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Thursday, September 03, 2015


Do you have any suggestions for the best type of equipment for cleaning wool carpet in aircraft? We have a portable carpet extractor, but we use low water and low heat because of the natural characteristics of wool fibers. This makes the extractor not as effective as we would like.


Answer #1:
I assume you are using a box and wand-style portable extractor. You should have no problem using normal hot water (up to 140º F in the tank). The temperature at the carpet will be less than 110º F; that's quite safe for wool. I would increase the flow rate to at least 1 GPM ... 1.5 to 2 GPM would be even better. Do this by having larger jets installed. Keep your pressure at or below 100 PSI and make several drying passes.
Make sure you pre-spray using a wool-safe product, and use only hot water through the wand (no cleaning agent in the tank) for rinsing.

John Downey
Founder, Cleanfax Magazine
President, Downey's Carpet Care of Granville

Answer #2:
A few other considerations. Don't use a high pH spray or detergent for cleaning (8 or under to be safe). Don't over wet, but do rinse and dry well.
Don't use any abrasive action or tools (brush or rotary equipment) if this is a looped pile wool carpet; light action is ok if it is cut loop pile.
To protect yourself, it would be best to test clean an area (1 sq. ft. or less) to validate your process, products, and results before taking on the entire job. Advise your customer to stay off the carpet while it is wet (no more than 8 hours after cleaning) and provide adequate ventilation for prompt drying. You don't want a lot of moisture trapped inside an airplane.
You may also wish to consider a low moisture cleaning process to help prevent wicking if it's a light colored carpet.

Bill Griffin, President
Cleaning Consultant Services, Inc.

Answer #3:
During the last several years in cleaning commercial wool carpet, I have learned an important lesson. Agitation is one of the most overlooked aspects of cleaning soiled wool. Since the temperature and pH must be reduced, the psi, gpm and wand movement alone are usually insufficient. If the pre-spray and pre-agitation do not remove close to 90% of the visible soil, all the wand passes in the world will not remove the remaining 10% of the visible soil.
Here is another challenge. On the last private 737 that I cleaned, there were light strips along the middle aisle. So don’t rule out electrical wiring underfoot. You want to gear all your steps to reduce moisture. My suggestion is to use a small power head unit that will attach to your extractor and still fit under a typical seat. The brush agitation is no more harmful than the average upright vacuum cleaner.
The best procedure is to pre-spray, agitate without the vac or rinse on, then lightly pre-spray a second time and extract with the brush, vacuum and rinse all on. Use a small wand, if necessary, for soiled edges and a second drying pass. Set a carpet dryer to accelerate air flow.

Gary Clipperton
National Pro Clean Corp.
ProClean College
(719) 598-5112