Encapsulation is a low moisture cleaning method for carpet, rugs, and upholstery fabric. It has been widely accepted for commercial carpet cleaning and is beginning to see more use in area rug and upholstery cleaning.
A detergent solution emulsifies, dissolves, and suspends the various types of soil. Gentle agitation using a counter-rotating brush machine with wool safe brushes dislodges soil from the fabric or carpet pile. As the cleaning solution is drying, a polymer encapsulate surrounds both the soil and the fibers being cleaned. This polymer coating is smooth. When both the dirt and the individual fibers have this smooth coating, the soil does not stick but easily releases from the fiber to be vacuumed away.
The polymer that is left behind on the fibers reduces or eliminates stains wicking back to the surface. Future soils release from the carpet fiber easier thereby slowing resoiling. In addition to staying cleaner longer, encapsulation cleaning offers the advantage of quick-drying, normally under 1 hour. The equipment and tools required are minimal, items that already in most detailer’s arsenal.
Area rugs in large homes experience a wide variety of usage and soiling. Often rugs are placed in rooms used only for guests a few times a year. Area rugs used in family rooms and kitchens face daily use. The rugs used daily will demand thorough plant cleaning methods while rugs used periodically can be freshened up in the home using encapsulation. We need to divide rug cleaning into good (encapsulation), better (extraction), and best (submersion methods). Also, there are some rug fibers like sisal which need to be cleaned with low moisture only.
- Identify the fiber from sisal, viscose, wool, polypropylene, etc. Inspect and test the rug for bleeding.
- Start with thorough dry vacuuming. This is particularly important with encapsulation cleaning as any soil not removed by vacuuming must be encapsulated. Vacuum both the front and backside of the rug.
- Protect the floor surrounding the rug from moisture especially wood.
- Select the appropriate pre-spray from a basic formula, peroxide fortified formula (sisal and other specialty fibers), or a formula with acid dye resistor (preferred for wool to protect from staining).
- Apply the pre-spray in accordance with the level of soiling to the rug and fringes.
- Agitate with a counter-rotating brush machine making sure that soft brushes designed for wool are used.
- Hand brush the fringes and comb them out evenly.
- Accelerate drying with floor fans.
The results will surprise everyone and the labor costs saved cleaning in the house can be passed on to the homeowner providing a win, win, win situation.