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Carpet Cleaning Standard

By Michael Hilton

Carpet Cleaning Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality

  • Open door and windows, if possible, for an adequate supply of fresh air. Consider using window fans, air movers, exhaust fans, the building ventilation system or other means to exhaust chemical emissions to the outdoors during carpet cleaning.
  • Select a vacuum cleaner that minimizes airborne particulate matter during operation
  • Ensure that the carpet is returned to a dry state within 12 hours following completion of cleaning.
  • Select low emitting carpet cleaning solutions that are safe for cleaning technicians and home or facility occupants
  • If any occupants consider themselves to be unusually sensitive, they may wish to avoid the area or leave the premises while the carpet is being cleaned and returned to a dry state.

Checklist for End users

Restricting soil entry - The majority of the soil in any facility is tracked in on the soles of shoes. Much of this soil accumulates within the first few feet of building entry points before spreading throughout the building. Taking steps to prevent soil from entering a building is the most effective way of limiting soil. Entry mats should be used to collect and absorb tracked in soil. These mats must be maintained regularly to limit saturation with soil.

Regular vacuuming - As soil collects in the carpet pile, the most effective removal technique is routine vacuuming. This embedded soil can scar pile fibers, cause discoloration, and contribute to appearance deterioration. For maximum effectiveness, use an approved vacuum cleaner that has adjustable and rotating brushes that are able to loosen embedded soil, and a strong enough airflow to penetrate to the backing, extracting all particles. The vacuum should provide adequate filtration to limit recirculation of soil particles.

Spot Removal - Most spots can be easily removed if proper spot removal procedures are performed. For effective removal, spot removal must be attempted immediately before a spill begins to bond with the pile fibers. Home and business owners should use prescribed removal guidelines and assume responsibility for immediate removal attempts. Problem stains may require immediate consultation with a cleaning professional.

Cleaning Frequency - Ultimately, cleaning frequency is dependent upon local traffic and soiling conditions. In most consumer-owned residences cleaning should be performed a minimum of every twelve to eighteen months. The homeowner or a carpet cleaning professional may perform carpet cleaning.

Carpet cleaning of commercial facilities is highly dependent upon traffic and soiling conditions. Most commercial facilities should be cleaned a minimum of once per year. However, carpet installed in heavy-use areas may require more frequent cleaning. Carpet cleaning may be performed by in-house maintenance personnel or by a carpet-cleaning professional.

Topical treatments - The use of after market, topical treatments without the expressed approval of the carpet manufacturer prior to the application may void applicable warranties. Topical treatments include soil retardants, stain repellents, anti-static treatments, antimicrobials, deodorizers, and defoamers. While regular carpet cleaning does not destroy these treatments, reapplication may be necessary as a result of damage by foot traffic. Consult the carpet manufacturer for the recommended frequency for the application of these treatments.

1.0 CODE OF CONDUCT

The carpet cleaning professional or in-house maintenance personnel shall:

Follow acceptable established carpet cleaning procedures

Carry sufficient liability insurance and business insurance including participation in a worker's compensation program or provide an affidavit of self-insurance

Conduct business in an honest and ethical manner

Maintain high professional standards

Attempt to resolve disputes in a fair and reasonable manner with customer satisfaction as the primary objective

Provide to the consumer proof of formal training or certification

Participate in a continuing education program designed for carpet cleaning professionals

Avoid misrepresentation of services and misleading or deceptive advertising

Refrain from criticizing or making derogatory about competitors or other cleaning methods

Provide technically correct and unbiased information on carpet cleaning

Provide an itemized, written estimate of services to be performed

Provide references upon request

Maintain a professional appearance and behavior

Provide information on-demand regarding selected products or services

Provide written guarantees of implied warranties or workmanship

2.0 Scope

This standard covers on-location cleaning of installed textile floor covering materials used in residential and commercial applications

2.2 This standard covers the cleaning of textile floor cover materials for all methods of manufacture, including woven, tufted, needle-punched, bonded, and most manufacturing techniques encountered in residential and commercial installations.

2.3 This standard establishes industry minimum cleaning procedures. These procedures shall not be decreased.

2.4 This standard may be changed only by specific recommendations from the manufacturer of the product(s) to be cleaned.

3.0 Areas of Responsibility

3.1 The carpet manufacturer shall:

Provide written materials for consumer use, pertaining to specific methods of carpet cleaning, minimum frequency of cleaning, special care instructions, or other minimum maintenance requirements that exceed this standard.

Provide complete carpet warranty information.

Assume responsibility for carpet manufacturers warranty.

Provide information on spot removal and cleaning

Provide carpet-use information including general information about household products or classes of products that can cause permanent damage and is not the responsibility of the manufacturer.

3.2 The carpet retailer/distributor shall:

Distribute material published by the manufacturer pertaining to carpet maintenance and spot removal.

Assume responsibility for carpet warranty that exceeds manufacturer's warranty.

3.3 The carpet cleaning professional shall:

Obtain copies of fiber producer and/or carpet manufacturer warranties to verify whether any special cleaning method or procedure should be used.

Perform services according to carpet manufacturers recommendations. If services requested by the consumer differ from recommendations of the manufacturer, a written release should be obtained from the consumer.

Provide a written estimate for the services to be performed.

Inspect the carpeted area prior to cleaning to establish:
  1. Amount of carpet to be cleaned
  2. Method and procedure to be used
  3. Areas that may require special attention or a techniques
  4. Discuss and agree upon any post cleaning
  5. Agree upon total charges for the cleaning and any other services

If the carpet condition, fiber or manufacturer, or consumer expectations, indicate that a problem may develop as a result of the cleaning, the cleaner should either refuse to cleaning the carpet or obtain a written release from the consumer prior to cleaning.

Follow all guidelines in the Carpet Industry Standard Reference Guide for Cleaning of Residential and Commercial Carpet Installations.

Inform the consumer of correct post-cleaning procedures, including what to do immediately after cleaning when the carpet may still be wet.

Carpet cleaner should possess instruments to confirm environmental conditions of the indoor environment and moisture content of cleaned surfaces.

Follow up within 12 hours after completion of cleaning to confirm complete drying. Follow up must include physical inspection when environmental conditions exceed 65% relative humidity.

Guarantee the workmanship for all cleaning procedures.

Respond to all cleaning complaints within fifteen (15) days of notification

3.4 The consumer shall:

Follow carpet fiber producer and/or carpet manufacturer recommendations for vacuuming, spot removal, cleaning method, and suggested cleaning intervals to properly maintain carpet.

4.0 Prepatory Activities

All carpet cleaning methods should utilize the following preparatory procedures prior to beginning the carpet cleaning process:

4.1 Inspect carpet for visible damage - Carpet should be inspected thoroughly prior to beginning the cleaning process. Note stained areas, areas of heavy traffic, snags, pulls, separated seams, depressions, etc., or other facility damage that may later be attributable to services provided. Notify end user of identifiable damage.

4.2 Dislodging dry soil - Carpet fibers should be agitated prior to cleaning, using a pile rake or mechanical agitation to loosen dry particulate matter

4.3 Dry soil extraction - Thorough vacuuming to remove loosened dry soil should take place prior to the application of cleaning solutions. Vacuuming should consist of one forward and back pass in one direction, followed by two perpendicular passes.

4.4 Pretreatment of spots - Administer to all spots prior to beginning the cleaning process. Follow accepted spot removal procedures for effective spot removal.

4.5 Pretreating areas of heavy soiling - In many instances, it may be necessary to pretreat areas of moderate to heavy soiling with a detergent solution prior to beginning the cleaning process. A solution comprised of biodegradable detergents, alkaline builders, and/or selected dry solvents should be applied to the carpet. Avoid over spraying onto surfaces other than the carpet. Pretreating soiled areas emulsifies soil and facilitates removal. Solution should be applied directly to the carpet fiber and agitated using a pile rake or mechanical agitation. Agitation should not be so vigorous as to cause pile distortion or premature fiber wear. Most solutions require 8-10 minutes of dwell time to begin the emulsification process.

Preconditioning solutions may be applied using a hand-pump, pressurized sprayer, electric sprayer or other means necessary to ensure uniform distribution of cleaning solution.

4.6 Soil removal - Following preparatory suspension and emulsification activities, soil, moisture, and detergent must be physically removed from the carpet. All carpet cleaning methods utilize some form of extraction capability to accomplish this task.

4.7 Pile grooming - For consumer acceptance and appearance considerations, an effort should be made groom the carpet pile to orient pile in the same direction and to eliminate swirl marks and wand marks. Also, pile brushing is necessary to uniformly distribute carpet protectors and other post cleaning topical treatments and to ensure proper drying.

4.8 Drying - Precautions must be taken to ensure complete drying within 12 hours following extraction. Failure to accomplish complete drying within 12 hours should facilitate corrective action to ensure complete drying occurs within 24 hours following extraction. Under no conditions should the carpet remain wet for longer than 24 hours. The carpet cleaning professional may use drying fans, dehumidification equipment, the facility's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC) or other means necessary to ensure complete drying within 24 hours.

4.9 Disposal of recovered solutions - All recovered solutions should be disposed of in a manner consistent with federal, state, and local regulations.

4.10 Cleaning chemistry recommendations - The chemistry selected for cleaning must be carefully considered for specific end-uses. Solutions must be safe for carpet fiber, backing, latex adhesive, floor adhesive, stain treatments, and must be safe to the consumer and the carpet cleaning technician.

Detergents used in cleaning stain - resist treated carpet must be anionic and/or nonionic, carbonated, or non-carbonated water-based carrier with a pH of less than 10. Cationic surfactants should never be used on stain-resist carpet unless specifically recommended by the carpet manufacturer. Optical brighteners or bleaching agents should not be used under typical cleaning conditions. Detergents used on wool fibers must fall within a pH range of 5.5 to 8.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on all solutions must be on-location at the cleaning site and immediately available upon request.

Manufacturers recommendations must be followed regarding application dilution, recovery, and disposal of cleaning solutions.

Solution must not encourage resoiling. To reduce resoiling, cleaning solutions should be free of oily solvents.

Technician must follow all dilution and application directions and warnings noted on the label and/or Material Safety Data Sheets.

4.11 Temperature considerations - There are no temperature recommendations for carpet other than cut-pile wool, non-colorfast carpet, and velvet plush pile which should be cleaned with a temperature that does not exceed 140°/60°

4.12 Postcleaning interview and inspection - Following cleaning, an inspection should be performed with the consumer. Note stained areas, explain the importance of leaving furniture blocks and tabs in place until complete drying, and discuss any physical changes in the carpet such as traffic areas, pivot points, and areas in front of furniture.

Remind consumer to remain off carpet until completely dry to limit resoiling and potential slip/fall accidents.

4.13 Equipment preparation - Following daily use, all cleaning equipment should be cleaned and disinfected prior to next daily use.

5.0 Applicable Documents

To be established

6.0 ABSORBENT PAD OR BONNET METHOD

The absorbent pad method utilizes a combination of mechanical action and absorbent fabric bonnet pads to accomplish cleaning. This low-moisture method provides fast drying potential and can be used on most types of carpet.

The bonnet method uses a floor buffing machine with an attached cotton, polypropylene, and/or rayon bonnet attached to a drive block. This block rotates the bonnet absorbing soil and detergent solution.

The key to effective bonnet cleaning is the proper emulsification of soil prior to removal. If the soil is properly suspended, the absorbent pad can remove dirt and spots effectively.

6.1 Inspect carpet for visible damage - See section 4.1

Carpet should be inspected thoroughly prior to beginning the cleaning process. Note stained areas, areas of heavy traffic, snags, pulls, separated seams, depressions, etc., or other facility damage that may later be attributable to services provided. Notify enduser of identifiable damage.

6.2 Dislodging dry soil - See section 4.2

Carpet fibers should be agitated prior to cleaning, using a pile rake or mechanical agitation to loosen dry particulate matter

6.3 Dry soil extraction- See section 4.3

Thorough vacuuming to remove loosened dry soil should take place prior to the application of cleaning solutions. Vacuuming should consist of one forward and back pass in one direction, followed by two perpendicular passes.

6.4 Pretreat spots - See section 4.4

Administer to all spots prior to beginning the cleaning process. Follow accepted spot removal procedures for effective spot removal.

6.5 Pretreat areas of heavy soiling - Follow product manufacturers directions relating to the quantity of cleaning solution application per unit area.

6.6 Soil extraction - Soil and moisture removal should be accomplished with a low speed, low friction buffing machine. Pads must be sufficiently moistened with a detergent solution to achieve satisfactory lubrication.

Cleaning should be limited to small areas (100-150 sq. ft.) before inspecting the bonnet for moisture and accumulated soil. To achieve maximum soil removal the bonnet should be turned over as soil accumulates and the same area should be cleaned at a 90°angle. Bonnet should be rinsed and/or changed frequently as it becomes saturated with soil.

6.7 Pile Grooming

Nap setting or pile grooming should be performed following each cleaning method prior to complete drying to orient the pile and eliminate swirl or wand marks. When applying a postcleaning topical treatment the carpet must be raked in two directions for uniform distribution of treatment.

6.8 Drying

Precautions must be taken to ensure complete drying within 12 hours following extraction. Failure to accomplish complete drying within 12 hours should facilitate corrective action to ensure complete drying occurs within 24 hours following extraction. Under no condition should the carpet remain wet for longer than 24 hours. The carpet cleaning professional may use drying fans, dehumidification equipment, the facility's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC), or other means necessary to ensure complete drying within 24 hours.

7.0 DRY EXTRACTION METHOD (also known as dry absorbent compound)

The dry extraction method uses an absorbent compound containing water, detergent, and dry solvents to attach to soil particles. The compound is brushed in and around fibers using a pile rake or a machine with especially-designed brushes. Both the compound and attached soil particles are then removed by vacuuming.

7.1 Inspect carpet for visible damage- See section 4.1

Carpet should be inspected thoroughly prior to beginning the cleaning process. Note stained areas, areas of heavy traffic, snags, pulls, separated seams, depressions, etc., or other facility damage that may later be attributable to services provided. Notify enduser of identifiable damage.

7.2 Dislodging dry soil - See section 4.2

Carpet fibers should be agitated prior to cleaning, using a pile rake or mechanical agitation to loosen dry particulate matter

7.3 Dry soil extraction - See section 4.3

Thorough vacuuming to remove loosened dry soil should take place prior to the application of cleaning solutions. Vacuuming should consist of one forward and back pass in one direction, followed by two perpendicular passes.

7.4 Pretreat spots See section 4.4

Administer to all spots prior to beginning the cleaning process. Follow accepted spot removal procedures for effective spot removal.

7.5 Pretreat areas of heavy soiling - Follow product manufacturers directions relating to the quantity of cleaning solution application per unit area.

7.6 Soil removal - The absorbent compound should be applied by hand or with an automatic dispenser. The compound then should be brushed into the pile to uniformly distribute the compound using a brush, pile rake or an especially-designed pile lifter. The carpet should be brushed in two directions to ensure uniform distribution of compound. Follow manufacturers direction relating to drying time before vacuuming compound and attached soil particles.

7.7 Pile Grooming

Nap setting or pile grooming should be performed following each cleaning method prior to complete drying to orient the pile and eliminate swirl or wand marks. When applying a postcleaning topical treatment the carpet must be raked in two directions for uniform distribution of treatment.

7.8 Drying

Precautions must be taken to ensure complete drying within 12 hours following extraction. Failure to accomplish complete drying within 12 hours should facilitate corrective action to ensure complete drying occurs within 24 hours following extraction. Under no condition should the carpet remain wet for longer than 24 hours. The carpet cleaning professional may use drying fans, dehumidification equipment, the facility's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC), or other means necessary to ensure complete drying within 24 hours.

8.0 HOT WATER EXTRACTION (also known as steam cleaning)

The hot water extraction method uses a pressurized carbonated or non-carbonated water-based cleaning solution, which is injected into the pile fiber. The cleaning solution along with suspended soil particles is recovered by a vacuum system.

8.1 Inspect carpet for visible damage - See section 4.1

Carpet should be inspected thoroughly prior to beginning the cleaning process. Note stained areas, areas of heavy traffic, snags, pulls, separated seams, depressions, etc., or other facility damage that may later be attributable to services provided. Notify enduser of identifiable damage.

8.2 Dislodging dry soil - See section 4.2

Carpet fibers should be agitated prior to cleaning, using a pile rake or mechanical agitation to loosen dry particulate matter

8.3 Dry soil extraction - See section 4.3

Thorough vacuuming to remove loosened dry soil should take place prior to the application of cleaning solutions. Vacuuming should consist of one forward and back pass in one direction, followed by two perpendicular passes.

8.4 Pretreat spots - See section 4.4

Administer to all spots prior to beginning the cleaning process. Follow accepted spot removal procedures for effective spot removal.

8.5 Pretreat areas of heavy soiling - Follow product manufacturers directions relating to the quantity of cleaning solution application per unit area.

8.6 Soil removal

8.7 Pile Grooming

Nap setting or pile grooming should be performed following each cleaning method prior to complete drying to orient the pile and eliminate swirl or wand marks. When applying a postcleaning topical treatment the carpet must be raked in two directions for uniform distribution of treatment.

8.8 Drying

Precautions must be taken to ensure complete drying within 12 hours following extraction. Failure to accomplish complete drying within 12 hours should facilitate corrective action to ensure complete drying occurs within 24 hours following extraction. Under no condition should the carpet remain wet for longer than 24 hours. The carpet cleaning professional may use drying fans, dehumidification equipment, the facility's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC), or other means necessary to ensure complete drying within 24 hours.

9.0 LOW MOISTURE EXTRACTION (also known as dry foam extraction)

Low-moisture extraction utilizes a detergent solution that has been whipped into foam and applied to the carpet. The foam is then agitated with revolving brushes and the cleaning solution along with suspended soil particles is recovered by a vacuum system.

9.1 Inspect carpet for visible damage - See section 4.1

Carpet should be inspected thoroughly prior to beginning the cleaning process. Note stained areas, areas of heavy traffic, snags, pulls, separated seams, depressions, etc., or other facility damage that may later be attributable to services provided. Notify enduser of identifiable damage.

9.2 Dislodging dry soil - See section 4.2

Carpet fibers should be agitated prior to cleaning, using a pile rake or mechanical agitation to loosen dry particulate matter

9.3 Dry soil extraction- See section 4.3

Thorough vacuuming to remove loosened dry soil should take place prior to the application of cleaning solutions. Vacuuming should consist of one forward and back pass in one direction, followed by two perpendicular passes.

9.4 Pretreat spots -- See section 4.4

Administer to all spots prior to beginning the cleaning process. Follow accepted spot removal procedures for effective spot removal.

9.5 Pretreat areas of heavy soiling -

Follow product manufacturers directions relating to the quantity of cleaning solution application per unit area.

9.6 Soil extraction -

Cleaning solution is injected under-pressure into the carpet pile and soil and cleaning solution are instantaneously removed with a vacuum system.

9.7 Pile Grooming

Nap setting or pile grooming should be performed following each cleaning method prior to complete drying to orient the pile and eliminate swirl or wand marks. When applying a postcleaning topical treatment the carpet must be raked in two directions for uniform distribution of treatment.

9.8 Drying

Precautions must be taken to ensure complete drying within 12 hours following extraction. Failure to accomplish complete drying within 12 hours should facilitate corrective action to ensure complete drying occurs within 24 hours following extraction. Under no condition should the carpet remain wet for longer than 24 hours. The carpet cleaning professional may use drying fans, dehumidification equipment, the facility's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC), or other means necessary to ensure complete drying within 24 hours.

10.0 ROTARY SHAMPOO EXTRACTION

The rotary shampoo method uses equipment similar to the rotary bonnet method, except that the cleaning solution is injected onto the carpet before cleaning or through especially-designed brushes. Some equipment utilizes its own extraction capabilities while others may require a separate extraction step using a wet/dry vacuum.

10.1 Inspect carpet for visible damage- See section 4.1

Carpet should be inspected thoroughly prior to beginning the cleaning process. Note stained areas, areas of heavy traffic, snags, pulls, separated seams, depressions, etc., or other facility damage that may later be attributable to services provided. Notify enduser of identifiable damage

10.2 Dislodging dry soil - See section 4.2

Carpet fibers should be agitated prior to cleaning, using a pile rake or mechanical agitation to loosen dry particulate matter

10.3 Dry soil extraction - See section 4.3

Thorough vacuuming to remove loosened dry soil should take place prior to the application of cleaning solutions. Vacuuming should consist of one forward and back pass in one direction, followed by two perpendicular passes.

10.4 Pretreat spots See section 4.4

Administer to all spots prior to beginning the cleaning process. Follow accepted spot removal procedures for effective spot removal.

10.5 Pretreat areas of heavy soiling -

Follow product manufacturers directions relating to the quantity of cleaning solution application per unit area.

10.6 Soil extraction -

Cleaning solution is applied as a pretreatment or during agitation. Agitation and detergent loosens soil and solution with suspended soil is instantaneously extracted through a vacuum system. Some equipment utilizes a separate vacuum step using a wet/dry vacuum.

10.7 Pile Grooming

Nap setting or pile grooming should be performed following each cleaning method prior to complete drying to orient the pile and eliminate swirl or wand marks. When applying a post cleaning topical treatment the carpet must be raked in two directions for uniform distribution of treatment.

10.8 Drying

Precautions must be taken to ensure complete drying within 12 hours following extraction. Failure to accomplish complete drying within 12 hours should facilitate corrective action to ensure complete drying occurs within 24 hours following extraction. Under no condition should the carpet remain wet for longer than 24 hours. The carpet cleaning professional may use drying fans, dehumidification equipment, the facility's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC), or other means necessary to ensure complete drying within 24 hours.

11.0 Additional considerations

11.1 Furnishings- Typically it is the responsibility of the carpet cleaning professional to protect existing furniture from damage that may result from the cleaning process. The cleaning professional should note all fragile or delicate furnishings and request that these items be moved before the cleaning process. Small furnishings must be relocated and larger items should be secured to avoid the transfer of spots, stains, or dye migration to the carpet. The cleaning professional should not begin the cleaning process until these items have been safely secured, however; the cleaning professional must assume liability should damage occur as a result of the cleaners actions.

11.2 Fiber Identification/strong> Fiber identification is critical to the outcome of the cleaning process. Specific fiber types may require specific cleaning methods, chemistry, or procedural techniques.

11.3 Anticipate drying potential/strong> Environmental conditions must be monitored to ensure acceptable drying of carpet. Temperature and relative humidity should be noted during the initial inspection (4.1) before beginning the cleaning process. If conditions are considered extreme, cleaning should be delayed or appropriate action must be taken to ensure acceptable drying such as use of the building HVAC system, ceiling fans, vent fans, air movers, and/or dehumidification equipment (also see 4.8)

Minimum Equipment Recommendations

Professional spotting kit

pH meter or litmus paper

Absorbent toweling

Spotting brush

Bone scraper

Scissors

Personal protection equipment

Safety glasses

Rubber gloves

Organic vapor respirator

General spotting solutions

Measuring cup

Drying equipment

Air mover (drying fan)

Dehumidification equipment

Hygrometer

Thermometer

Moisture detector

First aid kit

Approved vacuum cleaner with high efficiency filtration

Pile rake

About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.

THIS ARTICLE IS PROVIDED 'AS IS' WITH NO WARRANTY OF ANY KIND. THE AUTHOR, THE SITE OWNER AND ITS AFFILIATES ASSUME NO LIABILITY FOR ERRORS OR OMISSIONS CONTAINED THEREIN OR FOR ANY USE OF THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS DOCUMENT. The article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice.