This is a question that regularly comes up when we discuss carpet maintenance with our clients
“I vacuum when the carpet looks like it needs it” is something we often hear. Admittedly, our lifestyles have become more hectic over recent years and housework, for a lot a home owners, has taken a back seat and has become less important. Domestic cleaners have become very popular, but is a weekly visit to your home and quick vacuum over your carpets – is it really enough.
I read the article below in one of our trade magazines and thought it explained the importance of regular vacuuming simply, the article was written for our industry for carpet cleaners, but, as a home owner, you can take some great advice on the importance of regular vacuuming from it.
Why should I use a vacuum?
Dirt is a four letter word to our customers and a blessing to us. Your customer will often develop some creative words for describing the dirt in their carpet such filth, grime, crud, or just ‘yuk’.
Question – What should you call the dirt in your customer’s home? The response of some ‘professionals’ when they see the carpet might be “Woah this carpet is dirty!” Perhaps a more professional approach would be “Mrs. Brown, your family obviously enjoys this room. Based upon the heavy SOILING in your traffic areas, I would recommend our Deluxe Clean Method.” Always refer to your customer’s dirt, filth, grime, and crud as SOIL. Be gentle.
Soil wears out a carpet prematurely. Next to a car or a home, the investment in the carpet and upholstery is the highest that a consumer will make. Excess soil will destroy that investment.
While today’s better nylons will resist heavy wear they are still exposed to soil that, if not removed on a periodic basis, will cause them to take on a worn appearance. Most soil, whether it is tracked in, atmosphere pollution or food spills, is acid based. The oxidised oils and the resins they form will begin to yellow and eventually weaken the carpet fibre. Abrasive Soil, the sand and grit that is tracked in on a daily basis, will cause the fibres to be scratched and abraded. This wear on the fibres will reflect light differently and therefore give the carpet a worn look. Another problem caused by soil is aesthetic. Soiled carpet looks bad. People are embarrassed if their friends or customers see it. Soiled carpets are also unsanitary, a perfect breeding ground for any number of bacteria and pathogens.
Your customer needs to know the problems associated with letting the carpet become overly soiled. It is no longer a good idea to let the carpet go as long as possible between cleanings, because the carpet acts as a filter for all types of soil and indoor pollutants such as animal dander, dust, pollen, and even some gases. This is a benefit as long as the filter is cleaned regularly.
Soil comes from two places:
- Tracked into the home – Shoes and animals will bring in a high degree of soil from cars that drip grease and oil, factories that emit pollution, soil from gardens, asphalt, which will turn carpet yellow, and many other sources. Thus, the reasoning behind the fact that most dry soil in the home is found at the main entries. This can be reduced by the use of a doormat, the removal of shoes, etc.
- Inside the home – The inside soil comes from many sources: human and animal hair, clothes, lint and fibres, skin (yes, we do shed), body oils from humans and animals and even cooking oils – it would surprise you to know how much oil is actually deposited in the air when you fry your sausage, egg and bacon on the cooker. The better the cook, the quicker the soil builds up in the home. As for the food spots, people can be very creative with food spills.
Soil is anything that is foreign to the carpet. For simplification we will divide soil into three types:
- Water Soluble – These soils usually consist of sugars, starches, salt, and residues of water soluble foods and fluids.
- Solvent Soluble – Asphalt, tar, grease, cooking oils, many cosmetics, ink, etc.
- Insoluble – This division of soil, which is normally the largest concentration of soil in the carpet, consist of items such as clay, sand, carbon, quartz, limestone, vegetable fibre, and animal hair. This type dissolves in neither water nor solvent.
The type of soil in the carpet will play just as important a part as the amount of soil, when considering the cleaning process. Different types or combinations of chemicals are necessary to clean grease laden carpet as opposed to heavy dry soil content.
Procter and Gamble conducted a study on the content of carpet soil. The interesting part of this study concluded that seventy nine percent of the carpet soil consisted of non-soluble soil such as minerals (dirt), animal hair and vegetable fibres. It also concluded that only sixteen percent of the soil was soluble in either water or solvent solutions.
This would seem to indicate that if our customers were more consistent with their vacuuming, they would have to see us, the professional cleaner, less often.
Imagine the dust that will collect on a coffee table in just a few days. Add to this the dry soil that is tracked in on the soles of shoes and by the family dog. Now, rather than vacuuming this soil, fry up a few good meals letting the cooking oils drift through the house, and give the kids some peanut butter and jam to spread where they may.
If customers would remove the particulate soil before it is bound to the carpet by the other soils, we would have less cleaning to do. But gratefully, most people do not vacuum as often as they should and the greasy and sticky soils combine to hold the other soil to the carpet fibre.
You, as the professional, should also keep in mind that the best time to remove soil is when it is dry! This is why we vacuum first.