How to Maintain Carpets in Commercial Buildings

Carpet represents a major investment in a commercial property and as such should be well maintained in order to extend its appearance and lifespan. We all know that regular cleaning is important to help refresh carpets, but how can you ensure that you are doing your best to protect your client’s assets and uphold a standard of cleanliness?

Crank up the vacuum

While vacuuming might be the most obvious step to maintaining carpet, it is also the most important. Dirt transferred from shoes can quickly become embedded in the fibres where traffic is present. Regular vacuuming can lift out that soil and stop it from transferring to the rest of the carpet, causing discolouration. For large areas with different levels of traffic, draw up a schedule outlining how frequently the carpet should be vacuumed. Areas of heavy traffic should be cleaned more often to keep up the appearance of the carpet.

To speed up the process of vacuum cleaning large, heavy traffic areas regularly, consider investing in high powered machines that reduce the amount of back and forth strokes and get the job done quicker. When selecting vacuums; do your research, ask for referrals, do instore trials, get the numbers on wattage, capacity and warranty. Regularly changing filters is also important so make sure that you speak to your supplier about the frequency that this should be completed.

Traffic Location Vacuuming Frequency

Make the most of mats

Entrance mats can help extend the life of carpets and improve their appearance by capturing dirt that is bought in from the outside world. According to the online cleaning resource CleanLink, between 70-80% of dirt inside a building is tracked in from people’s feet (Zudonyi, 2015). Matting systems extending five metres are now able to remove up to 85-95% of that soil with sophisticated designs that work to actually scrub the soles of shoes clean (Zudonyi, 2015). Utilising a three mat system will provide a good defence against outside soil and help to extend the life of the carpet. Start with a scraper mat first to remove large particles from shoes, followed by a scraper and wiper mat to continue the clean and finish with a straight wiper mat to capture any lasting moisture off shoes (Zudonyi, 2015).

Boost up your carpet’s defence

Special products can be sprayed onto new carpets (or those that have just been hot water extraction cleaned) to create a barrier around the fibres and protect them from soil. Agar has developed a product called Protector which, based on Fluoropolymer technology, invisibly seals carpet to stop dirt and stains from penetrating the fibres. Using Protector on carpet allows spillages to be blotted up before stains occur, keeping them fresh and clean.

Spot treat stains immediately

The longer spills are left on the carpet, the more likely they are to cause a permanent stain. The best solution for treating spots is to act quickly to remove it before it sets in. Before you get spotting, you need to work out what the spill is, then refer to the Agar Carpet Spot Removal Guide to find out which spotter is best to use. It’s important to know that while there are some excellent multi-purpose spotters out there (such as Spot Wiz) some stains are best treated with a specifically formulated product. Below is a list of common spills and the products to use to clean them, as well as a guide for how to clean spots. For complete and specific instructions for how to use a product to treat a spot, please view its product data sheets.

Which products to use

Agar has compiled a compact list of spotters, perfect for cleaning contractors, venues and property managers to have on hand in the event of a carpet spill.

Spotter Selection Chart

For a full guide to Agar’s extended range of spotters, please view the Carpet Spot Removal Guide (you must be logged in to view this guide in the Member’s Area).

How to treat a spill or spot

1. Act quickly

Ninety percent of all spillages can be removed completely if immediate action is taken. If a spilled material reacts chemically with the dye of the carpet a permanent stain will result and the only way to overcome this problem is to use Coffee Stain Remover to bleach the affected area or replace this piece of carpet.

2. Absorb all liquids and vacuum all solids

Absorb spilt liquids with a layer of tissues one centimetre thick or with cloth, paper towels or a clean sponge. Scrape up or vacuum solid soilage before applying spotter.

3. Use lukewarm water

When water is needed, do not use hot water as this may set the stain, making it more difficult to remove.

4. Pre-test

Refer to the Agar Carpet Spotting Chart to help you choose the right product for removing all kinds of stains. Pre-test the spotting chemicals on an inconspicuous section of the carpet to ensure that they will not affect the different colour dyes in the carpet.

5. How to spot clean

Apply small amounts of the spotter and blot stained area. Do not over-wet the carpet as this may leave ring marks and do not rub or brush the pile as this may result in unsightly fuzzing or other distortion. Work from the outer edge towards the centre of the stain and allow the spotter plenty of time to react with the staining material. “Feather” around the area by dabbing the edges more lightly than the centre. After the spotter chemical has released the stain it must be removed from the carpet by absorbing it into a cloth or absorbent paper. Then the area should be rinsed with clean water.

6. Dry the carpet

After thorough blotting, apply a thick layer of dry absorbent material and place a weight on this layer. Allow several hours for the area to dry, or use a fan to dry the cleaned area.

7. Care when using carpet spotters

Some solvent spotters are flammable. Always stop anyone smoking, turn off heaters and pilot lights, turn off the television and open the windows when using solvents. Read the Material Safety Data Sheets. G-Solve can attack latex-backed carpet tiles. Use caution when spot-cleaning carpets with latex or tar backing as these materials may dissolve in the spotter and be carried onto carpet fibres. Use only small amounts of spotter and blot frequently to avoid over-wetting the carpet. Solvent spotters should not be allowed to soak into the backing of any carpet as they may un-glue the secondary backing. Use solvents sparingly.

Don’t Avoid Professional Cleans

Keeping carpet in tip top condition no doubt requires regular professional cleans, but how often and what type of cleaning should you choose?

Full Cleans

Hot Water Extraction (HWE)
Sometimes mistakenly referred to as steam cleaning, HWE is the most popular method of professional cleaning. Providing the deepest clean, HWE can be completed using two different methods. The first option involves filling the machine tank with hot water and carpet cleaning detergent which is sprayed onto the carpet through solution jets at the base of the wand. The solution is then extracted out through the wand with a concentrated vacuum.

The second option is to pre-spray the carpet with a solution of carpet cleaning detergent and water. Once pre-sprayed, plain hot water is sprayed onto the carpet through the HWE machine which effectively cleans and rinses the carpet at the same time. The Australian Standard for carpet cleaning (AS/NZS 3733) recommends the pre-spray method as it minimises detergent residue on the carpet however carpet cleaners need to be careful not to over wet the carpet if using this method.

HWE cleans can take up to 24 hours to completely dry and it is recommended that carpets aren’t walked on while wet. Air movement can help speed up drying time and dispel odours. Carpets must be thoroughly vacuumed before being cleaned.

Maintenance Cleans

The below professional carpet cleaning methods work mainly on the upper fibres of carpet. They tend to use minimal water, making the carpets quicker to dry but are less effective at removing deeper soil. Before you use these methods make sure you vacuum the carpets thoroughly and check with the manufacture’s warranty to ensure that they are permitted.

Bonnet Cleaning/Dry Cleaning

Fast drying, cost effective method best for maintenance cleans, Bonnet Cleaning uses a rotary machine that buffs the carpet with a pad soaked in cleaning product solution.  Doesn’t remove the same amount of soil as the HWE method.

Encapsulation

A similar method to bonnet cleaning, encapsulation uses a rotary cleaner to work a special carpet cleaning product, Agar’s Cap-It-Off, into the carpet to break down soils and encapsulate them into crystal particles. The dirt now trapped in the crystals can then be vacuumed up. The method uses relatively low amounts of water, dries quickly and is a good choice for maintenance cleans.

 

 

 

Professional Cleaning Frequency

Make sure you create a schedule to keep track of when and where professional cleans are required.

Warranty

Check the warranty details for your carpet before you begin any cleaning schedule or maintenance work. Some manufacturers may request the use of specific cleaning methods and frequency levels to maintain the warranty. They also might stipulate that other methods, such as bonnet cleaning, are not used or the warranty might be void.

References
Zudonyi, C, 2015, Mats That Are Necessary For Every Program, CleanLink. Available from: <http://www.cleanlink.com/hs/article/Mats-That-Are-Necessary-For-Every-Program–18820#sthash.j5l1xnOi.dpuf> [12 May 2016].