To maintain carpeting between deep cleanings, end users can choose from a range of options — equipment such as bonnet cleaning or low moisture methods, such as encapsulation and absorbent compounds.

Spallone recommends encapsulation for large carpeted areas.

“With a lot of interim maintenance concepts, you’re not removing a tremendous amount of the soil load, but you’re making the surface look more uniform and clean,” he says. “Most facilities don’t have the budgets or manpower to continually deep clean that carpet, so to me, this is the next best option.”

To fill the gap between vacuuming and deep cleanings, the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval Program has introduced a new category for interim maintenance systems. This new maintenance protocol can educate customers and help them make the right choice when purchasing interim cleaning machines.

“The interim maintenance system is a test to measure whether you have appearance improvement and also whether an interim maintenance program would have a deleterious effect on the carpet or carpet fibers,” says Braun. “We check resoiling, the presence of optical brighteners, color fastness and determine the pH level of cleaning chemicals.”

Extremely acidic or alkaline chemicals can adversely affect dyes and certain carpet fibers, says Braun. Chemicals with a more neutral pH are considered safer to use when cleaning carpets. The diluted formula is tested using a standard pH meter. 

With regard to surface appearance improvement, the carpet is measured before and after cleaning using a spectrophotometer. A step change analysis determines whether or not the appearance has improved enough to pass the test.

According to Braun, resoiling is one of the primary reasons interim maintenance systems fail.

“The test results have to be less than a half step on the AATCC grey scale for color change. That can be a rigorous test,” he says. “One of the things we find is when you look at treatment chemicals used in interim maintenance, [resoiling] is usually the source of failure; they cause resoiling because they leave too much residue in the carpet.”

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