Ask the Building Maintenance Experts
Solutions for Your Toughest Problems

ICAN  Q & A  Home

Thursday, November 26, 2015


I recently began a contract to clean carpet in a beautiful nursing home, and have just finished the first extraction. The waste solution was BLACK and thick. Although the carpet is only two years old, and doesn't appear terribly soiled, it must be saturated with dirt. Do you have any suggestions for me? They want me to come every quarter and are pretty committed to keeping the carpet nice. When the waste solution is that dark, I am certain there must still be a large amount of dirt in the carpet. What would you suggest for removing the maximum amount of dirt each visit? In case, it would help you to know what I use, my equipment is portable extractors, 500 psi, heated.


Answer # 1:
The fact that you are seeing black waste water from your rinsing indicates that you have loosened the soil by the pre-spray or shampooing, and it is now free from the fibers and being flushed out by the hot rinse water. You are doing it right!
However, one of the more common oversights in carpet cleaning is the failure to spend the necessary time rinsing the treated traffic areas. The goal is to get as much loosened soil and residual detergent out of the nap as possible. Several passes with the rinse wand moving in different directions across the nap should show up less and less darkened waste water as you work along.
One possible reason for avoiding the extra rinse passes, beyond the obvious time factor, is the fear of overwetting the carpet. Since wands are designed to inject the water and then cause it to move upward in a flushing action, slowing down the wandís back motion will result in more water flushing the line of carpet fibers along the jetís path, but the vacuum extraction will still occur. Going over the area a second or even a fifth time will have the same results. The water is jetted into the fibers and drawn through them and back to the waste tank in a continuous stream. Do not stop the triggered wand or inject on the forward motion and you will have effective rinsing without overwetting.
When extraction is reaching the point where little soil remains to be rinsed out, the return waste water will be almost clear and thin, not dark and thick. Simply keep on rinsing until reaching this point, and you will have a clean (within human and machine capability) carpet.
Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN Associate Editor for ATEX

Answer #2:
By following the above instructions you should do fine. Keep in mind that, with a 500 psi heated extractor, you are probably flushing soil from the carpet that has never been touched. So, the next time you clean the carpet, it will be much easier. Applying heavy wand pressure improves the vacuum seal and extracts a higher percentage of soiled water from the carpet.
Also, the new rotary type heads can be hooked up to a portable. They apply the pressure and 300 passes per minute while you observe the condition of the return solution. Normally, you make 2-3 passes and the water is clear and the drying times are much shorter than with a wand.
Gary Clipperton
National Pro Clean Corp.
(719) 598-5112