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After the knees up, the clean-up! 1 Dec, 2014

In the run-up to Christmas, the round of receptions, parties and other social events can take their toll on floors too. Natalie Dowse, Marketing and Product Manager for Truvox International Ltd, has a resolution to ensure they’re pristine for the New Year.  

It’s that time of year again when employers up and down the country are finalising their plans, sometimes after intensive debate and agonising. And I don’t mean their 2015 business plan; I’m talking about the staff Christmas Party.  

Dreaded by some, the office party has a probably exaggerated notoriety for over-indulgence and bad behaviour. But where, especially in these straitened times, the party is held on the premises, then it’s the facilities manager who needs to worry – not about stained reputations, but collateral damage to floor coverings and furniture.  

The Christmas / New Year period can also occasion special cleaning measures if the premises is closed or operating with minimal staff. It’s a good time for a deep clean with minimal disruption to the business.  

In any case, managers will appreciate that flooring is a major investment and a planned cleaning regime is essential to prolong its life and so ensure a full return on that outlay, while also preserving its appearance. This is particularly true of carpets, whether they are in office areas only occasionally used for eating and drinking, or in restaurants, hotels and conference centres.  

So what are the options to consider over and above the daily vacuuming that is the mainstay of carpet maintenance?  

When the streamers, popped balloons and plastic cups have been cleared away, there may be some isolated stains that are all too evident. Cleaning equipment manufacturers have developed machines specifically for targeted, interim cleaning between those scheduled building-wide deep cleans. These carpet ‘spotters’ are perfect for ‘touch-up’ jobs and removing stains or spots.  

There are various methods of cleaning that can be used, such as absorbent pads, dry foam shampoo, light surface extraction or a dry powder cleaner. Vacuums using a ‘spray extractor’ are particularly effective. A self-contained carpet extractor can clean in a single pass and leave carpets almost dry. Some are compact enough to clean in congested areas around desks or in restaurants where larger extractors would not fit.  

Another weapon the cleaning contractor may deploy is the scrubber dryer. These versatile machines wash, mop, scrub and dry in one pass and are suitable both for hard and soft floors. Scrubber dryers are designed to tackle some of the more ‘difficult’ to clean flooring, such as low-pile carpets and entrance matting. The best machines leave the floor ready to walk on in minutes so disruption is minimal.  

Whatever the location, a planned deep clean should be an integral part of your carpet cleaning regime. Done properly, this will restore brightness even to jaded carpets that are heavily soiled, maybe after that Christmas bash.  

Encapsulation cleaning techniques are widely seen as the best solution. This requires a special three-brush machine that applies a polymeric carpet solution. It releases sticky dirt from the carpet fibres and then traps the soil as it dries. Once the carpet is dry, the machine operator vacuums the carpet to remove this encapsulated dirt.  

However, this technique requires care to prevent ‘wicking’. This occurs when the embedded soils deep in the carpet fibres are not thoroughly removed by the extractor. The carpet may look fine straight after cleaning, and even for several days, but as the carpet dries, the soil left behind ‘wicks’ to the top of the carpet, giving the surface a dingy appearance.  

A thorough vacuuming before cleaning will prevent this problem. The more care taken at this stage to remove dry dirt, the better; (and any stubborn stains can be pre-treated with a spotting solution). Another way to avoid wicking is to allow more time for the chemical pre-spray to dissolve and loosen the dirt, so the encapsulation process is as effective as possible. As expert cleaners should know, using too much cleaning solution can also cause wicking, because chemical residue settles in the fibres, causing rapid re-soiling as the carpet dries.  

Which leads me to our final tip. It is advisable to reduce carpet drying times because relying on air-drying can increase the risk of wicking. Air movers placed at strategic locations throughout carpeted areas that have been freshly cleaned will accelerate drying dramatically.  

So, with the right care – daily vacuuming, spot treatment, and deep cleaning – carpets will be pristine whatever the weather, or revellers, throw at them.

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