Maintenance Program

Because preventative measures and regular maintenance techniques can never be 100% effective, a carpet care programme must include additional interim maintenance.

Interim maintenance is usually carried out in ‘high traffic’ or ‘funnel’ areas to restore clean carpet appearance, prevent soil build-up and minimise periodic deep (wet) cleaning requirements.

There are several techniques for restoring carpet colour and appearance. Note, however, that not all of these are likely to remove dirt which may have accumulated at the bottom of the carpet pile.

  • Absorbent powder cleaning, or dry extraction cleaning
  • Bonnet buffing, also known as bonnet cleaning or carpet skimming
  • Pile lifting, also called power brushing

Absorbent powder cleaning

The absorbent powders are inert substances which are impregnated with a mixture of water, surfactant, organic solvent and fragrance. They are sprinkled onto the pile and brushed into the carpet. The detergent component of the mixture releases greasy solids from the surface of the fibre and the residual product is vacuumed away. The advantage of powder cleaning is that the carpet is not wetted and can be walked on immediately after cleaning.

Bonnet buffing

This is a technique which uses a rotary machine similar to those used for polishing hard floors. The floor pad is usually floppy-looped textile assembly like a flat circular mop, impregnated with a carpet cleaning detergent. Dirt is transferred to the bonnet(s) as it is skimmed quickly over the carpet surface. Subsequent power brushing will further increase cleaning efficiency. Although not widely used in Europe, the advantages of bonnet buffing are that it is cheap, speedy and leaves the carpet fairly dry.

Pile lifting

A supplementary technique that is often part of the interim maintenance programme. Also called power brushing, it makes use of a heavy-duty, twin-motor vacuum cleaner and has the additional advantage of removing dry soil particles that have accumulated in the carpet pile. It should be carried out once a week on a carpet of cut pile construction. For loop pile carpet, every second week should suffice. Pile lifting is particularly useful for carpet in high traffic areas. It should be done before bonnet buffing, and for the removal of residual powder after absorbent powder cleaning.

Long-term maintenance

Long-term or periodic maintenance should be undertaken on a fixed cycle. With correct regular and interim maintenance planning, this cycle can be extended, thereby reducing costs and possible disruption.

Long-term maintenance includes a deep cleaning process to remove oily and/or greasy materials that have become bonded to the carpet pile and dirt particles that have become walked into the spaces between the pile tuffs. This is commonly referred to as ‘wet cleaning’

There are several important points to remember:

  • Before starting, test how the selected cleaning method will affect colour fastness on a hidden carpet area or sample
  • Carpet should always be thoroughly pre-vacuumed
  • Good airflow and ventilation will reduce drying time and minimise possible odour. With proper ventilation, drying should take up to 12 hours and never require more than 24 hours
  • Subsequent power brushing (pile lifting) of completely dried carpet will help restore carpet pile and help prevent rapid resoiling
  • Periodic maintenance or wet cleaning should only be carried out by carpet cleaning professionals or specially trained in-house staff

Spray extraction

Also known as hot water extraction, involves spraying detergent onto the carpet and simultaneously extracting the detergent/soil mixture by suction. Ideally, this is followed by several extraction passes to increase water recovery and shorten drying time.

Due to virtual absence of mechanical action, this method involves relatively high use of water and therefore requires thorough work practices to ensure complete elimination of detergent residues and avoid over wetting. The advantage of spray extraction is that soil is actually extracted from the carpet at the time of cleaning. It is by far the most commonly used long-term maintenance method.

Wet shampooing

Shampooing can be carried out using ‘rotary’ or ‘cylindrical’ machines. Shampoo (usually a high foaming carpet detergent system) is dripped on to the brush where foam is generated by mechanical action. The combination of detergent and mechanical action dislodges dirt which becomes suspended in the shampoo. Ideally, the dirty shampoo solution should not be left to dry but be immediately removed by wet vacuuming or extraction. The advantages of wet shampooing is that it brightens colours and restores textures better than any other cleaning method.

Wet shampooing can cause severe pile distortion to certain types of carpet. The carpets manufacturer’s instructions must be followed carefully.

Wet shampooing/spray extraction

Wet shampooing followed by a spray extraction process may be required for areas where very heavy soiling has occurred (e.g. entrance halls, lobbies etc.)

The combination of high mechanical cleaning action by the wet shampooing method followed by the deep cleaning benefits of hot water extraction (without shampoo!) has proven to be particularly effective.