Joe Bshero, director of technical services, R.E. Whittaker Company, broke down how proper carpet care can ultimately create the perception of cleanliness in facilities. This is an increasing priority as Covid-19 drags on and some buildings reopen. Here's his thoughts.
Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the importance of cleaning is at the forefront of facility managers’ agendas. Many organizations are completely revamping the way they approach processes like hard surface disinfection and porous surface cleaning in light of stricter guidelines and recommendations. However, cleaning programs need to also address another key area of the building: the floor. The condition of flooring, carpet included, can have a major impact on how customers feel about an organization as a whole. Facility managers must understand the vital role that carpet care plays in the new post-pandemic era of cleaning, as well as best practices for maintaining it.
Setting the Right First Impression
Carpet is often the first thing visitors see upon entering a facility. Clean floors give facility managers the opportunity to make a positive first impression on customers. A recent Harris Poll study revealed that 93% of individuals reported dirty carpet would negatively impact their perception of that organization. The research encompasses a variety of facilities, including hotels, retail stores, airports, convention centers and more.
The consequences of dirty carpet don’t end at customers’ impressions. Poor perception easily turns to action, with half of Americans admitting they would spend less time in a facility with dirty carpet. Shorter visits, like in retail stores, can make individuals less likely to make a purchase, directly affecting the bottom line. Additionally, 56% of Americans agree they would look for an alternative facility to go to after encountering stained or dirty carpet. Businesses that don’t prioritize clean carpet are subject to lose a portion of their clientele altogether – and many can’t afford to do so in the current climate.
Most notably, more than half of Americans – 58% to be exact – would assume the entire facility is unclean if the carpet is dirty. This assumption influences customer retention and ultimately the reputation of a business, especially when combined with the fact that 47% of Americans say they share their experience about unclean carpet with their family, friends or colleagues.
Best Practices for Carpet Care
People are increasingly sensitive to cleanliness given the pandemic. This is ushering in an even higher level of scrutiny of the appearance of all areas and surfaces in a facility. Organizations need to do everything in their power to promote exceptional cleanliness, starting from the ground up. Managers should follow the guidelines below for a successful carpet care program:
- Secure the appropriate equipment – Make sure to use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. These high-efficiency vacuums can trap microscopic, potentially infectious particles. They are also less likely to release particles back into the air when compared to conventional vacuums.
For removing surface and embedded stains and soils, consider a low-moisture encapsulation machine that significantly decreases drying time without sacrificing cleanliness. Pick machinery equipped with counterrotating polypropylene brushes that don’t soften when exposed to moisture. Managers must also provide handheld tools and spot treatment to target smaller stains.
- Conduct spot checks to quickly address spills and stains – Visible stains are clear evidence of unclean carpet. It’s important to conduct regular checks so that stains don't give occupants or prospective customers a reason to leave a facility. When possible, tend to spillages or stains as they happen to prevent unwanted contaminants such as oil, grease or mud dirtying carpet fibers. With this approach, staff can remove stains before they’ve become permanent and difficult to manage, thereby extending the life of carpet and protecting their image.
- Clean equipment after each use – Keeping carpet maintenance equipment in good condition will cultivate better performance, help prevent cross contamination and ultimately result in cleaner carpet. Find a system with a removable tank that can easily be detached and rinsed out. Clean brushes by soaking them in a peroxide or white vinegar solution. To address the machinery’s high-touch surfaces, like the handles, use a disinfectant wipe or spray approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Lastly, don’t forget to wipe down the cord with a clean rag.
- Choose the right chemistry – To protect flooring assets, facility managers must select chemistry that won’t damage carpet fibers. Some solutions leave a sticky residue or discolor the carpet. To avoid these risks, use a chemistry with hydrogen peroxide that will clean carpet effectively. Have a variety of spot cleaning chemistries on hand to quickly address red food/beverage, organic and grease stains.
- Use hands-on training to demonstrate the ease of maintenance– If employees feel that maintenance is a strenuous process and put off regular carpet care, it directly impacts its appearance. Conduct hands-on training with employees to highlight easy-to-maneuver equipment and how to use the necessary spot tools. Then, establish a schedule for staff to follow. For example, execute daily vacuuming, as-needed interim maintenance (e.g. bi-weekly or bi-monthly) and annual hot water extraction.
- Be proactive with matting – Carpet often endures high foot traffic that tracks in dirt, salt, moisture and more from the outside. Installing entrance mats will act as the first line of defense to preserve your carpet and create a welcoming environment for all building occupants. Matting is not exclusive to winter months; facilities should use and maintain it throughout every season.
Cleanliness from the Ground Up
Facility managers are facing increased pressure to make the process of cleaning more visible to put patrons at ease. Implementing a carpet care program that employees can conduct while customers are present demonstrates a facility’s commitment to cleanliness and keeps carpet looking its best. With the right equipment, chemistry and protocols in place, places like hotels, retail stores and long-term care facilities can maintain their reputations as organizations dedicated to cleanliness, safety and wellbeing.
Joe Bshero is the director of technical services with R.E. Whittaker Co., a family-owned business with over 30 years of experience and the pioneers of the first commercial carpet encapsulation system. For more information about low-moisture encapsulation systems from Whittaker, visit whittakersystem.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.