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The essentials of carpet cleaning

26 May 2017

Justin Binks, director of SEBO UK, explains why carpet is suited to a wide range of interiors and what measures can be put in place to keep it clean and well maintained

Historically, the development of carpet was a step up from having a bare floor so, as a covering, it has always denoted luxury and comfort. Until the invention of the vacuum cleaner, the downside was maintenance but, with modern machines, this is no longer a problem and carpets are as easy, and often easier, to clean than other type of flooring. 

The luxurious nature of carpet stems from its comfort underfoot, its sound deadening properties and its ability to introduce colour, texture and pattern to integrate with interior design schemes. In contrast to hard floors, it offers health and safety benefits as it does not become slippery when wet and helps cushion falls. Carpet can be as hygienic as any other flooring material since it traps dust and associated bacteria, rather than allowing it to float into the air to be inhaled, as can happen with hard floors. 

Together, these attributes mean that carpet is suited to a vast range of interiors from offices and boutique hotels to care homes and retail outlets. Even so, the right cleaning regime is essential if it is to retain its appearance and long term performance. 

Poor cleaning quickly leads to the pile being crushed and dirt getting trapped. This, in turn, will rub against the fibres every time the carpet is walked on, causing premature wear. When cared for properly with the right equipment used on a regular basis, carpet can be kept very clean. Any cleaning regime will depend on usage, but should be structured so that heavy traffic areas are vacuumed the most often, in some cases more than once a day, with other areas receiving attention less often.

Choosing the right vacuum cleaner

Putting measures in place to stop dirt reaching carpeted areas is equally important. Entrance matting of sufficient size should always be included in any installation but it is vital that they are maintained and regularly vacuumed.

Choosing the right carpet for any given location is essential; and the choice of vacuum cleaner is equally important. A good quality upright machine with strong suction, a rotating brush and adjustable height control for different pile depths and constructions will take the dirt away while grooming, lifting and reviving the pile. 

A well designed upright vacuum cleaner will be easy to use, offering the benefits of manoeuvrability and controllability. Upright machines ensure a very high level of productivity and can clean a carpeted floor rapidly and thoroughly. Using an upright in a systematic and efficient way, the entire area of a carpet can be cleaned to an equal standard.

This is one of the reasons cylinder (tub) vacuum cleaners are less successful when used to clean carpets. With these machines the operator tends to stand in one spot, picking up the dirt they see from a central point, rather than working efficiently across the floor with overlapping one pass sweeps as is possible with an upright vacuum cleaner.

The type of machine and the way it is used has a big impact on productivity and time-related costs. A cylinder vacuum cleaner with a 25cm tool will clean around 4,000 sq ft of floor per hour, whereas a 30cm twin motor upright machine will cover 10,000 sq ft in the same time. 

Implementing a maintenance routine

As well as regular vacuuming, a maintenance routine should be in place to deal with ingrained dirt and soiling. Some vacuum cleaner manufacturers offer a complete carpet care system incorporating powder. This means the carpet can be cleaned while it is still being walked on so there is no down time. The specially formulated powder consists of micro-sponges which contain a safe solvent, a neutral shampoo and an anti re-soilant. This powder may be used in conjunction with a brushing machine which ensures it penetrates deep into the pile so the dirt is absorbed before the powder is vacuumed away, helping to ensure the carpet’s long term performance.