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Managerial Negligence: Carpet Cleaning

Thorough carpet extraction cleaning

Through our various mandates, we have noticed a widespread trend in the management of housekeeping contracts for commercial office buildings: carpet cleaning is often left to the discretion of tenants, which represents major consequences.

Most of the time, carpet cleaning is not included in tenants' housekeeping service charges. It's an extra cleaning service that's billed separately. However, this approach can have negative consequences not only for those occupying the rented space, but also for the building as a whole.

Through either lack of concern or forgetfulness, carpet cleaning in a rental space is often neglected, with repercussions that extend beyond the physical limits of that specific space. Carpets play a key role in air filtration, capturing dust, allergens and other pollutants. When carpets are not regularly cleaned, they can no longer perform this function effectively. As a result, these contaminants accumulate until they disperse into the ambient air, affecting air quality throughout the building.

Consequences on Occupants' Health

Several studies highlight the importance of regular carpet cleaning in improving indoor air quality and the health of building occupants. In addition, the Carpet and Rug Institute provides a variety of resources and studies that examine the impact of carpet care on various aspects such as air quality, health and sustainability. Their website offers a comprehensive overview of this research, including case studies and detailed analyses of the effectiveness of carpet cleaning and other flooring materials on the indoor environment.

An in-depth study carried out at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center reveals the considerable positive impact of extraction cleaning on indoor air quality. Prior to the implementation of a rigorous cleaning program, the average concentration of total suspended particulates (TSP) in the building was 11 ug/m³. Following the adoption of a thorough annual cleaning program, this concentration dropped to an average of 5.7 ug/m³, an impressive 52% improvement. In addition, the average concentration of total volatile organic compounds (TVOC) was reduced by 49%, from 324 ug/m³ to 165.7 ug/m³. The study also showed a 40% reduction in airborne bacteria and a 61% reduction in airborne fungi. These remarkable results underline the effectiveness of extraction cleaning, not only in keeping carpets in good condition, but also in ensuring a healthier indoor environment.

Carpets therefore act as air filters to minimize the dispersion of dust and allergens in the air. If they are not vacuumed regularly, the contaminants accumulated in them are released back into the air and can spread to other parts of the building, affecting air quality and the health of occupants in other rental spaces. This deterioration in air quality can lead to an increase in allergy symptoms and respiratory problems among employees and visitors, directly affecting productivity and well-being at work. A case study conducted at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, showed that diligent carpet cleaning can reduce airborne allergens by 40-80%. In addition, other laboratory studies with advanced cleaners have shown that deep carpet cleaning, combined with an efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, can reduce allergens by up to 99%.

Consequences on Cleaning Staff

In a context of labour shortages and high turnover in the housekeeping industry, inadequate carpet maintenance can not only increase overall maintenance costs, but also pose additional service delivery challenges. Lack of regular carpet maintenance leads to increased accumulation of dust, dirt and allergens, which in turn requires more frequent and intensive cleaning of other building surfaces and spaces.

The cleaning teams, already under pressure due to high workloads and limited resources, have to put in extra time and effort to maintain the expected level of cleanliness. If good carpet care techniques are not instilled in regular practices or taught to on-site teams, the high turnover rate directly affects the quality of cleaning throughout the building.

Consequences on Operating Costs

Additional costs obviously include the expenditure on additional equipment and cleaning products, and potentially hiring more staff to manage the increased workload. Not to mention the significant cost of replacing carpets when poor maintenance leads to premature wear and tear. These costs can add up quickly, affecting the overall building management budget.

Consequences on Ventilation Systems

Particles and pollutants escaping from unmaintained carpets are eventually absorbed by the building's ventilation systems. This can overload filters and reduce the overall efficiency of the ventilation system. The accumulation of dust and debris in ventilation filters requires more frequent maintenance and replacement, increasing maintenance costs for building managers.

Good Carpet Cleaning is Beneficial for Everyone

Property managers who care about the air quality in their buildings have every reason to be concerned about the quality of carpet maintenance in their facilities. Regular vacuuming and stain removal are essential for healthy, visually appealing spaces. When it comes to thorough extraction cleaning, the frequency should be planned according to the amount of traffic or the purpose of the space.

Whether or not it is included in the contracts with the janitorial service contractor, rigorous monitoring of carpet maintenance remains a shared responsibility between managers and tenants.

Quality carpet cleaning in building maintenance contracts is not only beneficial for maintaining visual cleanliness, but is also an essential measure for protecting the air quality and health of all building occupants.

This helps to increase tenant satisfaction by ensuring a healthier work environment, while minimizing wear and tear on ventilation systems and overall maintenance costs.

Given this information on the importance of carpet cleaning to air quality, occupant health and operational profitability, what do you think might be the best approach for Property Managers and tenants to effectively integrate carpet maintenance into routine cleaning practices in commercial office buildings?

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