The Down and Dirty on Carpet Encapsulation


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Often, I find that the term carpet encapsulation elicits interesting responses from customers and friends.  Some people have never heard of it before and think I’m just making something up to sound new and innovative, while others believe it’s just the same old carpet shampooing process they’ve seen back in the day. 

I’d like to share with you exactly what carpet encapsulation is, and how it can be of benefit in your home and office.

Over 20 years ago encapsulation products began to come into the market; however, it’s taken almost that long for them to gain steam in the highly skeptical carpet cleaning industry.  One of the original companies to release these products was Whittaker with their Crystal Dry carpet cleaning solution.  Now, as the popularity of these products have grown, nearly every cleaning product company offers some variation of encapsulation solutions.

How it Works

Of all the products on the market, Crystal Dry may have the most appropriate name because it describes almost exactly what encapsulation does to the carpets.  As shown in this diagram, after being sprayed onto the carpets, the chemical begins to immediately surround or “encapsulate” soil particles.  This causes the soil to release from the carpet fibers and remain suspended within the carpet.  Within a short period of time, usually less then 30 minutes, the product dries or “crystalizes” and leaves the soil in a state that is easy to remove.  Following this, the carpets are vacuumed, and the soil is removed.

When to Use

Clearly, this process is very different from hot water extraction and handles certain situations better than others.  In general, here are some determining factors for the best situations to use carpet encapsulation:

  • Short Pile/Fiber Carpets – Not long fibers such as shag carpet
  • Commercial Grade Carpets – However, most home carpets will still work well
  • Low to Medium Soil Level – High levels of grease, such as those found in restaurants will overpower the chemical
  • Synthetic Carpet Fibers – Not natural carpets

Key Advantages

When deciding to use encapsulation, you should also consider the possible benefits or advantages of this process.  Here are five reasons to choose encapsulation carpet cleaning for your next project.

1. Fast Dry Time

With our fast-paced lives, it can be frustrating trying to work around a wet carpet.  Due to bad experiences with hot water extraction, many people have become concerned about dry time which has spurred an increase in the use of many dry carpet cleaning methods.  With that said, one of the main advantages of encapsulation is that the carpets will be dry in almost every situation in under 30 min.  This means that by the time the job is finished, the carpets should already be dry.  Along with that, there are other benefits caused by the reduced amount of water such as fewer spots “reappearing” or wicking back to the surface of the carpet, reduced chance of the de-lamination of the carpet, and reduced chance of over-wetting.

2. Cost Effective

One of the best reasons to use encapsulation is the low cost.   The production rate for encapsulation is about double that of extraction, which means in general, it is about half the cost.  This can add up to substantial savings, especially in commercial facilities, and can be used as a great tool to create cost-effective carpet maintenance plans.

3. Low Environmental Impact

In the cleaning industry, it is becoming increasingly important to find ways of reducing the environmental impact our products and processes have during cleaning.  Thankfully, encapsulation passes the test as an environmentally-friendly product because it is a very mild chemical & very close to neutral on the PH scale.

4. Minimal Disruption to Work/Living Space

Because of the fast dry time, encapsulation works great in busy homes and offices.  Many people who have avoided carpet cleaning because the disruption to their lives can now have their carpets done and dry in under 1 hour. That means less wasted time and minimal disruption to your schedule.

5. Increased Effectiveness of Vacuuming

After your carpets have been cleaned by encapsulation, you’ll see continuing benefits for weeks or months to come, as the carpets will be easier to vacuum and maintain.  The process of encapsulation assists in releasing soil from the carpets so that the vacuum is more effective in the removal of soil.

Now that you are familiar with the uses and benefits of encapsulation carpet cleaning, I would encourage you to try it on your next project.  Assuming the situation fits those described above, I know you’ll have great results and continue to use it in maintaining your carpets.

What experiences have you had with carpet encapsulation?  Were you happy with how the carpets turned out?  Are you interested in using carpet encapsulation in the future?

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