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Strategies for Success: Flooring/Maintenance

School and university cleaning professionals have to know their stuff.

To develop an effective carpet-maintenance program, cleaning professionals need a good understanding of the types of carpets they will encounter, how they are made and used, and the best way to maintain them.

Here are some key points to recognize:

  • Carpet

    Fiber is the core ingredient in carpets. The basic types of carpet fibers include:

    • Acrylic: A synthetic carpet with the look and feel of wool.

    • Wool: More costly than synthetics with a “plush” look and feel.

    • Polyester: Considered easier to clean than wool while having a similar look and feel.

    • Olefin: A synthetic carpet that is considered easy to clean and often is used in indoor/outdoor settings.

    • Nylon: The most popular carpet in the United States; considered very wear-resistant and generally good for high-traffic areas.

  • Traffic patterns

    Traffic patterns definitely affect carpets. Heavily trafficked areas such as entries, hallways and around elevators need daily vacuuming using multiple passes. Because most carpet soil is dry, if it is not removed regularly by vacuuming, it can become embedded in the fibers and damage the carpet.

  • Spills and spots

    Cleaning up spills and spots as they happen minimizes the amount of work later. Blotting with an absorbent towel usually will remove water-based spills. For oil-based spots, apply a non-water-based dry-cleaning solvent to a towel to clean the area. Avoid putting the cleaner directly on the carpet because it may cause the spot to spread.

  • Carpet extraction

    Carpet extraction is a major step in carpet maintenance. It can be performed as often as once per week or as little as once per year, depending on traffic, use and soiling. Extraction deep-cleans and removes soluble soil and oil-based spills that regular vacuuming leaves behind.

    • Pre-spray with a cleaning solution and allow 10 to 15 minutes for the chemical to dwell before extracting.

    • Machines that heat the cleaning solution to more than 200°F activate the cleaning chemicals and improve cleaning. Also, the carpets dry faster. Carpets that take longer than 12 hours to dry risk developing mold and mildew problems.

  • Air movers

    Air movers often are overlooked in a carpet-maintenance program. These high-powered machines speed drying time after extraction. Some air movers can be used in several different positions — upright, tilted forward and backward, face down, face up or stacked. The more versatile the machine, the better it can handle a variety of carpet cleaning situations.

by Steve Hanig, vice president of sales for U.S. Products, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.



Percentage of space carpeted in new K-12 facilities projects completed in 2004.


Percentage of space carpeted in new college facilities projects completed in 2004.


Percentage of space carpeted in new K-12 facilities projects completed in 2003.


Percentage of space carpeted in new college facilities projects completed in 2003.

Source: American School & University annual official education construction reports, May 2004 and May 2005

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