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Always Learning

May 4, 2009
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I have been in the carpet-cleaning business for more than 35 years and I am still learning. While I don’t necessarily clean carpets these days (unless a really persistent client demands it) I still keep up to date with what’s hot and what’s not.

There’s always lots of activity in our industry in trying to create new ideas, some of which have been tried before and are making comebacks in different packages with new twists or additions to the process. Now, it’s not right for anyone to say, “We tried that and it didn’t work, so what’s the point of trying it again?” because we really don’t know it won’t work because things change, like fibers, for example, including the blends, and even the construction of the items we are cleaning.

Of course, today we are not only talking about soft furnishings, because many cleaners have had to diversify due to the increasing addition of hard-surface flooring to homes. We use much of the same or similar equipment, with maybe a slight adjustment here and there. We could all soldier on forever doing the same things we always do and get the same result; however, if we want to grow, we need to keep abreast with developments affecting our industry. I am not just talking about attending a industry-specific events, but flooring shows such as Surfaces and home shows like Home Design & Remodeling as well, so we’ll know what we might be asked to clean in the next year or two. What about visiting a manufacturing plant? Be it furniture or carpet, it would offer an insight to many, I am sure.

I am a carpet inspector, and I’ve visited homes many times after a carpet cleaning process has been carried out. Two visits I made recently were a result of the cleaners not fully carrying out their pre-inspections. Let me explain. The first call concerned a stain that had appeared 24 hours after the cleaning had been carried out. Neither the cleaner nor the homeowner remembers seeing the stain prior to the start of the cleaning. The cleaner returned twice to try and remove the stain, without success.

I looked at the stain and recognized it as cellulosic browning; I lifted a corner of the carpet to see a tufted carpet with jute backing. When I contacted the cleaner to discuss the situation, he had no idea of the construction of the carpet and said he cleaned all carpets the same way, never had a problem before. When he returned to carry out his re-cleans, he continued to use, and I quote, “A carpet cleaning solution.” He also said his wand had been dripping and he felt the stained area might have been one of the areas that he had placed his wand. The stain was removed with an acid rinse.

The second call came from a consumer who had the carpets in her home cleaned and subsequently noticed what she described as “large dark patches” in all the areas that were cleaned. I visited the site and looked at all the areas of concern; indeed, my immediate thoughts were that the carpet suffered from “pooling” or “pile reversal.” I carried out some simple tests that confirmed this. I found that the cleaner had not cleaned two of the rooms, and on inspection I was able to point out to the client that these also contained the dark or light patches, depending on where you were standing in the room. I explained the phenomenon to the client and she said, “Why didn’t the carpet cleaner explain this before he started cleaning?”

When I discussed the situation with the cleaner, he said, “I thought she knew about it already.”

Remember, we should be educating our clients so that we don’t have to give an excuse later. Or, if we are not sure of the problem, we should ask for help rather than continuing to do it wrong.

The IICRC has more than 140 approved instructors imparting the education that should assist you; these instructors are supported by or work through 65 approved schools. Keeping up with latest trends and technology will help you be a better professional.

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