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

Warrantees are often the determining factor behind purchasing something. Some car manufacturers make it a key selling point; like a certain company’s 10-year powertrain warranty. However, all of them come with conditions and requirements, otherwise people would be driving their cars with reckless abandon, or, in the case of carpets, quickly letting them fall in disrepair until they need to be replaced.

Our carpet cleaning programs are designed based on manufacturers’ warranty requirements, which are necessary to maintain them in optimal condition. This is not based on a single personal opinion or experience, but on the research, testing and results of numerous companies over decades of carpet manufacturing and use.

WHAT DO THE MANUFACTURERS SAY?

The main focus of carpet warrantees are high traffic areas. 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 the 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.

Most warranty requirements have 5 mandatory elements:

1) Entrance Mats: must be placed in order to reduce the amount of dirt tracked in. They are very effective at reducing the amount of debris brought into carpets.

2) Regular Vacuuming: to remove abrasive debris before it cuts and scrapes the carpet fibers under the grinding action of footsteps.

3) Spot Cleaning is essential to get marks out before they set permanently! That requires the right product, applied at the right time with the right method.

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.

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 9.10.15 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 8.51.32 PM

Professional Carpet Cleaner, or, Just the Janitor?

Why would a building allow an uncertified Janitor to clean the common hallway carpets?

The only reason we can think of is they see them every day (ease of access) , “Bob” the janitor is probably a nice guy, and the strata hopes to save some money.

Do you really want “Bob” to maintain the common area carpets and be responsible for protecting this investment?

Let’s say its costs 10 per sq. ft. to remove and replace common area carpet. So a typical building is 6,000 sq. ft. so roughly it would be between 60K and 80k to replace the carpet (not pocket change).

“TOP TEN REASONS TO USE A PROFESSIONAL”

Ask Yourself – Why wouldn’t you have a firm who:

  1. Has certified techs (Clean Trust/ IICRC)
  2. Career professional (This is all they do, clean common area carpet. Well, they do have hobbies
  3. Meet warranty specifications
  4. Tech’s who know their chemistry
  5. Has a plan, isn’t reacting to seeing dirty carpet which is often too late and wear damage has occurred
  6. Has liability insurance 5 Million (People do slip and fall and sue)
  7. Has WCB coverage for carpet cleaning no janitorial. (Tech’s can hurt their backs)
  8. Has great equipment, each van costs upward of 50K to set up
  9. Has great customer service team, 25 + years of business
  10. We are proven to increase the life span of the carpet

So if are considering having “Bob” clean the carpets to save some money please consider the above.

The best thing a building can do is have Bob vacuum the carpets with a great vacuum on a consistent schedule removing 90 % of the dry soil and let the experts remove the 10 % left the sticky soil (carpet talk).

A typical quarterly maintenance program for this building would cost 2k annually, which is a very small item in a strata’s budget. And replacing the carpet in 6 years instead of 12 (which happens or they just live with dirty worn out carpet) from a financial point of view and liability point of view clearly doesn’t make sense.

David Benoit

General Manager

ServiceMaster Residential For Vancouver

 

Carpet Issue Identification: Colour Loss in Carpet Fibers, or “Goop” Explained

Recently we’ve heard customer concerns about lighter spots on the carpet that have appeared after cleaning. People are puzzled; what causes this phenomenon? Is there a cleaning product that bleaches the carpet fibers? Why does this happen? How is it possible? Is the carpet cleaner to blame, after all, this has appeared after the recent carpet cleaning service?

There is a very simple explanation, and it has to do with prevention, not products or methods used in professional carpet cleaning.

It has to do with, to define a phrase for the rest of this article, “goop”.

Goop – as it shall be known for the rest of this blog post, is a combination of 2 things.

The first component of good is usually liquid and most often comprised of common laundry soap with bleach added, bleach, nail polish remover, acne treatment pads or gels, etc.  What each and any of these goop components have in common is a bleaching agent, whitening agent, or an extreme PH component which can literally suck the colour off a carpet – or, strip the dye from carpet fibers.   This first part of goop finds its way onto carpet through a variety of means as well: dripped from garbage bags, dripped from laundry soap canisters after the lid has been put back on and a bit has seeped out,  spilled on the floor when the groceries are brought back home, etc.

The second component of good is plain old dirt.  It is made up of particles of all kinds of soil which are tracked into the building on the bottoms of your feet, your pets’ feet, bags and carts rolled down the hall, etc.  The important thing to realize is that the second part of the goop, the dirt, adheres and hides the first part.

Then, you have goop; a sticky liquid covered in dirt that looks like a dark spot on the carpet.  An example found outside the home would be gum on the sidewalk that now looks black instead of pink.

Enter the carpet cleaners.  They do a great, professional job, and remove the dirt and the blotches of goop.  However, in the time between that dollop of goop being formed and developing a crusty outer layer like the shell of a crab, the bleaching agents have been busy working away on the carpet fibers.  So, remove the goop, and what do you have?  A spot on the carpet that is lighter in color than the surrounding carpet.  Why?  Well, goop.  Those chemical ingredients and bleaching agents have been sitting there for days, weeks and often months doing what they were designed to do in the lab: bleach.

However, you don’t see this until the carpets are cleaned.  Once the dirty top layer of goop is removed, the liquid and chemical sucked out, and the clean carpet is revealed – only then do you see an odd white or yellow patch on the carpet.  Funny, you might ask yourself.  The carpet cleaners were just here.  Did they spill some soap on the carpet?

Answer: No.  Our cleaning agents are developed and tested specifically NOT to remove dye from carpet fibers.  If they did that, then the whole carpet would be bleached out, the company would have been sued a million times, and we would have had to shut our doors decades ago.  Unfortunately, these goop spots don’t get noticed until after the carpets are cleaned, because until then they just look like dark dirty spots and stains.

Solutions:

-Be vigilant.  Sticky spills should be cleaned properly right away, minimizing the time bleaching agents have in contact with carpet

-Encourage tenants not to use laundry soaps with bleaching agents, or to be careful with those containers when in the hallway

-Encourage double bagging of garbage bags to reduce drips on carpet.

-Frequent spot cleaning.  A routine of spot removal by janitorial staff or a building manager will aid in eliminating the problem, as it lessens the time agents with bleaching properties have to spend sitting on and damaging the carpet.

And last but not least – tenant spill clean up.  This is another thing that can lead to bleached out spots or smeary trails on the carpet; instruct and educate residents not to use household cleaners with bleach to clean up spills.  Often times a pet will ‘make a deposit’ on the hallway carpet, or a coffee is spilled, etc.  A well meaning and good intentioned resident can grab some soap spray or even straight bleach (we’ve seen it when a resident wanted to ensure the bacteria left by a ‘doggie deposit’ was cleaned up and killed) to clean up the mess.  Don’t use products with bleaching agents on carpets, ever.  And be sure to remind others that live in the strata not to do so either when cleaning up a spill in a shared space.

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.

WHAT DO THE MANUFACTURERS SAY?

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.

Carpet Maintenance Programs Designed By Manufacturers

Whenever 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.

WHAT DO THE MANUFACTURERS SAY?

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.

NOTE: HAVING A SMALL EXTRACTOR MACHINE HANDY ALWAYS MAKES IT EASIER TO FLUSH A SPOT AND REMOVE EXCESS MOISTURE. SPILL. IF A STAIN CANNOT BE REMOVED, PLEASE CONSULT A CARPET CLEANING PROFESSIONAL

Source: the Carpet Maintenance Spec Guide, from Interfaceflor.

Spot Cleaning – Identify and Cleaning Agent Selection

Previously in e-tips blog article we looked at the first step in protecting your carpets: entrance mats and vacuuming.   The second step in any program involves spot cleaning.

Spot cleaning should be as often as possible by you, or in a strata’s case, staff onsite   The goal is to remove whatever discoloring material adheres to the outside of the carpet fibres causing a visible spot – without harming the fabric of the carpet.

Before we get into how to remove spots from carpet, let’s first look at what you may find.

Types of Spots – Identification Leads to Eradication

Water Soluble:  Most spots are water soluble and will respond to water based cleaning solutions.  This is why you find a wide variety of water based cleaning solutions.

Non-Water Soluble: Most non-water soluble sots consist of oils, greases and pigments, etc.  Some of these can be converted to water soluble form enabling water based solutions to be used.

Non-Soluble: These cannot be dissolved with either wet or dry solvents.  (example, wax.)

Combination Spots:  Some spots are caused by substances that have both water solube and non-water soluble characteristics.   These spots require treatment of both water based and non-water based cleaners.

Chemical Spots: These are spots that must be first chemically reacted before using water based or non-water based solvents.  Examples: rust, medicines, urine, acids, alkalis, etc.

Surface Spots: The spotting material is present on the fibers or between the fibers.  Examples are grease, gum, glue.

Absorbed Spots: The spotting material is present in the fibers.  Penetration of the fibers has taken place.  Examples: coffee, ink, urine.

Compound Spots: The spot is present on and in the fibers.  Examples: paint, shoe polish, lipstick.

Destructive Stains: The staining material has altered the nature of the fibers.  Most destructive stains cannot be removed.  Examples: acids, bleaches, burns.

Dye Stains: This occurs when acid dyes are spilled onto carpet.  They are actually dyes that replace the former color of the fiber.

Dye Loss: If a stain is lighter than the color of th carpet, some dye loss has occurred which means that cleaning will not solve the problem.   Re-coloring is the best solution.

First identify what you’re dealing with, and then you can use the appropriate product to try and remove the spot.  Some, like destructive stains or dye stains may not be able to be removed.  For those that can, read below.

Spot Removal Guide

Source: the Carpet Maintenance Spec Guide, from Interfaceflor.

The chart below is a guideline for spot removal. Follow each step in order, proceeding to the next step only if the previous step failed to remove the stain. The use of a portable extractor with water is highly recommended for a first attempt at spot removal and can be used after each step to flush solution. For unknown spots use water first, and then try a dry cleaning solvent, followed by detergent solution.

Spotting Solutions

1. Detergent Solution – Mix 1/4 teaspoon colorless mild detergent in 1 cup water.

2. Ammonia Solution – Mix 1 tablespoon clear household ammonia in ½ cup water.

3. Vinegar Solution – Mix 1/3 cup white household vinegar in 2/3 cup water.

4. Dry Cleaning Solvent – Apply isopropyl alcohol (standard rubbing alcohol) to clean cloth and blot. DO NOT apply directly on carpet.

5. Scrape away as much as possible with a spoon or dull knife. Then use product in the next step to further address the stain.

The chart below shows you which solutions to try based on what is causing the spot or stain.

Spot/Stain

First Attempt

Second Attempt

Third Attempt

Beer

1

3

Blood

1

2

Butter or Margarine

4

1

Candle Wax

5,

then lay a towel or paper bag over top remaining wax, and iron it on medium heat, heating the wax and transferring to towel.

Chewing Gum

Harden gum with ice until brittle,

5

4 or use a commercial chewing gum remover

Chocolate

5

1

2

Cocktails

1

3

Coffee

1

3

Cough Syrup

1

2

Crayons

5

4

Egg (raw)

Blot

4

2

Food Coloring

1, until color no longer transfers to towel

2

Fruit Juice

1

2

Furniture Stain

4

Glue

1

4

Gravy

1

2

Greases

5

4

Ice Cream

1

2

Ink (ballpoint)

4

Ink (India)

4

Jam or Jelly

1

2

Ketchup or Tomato Sauce

1

2

Lipstick

5

2

Mildew

1

2

Milk

1

2

Mucilage

1

2

Mud

5

1

2

Mustard

1

3

Nail Polish

4

Apply amyl acetate or nail polish remover to cloth and blot.  PRETEST FIRST

Oils

4

Paint (oil based)

4

Paint (water based)

1

Rubber Cement

Roll the glue off when it has hardened sufficiently

4

Rust

Apply rust remover or warm oxalic acid solution for 10 – 15 minutes

2

Shoe Polish

4

Soft Drinks

1

2

Soot

1

4

Tar & Asphalt

5

4

Toothpaste

5

3

Urine

Blot as much as possible if still wet

1

3

Vomit

Blot as much as possible if still wet

1

2

Wine

1

3

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Spot/Stain

First Attempt

Second Attempt

Third Attempt

Beer

1

3

Blood

1

2

Butter or Margarine

4

1

Candle Wax

5,

then lay a towel or paper bag over top remaining wax, and iron it on medium heat, heating the wax and transferring to towel.

Chewing Gum

Harden gum with ice until brittle,

5

4 or use a commercial chewing gum remover

Chocolate

5

1

2

Cocktails

1

3

Coffee

1

3

Cough Syrup

1

2

Crayons

5

4

Egg (raw)

Blot

4

2

Food Coloring

1, until color no longer transfers to towel

2

Fruit Juice

1

2

Furniture Stain

4

Glue

1

4

Gravy

1

2

Greases

5

4

Ice Cream

1

2

Ink (ballpoint)

4

Ink (India)

4

Jam or Jelly

1

2

Ketchup or Tomato Sauce

1

2

Lipstick

5

2

Mildew

1

2

Milk

1

2

Mucilage

1

2

Mud

5

1

2

Mustard

1

3

Nail Polish

4

Apply amyl acetate or nail polish remover to cloth and blot.  PRETEST FIRST

Oils

4

Paint (oil based)

4

Paint (water based)

1

Rubber Cement

Roll the glue off when it has hardened sufficiently

4

Rust

Apply rust remover or warm oxalic acid solution for 10 – 15 minutes

2

Shoe Polish

4

Soft Drinks

1

2

Soot

1

4

Tar & Asphalt

5

4

Toothpaste

5

3

Urine

Blot as much as possible if still wet

1

3

Vomit

Blot as much as possible if still wet

1

2

Wine

1

3

Carpet Care – The First Two Steps

Soil transfer is responsible for the majority of dirt in buildings.  Airbourne particule settles into carpet as well, but most dirt and moisture comes in on the bottom of shoes.

According to literature produced by The Mohawk Group, it has been estimated that it costs more than $500 to clean 1 pound of dirt tracked into a building.  Up to 24 pounds of dirt can be tracked in by just 1,000 people coming through an entrance over a 20 day period.

The best way to keep your carpet clean is to keep the dirt out.  The first line of defense for your buildings is composed of entrance mats.

I was recently called to a building by a property manager because the residents were complaining that the carpets appear dirty.  She was concerned that the carpet maintenance program we have in place might not be working if they were getting complaints so soon after a maintenance clean. Upon inspection and conversation with the on site caretaker it was obvious that the carpets were not getting stained, there was a two fold problem that existed instead – no entrance mats, and an appearance problem related to vacuuming.   The large strata tower had only one small entrance mat outside of the main lobby door.  There was nothing inside the entrance lobby, or inside the parking area elevator lobbies.  These points are critical in preventing soil from entering the building.

Dirt, lint, leaves, muck, dust – all of these things were being tracked onto the carpets, and overwhelming the caretaker’s  vacuuming efforts.  With the fall rain and an active construction site right next door butted up against the sidewalk, the lack of entrance mats had made a very obvious impact.

Once the dirt is inside the building, the next step is to vaccuum it up and out. Not only does it look unsightly, particulate becomes trapped in carpet fibres and grinds against them causing premature wear and damage if not removed.  This is especially important with winter coming and salt and sand soon to be upon our outdoor surfaces, and on the bottoms of our shoes.  However without using the right vacuum or vacuum approach, even the best efforts can yield less than satisfactory results.

That is why this article focuses on the first two parts of any carpet maintenance program for any building.  It cannot be stressed enough the importance of the primary barrier created with: Step  – entrance mats, and the first wave of attack using Step 2 – the proper vacuum cleaner and techniques.

Entrance Mats – Walk Off Mats – Welcome Mats

Step One.

Every major carpet manufactuerer stresses the importance of using entrance mats to ensure the lifespan of your carpet, and to keep your warranty valid.   This is due to the mechanics of soil transfer.

Simply put – dirt is transferred from dirty areas to clean areas.  It leaves the surface of the sidewalk, the lawn, the parkade, etc., adheres to the sole of your shoe, and is removed by friction caused by carpet onto a cleaner surface, clinging to that surface instead.  This process continues until the carpet is so dirty that when you enter an area, your shoes are cleaner than the carpet.  It then adheres to the sole of your shoe again, until it reaches a cleaner area of the carpet and transferrs, spread out the soiled area.  This is not a welcome scenario.  It is also the reason for the entrance mats.

If people enter a building and walk across an entrance mat – a small removable section of carpet or matting specially designed to remove the soil from your shoes, the dirt will then adhere to it, instead of being tracked into the building.  A very important point to remember however is this: clean the entrance mats!  They should be shaken out, vacuumed, and cleaned as often as possible.  Otherwise, once they have trapped enough dirt, they become a source of soiling due to the scenario described above.

So how do you pick out an entrance mat, and how big should it be?

The bigger the better.  The more steps a person must take across the entrance mat before stepping off of it, the more effective it is.  This results in more foot to mat contact and therefore more soil removal from the bottom of the shoes.  Tiny 3’ x 4’ welcome mats, while often cute or visually appealing, are not enough.  Most people will not stand in one place and wipe their feet sevearl times on a tiny mat before moving onto the carpet.  Therefore, with a mat that size, one foot may step on the mat one time.  The other shoe then steps onto your carpet having no soil removed at all.  That is definitely not enough, especially in large multi-unit strata buildings.

According the The Mohawk Group, a 15’ long walk-off area can effictively remove about 80’ of soil and moisture before it reaches the carpet.   Lees Carpet Manufacturers recommend at least 6’ minimum at the entrance to a building.  They also point out that it will “reduce the potential of slip and fall accidents on hard surface flooring during wet weather.”  Get the biggest entrance mat that you can, or line up and overlap a few to create an effective entrance area.  Keep in mind you want people walking on them first before the carpet at any commonly used entrance point, so check your side exits and parkade lobbies as well, and make sure they are in place there too.

With winter approaching, make sure your entrance mats are up to the demands of Vancouver wet: the snow we do get, the rain, the slush.  There are mats composed of more rubberized materials which are a good winter choice.

Once in place, maintain the entrance mats.  Ensure that they are shaken out and vaccuumed as often as possible.   That brings us to step two – the second most important step involved in extension of carpet appearance, lifespan, and maintenance: vacuum cleaning.

Vacuuming

Step Two

We all know vacuuming is an essential part of keeping your carpets clean and protected.  It removes dry particulate, helps prevent abrasion from sand and salt in the winter time, and allows the deep cleaning done by professionals to yield the best results.  But how do we vacuum?  Who taught us what is best, what type is best, and is that information correct?   I learned that I don’t use proper vacuuming technique at home, and so I’ll be adjusting my methods.  But before we get to that, are we even using the right type of vacuum cleaner?

All vacuums are not created equal.  Maybe you should be asking Santa for a new vacuum for your home, or better yet, playing Santa and bringing them to your stratas based on what is needed to ensure the carpets are cleaned as well as they can by the onsite staff.   Here are some comparisons to see why.

Types of Vacuums

The following comparisons are taken from ConsumerReports.org  All testing referred to in this article was done by their team. Visit their website for even more great information regarding vacuum cleaners.

Upright vacuums

This traditional design is still the most popular. Uprights tend to cost less than canister vacuums.

Pros: Uprights generally provide a wider cleaning swath than canisters, and they tend to be better at deep-cleaning carpets. Most are also easier to store.
Cons: You must drag the entire machine back and forth for most floor and carpet cleaning. The top performers we tested weigh 20 pounds or more, although many competent machines are much lighter. Uprights also tend to be noisier than canisters overall.

Canister Vacuums

The best ones clean carpets just about as well as uprights. (Pet owners note: The uprights and canisters that did best at regular cleaning also tended to excel at picking up cat and dog fur.)

Pros: Canisters tend to be better than uprights for cleaning bare floors, drapes, upholstery, and under furniture, and they’re easier to handle on stairs. Most are quieter, and you mostly need to move only the hose and powerhead, not the entire machine.
Cons: The entire vacuum tends to be heavier and bulkier than an upright, and the hose and wand make a canister harder to store.

Central Vacuums

Although they’re convenient, central vacuums are pricey, and they typically require professional installation.

Pros: They’re even easier to use than a canister. You carry only the hose and powerhead, and there’s no vacuum body to pull along. Central vacuums tend to be relatively quiet, and they don’t need to be emptied frequently.
Cons: Their 30-foot hose can be cumbersome and takes up storage space. And there’s no place to store cleaning tools while you work.

Small Vacuums

These miniature electric models come with or without a power cord.  They’re handy for small spills, getting into hard to reach places, and easy to store.  They should never be used as the primary method of vacuum cleaning.

Pros: They’re handy for light, quick surface cleaning on short-pile carpets and bare floors.
Cons
: They lack the power and capacity of full-sized models.

Robotic Vacuums

Think of these more as expensive novelties than practical appliances.

Pros: Do the grunge work while you relax. In uncluttered rooms, a robotic vacuum can fill in between regular vacuuming sessions.
Cons: They’re time-consuming to set up and run, and they tended to miss edges and corners in our tests. Some also tended to close doors behind them, locking themselves in a room.

Stick Vacuums

Stick vacuums generally provide smaller capacities than upright models but they do weigh less. Like uprights, they have long bodies and handles, and foot nozzles. Many are battery powered. They are mainly for picking up surface litter and not a replacement for a good performing deep cleaning conventional vacuum.

Pros: They’re convenient when you need to quickly clean up a mess. Plus, they eliminate your having to bend to clean up a dirty floor.
Cons: Most don’t perform as well on carpet as handheld vacuums, the capacity of their dirt bin is typically small, and most are fairly noisy.

These last three types of vacuums are not feasible for use in strata buildings.  They just don’t have the power to do the job.  The best possible of the above choices is a powerful upright with the following most important features.

Important Features

For strata building maintenance here are the most important features to ensure your vacuum works the way that it should!

Brush Agitator or Beater Bar

Also known as the roller brush, it is found underneath the machine. This roller has bristles attached to it and spans the width of the base. It spins when the machine is on and dislodges dirt, dust, and grit from the carpet so that the airflow can pick it up easily. Some models have a switch to turn the brush agitator off when cleaning bare floors; a rotating brush on a bare floor can move dirt and debris around before it can be sucked up. The switch also makes it less likely that throw rugs, bedspreads, and the like will inadvertently become tangled in the roller brush. And it eliminates any hazard should the vacuum tip over while you have the hose extended.

Carpet-height adjustment

This feature adjusts the height of the machine to a carpet’s pile height to allow for easy movement and thorough cleaning. Adjustments are automatic on some models, but we prefer manual control

Edge Cleaner

Models with this feature (including most uprights and some canisters) can pick up debris under the entire area of the cleaning head. That’s useful when cleaning wall-to-wall carpeting–the vacuum can clean right up to where the carpet meets the wall.

*This feature can be extremely important in reducing filtration marks.  Often vacuuming right near the edge of hallways does not get done without a vacuum having this type of feature.

Filter

A growing number of vacuums are claimed to do a better-than-standard job of filtering out fine particles that may pass through the machine and escape into the air through the exhaust, either through the bag or a separate filter. Micron filters can provide a higher level of filtration than standard models, but possibly not as high as high-efficiency particulate-air (HEPA) filtration. HEPA filtration might benefit someone with asthma. It provides the highest level of vacuum-cleaner filtration. In our tests, models with a HEPA filter have been very effective at reducing emissions. However, some models that don’t have HEPA filters have performed just as well in our tests, and such vacuums may cost less than HEPA model.

Conclusions

We know the best type of vacuum to have on site will be a stand up.  It should have cylinder brushes which contact the pile surfaces of the carpet.  Adjustable height to ensure that this is happening is recommended, and the bristles on the beater bar should be inspected periodically for wear.  If too worn down, the machine should be replaced.  Twin motor machines – those with a separate motor for suction and carpet agitation – are the best.    Top loading soil bags and HEPA filters are the best.  When a vacuum bag is over 75% full, it looses much of its’ effectiveness.  Therefore, staff should always have many vacuum bags on hand and change them often.

So now that we know we have the right type of machine being used in our buildings to vacuum up the dirt, it would be a good idea to ensure that is what is being used.  The next thing to check would be: are people performing the vacuuming correctly?  After all, it is not just what you use, but how you use it.

Carpet Cleaning Explained – Hot Water Extraction vs. Interim Maintenance Cleaning

carpet tech gear

Hot Water Extraction vs. Interim Maintenance Cleaning

What Are The Differences – Why Do They Both Work?

When your carpets are being cleaned, the most important thing to remember is that it is not a matter of using one method or the other, but both combined in a maintenance program to achieve the desired results and follow warranty requirements.  Interim cleaning generally cleans the top 30% of the carpet fibers removing spots and stains, and hot water extraction cleaning includes the bottom 70%Interim cleaning is considered a more frequent and necessary step by carpet manufacturers, while hot water extraction is required less often and considered restorative.  Use of both interim and restorative cleans is mandatory to keep a carpet warranty valid.  This is because used together, they are very effective; much more so than when just one method is used alone.

You, or building managers and strata members may wonder, what are the differences?  What should be expected when they see each method of cleaning being performed?  The following breakdown will hopefully provide some necessary insight as to what is being done in order to properly maintain your carpet, extend its’ lifespan, and keep the warranty valid.

Rotary Method – Interim Maintenance Clean

Cost Per Visit: Less than hot water extraction, typically 1/3 to 1/2 of the price.

Frequency: 3x per year based on the amount of foot traffic typically found in residential strata buildings.

Time To Perform: 1/3 to 1/2 of the time when compared to hot water extraction, depending upon the condition of the carpet.

What this looks like: The technician will inspect the carpet and pre-spray spots and stains with appropriate cleaning agent, 5 – 10 minutes at least before cleaning the area with the rotary machine.  He may pre-spray the entire length of the common area with a more general soil lifting agent prior to cleaning the carpets.

After the cleaning agent has some time to suspend the soil, he will clean the area with the rotary machine, which I would compare to moving like a lawnmower; it is pushed down the halls in a side to side motion, scrubbing the top 30% of the carpet fibers removing dirt and stains.  This method is especially effective against greasy or oily stains.

The pads which are used to do this cleaning, are flipped and changed as necessary to ensure carpet is being cleaned effectively.  They are washed in a washing machine prior to reuse.

It should be noted that stairs cannot be cleaned with this interim method.

Drying Time: Minimal to none.  Since there is no hot water being injected into the carpet fibers as would be done with a restorative hot water extraction cleaning, some areas may feel damp immediately afterward where pre-spraying spots was necessary, where other areas may feel dry to the touch.  The spinning action of the dry pad pulls the soil and cleaning agent previously applied quickly from the carpet fibers and wicking finishes drying time almost immediately.

Result: Spots and stains should be removed, carpet is cleaner.  Top 30% of the carpet fibers have been serviced.  On carpet with longer fibers, there may be swirl marks from the rotary motion which will disappear as people walk on the carpet, or once it has been vacuumed.  Technicians have reported that this is the best method for getting most visible stains out of carpet.

Hot Water Extraction – Also Known As Steam Cleaning or Restorative Cleaning

Cost Per Visit: Most expensive type of carpet cleaning, 2x – 3x that of interim rotary cleaning

Frequency: 1x per year in typical high traffic areas of residential strata buildings, based on foot traffic.  Some buildings where tenants do not take as much care with the carpets may require more frequent cleanings, especially in problem areas.  These typically include outside elevators, main entrances, stairs to parking areas, etc.

Time to Perform: slower than maintenance cleaning, as the technician must methodically move the wand by hand in patterns to ensure this cleaning method is working most effectively.  Time must be taken to remove the hot water injected into the carpet.  Usually this takes approximately 2x as long.

What this looks like: A properly trained technician will use a truck mounted cleaning system or high powered portable to clean the carpets.  It involved a pre-conditioning phase to emulsify soil (pre-spraying), and an injection extraction rinse phase that remove the soil.

The technician will pre-spray spots and stains, and then use either the wand connected to the truck mount unit or the high powered portable, to inject and remove hot water from the carpet, sucking up the soil so that it may be disposed of.

Drying Time: this can vary greatly, depending on air flow, humidity in the air, what the carpet is made of, and the experience of the technician.  Properly trained professionals can ensure they do not over wet a carpet, which can result in extended drying time and possible damage to the carpet. 6-8 hours is optimal.   Open windows and doors to increase air flow and hasten drying time, which can be as little as 2 hours.

Results: Spots and stains removed, bottom 70% of the carpet fibers are cleaned as well as the top 30%.  Best restorative method for heavily soiled carpets.  Carpets with longer fibers may show a pattern from the cleaning wand being moved across the carpet.  This will disappear as it is walked on or vacuumed.  It may not be visible at all on short fiber carpets.

No individual cleaning method can be accurately described as best for every carpet in every situation.  Each has its’ place in the overall picture of carpet maintenance.  However, both methods combined with frequent vacuuming and spot removal are necessary to keep a carpet warranty valid.

Where To Use Scotchgard In Your Strata

Q – “Should I use Scotchgard in all of the hallways?  What do you recommend?”

A – Put Scotchgard to the best use possible while saving money – use it in high traffic areas, places where the most staining is likely to occur, but you usually don’t need to put it on all of your common area carpet.

High Traffic Areas:

Outside of Elevator Doors – This is an area where people often spill coffee, put down their bag of garbage they are carrying out of the building, or unknowingly deposit soil from the soles of their shoes or bicycle wheels as they come into the building.   Using Scotchgard to protect a 10’x10’ area outside of elevator doors makes a huge improvement in carpet’s appearance over the course of a year because the technicians cleaning the carpets can easily remove what’s been deposited.

Frequently Used Stairwells – Not all the stairs in your buildings get used frequently, but those on the lower floors often do.  Most stairwells from the ground floor up to the first floor, or down from the main floor to underground parkades get heavily used, and heavily soiled.  Dirt is deposited on the carpets there picked up from outside or even inside in the parkade.  Break dust, oil, and gunk gets on those stairs and is very difficult to get out.  Scotchgard in those stairwells makes a huge improvement.

Frequent Problem Areas – Most buildings have a few areas which are particular to them, where the building manager or tenants find repeat soiling or staining.  This can be outside the entrance to common rooms like the gym, a shared patio or even rooftop pool area.  Anywhere people go outside to watch the sunset, the fireworks, or socialize during the summer, often leads to soiling of the carpets when they step back inside.   Any area where you’re finding dirt appears faster in the carpet than other areas, that’s another place to put Scotchgard.  It’ll help ensure that instead of getting ground in and set, it gets cleaned up and out.

Outdoor Carpet – If you have a building with outdoor walkways, covered areas protected from rain but carpeted – these areas are subject to a lot of wear and tear, and heavy soiling.  Scotchgard is recommended to help protect all such areas.

Pet Buildings – If you manage a pet heavy building, this may be a building where Scotchgard should be used more than most.  If pets are unable to wait until they’re outdoors to do their ‘business’, the results can be smelly, unhygienic, and a really bad carpet problem.  Scotchgard can help make the clean up easier, but we have other kits as well to help with clean up.  Here, it may also help protect the carpet fibers from tenants using products that can have bleaching properties to clean up after their pet messes

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