Visit our

Preparing to Clean

By Michael Hilton

All cleaning professionals should utilize the following procedures before, during, and after the carpet cleaning process:

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 home owner of identifiable damage.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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. Under no conditions should the carpet remain wet for longer than 12 hours. The carpet cleaner 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 12 hours.

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

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 cleaner.

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. (pH above 10 can damage some stain resist treatments). 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. In cleaning wool carpet, 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 carpet 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.

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°F/60°C

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

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

Did you know?

Prior to carpet cleaning, carpet should be prepared for cleaning The Carpet cleaning preparation process consists of agitation, soil extraction, vacuuming, prespray, soil removal, dry soil carpet protectors, topical treatments, proper drying (12 hours dry time), good carpet cleaning solutions, carpet cleaning solutions recommended by the carpet manufacturer, stain-resist treatments.

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.

Other Helpful Links
Carpet Cleaning Checklist
Preparing to Clean
Carpet Cleaning Standars
3 Eco-Friendly Steps for Removing Carpet Stains
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.