Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Keeping Carpet Clean & Smelling Sweet: Scientific Tips

Keeping Carpet Clean & Smelling Sweet: Scientific Tips
I always enjoy the emails I receive from Mark Violand, maintenance division vice-president with D&R Carpet Service,  a commercial floorcare company from the Cleveland, Ohio, area. Every few months, Mark sends out an email with a short, but accurate description of a carpet cleaning problem and tips on how to address that problem.

What makes Mark’s articles so interesting is that he uses scientific information to explain why carpet fades, for example. His latest email looks at what makes carpet smell bad after it’s been cleaned. His article, titled, “Smelly Carpet” offers tips for keeping carpet clean and smelling sweet. It begins,

“Does the carpet you recently cleaned or had cleaned smell foul? Now, I know we have had our share of rain, and the carpet in your building or home may have gotten water damaged, which would definitely smell foul, but that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about carpet that was recently cleaned and while drying it smelled bad. If it smells like urine, well...it probably is. That is a whole other series of e-info cards. Call me if you have questions about that odor.”

Mark cites The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, (IICRC), S100 Carpet Cleaning Standard that emphasizes the importance of vacuuming as the first step in carpet cleaning. Since industry studies show that 79% of the soil in a carpet is dry, it makes sense to vacuum carpet before cleaning. Carpets will smell bad, Mark says, if either dirt or water, or both, are left in the fibers after the cleaning process. The biggest culprits, he says, are animal hair and cellulosic materials.

“We all know what a wet dog and old athletic socks smell like - well guess what? Humans are animals and shed hair, ask me how I know. And the cellulosic material, paper (which is abundant in offices) is made from wood and cotton, both are plants and considered cellulose. When those two things get wet and dry slow you will end up with a foul smell. So the best defense against foul, sour smelling carpet is vacuuming before cleaning and getting the carpet dry as fast as possible.”

Thanks, Mark, for all the good information you provide on carpet cleaning.

Here’s a question: How do you know when enough water has been removed for the carpet to dry quickly? The CRI Seal of Approval testing and certification program for carpet cleaning products and equipment requires that extractors remove enough water so that carpets are dry within approximately four hours, but how should carpet feel after it has been cleaned using a hot water or steam extraction process? (At home, I do the white sock test – when I step on my just-cleaned carpet wearing thick athletic socks, they should be damp, not wet all the way through. It’s not scientific, but it works for me.)

Can anyone offer insights into how you know whether carpets are dry enough just after cleaning?

~Bethany

3 comments:

Rex - Las Vegas Carpet Cleaning said...

Interesting to know that the CRI has a certification program that demands that extractors leave carpet dry within a certain time frame.

Bethany Richmond said...

Hi Rex,
Actually, the four-hour time frame is not part of the SOA protocol. I have heard it used as a rule of thumb, but in fact, the SOA establishes a maximum residual moisture for a cleaning system at 20 oz/sq yd. The system criteria was determined based upon the maximum amount of moisture left by efficient truck mounted extractors. The 20 oz/sq yd maximum allowable residual moisture includes pre-sprays applied. I am sorry for the inaccuracy and I thank you for pointing it out! Bethany

Las Vegas Carpet Cleaning said...

Hey Bethany,
Just wanted to say thanks for clearing that up. I really appreciate you following up with your readers. Very informative info. Keep up the good work!

- Rex

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