Carpet in the North

Northern climates harbor some special challenges for residential and commercial carpet cleaning. Ask any commercial carpet cleaner in a northern state, higher elevation state, or Canada and they can tell you there is one big surge every year, and that’s in the spring as snow melts and the weather warms. This is natural given the extreme cold of the winter; most people don’t want to think about contracting or subcontracting commercial carpet cleaning in the middle of the winter, and the underlying thought is that the snow protects feet from mud, grease, and grime.

Following this approach can have serious consequences. As any northerner knows, road sludge and salt is everywhere in the winter. What you may not know is that a lot of that sludge is relatively invisible in small amounts, and gets tracked in on the shoes of everyone. What’s more important however is that the longer chemicals sit in your carpet the more they can chemically bind to the fabric of your carpet. Some of these chemicals can permanently alter the color of your carpet to the point where even the most highly qualified professional carpet cleaning will not remove all of the stain.

If you have computers in your work-space or your home, as almost everyone does, the problem can be even more complex. The dust from magnesium chloride, one of the road de-icing agents used by many Departments of Transportation, has been cited in articles by the USDA and Electric Co-op Today as well as by the Colorado Motor Carriers Association as a cause of electrical arcing on electrical systems and wiring failures on trucks. In home and office environments this chemical and others can be tracked in on shoes. Vacuum cleaners then blow the dust into the air where it can settle on electrical components or be sucked in by computer fans, potentially causing failure.

Another de-icing chemical, potassium acetate, has been cited by the MI Dept of Environmental Quality, which states in a report, “dust/air mixtures may ignite or explode”. The same report sates “Extremely large doses may cause gastrointestinal disturbances. Other symptoms may include increased urination and
hyperkalemia.”

A similar problem that can cause damage to critical computer components is static electricity. Static builds due to the friction between shoes and carpet as well as between fibers of the carpet itself. This can result in dangerous discharges that damage sensitive computing equipment.

What is the solution?

First, clean your carpets more often, preferably using a vacuum system that traps all of the dust in a water or similar solution so that it is not then discharged through a vacuum bag back into the air. Note that for this purpose using a standard vacuum and vacuuming more often can actually worsen the problem by throwing the dust back into the air where it can be breathed and can settle into sensitive electronic components.

If you must use a standard vacuum, have personnel wear dust masks, and cover your sensitive electronics. During and after vacuuming air out the room if possible.

Us a commercial carpet cleaner that uses the hot water extraction method to clean your carpet when it is particularly dirty, especially in mid- and late-winter. This method avoids blowing dust into the air. Instead it liquefies the chemicals and extracts them with no air contamination. This means better health for you and fewer hazards for your equipment and the people in your space.