Carpet/Rug/Upholstery Cleaning

Game Plan: A Conversation

December 12, 2011
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In previous issues I wanted to emphasize the technician as the actual “cleaning machine.” I think I’ve made that point. Each of us needs to look at ourselves as the actual cleaning machine. Now I want to move on to the soil removal process itself.

The Clean Trust’s (formerly the IICRC) S100 Standard and Reference Guide For Carpet Cleaning will be the baseline. Incidentally, the Fifth Edition of S100 is now available. It is a compilation of the efforts of many people over many years, and represents the accumulation of “best practices.” S100 refers to the first principle of cleaning as that involving the removal of “dry soil.” Now I want to discuss the concept of dry soil removal, also called insoluble soil.

We need to appreciate that this type of soil does not dissolve in cleaning solutions, thus the designation as “insoluble.” The majority of this soil is tracked into the house or carpeted facility from outside and deposited on the carpet with several strides across the carpet. Animal fibers and natural fibers are also included as dry soil. Basically, dry soil needs to be removed dry. This involves using a dry vacuum system. No big problem: vacuum the carpet.

Here’s the real issue with dry soil removal: it often does not get done.  Twenty years ago when I started teaching CCT courses, I would ask how many students vacuumed the carpet as the first step. I was somewhat shocked to discover that less than half did so. When I bought a carpet cleaning and dyeing franchise in 1975, the first step was to vacuum every square inch of every carpet with a certified pile lifter. That’s the way I was taught, and when we started selling franchises ourselves, that’s the way I trained hundreds of new cleaners.

Vacuuming with a pile lifter may be a bit of overkill, but it’s a great dry soil removal process and sets up the fluid soil removal process tremendously. Many times the homeowner would get out her checkbook to pay us, only to learn that we had just done the first step, vacuuming the carpet.

Next Month: Why should we vacuum the carpet?

Time Out: Tech Issue

Previously, we were discussing reappearing spots. We know that capillary action brings the soil from deep in the carpet layers back to the surface as water wicks up and is evaporated off the surface. The soil remains.

Typically, the soil is on the tips of the carpet yarn. There are several methods that can be use to remove the soil. Keeping in mind that the soil is usually only on the surface (evidenced by separating the yarn), one very good removal method is to use one of the available encapsulating products.

Encaps capture the soil and don’t allow the soil to redeposit. An encap can be sprayed lightly onto the surface soil, worked in with any agitation process, including a towel if the area is small. The encap, with the captured soil, is allowed to dry and is then vacuumed from the carpet.

Next Month: more methods for removing reappearing soil.

Coaching Tip

“The worst direct marketing method is better than the best indirect marketing.” In other words, get face-to-face with your clients.

Bulletin Board Material

“The passion for truth is silenced by the answers which have the weight of undisputed authority” – Paul Tillich

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing; Motivation determines what you do; Attitude determines how well you do it.” -Lou Holtz

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