Step Up Your Clean on Earth Day

Earth Day reminds us that our home planet is full of stunning nature and magnificent resources for us to enjoy.  It also nudges us to remember those resources are finite and that we must work towards good stewardship and sustainability.  While you’ll hear about lots of projects today that are good for the planet, have you considered a regular cleaning routine as a contribution toward caring for the Earth?

The floors we walk on every day are scientifically designed to handle the load we put on them, including our feet and the soil we carry with us.  Advancements in polymer science, fiber extrusion, and color technology have created products that are attractive, slip resistant, and long-lasting.  But the same properties that make them long lasting also make them harsh on the environment when we do have to eventually replace them.  

In 2022, over 11 billion square feet of carpet and rugs were sold in the United States.  This amount, sold in just one year, could cover all the land area in Washington D.C.—six times!  That means around the same amount was sent to landfills, where it takes decades to break down.  And carpet represents less than half of the floor covering industry, with laminate vinyl (LVP or LVT) dominating the remaining types.  LVP is made of synthetic polymers and will also spend decades in a landfill.

The solution?  Extend the life of your flooring as much as possible with a reliable cleaning maintenance program.  On a microscopic level, the soil we bring with us onto our floors is abrasive and often sticky.  Over time the carpet fibers or flooring surface are scratched, creating a dull or dingy look.  Without removing the soil, it gets further compacted into the fibers, grooves, or backing of your flooring material, accelerating the need for replacement.

The first step to extended floor life is dry soil removal, or vacuuming.  According to the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), 79% of dry soil can be removed from carpet with vacuuming alone.  The CRI can also help you identify a good vacuum for your home or office.  For LVP and LVT, regular dust mopping and damp mopping is essential.  These floors are by no means maintenance free.

Interim professional cleaning is your second step for deep soil removal.  Hot Water Extraction is by far the most effective at removing embedded soil from carpet, even if a regular vacuuming program is in place.  Laminate vinyl also benefits greatly from a professional deep clean and rinse in the interim.  Just try a white towel test on your regularly mopped laminate floors and you may be surprised at what you see.

For homeowners, weekly maintenance is up to you or a residential maid service you may retain.  For offices, it’s imperative to contract with a reliable and thoroughly trained janitorial company to get the most consistent maintenance program.  Relying on office staff is a not a sustainable plan.

In conclusion, Earth Day is just one day out of the year, but it’s a good reminder to step up your cleaning routine and preserve your floor coverings.  This not only provides a healthier environment for your home or office, but also contributes to a healthy planet in the coming decades.