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The Interim Solution 29 Nov, 2015

Tomorrow's Cleaning -

As winter advances, those of us responsible for floorcare will soon have to deal with the rising tide of grit, mud and wet landing inside our buildings. So it’s timely, as the season changes, to review cleaning regimes and preparedness for the onslaught.  

Like prevention and cure, interception is better than clean-up. So ensuring entrance matting is effective will reduce the intensity of cleaning required and protect hard and carpeted floors from excessive wear and stains, and potential damage.  

Whatever the flooring or mix of floor types in a building, an annual cleaning and maintenance plan should be in place. If comprehensive, it will prolong their serviceable life as well as ensure a consistently high standard of visible cleanliness.  

The plan should be reviewed in light of the intensity of foot and any other traffic, such as trolleys, and patterns of wear and soiling. It should specify a daily cleaning schedule, interim maintenance cleaning every week or fortnight, and restorative cleaning, which may be quarterly or annual in some cases.  

It does happen that deep cleans for carpeting or restorative stripping and resealing of hard floors are postponed, for financial or logistical reasons, perhaps in the mistaken belief that spot cleaning and other reactive cleaning are sufficient. This is not recommended as it can erode the life span of flooring.

Conversely, interim cleaning may be squeezed out of the schedule. Again this will affect the underlying condition of the floor. The need for deep cleaning will increase, which means either the cleaning spend will go over-budget or the condition of the asset will suffer. Either way the cleaning regime won’t be cost-effective.

So let’s consider this neglected topic of interim cleaning, taking the case of a building with carpets. The daily vacuum is essential to remove visible dirt and bits of debris, so the surface looks clean and presentable. But it’s also important because it limits the amount of soil that is walked into the carpet and embedded in the pile.

Interim cleaning takes this a stage further. It involves ‘washing’ methods such as absorbent pads, dry foam shampoo or a dry powder cleaner. The aim is to remove as much as possible of this embedded soil, along with any visible stains, so the carpet is left looking clean and fresh.

While there are multi-purpose machines that can fill this role, spray extractors achieve levels of efficiency and performance that can make them a crucial part of the cleaning team. They work by injecting cleaning solution into the pile of the carpet – or upholstery fabric – and then extracting both the solution and loosened and absorbed dirt with a powerful vacuum.

A wide range of spray injectors are available, including light and compact options to suit smaller applications.  The Hydromist line-up from Truvox extends from a low-cost Hydromist Lite, for professional cleaners in small venues, to models such as the newly updated Hydromist 55 designed for cleaning large expanses of carpet.

Even the highest-spec units are simple to operate so an in-house cleaning team can easily deliver this form of interim cleaning. While spray injectors are available from specialist hire companies, they contribute most when used more regularly both for scheduled interim cleaning, and reactively, for spot cleaning and spillage response.

The most important advice is to vacuum thoroughly first – as more than 70% of carpet soil tends to be dry material – and use the recommended low-foam carpet shampoo. Foaming may also occur if there is shampoo residue already in the carpet or upholstery from previous treatments. This can be neutralised by adding a proprietary de-foamer in the recovery tank.

To minimise residues left after extraction it is good practice to stop the solution spray about 30cm short in each pass so all the solution is vacuumed up. Vacuuming again without spraying helps to reduce the carpet drying time.

Hot water can be used to aid cleaning performance, especially where there is heavy soiling, and some models have an in-line heater. We advise testing a small area first to ensure there is no colour fading or shrinkage.

Specialised pre-spotting solution should be used to deal with localised stains. Where carpets are very dirty, leaving the sprayed solution for 5-15 minutes will allow the detergent to emulsify the dirt before vacuuming. For best results, go over the area again using warm water, without detergent. As well as removing as much dirt as possible, this will minimise the residues to be dealt with in the next deep clean.

The rate of cleaning will depend upon the thickness of the carpet and the degree of dirt in the area being cleaned. But the right spray extractor can be a highly productive part of the cleaning team, swiftly removing unsightly stains and avoiding the expense and disruption of unnecessarily frequent deep cleaning. 


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