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Preparing for Winter Carpet Care

By Joe Bshero

October 28, 2019


While year-round carpet maintenance is essential, care is especially important during the winter months. From snow and salt to sand and mud, heavy winter boots and shoes bring various contaminants into facilities and onto floors. As cleanliness is such an important part of a facility’s image, managers of buildings with carpet must find ways to keep soils and moisture from wreaking havoc on carpet fibers.


Thankfully, taking certain measures can protect carpet during the colder season. It’s important to understand winter carpet care challenges as well as the key cornerstones of proper carpet care to preserve the look and feel of your facility.


Winter Carpet Care Challenges

Facilities face numerous carpet care challenges during the winter. Salt and sand are frequently used on roads and sidewalks to enhance traction and reduce slip and fall accidents. Often, these soils become trapped in the treads of shoes and can be loosened as a guest walks throughout a building. Salt is an especially troublesome contaminant, as it can create visible and unsightly white stains on carpet.



In the winter, businesses must also deal with more moisture as a result of melting snow and ice. Snow and ice can also become blended with dirt and create a wet and muddy mess within buildings. In busy facilities like retail stores and airports, it can be difficult to manage a nearly constant flow of foot traffic. However, spending extra time on carpet care during the winter can reduce maintenance issues and their associated costs over the long term.


Four Cornerstones of Carpet Care

A strategic approach to maintenance has numerous benefits, especially during winter months. Consistent maintenance keeps moisture from over wetting carpet, and soils from becoming deeply embedded in carpet fibers or staining surface fibers. Properly caring for carpet not only upholds cleanliness and a facility’s image, but also protects the investment in flooring. Replacement is costly and often requires closures of carpeted areas or overnight labor to install new carpet.


Consider the following four cornerstones of a comprehensive carpet care program:

  • Preventative Maintenance. As it’s easier to prevent the spread of contaminants onto carpet than to remove stains and spotting, entrance matting is strongly recommended. Guests can wipe off excess debris and moisture onto matting upon entering a facility. Facilities should look for matting that can effectively scrape off dirt, hold moisture and stay in place on floors. Install 9-15 feet of matting directly after entrances to accommodate guests’ first several footsteps.
  • Daily Maintenance. To remove dry soil accumulation, vacuum on a daily basis. Whether you purchase an upright, backpack or canister vacuum, make sure that the equipment is suited to your carpet fibers, storage space and employee preferences. In addition to vacuuming, perform daily checkups throughout the facility to expedite the clean-up of spills and address any salt stains to avoid permanent staining.
  • Interim maintenance. Interim maintenance removes abrasive or oily soils that can become embedded in carpet fibers. Adding this process to a carpet cleaning program can help businesses avoid more disruptive and costly maintenance in the future. It also keeps carpet looking consistently clean throughout the year. Low-moisture encapsulation achieves the same results as hot water extraction while using less moisture than traditional methods, and it doesn’t cause re-soiling. This step is key to keeping the facility looking consistently clean and ultimately extending the lifecycle of carpet. For this reason, it’s important to select an effective and easy-to-use two- or three-brush machine and chemistry.
  • Restorative Maintenance. The purpose of restorative maintenance is to eliminate embedded dry soil or any oily substances that may have built up in the carpet over time. Hot water extraction is suggested every 12-24 months depending on factors like weather patterns and foot traffic. Consider conducting restorative maintenance at a time when the facility will be less crowded to minimize disruption.



Making Adjustments during Winter

During the winter season, building occupants track an increased volume of dirt, salt and moisture onto carpet. To keep these contaminants from impacting the look of carpet and to extend its lifespan, facilities must establish and follow a regular maintenance schedule. Increasing the frequency of daytime cleaning or incorporating nighttime cleaning will keep floors free of contaminants and moisture. Additionally, a four-step approach that includes preventative, daily, interim and restorative maintenance ensures that carpet looks its best for years to come.


Joe Bshero is a Product Manager with R.E. Whittaker Co., a family-owned business with over 30 years of experience and the pioneers of the first commercial carpet encapsulation system. For more information about low-moisture encapsulation systems from Whittaker, visit or contact