Like a fresh blanket of snow, the first green grass of springtime or the white sands of an ocean beach, a clean carpet is a beautiful sight. While today?s carpets are designed not only to appear attractive but to hide soil and reflect light, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) points out they still need to be cleaned regularly. CRI says proper cleaning can keep a carpet looking good for 10 to 15 years (protecting a homeowner?s investment and preventing carpets from being prematurely discarded in landfills).
It?s been said beauty doesn?t always come easily. But carpet cleaning isn?t as difficult as some of your customers might think. With a little encouragement, know-how and the right cleaning machine and chemistry, homeowners can effectively clean their own carpets - and it?s up to you to promote this idea. Here is some how-to information to pass along to those customers interested in taking matters into their own hands.
Deep cleaning a must
While frequent vacuuming is the most important cleaning activity, CRI says restorative, or deep cleaning, must be done to remove stubborn or embedded soil. Comparing the ?before? and ?after? stages of carpet cleaning, homeowners renting carpet care equipment for the first time are pleasantly surprised with the indoor transformation. Typically, however, ?before? and ?after? should not reveal drastic change because carpets should be cleaned before they become excessively soiled. CRI recommends deep cleaning every 12 to 18 months to remove embedded dirt and grime. Carpets might need to be cleaned more often, depending on how many people or pets are in the home. Carpet fiber and construction also impact cleaning.
The fiber factor
The type of fiber used and the way carpet is constructed determine how well it will stand up to spills, pets and traffic, according to CRI. ?Approximately 97 percent of all carpet uses synthetic fibers, such as nylon, olefin or polyester, designed to feature style, easy maintenance and outstanding value,? CRI says.
A homeowner might not know what his carpet is made of, but chances are it?s made of nylon, which, according to CRI, represents two-thirds of the pile fibers used in the United States.
Nylon fibers tend to be easy to clean and release soil the best, Greeley says. Olefin (polypropylene), on the other hand, is a little bit more challenging because it tends to have an affinity for oily soil, or petroleum-based soil, whether it?s from a vehicle or blacktop, he says. But overall, CRI says olefin fibers resist permanent stains and are easily cleaned.Polyester also cleans easily, according to CRI, and is inherently stain-resistant.
Typically more expensive than synthetic fibers, natural fibers like wool are generally more absorbent and have an affinity for all kinds of spots and stains. Natural fibers likely require the specialized care of a professional carpet cleaning contractor. Specifically silk and plant fibers (sisal, jute, coconut (coir), pineapple, ramie and hemp) are best left to carpet-cleaning professionals, according to CRI.
Today?s carpet manufacturers give homeowners a variety of choices from conventional loop pile (yarn in uncut loops) to multi-level loop and cut-loop patterns. Often homeowners today talk about ?Berber,? which is often a level loop pile. While it?s a popular style and look for nylon and olefin, and sometimes wool, a loop construction tends to hold more soil and require more vacuuming and cleaning.
Shawn Wright, soft floor product manager for Clarke, Division of Alto U.S. Inc., explains cleaning a looped carpet is going to be essentially the same as a cleaning a cut-pile.
When using a carpet cleaning machine on a Berber, multi-level or looped carpet, home-owners should be careful not to get the carpet too wet because these types of carpet hold more liquid. Repeated passes with cleaning solution should not be used to clean these types of carpet. Rather, to clean a heavily soiled Berber, multi-level or looped carpet, homeowners should make sure the carpet is dry and then, if necessary, reclean.