Ask the Building Maintenance Experts
Solutions for Your Toughest Problems

ICAN  Q & A  Home

Tuesday, September 01, 2015


is the best method of cleaning Berber carpet?


Most Berber is very difficult to clean. Actually, Berber is not a type of carpet or fiber, but a type of weave. It is identified by its loop pile construction and usually contains small flecks of dark color on a light shade of background. The original wool Berber was a challenge, but not as difficult as today’s Olefin Berber. Berber has been produced with wool, polyester, nylon, olefin or PET (recycled plastic bottles) or with a blend of these fibers.

Fiber content can be determined with a burn test, yet it is tricky because there are also wool blends (containing other fibers). One test is the smell test. When wet, does it smell like a wet dog? If so, it is probably wool, and will require heavy pre-agitation with a pH 8 or below shampoo or encapsulation cleaner and hot water extraction temperatures below 150 degrees.

Some manufacturers of olefin Berber suggest it is safe to clean with bleach. But, bleach is hazardous to breathe and difficult to rinse from the carpet. Unfortunately, Olefin is one of the most popular Berbers and difficult to clean because it is oleophilic (oil loving). Traffic lanes can be especially challenging. Heavily soiled olefin Berber is best cleaned with this process:

1. Thoroughly vacuum carpet.
2. Pre-spray with a premium pre-conditioner boosted with oxygen bleach and solvent. A local carpet cleaning supply store can help you with the proper chemical mixtures. Rule of thumb - use a sprayer size where you add 8 oz. of pre-spray, 2 oz. of oxygen booster and 2 oz. of a citrus solvent to the container or sprayer of water.
3. Pre-scrub the carpet with a damp bonnet (sprayed with the pre-conditioner) after a 15 minute chemical dwell time. The cleaning effort must remove over 90% of the visible soil, or it will require a second treatment and scrubbing. Attempt to keep the carpet as dry as possible by not over-wetting with solution. Use caution on seams as they are vulnerable to separation.
4. If using a rotary extractor, disconnect the vacuum cuff and scrub the carpet without triggering the water. This will accomplish a good agitation of the fiber prior to extraction.
5. Extract with high temp. water with an acidic rinse added according to directions.
6. Either after extraction or after waiting 2-3 days, lightly spray an encapsulation cleaner on the carpet and bonnet clean with a slightly damp or dry bonnet.
7. Facilitate drying by using an air handler
If the carpet is only mildly soiled, you can reduce some of the above steps except for the acid rinse.

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