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Greening the Carpet-Cleaning Process
Today’s facility managers are looking for carpet-cleaning products that are not only economical, but also environmentally friendly.
At a recent trade show for the carpet-cleaning industry, the use of environmentally preferable carpet-cleaning chemicals was a major topic of discussion. Several more chemical manufacturers are producing green-certified carpet-cleaning chemicals than just a year or two ago, offering expanded choices for facility professionals.
Certified chemicals have been evaluated by independent, third-party certification organizations and are proven to meet specific requirements such as:
- Having a reduced impact on the environment compared to conventional carpet-cleaning products.
- Using biodegradable and non-toxic ingredients (or a greater number of ingredients with these characteristics).
- Performing as well as a comparable non-green product.
- Having no, or considerably fewer, harmful ingredients and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Containing no hazardous byproducts.
Completing the Equation
At one time, environmentally preferable cleaning chemicals were more expensive than conventional cleaning products. Today, however, new technologies have helped reduce these costs so that the products are often cost competitive with conventional cleaning products. But, using environmentally preferable chemicals is just one part of the green carpet-cleaning equation. The equipment used to clean the carpets is also important.
“Green cleaning must always be viewed as a system,” says Stephen Hanig, vice president of sales for U.S. Products. “It means that the chemicals, as well as the equipment used, are certified to help protect the environment.”
According to Hanig, certification programs now exist for testing and evaluating hot-water extractors. These machines are analyzed for their soil removal, the appearance of the carpet after cleaning, and how well they minimize drying time. The faster drying time helps prevent the growth of mold, mildew, and other contaminants. This is usually accomplished by using low-moisture extractors, machines with advanced moisture recovery (vacuum) systems, or a combination of both.
“These programs are extremely valuable in helping end-users in the building and facility-management industries select an effective carpet extractor,” Hanig says. “Choosing the right carpet extractor can translate into improved cleaning performance.”
According to Hanig, these certification programs produce other benefits as well, such as:
- Protected indoor environments. These extractors more effectively remove potentially harmful contaminants, which can be deeply embedded in carpet fiber. They also get rid of moisture, which promotes mold and mildew growth.
- Reduced cleaning costs. Decreased carpet cleaning will result in lower labor costs and less chemical usage, both of which mean greater savings. Additionally, more effective carpet extractors - because they clean more efficiently - can increase the life-cycle of the carpet and provide major cost savings.
Robert Kravitz provides communication strategies for organizations in the cleaning and building industries. Coeur d’Alene, ID-based U.S. Products (www.usproducts.com) manufactures a full line of professional carpet, floor, and restoration equipment.