Carpet/Rug/Upholstery Cleaning

Game Plan: Absorbent Compound Cleaning

October 1, 2012

Game Plan: The intention of this column is to subjectively discuss (my view) the carpet cleaning process in detail and in relation to the IICRC S100. This is best accomplished by following the “Five Principles of Cleaning” as outlined by S100. Those principles are:
1. Dry Soil Removal
2. Soil Suspension
3. Suspended Soil Removal
4. Finishing or Grooming
5. Drying 
I’m currently on Step 3, discussing the various methods of removing suspended soil. I’ve discussed hot water extraction (HWE) and absorbent pad (bonnet) as two of the five recognized methods of cleaning. This month, I want to discuss the absorbent (or adsorbent) compound method. The reason I want to consider this method here is that it has been successfully utilized for decades, yet is still misunderstood by many in the industry. If I were running a company today, I would definitely add this method to our services. Why? Because it adds versatility to one’s cleaning arsenal that is not necessarily available in other methods. That flexibility will become evident as we look at the method more closely.  
Absorbent compound cleaning, sometimes referred to as “dry powder cleaning,” is a low- or no-moisture method that is particularly useful in maintenance cleaning situations where there is little or no down time for use of the carpet. These situations arise often in hospitals, airports and similar venues. The system involves the use of a granular material that has been impregnated with cleaning agents, often non-polar. The material is broadcast over the carpet, distributed and agitated either by hand brushing or by mechanical action, allowed to dwell and then removed by vacuuming. The material, when distributed and agitated, removes and “encapsulates,” or grabs and holds, the soil. After the cleaning agent has evaporated sufficiently, the material. along with the attached soil, is vacuumed from the carpet. Some dry systems allow for almost instant vacuuming, thus reducing down time even more.  
The advantage of this method should be obvious. Down times are minimal, for one. I have a friend in a big city that had a very profitable residential cleaning company for many years that used this system exclusively. One of the advantages he noted was that the short drying times allowed for last-minute situations to be addressed and resolved. He often got a call from a client who had a function that evening and needed some last minute cleaning for the occasion. This was a significant marketing point for his company.
Another advantage of using an absorbent compound is a situation where unstable dyes are an issue. Years ago, I called on an Oriental rug cleaning company that was using our products. Upon entering the lobby of their building, I was struck by the presence of many cases of a well-known absorbent compound product. The explanation was so obvious that I was mildly chagrined to have not realized it: The company wet-cleaned rugs using standard rug cleaning procedures. When they encountered a known bleeder, then the rug could not be wet-cleaned. The rug was secured to a platform and the dry powder system was employed. All rugs could then be accepted, regardless of the dye situation. 
Another effective use of a dry powder system is for spotting, particularly when wicking is a problem. One would simply apply the material to the spot, agitate, allow some dwell time and vacuum.
A company does not have to have a lot of expensive equipment to utilize absorbent compound cleaning. The material can be broadcast by hand. It can be agitated with a carpet grooming brush, although reasonably priced agitation machines are available. A good commercial vacuum is required to remove the material with the attached soil. This step, the “Soil Removal” step, cannot be overemphasized as to its importance. 
So, I would encourage companies to explore absorbent compound cleaning further and to add it to their arsenal of cleaning weapons. It adds flexibility and versatility and allows us to address situations that may be problematic with other systems.
Bulletin Board Material: 
“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore”
– Yogi Berra
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it” 
– Lou Holtz  

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