Game Plan: Dry Soil Removal

Last month we ended with the question, “Why we should vacuum the carpet?” To me, there are several good reasons. The first is that the client is paying us to clean the carpet. That means removing all the soil we can without causing any damage to the yarn or dye system. We’re aware of the industry study that showed that the majority of the soil in a carpet is dry soil. It seems reasonable, therefore, to include dry soil removal in the cleaning process.

Another reason to vacuum the carpet is that it sets up the removal of the fluid soil, the combination of oil and water based soil. If dry soil is still in the carpet, removing the fluid soil becomes more time consuming. The most common reason I’m given for not vacuuming the carpet is that the cleaner does not have sufficient time. I contend we don’t have the time not to vacuum the carpet.

I often use the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 principle, to explain the need to vacuum the carpet. The 80/20 principle has a broad application in explaining the relationship between inputs and outputs. Relating to the presence of dry soil, roughly 80% of the dry soil is contained in 20% of the carpet. The majority of dry soil is tracked in and is deposited in the entry areas and high traffic areas. We need therefore to concentrate our vacuuming to those areas, and it doesn’t have to take a great deal of time.

I tell cleaners that if we spend 10 minutes at the beginning of the job removing the dry soil from the high use areas, we’ll save 2 or 3 times that amount of time later trying to clean the high-use areas that are impacted with dry soil that refuses to release when it is wet.  I’ve convinced a few companies to include vacuuming in the process, but it is an ongoing endeavor.

Remember, we are the cleaning machine. The equipment we use to vacuum a client’s carpet needs to be of a commercial grade, not the grade of the client’s home vacuum. Although a pile lifter is not required, a good commercial model is. The process often requires the cleaner to groom the carpet in the entry areas to loosen the yarn that has been allowed to pack down and is loaded with dry soil and fluid soil.

Effective vacuuming will require multiple passes in several directions at the point of heaviest concentration. As the cleaner vacuums the remaining carpet, we can speed up the process as we encounter less dry soil.

I hope I’ve made the case for dry vacuuming. Next month we’ll discuss the next step in the cleaning process: fluid soil suspension.

Time Out: Tech Issue

Let’s conclude the discussion of reappearing spots. Wicked soil is a result of complete soil suspension with incomplete soil removal. The un-removed soil accumulates at the surface of the carpet and often resembles the original spot or stain.

One thing to understand about wicked soil is that it is not nearly as set in the yarn as the original soil. The wicked soil has been suspended, and reset, but has not aged or oxidized like the original spot. Therefore it is usually easy to remove. Any number of spotters, reducers, or encaps may be used to remove reappearing spots.

If the area is fairly large, such as coffee stains can be, my favorite method is to use the appropriate spotter followed by agitation and absorption with a bonnet pad and a 175 rpm rotary machine. This method allows for effective soil removal while controlling the amount of moisture involved, and thus preventing the spots’ reappearance.

Coaching Tip

The number one rule in business (and personal) life: Keep the overhead low!

Bulletin Board Material

“The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it.” -- Lou Holtz

“Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.” -- Joe Theisman

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