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Carpet tile cleaning – keep your carpets and employees safe
It was 1988, and I was working in the offices of a large multinational in Birmingham. It was hot, and there was a smell of oil, dirt, and food.
It was hard to work out exactly where the smell was coming from, but it seemed to permeate the very fabric of the office, and people had just got used to it. As I was fairly new, I noticed it as soon as I entered the offices, but others just got on with their job.
After a week in the job, I asked someone if they noticed that it was almost eye-watering on the hottest of days, and someone did admit that it did stink a bit.
We decided to investigate, but we didn’t have to look far.
It was the carpets.
The carpet tiles, to be exact.
I certainly hadn’t taken much notice at first, but when we eventually realised they were the reason for the stench, we asked someone how long they’d been down, and if they’d ever been cleaned.
Of course, the cleaners come round every day and vacuum, but what about getting the grime and dirt out? What about all the oil and residue that builds up?
In fact, it turns out that they’d not had a complete clean for over five years.
They were, to put it bluntly, filthy.
We decided to check with our health and safety representative whether any dangerous chemicals were used anywhere on site. As this was an electronics manufacturing plant, we assumed that there probably were.
A tour of the factory was instigated, and we went to see various managers who told us about what was going on.
It was interesting that when we entered some areas of the site, we had to wear masks, but nothing on our shoes.
On querying the necessity for these masks, we were told that during manufacture, acetone and arsenic are used, and obviously, we didn’t want to be breathing those in.
On hearing this, the health and safety officer decided to send one of our carpet tiles off to be tested. Just to be on the safe side.
It turned out it was nowhere near the safe side!
Although not at any dangerous levels, it turned out that our carpets did indeed harbour lots of chemicals.
It was easy to see why.
Wearing masks is one thing, and it does stop you breathing in noxious fumes, but those particulates settle on the floor, get picked up on shoes and are liberally spread about the rest of the site.
So, something had to be done, and quickly.
The tiles in our office were still in fairly good order, so the decision was made to clean rather than replace.
A company was contracted to do the work.
First of all, the entire building had to have all of the desks, computers and other furniture removed.
This was no mean feat, and it took us a week to relocate to another, temporary office.
The cleaning work only took a couple of days, but when it was complete, we then moved everything back.
But, it was like moving into a new office!
After that, the carpets were properly cleaned every six months.
For an office like ours, where there was really only moderate footfall, it was all it needed. But other offices probably need more.
Where offices are near factory sites, or have lots of customers, or even on the ground floors of busy buildings, the frequency of carpet cleaning may need to be increased.
But how do you clean them?
If you leave a carpet generally uncleaned for years, then you might have to go through the process we did above. And that means disruption, and it will likely be very expensive.
However, if you keep on top of it, it’s easy to keep them clean and well maintained without going to all that expense.
There are a number of ways you can clean carpet tiles in situ, although if they haven’t been cleaned for a while, you may have to consider a complete replacement.
Replacement is also the only option if your tiles have gone beyond cleaning and need repair.
However, assuming it’s interim maintenance, and you’re doing it regularly, here’s what’s available:
This is a low-moisture cleaning system, so ideal for areas where moisture could be a problem. Think computer rooms, or near electronic equipment.
The downside to this is that it only cleans the face fibres, it’s not going to get deep down and get the real grime out. Useful, however, if you keep on top of your cleaning.
Dry foam cleaning
This has a bit more “poke” than bonnet cleaning as it uses a dense foam by aerating a liquid detergent (not sure why it’s classed as “dry” though).
A brush will agitate the foam into the carpet pile which loosens the dirt particles which are then vacuumed up.
It can also be used on upholstery, so you could clean the office sofa, too!
Of course, the best way to increase the life of your carpet tiles is old fashioned vacuuming. A daily vacuum can pick up particles before they get ground into the pile, so intense cleans aren’t needed as much, and disruption is kept to a minimum.
Also, removing stains before they get chance to set will make cleaning much easier.
You can obviously get commercial stain remover, and it’s worthwhile having some nearby.
Then, when someone knocks their double espresso latte on the floor, you won’t be left with a big brown stain.
If you haven’t got any commercial cleaner nearby though, here are a couple of cheap and easy ways to get some of the more common stains out of a carpet. Many of these ingredients are probably already available in the office kitchen or canteen.
Coffee is always being knocked over, especially when everyone now goes out to get super-strong stuff in really tall paper cups. They’re just so easy to whack with an elbow.
For this stain you need vinegar and water and a sponge.
Simply rub it into the stain as quickly as possible and then dab dry with a paper towel.
One warning though – don’t do this with polyester carpets.
As common as coffee stains, and just as messy.
For this, get some baking powder and pop it in a bowl. Grab a damp cloth and dab it in the baking powder, then apply to the stain.
Do this a few times, then rinse with cold water.
Do you have someone who likes to stink the office out at lunchtime by microwaving a curry?
Yeah, all the time.
And then they spill it.
Tumeric is the culprit here. If you’ve ever cooked with it, you’ll know that your fingers will be yellow for days.
A good way to clean this is to get some biological cleaning powder. Think Persil or Daz.
Rub some into the stain and leave it for a couple of minutes, then simply dab it off with a cold wet cloth, and you’re done!
But do it quickly!
Or maybe replace?
Although we wouldn’t suggest a complete office carpet tile replacement just to cover a few stains up, if things have gone beyond that, then maybe it is time to get the professionals in.
And if that’s the case, give us a call or fill out the form and we’ll give you a competitive quote!