How these steps can protect carpet from unwanted enemies

In many situations, cleaning staff will address the carpet when its appearance is unacceptable or poor. However, it is not recommended that the facility manager and building owner wait until the carpet shows levels of soil before starting a carpet maintenance program. The program should start the day the carpet is installed.

A maintenance program will prevent color loss caused by high levels of soils and oils that can lead to scratches and abrasion—and as a result, fiber damage—from a lack of poor planning. Additionally, a well-designed commercial carpet maintenance program can extend the life of your carpet investment and should protect against carpet’s enemies: dirt, pollution, grease, and stains.

The overall goal of your program should be to maintain the carpet’s original appearance or color and keep the indoor environment healthy for your client and visitors. Simultaneously, your objective should be to effectively remove unwanted matter from the carpet and properly dispose of it.

Overall, a proper carpet maintenance program will help to achieve an acceptable appearance level, color preservation, and contribute to a healthier environment.

Steps to Proper Maintenance

Carpets act as a filter for a facility’s environment. A proper carpet maintenance program will work to empty the filter in order to protect the indoor environment.

Your program should include the following:

  • Soil prevention strategies
  • Routine maintenance
  • Interim cleaning
  • Restorative cleaning.

The rest of this article will concentrate on two of the steps mentioned above that focus on dry carpet cleaning methods: routine maintenance and interim cleaning.

Routine Maintenance

The below tips cover two areas that you will want to ensure are a part of your routine maintenance program.

Soil prevention

Routine maintenance programs work best when soil-prevention strategies have a walk-off mat program in place and facility staff clean and sweep walkways, entries, and parking lots regularly or as needed. Soil prevention also requires regular vacuuming of the carpets and hard surface floors, which is critical to a carpet maintenance program’s success. Upright mechanical brush vacuums are generally recommended for carpet maintenance, though backpack vacuums speed up the process and may be beneficial for budgetary reasons.

Spot removal

Implement a process to address spots and spills before they have a chance to become permanent. Janitorial services should work with professional cleaners to make certain that cleaning agents they use do not permanently set the spots.

Develop a spotting book so that property managers and carpet maintenance personnel can effectively communicate with custodians when spots or spills occur. The spotting book should include a map of the floor plan for custodians to indicate where the problem has occurred in addition to a list of the problem areas with corresponding dates of each one so there is a record of the problem area and the results of the spot cleaning.

Interim Cleaning

Interim cleaning processes help to maintain a carpet’s appearance, color, and uniformity throughout the entire floor. These cleaning methods generally use high production and less moisture and are generally employed in high-traffic areas. Drying times are very fast.


Interim cleaning frequency will depend on the amount of traffic and the type and levels of soiling. If the carpet is new, the frequency of the cleaning may not need to be as high at the beginning of the program and can increase over time with the proper carpet maintenance management system in place. The system should be put in place with the purchase of the new carpet and by someone specially trained to manage the carpet’s appearance.


Interim cleaning processes include the use of counter rotating brushes to enhance the overall appearance of the carpet. Rotary cleaning processes are effective, but should only be used by a trained, skilled technician, as they can cause damage to the carpet’s face yarns. In fact, major carpet manufacturers may void the carpet warranty if custodians or carpet care technicians use rotary cleaning processes.

Bonnet cleaning: For years cleaning companies used shampoo and bonnet cleaning methods for their primary interim cleaning methods. Many carpets suffered from “bonnet swirl syndrome” where the carpet pile changed because of the circular abrasion from the high-speed brushes and cotton pads. To prevent this, brush all bonnet-cleaned carpet to bring the carpet back to a uniform condition. The same process of brushing is recommended with shampooing processes, as well.

Encapsulation: Within the last seven to 10 years, encapsulation cleaning has become the predominant interim cleaning method in professional carpet cleaning programs. Speed, efficiency, and excellent results moved this method to the top of the carpet manufacturers’ recommendations.

The encapsulation cleaning method utilizes counter-rotating brushes that help lift the carpet’s pile (or yarn), and immediately improve the overall appearance of the carpet. Many of the two-brush machines also do a good job of removing and capturing soils and debris from the carpet.

The pile-lifting process of the counter-rotating brushes lifts up the carpet’s pile and restores its ability to reflect light from all sides of the fibers. When the carpet yarns are bent over, light only reflects from one side of the fibers in the yarn and the carpet color looks diffused, darker, and appears to be dirty. By lifting the carpet yarns back up, light can flow through on all sides of the thermoplastic and allow the colors to reflect that were originally selected for the carpet.

Encapsulation cleaning is a great addition to the interim cleaning program. It is fast, saves money, and works well to immediately improve the carpet’s appearance.

The Long-Term Benefit

A proper carpet management system can extend the useful life of carpet and help it to maintain a high level of appearance at all times. As a result, the property manager will have the option of replacing carpet for style, color, and design, instead of poor appearance.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Encapsulation

The encapsulation process is easy to use and can be substituted for a regular vacuum process in high-traffic areas on a monthly basis. To implement, follow these steps:

  • Pile lift the carpet with any attached capture mechanisms to collect dry soils.
  • Next, apply the cleaning solution to the entire area of the carpet you plan to clean. This can be accomplished with an electric or pump-up sprayer, or through an automatic dispensing sprayer that attaches to the cleaning/agitation apparatus.
  • Remember: You must follow product manufacturers’ directions relating to the quantity of solution to apply to a specific number of square feet or square meters of carpet. You must also mix the detergent in accordance with product manufacturer directions.
  • Only apply solution to an area ahead of the machine so the product does not dry before you are able to clean it with the two-brush machine. The solution will release the soils from the yarns and crystalize them (hold the soils) until they are vacuumed from the carpet.
  • Next, run the two-brush machine over the treated carpet. Run the brushes back and forth in one row before moving on to the next row. Thoroughly distribute the solution throughout the carpet and agitate it into the carpet nap using a counter-rotating, cylindrical reel-type brush.
  • Repeat this until the process is complete over all of the carpet. The average cleaning production rate for encapsulation is 3,500–5,000 square feet per hour.
  • Finally, once the carpet dries (usually within 10–20 minutes), vacuum it to remove the crystalized soils. Additional vacuuming frequencies will continue to remove captured soils.