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Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I was asked to clean about 1500sq. ft. of a small office building’s off-white carpet that is trashed from very high traffic. It looks as if it hasn’t been done in a few years and has red dye, grape juice, and food from spills. I have an apartment complex that has the same problems. I used Matrix Grand Slam SC traffic lane cleaner prespray, Matrix Confidence Premium extraction detergent, and a fiber rinse, but the carpet doesn’t look that much better. What can I use to make this look good?


Answer #1:
My further correspondence with you revealed this.
One of the carpets in question is a nylon cut pile, the other is an olefin Berber. Both are residential styles. I was able to determine that the
problem wasn't due to wicking, as the soils and stains didn't go away and come back. Essentially, the carpets just didn't clean up. A portable self-contained extractor was the primary cleaning tool used, with bonnet cleaning also tried without success.
Based on this information, I believe the lack of success was probably due to the inadequacy of the tools used for the task. In my experience, self-contained extractors do not have sufficient flushing or extraction capability to effectively clean a heavily soiled/stained carpet, especially a residential style (due to its deeper pile). While it can be challenging to remove some stains from nylon carpet, olefin is nearly unstainable. If the tool was sufficient for the task, the stains should have come out of the
olefin Berber easily.
What is needed is a high-performance extractor. The options are
truckmounts, high-flow portables, and portable truckmounts (a class of portable that features high heat, high pressure, and, at least, dual vacuum motors). If you have sufficient sales opportunities for this type of service, it would be worthwhile to invest in one of these machines. If not, another option would be to subcontract this type of work to a carpet cleaning specialist. (Before subcontracting, check references and accompany
the cleaner on a few jobs to verify expertise.)

John Downey, President, Downey's Carpet Care of Granville
Trainer, (OS1) Carpet Care
Founder, Cleanfax Magazine

Answer #2:
Let me add to John’s appraisal of the situation. When dealing with extremely soiled carpets, several things need special attention that a routine cleaning is not going to require. This sort of cleaning is fiber restoration or reclamation, not basic light maintenance, often termed interim cleaning.
1) Dry vacuuming needs to be heavy and done with a machine that will open up the fibers to accept the detergents you intend to use. Heavy matting may require a power pile lifter, but extra effort with a good beater vac will work.
2) The initial prespray of traffic lanes needs to be worked into the pile by pile machine or hand brush. Adequate dwell time is needed to allow the detergent to penetrate the fibers and get to the bonded substances.
3) In this case, the detergent solution should not be injected through the extractor wand. That application gives it almost zero dwell time to loosen built-up soils, the food and drink residues you noted.
4) Use instead, a rotary or revolving brush machine to work the detergent into the pile and allow it to sit there long enough to accomplish the soil release that must occur before any rinsing will be effective. A bonnet will work, but is not as aggressive as a shampoo brush on a rotary floor machine.
5) Use the extractor with a rinse agent in the hot water tank to flush the fibers. Several passes may be needed since the pile has not been maintained and will be heavily loaded with gunk, now loosened by the detergents.
Review the above steps and determine which ones you either skipped or went light
on. Any company’s soil release chemicals need time to work. Allow it.
Stains from color changes, either adding or removing dyes, will not be reversed by simple cleaning. If the color of the fiber is gone or another added, and nylon is susceptible to this (olefin being almost immune, as John noted), your cleaning will not change that.
A high performance extractor is valuable because it adds heat, higher injection pressures, and greater air flow on the extraction end. However, no extractor can pull out what is still attached to the fibers and so the initial soil release is essential to success in this sort of work.

Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Editor