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Secrets of the deep clean 21 Apr, 2015

Tomorrow's Cleaning -

At work in our artificially lit buildings, heated and probably air conditioned, we’re no longer in thrall to the change of the seasons. But there will always be a need for the ‘spring’ clean – whenever we choose to do it – and that’s especially true for carpets and upholstery.  

The motivation for deep cleaning may not be the light from longer, brighter days revealing dusty corners, grime and stains that have gone undetected over winter and autumn. However, it remains an essential element of an annual cleaning plan – not just to preserve a pristine appearance, but also to protect your investment in carpets and furnishings.  

Regular vacuuming keeps carpets and upholstery looking good, but deep cleaning restores brightness and that ‘as new’ appearance. Even heavily soiled carpets can be restored to something like their original state, thanks to the advances made in cleaning equipment and solutions in recent years.  

We recommend an annual deep clean but in some situations it may need to be more frequent or reactive – for example, near entrances where there is heavy soiling from foot traffic, or after a function involving food and drink. The timing may also be pragmatic, when office staff are on holiday or a facility is closed for other reasons.

However, today’s advance carpet cleaning machines use low moisture levels so that carpets dry quickly, reducing disruption to a minimum. Some systems can even leave carpets dry to the touch in under two hours. Also it’s now possible to source compact, lightweight air blowers that will dry carpets and upholstery rapidly (while also proving useful in other situations and emergencies).  

So what are the steps required for an effective deep clean? A thorough vacuuming is essential beforehand to ensure that all the dry soil is removed. The aim is to isolate the more sticky/oily dirt embedded in the carpet, which will be tackled by deep cleaning. But any stubborn stains can also be pre-treated at this point with a spotting solution.  

When it comes to deep cleaning, systems that use polymeric carpet cleaning solutions are particularly effective. These solutions work by first, releasing sticky soil from carpet fibres, and then ‘trapping’ or ‘encapsulating’ the soil as it dries.  

The solution is best applied by a three-brush scrubbing machine. When the carpet dries, vacuuming completes the deep cleaning process by removing the dried, encapsulated dirt from the carpet. However, care must be taken to do the job thoroughly, in order to prevent ‘wicking’.  

Wicking occurs when embedded soils, which settle deep down in carpet fibres, are not thoroughly removed when cleaned with an extractor. Very often, carpets can look fine straight after cleaning, and may continue to look good for several days, but, as the carpet dries out completely, any soil deep down in the pile that was not removed ‘wicks’ to the top of the carpet, making the surface look dingy.  

So how do you prevent wicking? The most critical element is ensuring that the initial vacuuming is extremely thorough. The more care taken at this stage, the better the end result will be. Inadequate vacuuming, or even worse, not vacuuming at all beforehand, makes it harder for the encapsulation machine to reach, loosen and remove deeply embedded soil and dirt.  

Another tip for avoiding wicking is to let the chemical pre-spray that is applied to the carpet more time to ‘dwell’. This improves the effectiveness of the chemicals, allowing them to dissolve and loosen dirt.  

You should also be careful not to use too much chemical in the cleaning process. This can cause wicking problems too, as chemical residue left to settle in the fibres will cause rapid re-soiling as the carpet dries.  

The final piece of advice is to reduce drying time. Allowing carpets to air-dry can increase the risk of wicking occurring. Air movers placed at strategic locations throughout freshly cleaned carpeted areas will cut drying times dramatically and reduce this risk.  

With these precautions, encapsulation is not as tricky as it may sound, so don’t put off that deep clean. Selecting the right scrubbing machines and solution for your carpets and upholstery is not difficult. And deep cleaning is essential to protect their appearance and your investment.  

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