Commercial Carpet Cleaning Pros and Cons – Hot Water Extraction Vs Encapsulation

Carpet in your commercial office or facility is most often a substantial investment. An investment that requires periodic maintenance, like changing the oil in your car or washing and waxing your car. If you don’t wash and wax your car the condition of the paint will deteriorate much faster. The same is true with the carpet in your facility.

Which method of cleaning is right for your needs? In today’s article I’m going to cover the pros and cons of both Hot Water Extraction and Encapsulation. First we must understand what kind of carpet we are maintaining. Most all commercial carpet manufactured today are a loop construction with a olefin chemical composition. Olefin is an oil based product therefore it is oil attracting. Which sometimes make it a challenge to clean. Fear not with the right maintenance schedule based on the amount of foot traffic will give you a clean looking carpet for years to come. At the end of this article I will give a final recommended cleaning schedule.

Let’s first look a the pros and cons of Hot Water Extraction. Let’s put 1 important point to rest. There is no such thing as “steam cleaning”. There isn’t enough moisture to rinse and flush a carpet pile with “all steam”. Besides there is no commercial carpet cleaning machine or truckmount that has the ability to produce steam only at the wand tip. So,, all wand water based cleaning is hot water extraction. Water boils at 212 degrees at sea level. Yes. There can appear to be a flume of steam coming out of the wand tip when cleaning, although it’s still the same effect when you go out on a cold day breathe hard and see vapor or what appears to be steam coming out of your mouth.

Most commercial equipment will push nearly 200 degrees out the wand tip. That’s Hot! This is one of the cons. Too much hot water extraction tends to deteriorate the carpet backing. It can also create another condition called Dry Rot. Technically Dry Rot isn’t Dry Rot. It’s caused when the carpet is wetted then dried too often. It should be called Wet Rot. Another con is the amount of wet time or the amount of time required to dry. Security issues with the doors being unsecured during cleaning which is normally done after hours. The biggest Pro of the Hot Water Extraction process is it’s ability to flush the carpet pile then extract. Almost a total removal of allergens, dust and soiling. Let’s next discuss Encapsulation. Then we will cover how the two working together will create a nearly perfect maintenance plan for your facility.

Pros and Cons of Encapsulation. First I must briefly describe the encapsulation process. Caution: this encapsulation description is not scientific. It is kept basic so most everyone can easily understand.

Encapsulation: is a specialized solution that’s applied to the carpet by some sort of sprayer. Then it is worked into the pile by some sort of agitation – normally a rotary floor machine with a bonnet or carpet safe scrub pad. The solution surrounds the fiber like carpet protection. While on the fiber, it will repel or release more surface soil. When the carpet is vacuumed it will further pull more soiling from the fiber. Eventually the non soil attracting coating on the fibers break off being sucked into the vacuum. The pros of encapsulation are most spots don’t return – the carpet doesn’t get wet enough to wick, dries fast and carpets stay cleaner longer. It also reduces the chances of Dry Rot and does not damage the carpet backing. It’s a much faster cleaning process. The only con I can see with the encapsulation process is not fully flushing the carpet pile. This is where we marry the two processes for a nearly perfect carpet maintenance schedule. The Carpet & Rug Institute, the leading authority on commercial carpet maintenance suggest that for every 3 to 4 encapsulation processes that 1 hot water extraction process be done. This will lessen the amount of times required for hot water extraction and extend the life and look of your commercial carpets without sacrificing indoor air quality or cleanliness.

Depending on how much traffic goes through your facility usually determines the frequency of cleaning. Frequency could be every other month, quarterly or every 6 months. Having your carpets encapulated will also save you money. Encapsulation is a much less costly process because of its quickness and not running truckmount equipment. I’ve heard of encapsulation cleaning as low as 5 cents per square foot. I haven’t seen a reputable company offering hot water extraction any less than 10 cents per square foot.

Your carpet cleaning professional can give you a better idea of what’s best for your facility. I hope this article helps you make an educated & informed decision on the carpet maintenance for your office or facility.