Posted on 12/24/2013 10:02 AM by Doyle Bloss

Astute building managers and owners wear many hats and are required to know quite a bit regarding just about everything to ensure that their properties run properly and efficiently. This knowledge includes detailed aspects, including the chemicals used in carpet cleaning products.

Carpeting is often one of the biggest investments a property owner will make in a facility. Protecting this investment requires using not only the proper cleaning equipment, but also the proper cleaning chemicals.

To better understand carpet care, we have listed some of the most common misconceptions about carpet cleaning and carpet cleaning chemicals.

Using more chemicals on soiled carpets is better. When carpet stains won’t lift, it is sometimes suggested that the technician use a higher chemical concentrate to solve the problem.

However, the truth is that if the correct cleaning chemical(s) for the soiling, traffic conditions, and carpet construction have been selected, then the chemical is already optimally mixed for cleaning performance. Instead of using a higher concentrate of the selected chemicals, a safer and more effective option is to re-clean the problem areas using a hot water carpet extractor. A heated or hot water carpet extractor helps chemicals work more effectively, which can produce better cleaning results.

Managers should select the least expensive carpet cleaning chemicals. Yes, it’s true—you get what you pay for. But when purchasing carpet cleaning chemicals, you may also need to do a little math. It is important to look at the product’s dilution ratio with water. For instance, a chemical that cost $13 per gallon with a chemical-to-water dilution ratio of 1:8, may seem like a better deal than a $20 gallon of another product. However, on closer inspection the $20 gallon’s dilution ratio is 1:24. If you do the math, you’ll find that this second product would not only last much longer, but is also considerably less expensive in the long run.

Managers should select the least expensive carpet cleaning services. This is an area that can get a little tricky because many qualified technicians bid very competitively, especially when it comes to cleaning large amounts of carpet in a large facility. What might be a more effective way to select a carpet cleaning technician is to see if they are IICRC-certified, use hot-water extractors that have earned the Seal of Approval from the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), or have been cleaning carpets for a number of years. If you have the time, actually visiting some buildings where the technician cares for the carpet can also prove very valuable.

When it comes to protecting a carpet’s warranty, only use products with stain resistant compatible chemistry. The chemistry used to make the carpeting stain resistant is not always permanent, and using the wrong cleaning products with the wrong pH can actually reduce the carpet’s performance and life. The best option is to refer to the CRI Seal of Approval testing program to select carpet cleaning chemicals that will not damage the carpet or its warranty, have passed the CRI testing program, and earned the organization’s Seal of Approval.

A product’s pH is determined when the product is diluted and ready for use. I know this can sound a bit technical, but it is important for managers to know a little about pH when it comes to carpet care. The label on many carpet cleaning chemicals lists the product’s pH, which determines how alkaline or acidic the product is. If, for example, a product has a pH of 11 (making it more alkaline) but has a pH of 9 after dilution with water, is the pH 9 or 11? We must remember that once the chemical has been used on the carpet, the water will soon evaporate. When this happens, the pH will return to the higher pH level, so the correct answer is 11. Why is this important for building managers to know? Certain spots and stains require specific types of cleaners with a specific pH.  Knowing the pH of a chemical can determine the success of the carpet cleaning.

Doyle Bloss is a marketing manager for U.S. Products and HydraMaster, both manufacturers of professional carpet cleaning equipment.