Encapsulation Cleaning is a Perfect Choice... Most of the Time
When I first entered this industry about 8 years ago (2010), there were still a lot of people on the fence about whether or not to use encapsulation. The technology wasn’t understood, and there were concerns that it wasn’t cleaning as well as hot water extraction (HWE).
Fast forward 8 years and most cleaners understand the basic principles, and they’ve come to grips with what encapsulation can do… and what it can’t do. For the diehard extraction fans, don’t worry, I’ll start out by saying that encapsulation cleaning does not clean as thoroughly as hot water extraction.
Let’s start off with the bullet points, and then I’ll expound on each one a bit.
IT MAKES SENSE WHEN...
- you need to clean a commercial building and price very competitively
- the aggressive cleaning of hot water extraction could damage carpet
- dry times are critical
- speed is critical
- your back doesn’t allow you to hot water extract
IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE WHEN
- the soil is very oily (like restaurants)
- the client is paying for the best cleaning possible
- pets are kept indoors
WHEN YOU SHOULD CONSIDER ENCAPSULATION?
COMPETITIVE COMMERCIAL CARPET CLEANING
Cleaning commercial buildings can be a profitable, consistent business. You set up your equipment, clean all night, and collect a big check. Rinse and repeat every quarter, bi-annually, or annually, and it becomes an important part of keeping the lights on in your business. Because of this, it’s also very competitive.
Since this is appealing to many cleaners, you often run into a situation where a commercial facility will receive dozens of bids every year. This inevitably drives your profits down as you strive to remain competitive.
Enter encapsulation. Because encapsulation cleaning is much faster and simpler, you’ll reduce labor, chemical, equipment and gas costs. The costs are often as low as ¼ of what it cost to hot water extract! Now cleaners can actually make money at the ridiculously low prices some commercial facilities demand.
I work in a building where the glue down carpet is not very “glued down”. We’re forced to have it cleaned using encapsulation because hot water extraction’s combination of aggressive vacuum, heat, and cleaning solutions dissolve the glue and cause ripples that don’t go away when dry.
Encapsulation doesn’t use heat, uses extremely mild chemistry, and applies very little pull force to the carpet—allowing you to use it in place of HWE when the alternative would require you to repair the carpet after cleaning.
FASTER DRY TIMES
There are many facilities open 24/7: casinos, airports, and hospitals to name some of the bigger ones. They need carpets dry ASAP. HWE can take up to 8 hours to dry, depending on the carpet type, fans used, and how dirty it was. Carpets cleaned using encapsulation can be dry in under 30 minutes. Encapsulation cleaning is often referred to as “low moisture” cleaning because of this.
Encapsulation cleaning is fast. You can easily clean up to 2,000 sq. ft./hour. Compare that to HWE where the average is 500 to 600 sq. ft./hour.
BACK, WRIST, AND SHOULDER PROBLEMS
Encapsulation cleaning is physically easy. I’ve seen videos of carpet cleaners’ little kids doing a great job cleaning carpets using counter-rotating brush machines.
WHEN YOU SHOULDN'T CONSIDER ENCAPSULATION
That’s a long list of reasons for cleaning carpets using encapsulation cleaning methods. If it has so many pros, then why isn’t it the #1 way carpets are cleaned? It’s biggest limitation is that it can’t clean as deeply as extraction cleaning.
Hot water extraction has a couple major features going for it:
- It uses really hot water. A wand putting out 200 degree water will cut through grease like a, well, like a hot knife through butter.
- It uses stronger chemistry. Since you are going to completely extract and rinse the carpet, you can use stronger cleaning solutions since they won’t be left in the carpet.
- It uses lots of water. Water by itself is a great solvent (Note: chemists call anything that will dissolve something a solvent, in this case, it’s an “aqueous” solvent). All this excess water does a good job of dissolving soils and carrying them away.
RESTAURANT CLEANING AND OILY SOILS
As we mentioned above, you can’t beat HWE for cleaning oily soils. I’ve seen specially prepared encapsulation cleaners do an OK job cleaning greasy carpets, but HWE beats it hands down.
YOU'RE GETTING PAID FOR THE BEST CLEANING POSSIBLE
If your clientele is asking (and paying) for the best, give them the best. Perhaps they want to reduce the allergens in their environment, or make the carpet look new again. Whatever it is, don’t take hot water extraction pricing and expectations and give them encapsulation cleaning.
THE PROBLEM WITH PETS
Pets are animals. Literally and figuratively. They will make a mess, and it’s a mess: urine, feces, and vomit, that should be removed, not encapsulated. These soils can be removed very well with strong chemistry and hot water flushing.
What’s your experience? When do you feel encapsulation should, or shouldn’t, be used? Let us know in the comments below.