Cleaning Business and Office Carpets Properly

Commercial Carpet Cleaning

The cleaning of commercial carpets, generally falls into three main categories; (1) Hot water extraction, (2) bonnet cleaning, and (3) encapsulation.  Although the commercial carpet cleaning processes are similar to those used for residential carpet cleaning, the business approach is somewhat different.  Generally speaking, residences are smaller in size, have numerous separate rooms and considerable furniture that needs to be moved.  Additionally, commercial carpet tends to be more durable and contain shorter and tighter pile, which tends to allow for a faster cleaning process some.  Because of these factors, and the fact that all commercial cleaning, including commercial carpet cleaning, is most often done in non-business hours, it tends allow commercial carpet cleaning to have a lower price per square foot, than residential cleaning.

Hot water extraction is the carpet cleaning method most often recommended by most quality carpet manufacturers so we’ll cover that method first, but for certain situations, other carpet cleaning methods may be a more effective choice. There are many reasons for cleaning commercial carpets regularly: (1) it will extend the life of the carpets to have them cleaned regularly.  This is because the small dirt particles that get embedded in the carpet fibers rub together, and prematurely wear out the carpet fibers, (2) Clean carpets maintain a better looking business environment, which is good for both customer and employee morale, and (3) Clean carpets offer a substantial health benefit, as dust, pollen and germs tend to hide within dirty carpets.

Hot Water Extraction

Hot water extraction is the proper term for what is commonly referred to a “steam cleaning”. From a purely technical perspective there really is no such thing as steam carpet cleaning.  Never the less, it is very important to use very hot water when cleaning carpets with this method, as hot water is the most powerful working part of the process.  Simply put, the hot water extraction process is a process cleans carpets by: (1) Applying a pre-spray cleaning solution thoroughly to the carpet, and (2) With a tool called a carpet cleaning wand capable of spraying very hot water into the carpet, and then in turn is used to suck water, and dirt, back out of the carpet with the use of a very powerful suction machine.  The wand not only supplies the hot water and suction, but by firmly pressing the wand down onto the carpet, and moving it across the carpet, the dirt and grease particles are agitated loose, and are easily removed by the powerful suction.  In more severe situations, additional equipment is sometimes used, which utilizes motorized circularly rotating brushes to more aggressively agitate the dirt particle loose.

The actual extraction of the water/dirt solution is by far the most important part of this process, and since the hot-water extraction method is most effective when it utilizes very hot water, and very powerful suction, powerful equipment is required to clean carpets properly.  Some commercial cleaning contractors will try to utilize “portable extraction units”, but these small unites rely on the electrical service from the customer’s facility for both the heat, and the suction, which is usually only 110 volts with normal amperage, not nearly enough to supply a continuous supply of hot water for a normal commercial carpet cleaning job.  Although this type of portable unit may not be suitable for a full commercial carpet cleaning job, it may be useful for certain small spot cleaning tasks.  The better choice for the hot water extraction process is the truck, or trailer, mounted extraction unit.  These units not only have very powerful suction devices that allow for very long hose length without the loss of effectiveness, they also have independent water heating devices capable of producing a continuous supply of near boiling hot water.


Bonnet carpet cleaning is often used in very large, high traffic areas that require continuous carpet cleaning maintenance. Bonnet cleaning is an old janitorial stand-by, and can also be useful in otherwise inaccessible locations, as it does not require a source of hot water that the extraction process requires.  With the Bonnet carpet cleaning process, a pre-spray of carpet cleaning solution is applied onto the carpet surface, and then a floor-cleaning machine, with a special absorbent bonnet-cleaning pad, is utilized to scrub the mixture with rotating motion. The absorbent pad rotation of the bonnet-cleaning pad agitates, and loosens, dirt particles in the carpet, which are then attracted to, and absorbed into, the pad. The bonnet carpet cleaning method is not strictly a dry-cleaning method, but it does have the advantage of requiring far less drying time than does the hot water extraction method, and there are little, or no, “wicking” issues, something that can occur when you have nasty deep stains imbedded in carpets, and those stains creep back up the carpet fibers as it dries.

In the opinion of most commercial cleaning professionals, the bonnet carpet cleaning method is less desirable than the hot water extraction method, but it does have some advantages, as stated above.  One additional disadvantage to the bonnet carpet cleaning method is that it lacks hot water and strong suction, both of which are more effective in removing germs, and other unwanted material.


About 20 years ago, new polymers became available that were capable of literally encapsulating (crystallizing) soil particles into dry residues upon contact.  That discovery is the basis for the new carpet cleaning method, referred to as encapsulation.  In many respects that new technology created a new sub-industry, within the carpet cleaning business.


Think of the encapsulation process as being like spreading “tiny sponges” onto the carpet, which then dissolve and absorb dirt particles, and then quickly crystallize in a fashion that the carpet soils can now actually be just vacuumed up and removed. Although that explanation sounds simple, the actual commercial process involves the proper application of a special solution, applied by rotary machine with a brush applicator and/or a compression sprayer. Dry residue can be vacuumed immediately, either with a separate machine, or with a built-in cleaning-system machine. It could be said that the encapsulation method is just a modern sophisticated the bonnet cleaning process, but actually it’s different, and most professionals feel that it’s far superior to bonnet cleaning, though typically more expensive too. According to cleaning industry specialists, evidence suggests that encapsulation provides improved carpet appearance, is a favorable method for high-traffic needs, can easily be utilized in otherwise inaccessible areas, and has even less carpet drying issues than bonnet cleaning. For the encapsulation method to be properly utilized in commercial applications, proper training and proper equipment are both important; and, not all commercial carpet cleaners (or residential for that matter), are set up to utilize this process.

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