Recently a DEMA member oversaw a renovation project on a second floor of the estate and it needed to be completed during the summer months between June & August. The home recently had new carpeting installed on two sets of stairs and a large hallway. Of course, it wasn’t just any carpet, but a very unique cotton chintz woven carpet. For the renovation project, the contractor was taking precautions to make sure the carpet was still in new condition after the project was complete and recommended using “carpet mask” to protect it. The contractor installing it told the Estate Manager “this stuff works great and you have nothing to worry about”. In most cases this is absolutely true, but the carpet mask in this example was left down for approximately 90 days.
Carpet mask is plastic sheeting that is sticky on one side that can be laid down to protect any flat surface. Once it’s applied it doesn’t move when walked on, thus preventing most slips and falls all the while protecting the floor. Carpet mask should be used for short-term situations perhaps a few days or a week.
For 90 days multiple contractors walked up and down these stairs and in the hallway going in & out of the rooms during the renovations. With each step, each boot, each turn of the heel, the glue from the sticky side of the carpet mask was pushed into the carpet with pressure. Another dilemma was the carpet mask was applied to cover the steps wall to wall but the hallway just had a few strips running down the center leaving exposed carpet on either side of the carpet mask in the hallway. The exposed carpet looked different after the carpet mask was removed and a visible line was discovered. This created another concern in the cleaning process.
Doing some research on carpet mask, you will find the glue that holds the plastic down is water based or a solvent acrylic based adhesive that is recommended for use only on synthetic carpeting. Most carpet mask will use the solvent acrylic based adhesive in their construction. We now know that the glue residue left behind on the carpet is most likely solvent based. Even in the off chance it is a water based glue it has been on the carpet for approximately 90 days and has somewhat bonded with the natural fibers becoming extremely difficult if not impossible to remove with only a wet cleaning process.
Fast forward, about two weeks later, the carpet had noticeable discoloration. The carpet mask left a residue that you couldn’t see or feel to the touch. The Estate Manager called his favorite cleaner and had the carpet cleaned like they always do and the carpet seemed to be back to normal… for a couple of weeks. The flooring was even more soiled looking than before. Why?
The cleaner had used a portable cleaning machine like many companies do in large homes. It is easier in an estate to not use a “truck mounted” steam cleaner that requires a bunch of hoses to be brought in and ran though large areas of the home. The problem is sometimes the steam or water used in this type of cleaning isn’t powerful enough or hot enough to break down the bond from the glue left behind on the carpet. But that may not be the right method to clean up this problem. What is the right answer to this predicament? First we need to assess the type of carpet we are dealing with. The carpet in our story is a natural fiber woven carpet. Woven carpet is prone to shrinkage so it’s important not to get it to wet and to dry as quickly as possible.
Let’s look at basic cleaning principles using a very simple example from everyday life. When we wash our hair we are “wet cleaning” it. First we get the hair wet usually with hot water (heat), run our hands through it a few times (agitation). Then use some shampoo (solution) and scrub that in (agitation) and let it sit for a few minutes (time). The last step might be the most important one, we always, always rinse out the shampoo until it is completely gone so there is no residue left behind when the hair is dry. If there is residue the hair will get dirtier quicker.
We’ve discovered glue residue left behind from the carpet mask caused the carpet to attract dirt faster even though it was cleaned using a safe process not to damage the carpet. However, it probably wasn’t cleaned at a hot enough temperature to release the glue from the carpet and wasn’t rinsed thoroughly. Most cleaning companies use a cleaning solution that doesn’t need to be rinsed when steam cleaning, however it does not remove 100% percent of the cleaning solution, which may leave behind a slight residue. So now we have residue from the glue and residue from the cleaning solution. What now?
The Solution! A multi-step process needs to be applied when removing carpet mask residue that has been left down for a long period of time on carpeting. A combination of dry cleaning the carpet to remove the glue residue most likely will be done first followed up by a wet cleaning to rinse and remove the soil. It should be noted that a multi-step process may not remove all the residue or soil on the first cleaning and may need to have a light cleaning touch up a few days or weeks after the initial cleaning to be sure it is completely removed.
- Here are a few suggestions to prevent this issue from happening. Communicate with the interior designer and schedule projects accordingly.
- Hold off on installing the carpet until all the projects in the home are completed. If this is not possible, have the contractor tape down plastic or paper/cardboard ensuring that it covers the carpet from wall to wall
- Know your carpet. Educate yourself on the fabric and proper cleaning techniques to be used prior to projects. Do your homework!
- Hire a cleaner that has encountered this problem before and knows exactly how it should be remedied and can communicate the process in a crystal clear fashion.
In conclusion, there is an old saying “You don’t know what you don’t know” and the faster we realize that we are never done learning we can all do our jobs better. So we encourage you to learn all you can when it comes to fabric types, construction and maintenance of the fine items that exist in our Principal’s homes to protect their investments and your credibility.