Cleaning & Restoration Association News

Something Wicking This Way Comes

July 8, 2009
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I recently inspected a couple of carpet-cleaning jobs carried out by two different cleaning companies. One job was through the manufacturer, the other contracted by the homeowner.

The first job involved residual soil wicking up to the surface as the carpet was drying and, in the customer’s words, “The color of the carpet got darker and streakier over a 24-hour period, making the carpet dirtier-looking than before the cleaning.”

The second job was, basically, a mess, due to the chevrons or, as they were described to me during a recent course, the “carrots” or wand marks left in the carpet.

This, of course, got me thinking about our techniques and procedures, and whether we are actually doing everything necessary to clean a carpet efficiently, effectively and sufficiently.

Take the wicking soil job: the problem here was a lack of good vacuuming both by the consumer and then by the carpet cleaner. In fact, many carpet cleaners assume because they have a top of the range truck mount or a wet extraction machine with twin super duper motors then dry vacuuming is not necessary.

This is mistake No. 1. More than three-quarters of the soil in a carpet is dry and reacts very well to good vacuuming. On a cut-pile carpet this might involve an upright and preferably twin-motor vacuum.

On loop pile, especially wool loop, consider using a cylinder-type vacuum with a wand, as this will reduce down the amount of fuzzing or felting that might occur with the mechanical action.

Remember, use slow, overlapping strokes with either the upright or the wand. Pay particular attention to the embedded soil; this needs to be removed so as not to cause soil streaking or residual soil wicking to the top as the carpet dries.

Make sure the vacuum bags are less than two-thirds full; any fuller and it will impede the airflow and reduce the chance of extracting the maximum amount of dry soil.

To achieve the right result for my (now) client, I had to vacuum extensively for a little over half an hour, especially in the main traffic lanes. Then I wet-extracted the carpet using a power wand and re-aligned the pile. The result, if I may say, was good.

The second inspection involved the chevron or carrot patterns in the carpet. Apparently the cleaner who carried out the work said there had never been a complaint before, and therefore he thought it quite acceptable. According to him, it didn’t matter what his client wanted or preferred.

I had to re-clean the whole area so that I could re-align the pile by brushing up and then down to reset the pile all one way. It was rather a simple solution to a really bad job.

What amazes me is that neither client wanted the cleaning companies to pay for the bad work that was carried out; in fact, they believed that after talking to the companies it was better to put the problem down to experience.

It’s quite simple, really. You of course need to vacuum the carpet before cleaning, but determining whether the carpet is full of soil or not will help you do it right.

Tell your client how you intend to leave the carpet after cleaning and, if your usual way is leave chevrons or carrots, explain this to them first. In over 30 years of cleaning carpets I cannot remember a client who didn’t want the carpet all finished the same way with wand, pad and rotary marks invisible.

Carpet cleaning technicians must understand the importance of carrying out a thorough survey, of vacuuming properly and completing the job to the satisfaction of the client.

At an IICRC-approved school you will learn this and a whole lot more. Becoming a Certified Technician will impart confidence in your clients, giving them another reason to choose you.

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