Soil Suspension – The Key to Clean Carpets

Anyone who has spent time cleaning carpets knows the approach to getting a carpet/rug clean you must follow 5 basic actions:

* Dry soil removal

* Soil suspension

* Soil extraction

* Pile setting (finishing or grooming)

* Drying

For the sake of this conversation I’ll step to the second bullet because I truly believe this is where OPers have a distinct advantage over other methods. With regards to soil suspension what we can do is employ:

* chemical action

* heat

* agitation

* time to maximize removal. And as you’ll see some steps carry more weight than others.

Chemical Action

Our first step in soil suspension is to use products that reduce the surface tension and dissolve the various soils (chemical action). What’s different about OPers is that when we use encapsulation we are emulsifying some dirt but in general we are growing macroscopic/bulk particles for removal by vacuuming. I maintain this is one cool approach that works quite well. However, when we using colloidal chemistry products (like Orbit Natural and Abstraction) we are using a “technology” that most other’s cleaners overlook.

The dirt and grime in carpets are layers of fine films made up of fat, oil, grease, bacteria, dust mites and skin etc. These films are bonded to each other and to the carpet fiber surface by amino and fatty acids. Most cleaners emulsify some of these films, but do not break down the amino and fatty acids which attract more soil to the carpet. Colloidal chemistry cleaning products use plant based ingredients to remove these films and acids.

The nano sized particles called micelles that represent the active ingredient in the products effectively cut through the carbon bonds in organic molecules and emulsify organic matter. Oil, grease and urine are broken down, suspended and safely lifted away from the carpet fibers. The quick degradation of organic waste causes a significant reduction of offensive odor caused by the naturally slow process of decay, and reduced organic residue will cause a diminution in population of disease carrying insects. Our OP process returns bounce to carpet fiber and effectively removes organic soil without damaging textile fibers.

Elevated Temperature (Heat)

Heat reduces the surface tension of water and enables faster, more efficient cleaning than cold water. It is merely a matter of thermodynamics: heat accelerates the molecular activity of chemicals employed, and thus aids in separation of unwanted matter from fibers. The issue here is that our first step whether encapsulation or colloidal chemistry does a great job of either isolating the dirt as a bulk particle or emulsifying the dirt thoroughly and thus eliminating the need to bring in heat via copious amount of hot water.


Agitation is required to accomplish uniform chemical penetration and distribution throughout the carpet. In the absence of agitation, soil suspension tends to be non-uniform, which is often indicated by soil streaks following the removal process. Again what’s great for OPers is that our equipment delivers an aggressive agitation other carpet cleaners can’t provide. The best a “steam cleaner” can do is comb in the pre-conditioning chemicals. The other option would be to employ a bonnet / OP machine before HWE but this approach would be too labor and time prohibited as well as cost ineffective.


Regardless of cleaning technique we all have time but it is often the least considered in obtaining soil suspension. Those soils in the carpet did not appear overnight, they were deposited and compacted over time so we must give the products time to perform their chemical action. Let “dwell time” be your friend and get adequate fiber penetration and maximum soil suspension will occur. If in doubt follow chemical manufacturer’s instructions.


Centex Green