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If you’ve been in the commercial cleaning industry for a while, then you’ve probably heard the term encapsulation thrown around. Or, maybe you’re not an industry vet and just heard it for the first time. Some may know it’s a low-moisture method, or that it’s an effective interim procedure, but what exactly is encapsulation carpet cleaning?

Encapsulation carpet cleaning is the process of removing contaminants from carpeting using a chemical solution that contains acrylic polymers. These polymers attach themselves to soil particles in the carpet. Once attached, they break down the soil’s bond to the carpet fibers. After the bond is broken, the dirt particles are “released” from the carpet fibers and “trapped” in the solution as it dries. When fully dry, the carpet can be vacuumed, removing contaminants.

Encapsulation cleaning is nothing new, having been around since the mid-90s, but in the last 20 years, there have been incredible advancements in both practical and theoretical encapsulation technology hence the rise in popularity again.

Want to know if this is the right carpet cleaning method for your facility? Check out the video below, or continue reading to learn more!

How Does Encapsulation Carpet Cleaning Work? 

During the encapsulation process, an encapsulation cleaning solution is applied to carpeting using either a pump-up sprayer, a dry foam machine, or an encapsulation machine. Once it has been worked into the carpet, allow 10-15 minutes for the solution to sit and dry. This is when the magic happens.

As we mentioned above, encapsulation carpet cleaning works by surrounding, or trapping, soil and sticky residue left behind by spills or other messes. By disrupting the chemical bond between hard-to-reach particles and the carpet fibers, the encapsulation solution can trap soil particles and dry them out so that when vacuumed, the soils are easily removed.

The encapsulation solution contains an acrylic polymer that crystallizes, or traps, the soiled particles. Different formulas will contain other cleaning components as well, not just the encapsulation polymers. It’s the job of these chemicals to break down the bond between dirt, grease, and grime particulate, and the carpet fibers.

After removing the dry, encapsulated soil with a vacuum, commercial carpeting will be clean and dirt-free. Because there is no residue left behind from the chemical solution, there is no need to worry about resoiling or wicking.

Later in the article, we’ll go more in-depth about how adding encapsulation to your carpet care routine can be advantageous for your business. For now, let’s find out when it’s best to use encapsulation technology.

When to Use Encapsulation Carpet Cleaning 

The first thing you need to know about when to use encapsulation is that it should not replace daily or long-term cleaning efforts.

Encapsulation, when used properly, is performed periodically, as a method of improving the appearance of a carpet, thereby extending the time between restorative efforts. That means it should be used in addition to a good restorative routine for the most effective results.

To get the most out of encapsulation, both in terms of cleanliness and cost-effectiveness, we recommend performing 2-3 times per year (between restorative procedures).

When Not to Use an Encapsulation Cleaning Machine

While some experts believe that encapsulation cleaning can replace other restorative cleaning efforts, we advise against that. As we discussed earlier, encapsulation cleaning works best as a periodic maintenance procedure, and it will not clean down to the base of the carpet.

While effective at giving soiled carpets the appearance of cleanliness, encapsulation cleaning is ineffective at removing deep stains. Soil that is entrenched deep in the carpet fibers may remain after encapsulation cleaning, particularly from especially bad grease or oil spills.

Check out our Related Article: How to Perform Carpet Encapsulation Cleaning

Types of Carpet Encapsulation Cleaning

Encapsulation cleaning refers to a chemical process that dirt particles undergo when acrylic polymers encapsulate the dirt, isolating it from the carpet fiber and making it vulnerable to a dry vacuum.

There are many different cleaning methods that utilize encapsulation technology. Let’s compare some different carpet cleaning methods that can be done with encapsulation chemicals, and see how they stack up against each other.

Encapsulation Cleaning TypeLow Moisture Fast Dry Time Leftover Residue Low Water Usage

Dry Foam Shampoo

Chemical AbsorbentsYesYesYesYes
Bonnet Cleaning YesYesYesNo

Encapsulation Cleaning Technology: Dry Foam Shampoo

Taski Discs

Dry foam shampoo is a time-tested method of carpet cleaning that comes with a variety of chemical formulas, though it is simply an ineffective method when compared to modern solutions. 

Compared to an encapsulation carpet cleaning machine, dry shampooing is an ineffective use of your custodian’s time, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an encapsulation solution worth investing in if you don’t like the upfront cost of a machine.

Encapsulation Cleaning Technology: Chemical Absorbents 

Chemical absorbents require significant manual labor to be applied effectively. You may end up manually scrubbing a dry chemical solution with a carpet scrubber when you could have saved time and money with a machine. Additionally, cleaning residue is often left behind, which has the potential to reduce air quality and attract more dirt or soil particles.

Nilfisk-Advance Clarke CFP Pro 20in Floor Buffer

Encapsulation Cleaning Technology: Bonnet Cleaning

Using a bonnet on your encapsulation cleaning machine will require more water than some of the other methods we’ve looked at, which makes it a less sustainable method.

Typically, bonnets have more rigid bristles than a pad, which will result in more irritation and even damage to the carpet. For this reason, we don’t recommend bonneting unless you know it’s right for your carpet.

Bonnets will scrub harder than any manual effort can achieve, but that means there is a higher likelihood of residue getting pushed around and trapped deep within the carpet fibers. The leftover residue will attract new dirt particles, which results in resoiling.

Benefits of Carpet Encapsulation

There are three main advantages to encapsulation carpet cleaning that your business will undoubtedly benefit from:

  1. Improved Appearance 
  2. Increased Sustainability 
  3. Reduced Downtime 

1. Improved Appearance 

The simple answer is that encapsulation cleaning is likely to significantly improve the appearance of your business’ carpets, extending its life cycle. Of course, there’s more than just that. Encapsulation cleaning is cost-effective, labor-effective, and benefits companies looking to promote sustainable practices.

2. Increased Sustainability

Encapsulation cleaning uses less water and heat than similar methods of intermittent, and restorative, cleaning. In fact, encapsulation carpet cleaning uses 70% less water than extraction methods. Not only is that cost-effective, but it’s sustainable! As a very-low moisture method, you won’t have to worry about properly discarding contaminated water, as you would with extraction.

3. Reduced Downtime  

Quick drying is another big benefit. Depending on the encapsulation chemicals you use, your carpets can be dry in 15-30 minutes! That means less downtime for the carpet, more time for your custodial staff to address other concerns, and most importantly, the carpet won’t be out of commission for too long.

Final Thoughts

Are you looking for a more effective method of preventing your facility’s carpets from getting soiled? Adopt a solid encapsulation routine, and you won’t have to worry about keeping the appearance of your carpet clean between restorative cleanings!

Whether you’re located in the United States, Puerto Rico, or the Caribbean, Imperial Dade locations will provide your business with the tools and guidance you need to keep your carpeted flooring looking great. We offer a wide variety of commercial cleaning supplies including carpet encapsulation machines, carpet spotters, and more. Reach out to us for more information today!

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