What is agitating your carpet?

You may have heard the term “agitation” as it relates to the cleaning of your carpet, but have you ever wondered what it means and why it is necessary?

The main purpose for agitation is to spread the cleaning solution uniformly and completely over the carpet fibres. A secondary purpose is to dislodge any soil particles that may be adhering to the fibres. Agitation also helps to speed up the reaction time required for the cleaning solution.

 There are a variety of different equipment options that carpet cleaning professionals use for the agitation process, some of which are better than others when it comes to the appearance and life of your carpet.

Bonnet or Rotary Method

This method for carpet maintenance consists of the use of a rotary machine.  This would be the same type of machine used for cleaning hard-surface flooring, however a different pad or brush would be used. The carpet would either be sprayed with the cleaning solution or the pads can be soaked in the cleaning solution and squeezed lightly before placing the pad under the driving brush.

Many carpet cleaners will use this method for a couple reasons.  Firstly, the rotary machine can be used for other purposes, therefore it is a piece of equipment that most cleaners, that provide floor cleaning services, would have.  Secondly, the bonnet method for agitation allows cleaners to cover the square footage of a carpet quickly.  This reduces labour cost for the cleaner and for the facility manager.

One of the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, Shaw Industries, suggests not using this method, especially on cut pile, due to pile distortion and fibre damage. The bonnet method has a limited capability for soil removal and can leave too much of the detergent in the pile. As a result, rapid re-soiling often occurs. Another disadvantage is that the spinning bonnet may distort the fibers of cut pile carpet, leaving distinct swirl marks and potentially could destroy the carpet fibres over time.

Encapsulation or Cylindrical Brush Method

This agitation method is generally considered, by both carpet mills and many certified carpet cleaning professionals, as the best way to clean carpet as fast as bonnet cleaning.  Additionally, most believe it provides superior appearance improvement results without the residue and rapid re-soiling issues seen with the bonnet method.

The cylindrical brushes move the soil from the bottom of the carpet to the top and a specialized low moisture solution surrounds these dislodged soils and holds them in suspension for removal by subsequent vacuuming.  Some equipment actually utilizes a counter-rotating brush to remove this suspended soil immediately from the carpet and into a collection bin.

Because this method uses a low moisture solution, it eliminates wicking (a process that happens as the carpet dries, whereby the water rises to the surface carrying dirt from the backing up with it), greatly reduces re-soiling issues and the amount of downtime required for the carpet to dry.

Carpet manufacturers such as Shaw and Tandus suggest that this method is the best for interim cleaning and appearance maintenance for commercial carpet.

It is important to be sure that the company you have contracted to clean your carpets is using the best method for your carpet type.