Cleaning Methods Can Affect New-Carpet Warranty

Be sure to check warranty's fine print for approved maintenance processes.

It's up to cleaning professionals to make sure their choice of cleaning methods doesn't negate or limit a carpet manufacturer's warranty.

By Dominic Tom, Managing Editor

Carpet Void

Collins & Aikman Floorcoverings, a Dalton, GA-based carpet manufacturer, states in its maintenance guide that the company "will not warrant problems caused by poor or improper maintenance."

The company identifies four "non-approved" carpet cleaning methods:

  • Dry foam. "Detergent is difficult to remove, contributing to rapid re-soiling. Does not deep clean."
  • Rotary brush. "Detergent is difficult to remove, contributing to rapid re-soiling, and the action of the brushes can cause pile distortion. Does not deep clean."
  • Bonnet. "This method only affects the surface of the carpet. The buffing action can distort the carpet pile and grind dirt deeper into the pile, and the spinning action of the pad can distort face yarn."
  • Dry powders. "Not recommended as a primary cleaning method for [company] products. Use instructions for dry powders must be closely followed to make sure powders do not build up in the carpet which result in performance problems."

Collins & Aikman says that water extraction "is the recommended and most effective method to deep clean."

Preferred Cleaning

Carey Mitchell, director of technical services for carpet manufacturer Shaw Industries Inc., says his company won't void its warranty based on cleaning methods used. He says Shaw "recommends hot water extraction by a professional carpet cleaner" as a preferred process.

The company's recently revised maintenance program states its recommendations "are based on significant laboratory work and many years of experience in the field."

In its maintenance program guide, Shaw Industries opposes bonnet cleaning its carpet:

"It is not a substitute for hot water extraction. It has very limited capability for soil removal and often leaves most of the detergent in the pile. The spinning bonnet may distort the pile of cut-pile carpets and leave distinct swirl marks. Shaw's experience has been that more customer soiling complaints result from this system than all other causes combined. The bonnet system may damage the edges of some carpet tiles."

Insider Input

The topic of carpet warranties recently surfaced on Cleaning & Maintenance Management's online forum, accessible at

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Clay... Shull is a senior carpet inspector employed as a "trouble shooter" for British Columbia, Canada-based Edenvale Restoration Specialists. He says an unidentified university facility manager told him that a carpet representative for various carpet manufacturers stated that bonnet cleaning can destroy carpet, thus voiding the warranty.

Skip Dallen, a Los Angeles-based sales representative for cleaning chemical manufacturer, recommends that cleaning managers tell the carpet manufacturer that they want a letter that allows them to use bonnet cleaning without affecting the warranty. Managers should make it clear in the letter that they won't buy or recommend a manufacturer's carpet without the waiver.

"How quickly do you think this nonsense will stop?" asks Dallen.

Corky Green, lead maintenance worker for the Scranton Attendance Center, Scranton, KS, says he's used bonnet cleaning for 15 years without a problem. The bonnet method is an acceptable, albeit interim, cleaning method, says Green.

"This whole conversation on bonnet cleaning is a bit absurd, in my judgment," says Jeff Bishop, owner of Dothan, AL-based Clean Care Seminars Inc. and a recognized restorative maintenance consultant.

He maintains the problem stems from cleaning professionals who declare bonnet cleaning to be the end-all system for restorative cleaning in every situation. It isn't, he adds, and the same is true for "steam cleaners" who believe that bonnet cleaning destroys carpet.

Bishop says Shaw Industries believed that the rotary action of bonnet cleaning, when combined with minimum moisture, produced yarn distortion on residential, cut-pile carpet. "How that got extrapolated into a never-use-on-any-carpet philosophy is beyond me." Bishop says his cleaning service has never gotten a complaint from its commercial customers over the use of bonnet cleaning.

"Bottom line, who knows more about carpet cleaning manufacturers or trained, experienced, certified cleaning technicians?" asks Bishop rhetorically.

Bishop's training and educational materials are now available through the Cleaning Management Institute, an informational and educational resource that operates in conjunction with Cleaning & Maintenance Management.

For more information on the topic of this article, please go to and use the following keywords in an article search: carpet warranty, bonnet cleaning, hot water extraction.

All Content Copyright 1999

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