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Wednesday, April 16, 2014


I just received a contract for cleaning an office with carpet (with very short strands) and vinyl floor in the offices and rest rooms. The workers track grease from trucks and other heavy equipment onto the carpet and vinyl. What chemical cleaner should I use to remove the grease, and which is the best machine to use on the carpet, a rinse extractor or a rotary with a bonnet? What is the best chemical for removing grease from the vinyl?


Heavy soil is best removed with an aggressive TACT formula: Time, Agitation, Chemical, and Temperature. ICAN prefers not to make specific brand name recommendations. However, here are some suggestions from my 30 + years of experience. It will be ineffective to just add a carpet cleaning solution to your extraction machine and commence cleaning. The concentration is too weak and the dwell time insufficient. Now you are attempting to clean heavy soil with a 98% water solution, even though increasing the water temperature with a heater will enhance the cleaning impact.
An effective solution is a co-solvent pre-conditioner formulated for heavy grease. Most formulas are powdered, added to HOT water, and then heavily pre-sprayed on carpets 15 minutes prior to cleaning. For heavy grease, the pre-conditioner can be synergized by adding a citrus solvent and/or an accelerator (sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate) to boost detergency. Since these two additives can double the pre-conditioner performance, I would have all three products on hand. Often the manufacturer’s recommended concentration ratio is (or should be) double for heavy soil.
Assuming the soil load is heavy; a pre-scrub prior to extraction will provide the required agitation and dwell time. This can be accomplished with a green striped bonnet, bonnet brush, or shampoo brush with shower feed on a rotary floor machine.
Less effective, is using a self-contained extractor (with the vacuum off) for the pre-scrub. However, the power brush will only apply about 30 pounds of pressure to the carpet.
You will realize you have the proper formula when the pre-scrub process appears to dissolve 90% of the visible soil. If a majority of the visible soil is not removed during the pre-scrub operation, be assured that the extraction process will not remove the remaining soil. Consider the extractor as primarily a rinse machine.
If the carpet is light colored, add a acidic rinse additive to the extractor to bring the pH down to 5. This will prevent brown-out created by the intensive alkaline cleaning process. Running a dry bonnet immediately after extraction can improve the appearance another 20% and aids in drying.
For restorative cleaning, the bonnet process is incapable of flushing heavy grease from the base of the carpet. However, bonneting with an encapsulation cleaner is an excellent process for interim maintenance. It conserves labor and dries quickly. Normally, after bonnet cleaning grease- impacted carpet three times, you will need to extract. Alternating the cleaning method between bonnet and extraction comprises an excellent maintenance program. And, be sure to sell the customer on having plenty of rental walk-off mats for all transition areas.
If the vinyl floor has a floor finish, then you will want to adjust the concentration of a heavy duty cleaner. Start with a higher ratio (for example, 15:1) and work down (for example, toward 4:1) until the solution breaks the grease without damaging the finish. Be careful not to decrease the chemical ratio to the point that the high pH dulls the finish. An alternative is to use a double bucket method. First, apply the heavy duty degreaser at a medium ratio, then mop a second time with clear rinse water. Be prepared to increase the burnishing frequency to compensate for dulling.
Gary Clipperton,
P-(719) 598-5112