As carpeting becomes a more popular floor covering for schools and universities, the importance of vacuuming to a facility's maintenance program grows.

"Vacuuming is the single most effective and economical means of keeping the facility floor coverings clean," says The Carpet and Rug Institute.

The institute offers recommendations for school vacuuming.

When selecting a vacuum cleaner, schools should give added weight to durability. "Poor quality vacuum cleaners continue to operate, but cleaning efficiency can deteriorate quickly, and maintenance or replacement costs are high," the institute says.

The institute awards an indoor air quality "green" label to vacuum cleaners that meet strict standards for soil removal, containment of the dust within the bag and the machine, and carpet appearance retention.

Next, the cleaning staff should establish a vacuuming schedule.

"Classify carpet areas into high traffic, moderate traffic, and light traffic areas," the institute says. "Vacuum high traffic areas daily, or more frequently as the need arises. Vacuum moderate traffic areas two to three days each week or as needed, and vacuum light traffic areas a minimum of once or twice weekly."

In general, high-traffic areas in education facilities are corridors, break areas, classrooms used daily, cafeterias, entry ways, congested channels, and principal passage routes. Medium-traffic areas: Teacher break areas, media centers, offices and classrooms used on a part-time basis. Light-traffic areas: conference rooms, teacher offices, auditoriums, and any area where access is limited.

Read the main story, "Flooring/Carpeting," to learn more.