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Carpet Maintenance Programs – We Didn’t Design Them, The Manufacturers Did

warranty sealWhenever someone is held liable for the condition of their product, they are going to give the purchaser the specs on maintaining it in order to keep it in optimium condition.  That way, if the product is not used properly and the purchasers comes back for a refund, the arguement can be made: why didn’t you take care of it properly?  After all, someone who manufactures a product and sells it doesn’t want to go around giving money back to purchasers for something that was misused, not maintained appropriately, and therefore broke down due to neglect.  After all, if I had my way I’d only change the oil in my car every 200,000 kms, but that would have consequences.

Our carpet cleaning programs are designed based on manufacturers’ warranty requirements.   These steps are necessary to protect and maintain your carpet so that it is kept in optimal condition.   This is based on fact, not any one person’s personal opinion or experience, but on the research, testing and results of numerous companies over decades of this product being created and sold.


There are key elements to carpet cleaning wherever there is HIGH TRAFFIC.  This is key – we’re not talking about the carpet on the bottom of your living room closet, or the spare room where Auntie Frieda and Uncle George go once per year but is otherwise unused, we’re talking about HIGH TRAFFIC AREAS: carpet that gets walked on every day by multiple pairs of dirty feet.    This is the lobby areas of buildings, the stairwells, the hallways.  They take a beating, and need to be cared for in order to ensure the best lifespan of the product.

The warranty requirements have 5 mandatory elements:

1) Entrance Mats : reduce the amount of dirt tracked in.  Use them.  It’s in the warranty requirements because they work and make a significant difference.

2) Vacuuming: get that abrasive soil out before it cuts and scrapes the carpet fibers under the grinding action of footsteps.   Everyone knows to vaccum but are you doing it properly?  Are you doing it enough?

3) Spot Cleaning: get that stuff out of there before it sets permanently!  And not any 1 spot cleaner is good for every type of spot.  Use the right product, don’t bleach the carpet fibers, and don’t set the stain permenantly by using the wrong thing.

4) Interim Maintenance : this can take several forms, but is a required step for high traffic areas in carpet – lighter than a hot water extraction clean, but heavier than vacuuming.

5) Hot Water Extraction: this is the most recognized form of carpet cleaning, also known as steam cleaning or restorative cleaning.  It is a necessary step, but not the only step – look at all the other steps that come before it.

Keep your warranty valid.  Maintain your investment.  Keep your strata clean.  That’s the goal and we’re on your side to achieve that result.  Don’t let the situation get extremely bad, then try to tidy it up a year later with a hot water extraction clean, expecting that it can and will every time be able to correct a cumulative year’s worth of neglect.  That approach doesn’t work.  It’s proven not to work.  If it did, that’s what would be outlined in your warranty.  But it’s not.

Spot Removal Technique

Daily removal of spots and spills helps maintain the carpet’s appearance between scheduled cleanings. Immediate action against spots and spills also reduces the probability of a permanent stain. It is important to use solutions that are appropriate for the specific type of spot or spill – water based, oil based, or solid, including gum. Use spotting solutions sparingly and always try to remove the spot with water only before using a spotting solution. If available, using a portable extractor will significantly improve the ability to remove spots.

Treating Water-Based Spots

For liquid spills, blot up as much of the liquid as possible with a clean white cloth. If the spill is semi-solid or has hardened, scrape it with a spoon or spatula and then blot the spot with a white cloth or damp sponge. Always work from the edge of the spot towards the center. Never rub across a wet spill in a manner that causes the stain or contamination to be spread from the original area.  If a spot remains after using water, refer to our spotting guide and choose the appropriate solution.  Apply a minimal amount of solution and use a hand brush to gently agitate the solution. Do not aggressively brush the spot. Rinse with water and allow the area to dry for about 1 hour and then vacuum. Repeat if necessary. Protect the freshly cleaned area until the carpet is completely dry.

Treating Oil-Based Spots

When removing oily stains such as paint, grease, tar or asphalt, always check for color fastness by applying your cleaning solution to an inconspicuous area of the carpet. Spray or pour the solvent onto a white cloth and press it onto the carpet. Check the cloth for any evidence of dye transfer to the cloth. If color transfer is evident, do not use the solution. If color fastness is not a problem, apply your solution sparingly to a clean white cloth and press the cloth onto the spot.  Again, do not rub across the stain; wipe gently from the outer edge toward the center of the spot.  Repeat the procedure until the spot has been removed. Rinse with water and allow the area to dry or about 1 hour and then vacuum. Protect the freshly cleaned area until the carpet is completely dry.


Source: the Carpet Maintenance Spec Guide, from Interfaceflor.

3 Common Misconceptions About Carpet Cleanin

Here are three of the most common questions we get from building managers in regards to carpet cleaning.  We’re busting the myths – or misconceptions – in order to help everyone better understand what they should expect from a properly run maintenance program.

#1.  Maintenance cleaning should take as long as the hot water extraction cleaning.


The primary part of this type of cleaning comes from the rotary agitation of the interim cleaning machine.  (1 of the 4 elements as described in the first article above, and more about the type of machine listed in the article directly above.)  Because the machine spins so quickly, it uses the element of agitation primarily and can be pushed more swiftly across the carpet, this method is much faster than hot water extraction cleaning.   Time does not need to be taken to ensure water is extracted from the carpet.

A properly trained technician can get excellent results for the interim maintenance cleaning in half the time as the restorative, hot water extraction cleaning.

#2.  We only need to do the hot water extraction 1x per year for the carpets to stay clean.  We can skip the interim cleaning methods.


Every carpet manufacturer will explain that this voids the warranty of their product.

Carpet is not capable of having an extended lifespan with only vacuuming and once per year hot water extraction carpet cleaning.  All manufacturers’ recommendations include interim maintenance methods combined with the hot water extraction, often described as a restorative clean.  Only cleaning with hot water once per year is neglecting the carpets, and will cut its lifespan in half.  By waiting for a year to see heavily soiled carpet, and then attempting to bring it ‘back to life’, you’ve waited to long.  Permanent damage is done, and the more this neglectful method is used, the more cumulative those effects become.   By using a certified professional company like ServiceMaster Residential, your history of carpet maintenance works in your favor if replacement due to manufacturers’ defect is ever in question.

#3.   I don’t have to vacuum the carpet today, the carpet cleaners are coming, and that will take care of it.


According to industry analysis, 74% – 80% of soil present in carpet is particulate or fibrous dry soil, and that 85% of soil can be removed through routine vacuuming.

79% – insoluble soils, sand, quartz, clay, carbon

10% – petroleum, oils, grease, tar, animal and vegetable oil

6% – sugar, starch, salts

5% – moisture, unknown residues

If that particulate is left in the carpet before a rotary maintenance clean or hot water extraction, the cleaning of deeply embedded soil is blocked by those soils which could have been easily removed.  It also can clog up the vacuuming part of the hot water extraction system, making it less effective, and lengthening drying times.  Vacuuming before the experts arrive for a carpet cleaning service always increases the effectiveness of the service visit.

Filtration Marks – What Are They?

Filtration marks occur where a gap under the carpet exists allowing air to pass through.   This air flow allows the carpet to act like a filter, trapping and accumulating oily, non-soluble airbourne particulates – cooking oils, smoke, vehicle exhaust, dust, etc.

Air flows down walls through cracks in concrete flooring, and crevices, joints in the wood flooring, etc as the building breathes.  The more movement of the air there is, the more this occurs.   Look for filtration marks in areas with electric baseboard heating, ceiling heat, wood or pellet stoves, HVAC with no air return vent, etc.  In any well sealed structure return air must come from somewhere as a vacuum is formed when air is forced out or around a space.   This results in the air being drawn through cracks and crevices – sucked in under and around doorways, gaps in the carpet as we mentioned above.

What to do about it?: an alternate source of air return must be made.  This can include installing an air vent, or leaving a window slightly open so that air can be drawn in from outside rather than sucked in wherever possible.

In buildings with HVAC in the hallways, no vents, or windows to open: install carpet with dark edges near the walls.  White carpet or light colored carpet will make this issue highly visible.

Cleaning filtration marks will require several steps.

1)       Vacuuming to remove loose soil.  This needs to be accomplished with an edging wand as normal vacuum attachments won’t get close enough to the wall.  Infrequent vacuuming with an edging tool can lend to the development of filtration marks in buildings prone to this problem.  Edging must be a frequent part of the vacuuming maintenance process.

2)      Several applications of pre-spray and hand agitation may be necessary to loosen the non-soluble materials.  The chemicals will need to be worked into the fibers of the carpet to loosen the bonds along the length of the fibers in order to improve the appearance when finished.  Thoroughly shampoo and extract the area.

3)      Repeat.

This will be a lengthy process, involving a lot of kneeling and hand scrubbing, using edging tools and working the carpet.  The appearance will likely be improved, but is likely to remain discolored.

Note: in my personal experience, this will lighten the markings by aprox. 50 – 80%.  The longer they are present the more permanent they become.

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