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The question is not Encap vs. HWE

Sorry about the length of this post...just thought many of you might be interested.

As a newer player in the field of floor cleaning, we’ve been learning a lot about different methods and what their strengths/weaknesses are. Recently we learned a hard lesson about what encap actually does and what it does not do.

I had it in my mind that we could use encap all of the time for commercial carpets and that a vacuum would remove the soil that was crystallized. Although this statement is true, it doesn’t actually work like I had envisioned. After an in-depth discussion with Rick at Excellent-Supply (make Release It), I learned that encap is intended as a “maintenance” process, not a restorative process. Rick said that they have never tried to sell encap as a substitute to extraction cleaning, rather in addition to (which is why they sell HWE machines as well).

After soil is crystallized it will stay in the carpet. Your vacuum will extract some of it, but most likely less than 60% of it. The rest of it stays in the carpet. Now, the carpet looks good and is more resilient (stay’s looking nicer longer). However, if the carpet ever gets wet, the soil will be released from the crystallized state. Depending on how long it’s been since the last encap, it may crystallize again when it dries…but it may not. Also because the physical matter is still in the carpets, it can accelerate wear.

The best way to keep carpets clean is to use encap between extraction cleanings. Encap will prolong the need to extract, but extraction should still be done at some point (unless your vacuum is really good and the client never has a problem). Extraction can be done with HWE or with OP. Depending on the carpet, we will use either or both methods. HWE tends to be faster, but unless you have a very expensive high-pressure truck-mount, OP usually does the best job. We’ll choose HWE for carpets that have a lot of soil in them because it’s faster and cheaper than going through tons of OP pads (we don’t use HWE often). We only have a portable HWE for this purpose and for cleaning up after a tile cleaning.

Encap is an excellent process, but use it with caution – understand what is happening so that you can address issues if needs be. There are several clients where you can use encap only and you’ll be okay, but occasionally you’ll need a good extraction in order to provide the longest possible life for the carpets.

Re: The question is not Encap vs. HWE

from my experience, i agree with you here: "(unless... the client never has a problem)".

thus far i haven't had to HWE any of my accounts, tho i admit on 2 accounts in particular i would like to flush with a Steamin Demon.

my clients have not had any problems with 100% Encap for the past 3 years 6 months i've been doing it. no problems, but rave reviews. just fortunate i guess

thanx --- Derek.

BTW, i hope to invest in a Steamin Demon or a 20" OP this coming current OP is too small for the large volume of CGD i clean.

Re: The question is not Encap vs. HWE

I have several regular commercial customers for whom I have been performing encap-only cleaning for a few years now. Carpet looks better than ever. No adverse results from liquid spills have ever been reported, or have I noticed on return trips. On those jobs with the heaviest soil buildup (restaurants and some hotel hallways) I alternate straight "scrub'n'run" encap with terrycloth-based padcapping. Seems to work.

Re: The question is not Encap vs. HWE

My experience so far has been very different as well. My pads "extract" lots of dirt. The on,ly time I use HWE is when the client has neglected his/her carpets.

It is possible we can over think our industry but I prefer to follow and do what others who are successful do. I read about guys who do nothing... BUT OP. Never.ever HWE.

Re: The question is not Encap vs. HWE

i've learned a few things over the years that have made my encap results MUCH better.

playing with different pads/bonnets ; different dilution ratios of various encap's ; different boosters.

when i 1st started i sometimes got mediocre results. after experimenting with the above, it's now a whole new ballgame for me

thanx --- Derek.

Re: The question is not Encap vs. HWE

Very interesting information though. I appreciate the post!

Re: The question is not Encap vs. HWE

Kevin - Rick is good people and those statements may be true for his product line.(We use another product)

Do yourself a favor and buy a pocket microscope. Check the soil load at your own accounts and report your findings. I have done just this and am amazed at how little soil there is in the carpet after using encap or padcap at our accounts. Some have been encapped for years.

Welcome to the business and best of luck to you.

Re: The question is not Encap vs. HWE

Mike, I own one from a previous gig....awesome idea! Thanks!

Re: The question is not Encap vs. HWE

I was a little concerned about the info that was given about Rick's products, seeing as how I use them all the time. So I asked him myself about some of the concerns above, and maybe this will help:

"The crystallized residue OF RELEASIT will break away from the fiber and will be recovered during the post vacuuming process. Will 100% of the residue come out during the very first vacuuming? Probably not. It will likely require a few vacuumings to get the MAJORITY of the crystalized residue to release and be recovered via post vacuuming.

A very cool aspect of our crystallized polymer in Releasit is that it can be re-solublized. If the polymer is re-wetted (say from another encap cleaning), the polymer will turn back into a liquid state. Then after the carpet is dry again, the polymer will re-crystallize. What does that mean for you? It means that the polymer can NEVER build up in the carpet. If there happens to be any remaining residue that did not get vacuumed out of the carpet, any future wet cleanings will start the crystallization process anew. In other words there is no way a build up can occur with Releasit.

You can test what I just said for yourself. Dry a tablespoon of Releasit in a dish overnight. In the morning, add a few drops of water to the crystallized residue in the dish and mix it around with your finger. You will observe that the polymer will return to a liquid state. Now let it dry again and it will again return to a crystalized state. So there is absolutely no way you can get a build up.

Any residue that may still be in the carpet (prior to post vacuuming) CAN NOT attract soil. There is no sticky residue. There are no villainous detergent remains left behind in the carpet (as there will be with any cleaning method). All of the components of the detergent as well as the soil are now encased in the dried polymer. There is simply a soil resistant polymer left in the carpet, waiting for post-vacuuming. The crystallized polymer is microscopic, and it is highly unlikely that there could be damage to any synthetic fiber from the polymer. Carpet fiber is more durable than that! And keep in mind that as the fiber bends, it will naturally fracture the polymer away from itself."

Hope this helps!

Re: The question is not Encap vs. HWE

Matt, thanks for the clarity. This is the standard response from Rick, and I believe it is all true. The only part I question is how many times the encap will recrystalize when it get's damp. Rick told me that depends on how long it's been since it was first cleaned, how much soil there is, how much moisture, etc. I didn't mean to mislead you or cause concern.

The bottom line though is still that encap will make carpets look great, but even after vacuuming, there is still quite a bit of soil in the carpet. Most people will never notice it, so it won't be an issue. But as a couple of posts earlier stated, walking around on it with white socks will bring up soil. Try it - we have. One way to simulate this is fill a sink with water then let all the water out. There are a few droplets of water left in the sink basin - take a white cloth and soak up these droplets. Feel the cloth...doesn't feel too wet. Maybe like a sock that just came out of a shoe for the day. Rub it on the carpet a few times that has been encapped and vacuumed. Look at the dirt on the rag. Take the same type of damp cloth and rub it on the floor where encap hasn't been done. About the same results.

Ask Rick how he feels about extraction.

Again, please don't take my comments as intent to bash encap - we love encap and use it all of the time. I just wanted help others understand what can happen so that you are not surprised like we were when a major hotel chain audited our cleaning process.

Re: The question is not Encap vs. HWE

I do agree with your view on the encap process. But I have also noted that an audit of an HWE room can also turn up dirt. No matter how much you vacuum or extract, there will still be dirt behind. Some places more than others. And of course, the operator has a big play in the results!

Also, the white sock test is a good measure of how much soil was in the carpet in the first place. I have checked many times to see if an area required more attention or not after a cleaning by doing so. I can safely say that even in rooms that I have encaped there have been many instances where there was no visual soil on the sock, with the exception of areas that did need an extraction in the first place.

Re: The question is not Encap vs. HWE

Diminish the wet sock syndrome by going over the especially soiled areas that your have encapped with padcapping (replace the fiber or other non-absorbent pads woth terrycloth cotton pads, and work out additional soil and moisture). These 2-method areas will both look better, and will also hold less soil if someone tries the sock test. OR, cut your work time somewhat by using straight encap on the areas you consider lightly-to-moderately soiled, and just padcapping alone on the moderately-to-heavily soiled areas. When looking for the overall best results, however, regardless of the amount of time involved, use the 2-method approach.