Pro's Corner

EncapsuIation in Perspective

Encapsulation currently dominates commercial carpet maintenance cleaning. There is a lot of misinformation being circulated since the process is misunderstood.  Essentially encapsulation takes place because polymers are being put into cleaning formulations. Polymers, when dried out, form film around carpet fibers and released soil. The more polymer used, soil retardation increases, prolonging the time between cleanings as long as effective vacuuming is taking place.

Every carpet cleaning formulation has a resoil profile. A lot of ingredients are resoil neutral, though some ingredients or combination of ingredients are resoil negative.  Polymers are resoil positive. For example, you can have a cleaning formula that is resoil negative, but you can add polymer to it until it is resoil positive. This resoil profile is extremely important when using a product without hot water extraction. However, hot water extraction, when done properly with the right equipment reduces the significance of this profile.

Adding a significant amount of polymers to presprays and emulsifiers designed for hot water extraction is not practical since the majority of the polymer will be extracted. Rinses and emulsifiers are diluted from 1: 320 to 1: 640. This is sprayed down and extracted right away. We have tested that as much as 80% of the solution sprayed down is extracted right away. For example, if the emulsifier starts with 5% polymer, diluted 1 to 640, then it results in .008% polymer sprayed down and .0015% polymer left on the carpet. A typical encapsulating prespray designed for brush application will leave several hundred times more polymer on the carpet. Designing the formulas to be resoil neutral, however, makes sense to prevent resoiling in case the hot water extraction is done improperly.

In short, when hot water extraction products are encapsulated, it means that enough polymer was added to make it resoil neutral or slightly resoil positive.  However, when products are not meant to be extracted, then the polymer in the formula make a significant difference in the resoil profile.  If cleaners want to significantly slow down resoil rates, then they have a few choices.  They can use an encapsulated product that will not be hot water extracted.  It still needs to be extracted over time with a vacuum.  This will result in choosing to agitate with a brush or bonnet.  They also can add an encapsulate as a post spray to limit resoiling after extraction cleaning, as well as  a fluorochemical carpet protector to resist resoiling.  The carpet protector will add surface tension and acid dye resistors in some formulas to limit staining.



carpet cleaning, encapsulation