Carpet cleaning: ensuring professional service

by FM Media
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JENNY BOYMAL from Jena Dyco International highlights the importance of carpet cleaning for facility managers and enlightens why carpet maintenance doesn’t have to be so hard.

When looking at the maintenance of carpets in commercial premises, it is necessary to first establish why it is important to get the carpet cleaned, why the carpet is maintained poorly and why a facilities manager should care about carpet cleaning. Why should facility managers care about carpet cleaning and maintenance?

  • Appearance: the appearance of the carpet in a building can often set the scene for the image of the building. You don’t want to have stained and dirty carpet in a building you are managing.
  • Cost of replacement: often the carpet in a building is one of the most expensive assets. Replacement costs are often well outside of the building’s budget. Maintaining the carpet professionally extends the length of the carpet’s life.
  • Fewer headaches: no one wants to get phone calls about the coffee stain next to Barbara’s desk that has not been removed, or the odour in the boardroom after carpet cleaning. You want to ensure that someone who will make you look good does the cleaning.

Apart from providing a warm and comfortable indoor environment, and having excellent soil hiding characteristics, carpets assist in providing a healthy indoor air quality. This is because they act like a filter in trapping dirt and dust, stopping the particles from flying around the air. To ensure that a carpet continues to operate as a filter and hold dirt, however, it needs to be regularly cleaned and maintained.
Carpet cleaning and maintenance often falls under the duty of a person or department that has little or no knowledge of carpet cleaning. Generally, the quality of the work they have seen in the past has not been terribly impressive, so that is the quality of work they expect.

KEEPING CARPETS CLEANER FOR LONGER
First, a carpet can look dirty very quickly after it has been cleaned. There are a few simple reasons why this occurs. All of these reasons relate to a carpet being cleaned incorrectly and Australian standards not being followed.
The main reason why carpet resoils very quickly is because of the process used to clean the carpet. The person cleaning the carpet puts chemical into their water tank and ‘cleans’ the carpet with chemicals as well as with water. They then fail to remove the chemical from the carpet, leaving the chemical in the carpet. Being quite sticky in nature, this chemical then attracts dirt and dust, giving the carpet the appearance of being dirty.
This can be very simply avoided by applying the chemical to the carpet with a pre-spray applicator and then using the water in the machine to extract the chemical from the carpet. This method may take slightly more time, but the results will be extremely different, with the carpet staying cleaner for a lot longer.

ENSURING ALL STAINS ARE REMOVED
Second, carpet stains can still remain after cleaning. Whether or not stains will come out through the basic carpet cleaning process depends on the type of carpet a premises has installed. On most types of carpet, stains cannot be removed through the general carpet cleaning process.
Stains usually need a specialised stain removal process that is dependent on the type of stain. These are often advanced concepts that a commercial cleaner has not been taught. We often see commercial cleaners conducting stain removal with one generic stain removal chemical. This approach will not remove the stains.
Stain removal needs to be viewed as a science. Something has been added to the carpet; for instance, coffee, tea, food stains or ink, which is made up of oils, dyes or other substances. A specialised chemical needs to be used to break down each component of the stain. For example, in many buildings coffee stains are commonly found on the carpet. Whether it was hot or cold when spilt and if it had milk or sugar in it will make a difference to its effect on the carpet and how it needs to be cleaned up.
Another issue with stain removal is that once a chemical has been applied to a carpet stain, it needs to be extracted from the carpet and the stain needs to be neutralised. If this step does not take place, dirt and soil will be easily attracted to the previously stained area, creating the appearance of a new stain.

ACCELERATING DRYING
Third, a carpet can remain wet for a long time after cleaning. There is a huge range of machines on the market and you will find that most companies have a mixture of brands and sizes. The issue of over-wetting is not generally due to the machine the cleaner is using; it is more of an issue of how the cleaner is using the machine.
The simplest and most common cause of over-wetting is using too high a water pressure to clean a carpet and not extracting the excess water thoroughly enough. A major contributing factor is poor air circulation. Good air circulation accelerates the drying time of a carpet.
Cleaners should be extremely cautious of leaving carpet wet in buildings where there is poor air circulation. If a carpet is wet for several days after cleaning a ‘wet’ smell will result in the premises, which is not very pleasant for the people working or living in the premises, and mould can start to grow under the carpet, which could cause a long-term indoor air quality issue. In addition, mould causes allergy-like symptoms in some people.
To avoid over-wetting a carpet, water should be thoroughly extracted from the carpet during the cleaning process, existing air circulation in the building should be explored to see how it can be used to assist with drying and a special drying bonnet can be applied to the carpet post-cleaning to assist with the speed of drying. This can be a very effective tool when the drying time needs to be sped up; for example, when cleaning a carpet in an area that has a high slip factor. In addition, air movers can be placed throughout a building straight after cleaning to speed up the drying process.

PROFESSIONAL, SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE KEY
To avoid the issues described above, it is best to use a company that has been professionally trained in carpet cleaning, as its employees will have been trained to overcome these challenges. They will be aware of ways of solving these issues if they occur.
Ensure the carpet cleaning company is IICRC certified and a member of the Specialised Cleaning and Restoration Industry Association (SCRIA). Being a member of the association means that they have the appropriate training and insurances to carry out the work.
The company should put together a maintenance schedule, in which the carpet has a regular deep clean, with intermittent maintenance cleans between each deep clean. The maintenance cleans could involve a low-moisture clean. There are several different methods that exist – as long as they are implemented by a professional and used in conjunction with a deep clean, they will produce excellent results.

Jenny Boymal is the director of Jena Dyco International, a training provider for the specialised cleaning and restoration industry throughout Australia. Jena Dyco is a registered training organisation and an IICRC school. Boymal is passionate about helping the cleaning industry become more professional and, as such, sits on the boards of SCRIA, IICRC Oceania and NCSA Victoria.

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