Commercial and municipal properties experience more than their fair share of foot traffic, which means dirt, soiled stains and the possibility of an environment that’s not attractive nor appealing to visitors, customers and employees. Carpet, unfortunately, is often, overlooked as much as it’s walked over.

Facility managers are in a unique role in which to take control over the cleanliness of accoutrements of the office environment, carpet included. And while doing so is not overly complicated or burdensome, carpet maintenance — for the underexperienced — may require a little professional guidance.

For example, how best can you clean your carpets, and what are some of the best practices for doing so?

The quickest, most efficient manner in which to clean the carpets is probably obvious: hire professionals to do so and call it a day. Full-service vendors can tackle most of these jobs, including some moving of furniture to accommodate the process. Consider placing such an agreement on a regular retainer or tackle the task as needed.

However, if carpet cleaning is a responsibility better suited for your internal teams, great. There are some things to consider. For example, frequency and methods.

Cleaning frequency

Properly cleaning a carpet at a higher frequency than you’d normally consider will help retain its beauty and give it longer life.

According to Larry Lawton, vice president of Lawton Brothers, a distributor of janitorial and sanitary supplies, "common belief holds that professionally cleaning a carpet too often will shorten its lifespan and destroy its natural appearance. Thus, building managers tend to wait to clean the carpet until it’s absolutely necessary. The truth is that properly cleaning a carpet with greater frequency will help it retain its beauty and give it longer life."

High-traffic areas, entries, main hallways and classrooms, for example, should be vacuumed daily. Other areas can be vacuumed less frequently, but spot-cleaned as required. Restorative cleans need only occur when needed, Lawton says.


Vacuuming is one of the most overlooked carpet cleaning methods. When considering the upkeep of commercial carpeting, vacuuming goes a tremendously long way. Most debris are tracked into facilities by employees and patrons. Most of this debris can be removed by vacuum. Daily vacuuming is recommended for most commercial carpeting areas, but certainly the most highly trafficked areas.

When vacuuming, slow is the way to go — the most dirt will be collected in fewer passes the slower you run the machine. Also consider alternating the vacuum path, adjusting the vacuum height as appropriate and use a new bag as required.

Wet cleaning

For stains that require a water-infused cleaning, and should you decide to do so on your own, there are two approaches: interim cleaning and restorative cleaning. Interim cleaning process requires less water and less detergent, and carpets tend to dry faster. Interim cleaning is performed more frequently, but is generally quicker than restorative cleaning.

Restorative cleaning means restoring a neglected and soil-impacted carpet. According to Canadian flooring firm Kraus, regular residential and commercial carpet maintenance can enhance indoor air quality, too, and prevent carpet’s appearance from deteriorating prematurely. Preventive maintenance also is less expensive and more effective than infrequent restorative cleaning.

"An effective carpet maintenance program keeps soil below the threshold of visibility," the company says. "If the program is working satisfactorily, the carpet should never look soiled."

Hot water extraction usually cleans deeper and removes more soil than other methods. Select a cleaner carefully, because improper cleaning can cause accelerated re-soiling. Overwetting will cause decreased lamination strength.

When hiring a professional vendor

When hiring a professional vendor to handle carpet and floor cleaning, inquire about references, training and even certifications. Ask the professional to help devise a maintenance plan that suits your particular site and budget. The plan is a starting point and should be modified based on site conditions and periodic visual inspections.

Whether you hire professionals or take on the task with internal resources, regular maintenance is required, but the benefit of doing so should payoff long term.