Clearing the Path

Many hotel facilities have signs and arrows pointing guests and visitors to different areas of the property. The signs aren't really necessary. Guests can usually determine where to go just by following the darkened pathways in the carpet.

Gray, soiled traffic lanes are common in most public facilities, including hotels and restaurants. The soil buildup is made up of water-soluble soils such as food and drink spills, solvent-soluble soils such as oil and tar, and insoluble soils such as sand and clay. The problem becomes compounded when these different soil types “bind,” or mix together, and coat carpet fibers, making them even more difficult to remove.

In most properties, traffic lane soiling can be delayed or minimized, but not prevented. Effective matting systems, both inside and outside of the facility, are the first and most effective lines of defense. Next is daily vacuuming of all key walkways with a high-quality dual motor vacuum system.

“However, once the soiling begins, the discoloration can develop rather quickly,” says Brian Consolino, eastern regional sales manager, U.S. Products. “This is when skill, knowledge and an effective carpet extractor are necessary.”

GETTING RID OF THE GRAY

Consolino says pre-spraying carpets and using carpet extractors help, but may not be enough if the traffic lanes are heavily soiled.

“The pre-spray may wet only the very tops of the carpet fibers,” he says, “but gray traffic lanes are often the result of deeply embedded soils that penetrate down to the base of the carpet fibers. As much of this soil as possible must be extracted to remove the gray and help prevent rapid re-soiling.”

Housekeepers and carpet-cleaning technicians should work the pre-spray cleaning solution into the carpet by brushing or raking the carpet. In some situations, agitation may be required. “This is why some carpet-cleaning technicians will shampoo a carpet first using a rotary or cylindrical machine,” says Consolino. “This helps loosen soils so that they can be more easily removed with extraction.”

Consolino also advises making sure the cleaning chemicals do not lose their strength. They can become less effective when they are mixed or applied improperly.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT

An ineffective carpet extractor won't have enough power or enough vacuum, leaving the carpet too wet after extraction, which can increase the likelihood of rapid traffic lane re-soiling, Consolino says.

“Typically portable extractors are used in hotel properties, (so) look for portables that have been tested and have earned the seal of approval from the Carpet and Rug Institute,” says Consolino.

He believes the seal of approval program has greatly benefited housekeepers, cleaning professionals and other end-users by encouraging the development of new technologies like wands with laminar airflow and “instant heat.” These new powerful extractors are more effective at deep cleaning and removing traffic lane soils.

HANDLING TOUGH JOBS

In most situations, using an effective extractor, the right cleaning agents, agitation and/or brushing or raking the carpet will remove traffic lane soiling.

Incorporating these tools and procedures should result in the removal of gray traffic lanes from even the busiest and most soiled areas.

However, there is one thing these steps cannot overcome. In time, the carpet fibers in traffic lanes can become damaged from wear and tear. When this happens, no matter how much care and cleaning have been applied, the only option left is to replace the carpet. Fortunately, incorporating these cleaning procedures can help extend the life of the carpet and delay expensive replacement.

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