Myths and Misconceptions about Commercial Carpet Cleaning.

Floor Care Solutions believes that an educated consumer is our best ally so we want to help you avoid costly mistakes by exposing some common myths and misconceptions about carpet cleaning.

Misconception #1: You should always wait as long as possible before cleaning your carpet.

No. Carpet is designed to hide dirt. Some types of weaves can hide as much as a pound of dirt in one square foot of carpet before it is even noticeable. All dirt or soil is extremely abrasive. It is also insoluble, meaning it does not dissolve in water. Dry soil is similar to sandpaper. Every time you step on the carpet, you grind soil into the fibers. When carpets are left dirty for extended periods of time the fibers will become damaged. Damaged carpet fibers are what make your carpet look worn, dull or dingy. Even a thorough cleaning cannot return your carpet to its previous appearance once the fibers have been damaged. Imagine wiping a piece of sandpaper across a mirror. Once the mirror is scratch it will never reflect light same way it did before it was scratched.

Therefore, it only makes sense that a dirty carpet will not last nearly as long as a clean one. A systematic vacuuming program is one of your greatest allies, but by itself, it is simply not enough. The longer you wait the more damage you do to your carpet and the faster it wears out.

Misconception #2: The only reason to clean carpets is to remove the dirt.

No. In fact the IICRC standards for carpet cleaning S100, the CRI carpet & Rug institute, and United States EPA all state that: CARPETING MUST BE CLEANED FIRST FOR HEALTH, AND THEN FOR APPEARANCE. Studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have proven that the indoor air quality of many buildings is more polluted than the outdoor air.



Carpeting acts like a gigantic filter. It traps all sorts of pathogens, toxins, bio pollutants and volatile organic compounds from recirculation to the air. Tobacco smoke is a great example of a toxin found in soiled carpets; it contains over 4,000 different chemical compounds, 43 of which have been proven to cause cancer. Therefore, even if you, your family members or your employees don't smoke, those chemicals and many others are picked up by your shoes, tracked into your home or office and deposited in your carpet.

Maintaining a clean work environment means your office will be healthier, leading to less employee absenteeism. Maintaining a clean environment also means longer carpet life, which translates to a lower per yard, per year average replacement cost.

Therefore, in addition to removing dirt or soil, you need to consider the health issues and indoor air quality issues related to pollutants in your carpet.

Misconceptions #3: Hot water extractions or steam cleaning is always the best method of cleaning carpet.

No. There is no silver bullet in carpet cleaning, especially when it comes to commercial grade carpeting. While there are, several carpet-cleaning methods available to choose from, they can all be separated into two basic categories: dry cleaning or hot water extraction.

Many people believe that dry cleaning your carpet is like dry cleaning your clothing. That is not true. All carpet cleaning methods use moisture in one form or another. The term dry cleaning simply refers to the short time it takes for the carpet to dry after being cleaned. There are several types of dry cleaning methods. These methods are most often used as an interim or maintenance cleaning application because it allows a faster return of foot traffic to the cleaned area.

The second carpet cleaning method is called hot water extraction or "steam cleaning". There are two different types of hot water extraction: Portable extraction, which is done with a smaller portable machine, or truck mounted extraction, which means a large cleaning machine is mounted on a truck or van. Both types of extraction equipment heat the water to high temperatures and uses high pressure to inject water into the carpet which suspends the soils, bacteria and pollens. Then the machines use high suction to draw the soils out of the carpet. This method is often used in a restoration cleaning.

There is no question a truck-mounted, hot water extraction system is, by far, the most effective way to clean residential carpeting. It is the most powerful cleaning machine on the market and thoroughly cleans your carpet of soils, harmful bacteria, fungus, chemicals, pollens and tobacco residue. However, commercial carpeting can be very challenging to clean in this way.

The main problem is there is no airflow under the carpet; commercial carpet is glued directly to the floor. In your home, this method usually takes only about 4 to 8 hours to dry. Because there is no pad between the carpet and floor to allow airflow in a commercial building, it can take several hours longer to dry. Slow drying times usually cause a problem known as wicking. Have you ever had your carpets cleaned and they look great when jobs done, but in the next day or two all your spots and stains come back. That is wicking. When carpet dries, too slowly it pulls stains from the backing of the carpet to the tips of the fiber. Wicking is only one of several challenges, but it is a big one.

Another important point is the amount of moisture being introduced in a large enclosed structure such as an office building. Hot water extraction uses about 120 gallons of water to clean 1,000 square feet of carpet, not really a big concern when cleaning 800 sq. ft. of carpeting in an average residential home, but imagine how much water is used to clean a 10,000 sq. ft. office. Regular cleaning using hot water extraction only can lead to indoor air quality problems.

To recap, all carpet-cleaning methods have strengths and weaknesses and there are times when one method is more appropriate than another. There are also times when a combination of methods can be used to correct a particular problem or produce a desired result.

Misconception #4: Having the right equipment is all a company needs to clean your carpets properly.

Not true. Many companies own good equipment, but a large number of their employees do not know how to use it. You probably know someone who bought the newest computer on the market and does not know how to use it. The same can happen with carpet cleaning equipment. There are many companies whose employees receive minimal training before they are handed the keys to the truck and sent out to clean carpet. This is why it is important that you chose your carpet cleaner carefully.

Misconception #5: A janitorial company is properly trained in all aspects of cleaning including carpet and upholstery cleaning.

Most janitorial crews have no formal training in textile carpet cleaning. Their training often consisted of on the job training or in the best-case scenario; they attend a two hour class at the local janitorial supply company. Janitorial supply companies make their money renting and or selling equipment and chemicals. The person providing advice on how to clean carpet is the person renting the equipment and selling the chemicals. Consequently, the people giving the advice are no more qualified than the person receiving it. Their training consists of information imparted by the chemical or equipment manufacturers who want to sell chemicals and equipment. This can be a recipe for disaster.

Another important point to consider is that all of the major carpet mills require that their carpets be maintained by IICRC certified firms and technicians or your warranty is voided.

Misconception #6: The Company that offers the lowest price is the company you should hire.

Not necessarily. The price that you are offered may not be for the services you actually want performed and many unscrupulous companies will advertise a very low price and not inform you about hidden costs or try to strong arm you into additional services that frequently cost many times more than the advertised price.

Ridiculous pricing such as $7.95 per room or 4 rooms for $89.00 are just "come-ons" used by bait and switch companies. If it sounds too good to be true, there's going to be a catch. No reputable company that carries the proper insurance, uses top quality cleaning agents, trains their employees, and sends them to school to get certified could stay in business offering those types of prices. None!

There are many qualified professionals out there, but you just need to know what to look for and where to find them. Most successful textile and carpet cleaners work almost exclusively on a word of mouth referral basis.

Misconception #7: Any honest carpet cleaning company should be able to give me an exact price quote, over the telephone.

I wish this was true, but it is not. Most consumers think carpet cleaning is priced by the room, like those $7.95 per room ads in the paper. Honest, reputable carpet cleaning companies can only give you a ballpark price for their services without actually seeing the condition of the carpet (how soiled it is) and the type of carpet (natural fiber, synthetic, cut pile, plush, weaved, etc.) to be cleaned.

Commercial carpet is usually priced by the sq. ft. so we need to know the exact number of sq. ft. you need cleaned, but that is only one of several factors to consider before providing a quote. A true professional will inspect your carpet before giving you an exact quote.

We need to see the carpet to determine the soil levels in it. Carpet that has not been cleaned in ten years is going to be harder to clean than carpet that was cleaned last month.

Commercial carpet requires a thorough inspection of all areas to be cleaned, that is why we always ask for brief interview with the person responsible for your indoor environment. During the interview, we conduct a needs analysis of your facility. That is how we get the all the information we need to give you an honest, accurate price quote.


For more information or a FREE no-obligation consultation and price quote call (941) 552-1287.