Indoor air quality (IAQ) plays a vital role in the overall health and well-being of individuals, and with a continued increase in employees returning to in-person offices, workers are more conscious than ever of their immediate surroundings. Thus, it’s critical to create a safe work environment that feels clean and looks cleaner.  

One factor in any cleaning program that’s easy to overlook is the choice of vacuum or carpet-cleaning device — which can play a critical role in affecting IAQ. It’s crucial to remember that proper cleaning tools can positively, or negatively, affect indoor air quality, and there are various types of products available depending on the needs of particular workplaces. Distributors can be a useful resource for end users looking to assemble the proper array of tools to optimally clean facilities. 

Understanding Indoor Air Quality: 

Before delving into the impact of vacuums and other carpet cleaning equipment, it’s useful to think about what IAQ is and the various factors that come into play. IAQ refers to the air quality itself within buildings and structures, and more importantly, the perception of health and safety of the occupants. Several factors influence IAQ, such as outdoor air quality, ventilation, humidity, and the presence of pollutants and allergens that may be unique to geographic regions or climates.  

Experts at companies like Nilfisk, Tennant, TTI Floor Care and others are taking special care to consider IAQ as they look to develop products for the future, and continue to improve existing equipment options.  

How Vacuums Improve IAQ 

Vacuums can be indispensable tools for maintaining a clean environment, and their impact on indoor air quality cannot be understated. Some of the ways vacuums can affect IAQ include: 

HEPA Filtration Systems: HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are renowned for their exceptional filtration capabilities. These filters can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns, ensuring that a significant percentage of allergens and pollutants are trapped and retained within the vacuum. 

Type of Vacuums: Upright, backpack and canister vacuums can all be equipped with effective filtration systems. Upright vacuums are ideal for tackling larger carpeted areas, while backpacks can add to better maneuverability. Meanwhile, both backpacks and canister vacuums emphasize ergonomic benefits, which can be a factor in considering employee comfort. These vacuum options all come in an array of sizes, the smaller of which can help reach tougher-to-access spots, which can affect overall work time.  

Robotic and Automated Vacuums: Advancements in battery and computer technology have led to the development of cordless and robotic vacuums — both as an automated device and equipment that runs automatically (the difference is important; some devices require more human participation and are tools to aid processes instead of replacing them). These constantly innovating options provide convenience and automation in a variety of scenarios while maintaining high quality and consistent performance and filtration. They still, however, often require human assistance or supervision to troubleshoot, maintain and move.  

Carpet Care Matters 

Carpeted surfaces are known for their tendency to harbor a variety of allergens and dust particles, especially in high-traffic areas. Distributors should remind end user customers that regular carpet cleaning is essential to maintain IAQ and comes along with the extra benefit of extending the lifespan of carpets. A savvy sales director might emphasize the importance of suggesting the right cleaning choice for a particular environment. Work with customers to identify choices such as: 

Hot Water Extraction: Hot water extraction, also sometimes called steam cleaning, is a popular and effective method for deep cleaning carpets. This process involves injecting hot water and cleaning agents into the carpet fibers, followed by agitation and powerful suction to remove dirt and allergens, pulling them up and away. 

Low-Moisture Cleaning: Low-moisture cleaning methods, such as encapsulation, use less water and reduce drying times significantly. This method is ideal for carpets that need quick cleaning with minimal disruption to everyday office operations. 

Dry Extraction: Dry extraction techniques involve using specialized compounds or powders that absorb dirt and pollutants from carpets by bonding to them via chemical interaction. This method is ideal for maintaining IAQ in areas with higher foot traffic, as it minimizes downtime and lets people get back to work faster and with less interruptions. 

Cleaning Tips for Optimal IAQ: 

Experts agree that one way to make sure carpet equipment does the job is to reinforce with customers tips and tricks to successful carpet cleaning programs: 

1) Conduct regular cleaning/maintenance: Train end users to clean or replace filters in vacuums as recommended by the manufacturer to maintain their effectiveness — or risk wasting time and money. Clogged filters can reduce suction power and compromise IAQ in just about any environment. 

2) Emphasize and train proper technique: Vacuum motions should be approached slowly and steadily to allow the machine to capture more particles efficiently. Trying to cover too much ground too quickly means that areas may have to be re-visited, wasting precious minutes. Rushing the process can lead to incomplete cleaning and leave allergens behind, irritating visitors and workers alike.  

3) Focus on high-traffic areas: Cleaning high-traffic areas more frequently will help stem the buildup of various soils and grime in these well-worn spots.  

Regulations and Standards: 

Over the years, regulatory bodies have stepped up to regulate and reinforce the importance of IAQ, and standards and best practices have been adopted. Equipment is often specially designed to meet these standards, and engineering work often focuses on achieving new benchmarks in cleanliness, sustainability and efficiency.  

Innovative marketers know that progress is often driven in the name of ensuring a safer environment moving forward — it spurs innovation. Regulations and standards may vary by region or locality, so she recommends distributors check current local resources. Topics such as the following are often at the forefront of regulatory concerns, and ones distributors should be alerting clients of: 

Filtration Efficiency: Commercial vacuums and carpet cleaning equipment may need to meet specific filtration efficiency requirements to be compliant with IAQ standards. 

Emissions and Noise Levels: Some regions regulate emissions and noise levels from cleaning equipment to minimize their impact on IAQ and overall occupant comfort. 

Eco-Friendly Certifications: Manufacturers may obtain eco-friendly certifications for their cleaning equipment, indicating compliance with sustainable and environmentally conscious practices. 

Because indoor air quality is a critical factor in maintaining a healthy and comfortable environment, the use of high-quality vacuums and carpet cleaning equipment equipped with advanced filtration systems significantly contributes to a higher standard of IAQ. By following proper cleaning techniques and adhering to the appropriate regulations and standards, individuals and businesses can take proactive measures to create a healthier indoor environment and promote overall well-being.  

It’s known that poor IAQ can lead to allergies, respiratory issues and other health problems. There are many reasons that IAQ can go south, but regular maintenance, professional cleaning services, and the selection of eco-friendly equipment can further enhance the positive impact on indoor air quality, making it a worthwhile investment for any space. 

It’s also common sense that tools are even more valuable when well-maintained. They comment that, “A machine can run great on day one. Everyone has a role to play in making sure it runs great on day 500, too.”   

Vacuums and other devices are indispensable tools for maintaining cleanliness and improving indoor air quality, and it's in everyone’s best interest to keep them in tip-top shape. A well-working piece of equipment makes jobs easier, cleaning more effective and makes the most of resources.  

Promoting the use of effective equipment in regular carpet care programs is essential for customers looking to maintain IAQ and extend the life of carpets. Commercial carpet cleaning equipment offers various techniques and strategies that can achieve optimal results, often tailoring programs to meet specific scenarios. 

For example, low-moisture cleaning methods such as encapsulation cleaning, as mentioned above, are becoming increasingly popular due to their efficient and environmentally friendly nature. These cleaning agents encapsulate dirt and allergens, and are then easily removed during regular vacuuming. 

Distributors should also urge clients to deep-clean carpets and upholstery periodically, especially in large commercial spaces. Using commercial-grade equipment to ensure a thorough and effective cleaning process makes a difference.  

Additionally, vacuum attachments and other accessories can be utilized to access hard-to-reach spots such as curtains, upholstery and above shelving, which can harbor dust and allergens. Offering customers quick and easy solutions to tackle these spots can make an immediate difference in IAQ.  

The positive impact of high-quality vacuums and carpet cleaning equipment on indoor air quality cannot be overstated. By promoting the use of advanced filtration systems and employing effective cleaning techniques, these cleaning tools remove dust, allergens and pollutants, significantly improving IAQ in commercial and industrial spaces. From HEPA filtration systems in vacuums to low-moisture and dry extraction methods for carpet cleaning, a myriad of options exist to suit various cleaning needs. 

By prioritizing indoor air quality through effective cleaning practices, it is possible to create a healthier and more comfortable working environment for end user customers and their building occupants.  

Jackson Silvanik is the managing editor for Sanitary Maintenance, and lives and works in Lexington, Kentucky. He joined Trade Press Media Group in 2021 and also edits and writes for Contracting Profits, Facility Cleaning Decisions and