Resoiling after Carpet Cleaning

By Donald W. Terry, Sr.

Reprinted from the Bane-Clene® Cleaning Digest™

Summer 1999, Volume 29, Number 3, Page 26

We read this term often in various carpet cleaning publications, but what does it mean and what causes it? Strictly speaking, it simply means that the surface got dirty again. Carpet does get dirty with foot traffic and cleaning certainly doesnít prevent that! What most people mean by "resoiling" is that the carpet became visibly dirty more quickly than it should have after it was cleaned.

The normal immediate conclusion is that a poor job by the carpet cleaner caused the resoiling. However, there are many potential causes of resoiling. Track-in of ice melt, especially calcium chloride, will hasten soiling. A moisture condition from malfunctioning air conditioning or water leaks leads to moist carpet, which will make the carpet a great cloth to clean off the bottoms of shoes! Has the customer recently spilled something on the carpet and tried to get it up? Sticky residues from soft drinks and hand dishwash compounds will also rapidly cause resoiling. Perhaps, the traffic pattern has changed resulting in more soil being tracked in, or the parking lot was recently repaved or there is construction. Before blaming the carpet cleaning, be sure that nothing else has changed!

If a non-extraction system was used for the cleaning, there may be a great deal of soil attracting residue in the carpet. Moisten an area with water and agitate with a Carpet Shark. If a significant amount of foam is generated, a detergent residue was left behind. Bonnet cleaning and the shampoo methods are infamous for this problem.

If wet extraction was used, how long did the carpet take to dry? If traffic occurs on the carpet before itís dry, it will, of course, resoil quickly. What type of extraction equipment was used? If the recovery rate is poor, a significant amount of soil attracting detergent will be left behind.

What kind of carpet traffic lane treatment was used and how much of it was used? Use of too much traffic lane treatment or use of the wrong kind is one of the biggest causes of resoiling. Use prespray only in heavily soiled areas and use the minimum amount of prespray needed to loosen the soil. Many technicians heavily prespray ALL of the carpet hoping to speed up the job. Unfortunately, they forget that anything that goes into the carpet needs to come back out. Wherever prespray was applied, take extra cleaning strokes to ensure its removal!

Some preach prespraying and then using an "acid rinse" to neutralize the detergent and leave no residue. I continue to be amazed that anyone actually believes that an acid leaves no residue or that an acid will somehow magically "zap" the prespray and make it disappear into thin air! Acetic acid (vinegar) will evaporate, but the salt formed when it neutralizes alkali (sodium acetate) does not evaporate. Some use hydroxyacetic acid, but its evaporation rate is slow and its salts also donít evaporate. Additionally, acetic acid and hydroxyacetic acid, have an odor that is objectionable to most customers.

We recommend the use of what some call an acid rinse only under certain conditions and we never use the word "acid" in front of a customer! We call it a Brown Out rinse, which is used by adding 2 ounces of Brown Out® per gallon of water through the base unit only when we need to get the pH down, have ice melt residue, or a lot of detergent residue from previous cleanings.

For heavily soiled carpet areas, apply Preface® diluted 1:10 with water JUDICIOUSLY, preferably through an Injection Sprayer set at 1:10. The Injection Sprayer allows you better control of the solution and doesnít "sputter" like a pump up sprayer. Extract with PCA™ Formula 5 at the normal dilution rate of 0.4 ounces per gallon. The cleaning solution can also contain 0.13 ounces per gallon of Booster™ to improve cleaning, especially when cleaning with hard water.

For heavy-duty cleaning of commercial carpet (except wool and prints), use TLS® 2000 as the carpet prespray, but keep the tip of the Injection Sprayer near the surface of the carpet to avoid aerosolizing the solution into the air and breathing the spray at a pH of 12.5! Use Super LCA® or PCA™ Formula 4 with Booster as your detergent.

In areas where there is a large number of spills on a level loop carpet only, such as in a kitchen, follow extraction with bonnet cleaning using dry bonnets. This speeds up drying and absorbs much of the material wicking to the surface. NOTE: Do not run a DRY bonnet on olefin (polypropylene) carpet or rug - olefin has a very low softening point!

For individual heavy spills of sticky materials, you can use the Water Claw® Sub-Surface Spot Lifter to flush out the contaminants and apply ARA Anti Resoiling / Anti Wicking Agent or Stain Blotter to prevent wicking and subsequent resoiling.

Additionally, for very heavy soiling conditions, apply Sta-Clene®, Bane-Guard™ or Teflon® Advanced Carpet Protector to keep the soil more on the surface and make recleaning more effective.

The keys to avoiding resoiling are:

  1. The correct chemicals at the correct dilutions
  2. Plenty of dry strokes and the use of blowers where needed to get the carpet dry before traffic is readmitted onto the carpet
  3. Minimal use of presprays
  4. Careful use of spotters followed with thorough extraction

Anti-Resoiling Products:

Additional Resoiling Information: