,” says Faber. “And the idea is to get the carpet from different directions, to work it into carpet to absorb as much as possible, working into the center.”

Most major manufacturers have dual purpose machines that enable equipment to use a low-moisture method for interim cleaning, but by replacing parts and flipping a switch, it can turn into a restorative machine, Faber says. This allows more uses out of the investment.

“Prespray equipment comes in backpack form, some battery-operated, some electrical,” Faber continues. “It puts out 100 psi to penetrate the top layer. There is also a walk-behind prespray to cover 30 inches at a time, that holds 8 to 10 gallons of solution. For a larger facility I would prefer to see a larger machine,” he says, citing a low-moisture interim machine on rollers that continually rinses and vacuums the rollers.

Restorative Carpet Care
Restorative deep extraction typically occurs twice a year, or even as often as once a month, depending on traffic, soil conditions and indoor air quality considerations. Matching the machine to the size and type of job at hand is critical.

“There are small extractors that can do 1,000 square feet per hour, but at 4 to 5,000 square feet per hour your return on investment goes up quick,” says Faber.

New low-moisture systems reduce the likelihood of a technician over-wetting the carpet, which can spell big trouble.

“There is no special chemical — it’s all the machine,” explains Hanson. “Production rates can be as high as 3,000 square foot an hour with that. We’re seeing more companies coming out with that type of product. It saves labor, and a little bit of chemical.”

When using a wand, match the wand to the psi of the machine. Some wands may be single jet, some two, or even three, but Hanson says it’s all about psi.

Dehumidifiers are definitely helpful when it comes to quickly drying carpet, but fans are the product of choice. They are especially useful in high humidity areas and areas where foot traffic will occur shortly. Some are stackable, others apply heat for faster drying, and others come with their own carts for easy positioning. It’s recommended that a facility have at least one fan for emergencies and post-extraction drying.

Lauren Summerstone is a freelance writer based in Madison, Wis.