Developing Truckmount Chemicals

August 9, 2001
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A different breed of chemical...



But chemicals specifically manufactured for truckmount use are of a different breed: They must solubilize, withstand high cleaning temperatures, and then penetrate and suspend soils for easy and quick removal. This concept of cleaning is familiar to experienced carpet cleaners, but not to the novice who is trying to keep overhead low by using whatever satisfies his price concerns. His idea of a cleaning powder is one that it is colored, has a light fragrance, and is a crystal powder base that is similar to all powder cleaners, and besides that, it foams! So why not use it when a cost savings of 35- to 45-cents per pound can be realized?

Many cleaners have tried this method of business economics but have paid dearly with poor results. They basically got their feet wet by cleaning with a low-cost, multi-purpose product. Then, to their dismay, are disappointed with the results.

However, to some carpet cleaners, that small difference is important to justify the product's end use. It's only with experience and knowledge that the novice cleaner can determine whether a product's functionality warrants its cost. Simply put, it's a learning experience to determine what works and what doesn't for you business.

I would be disappointed if you didn't shop around and compare products. If we don't examine new products, we may lose out in the end by losing our competitive edge. I know a carpet cleaner who tested product's effectiveness by the amount of time required to clean a room. It was his method of evaluating a cleaner's performance. Unfortunately, his research was not based on overall cleaning.

I would like to see a report on how carpet cleaners really evaluate cleaning. Certainly the analytical data would be all over the chart. Variations in color, fragrance, powder, or liquid all play an important psychological role as to its acceptance. The interesting point is that although these highlighted features are important, they are the basic facade of the formulation. They actually do nothing for the product's functionality, and yet, are important to the user to determine the acceptance of the product. It's like outing red dye in dog food. We accept it, but the dog is colorblind and therefore it makes no difference to him.

This is an amazing society in which we live because if you look at a supermarket shelf you will see a number of comparable products differentiated only by color or fragrance. Consumers are definitely attracted to these characteristics, which determine the products they buy.

Along the same lines, the warehouse store may sell a product in bulk used for carpet cleaning, but on the label the product's use is extended to walls, chandeliers, garage floors, ceilings, etc. The price may be unbelievable at $35 per 50-lb. bucket, which makes it all the more attractive. If nothing else hits you in this article, let me give you some cost-saving advice. That low-cost, multiuse product won't deliver the anticipated carpet-cleaning characteristics you're looking for. It may do well on walls, windows or outhouses, but in general, cleaning products perform best when applied for their intended use.

Formulating a cleaning powder for truckmount use has so many venues of research that it could easily be compared to the moves on a chessboard. Let's discuss a few.

Builders, of which there are many in truckmount cleaning chemicals, are the muscle part of the formula. They do the major work in cleaning, but they require assistance from other chemical compounds to dramatically assist in the cleaning process.

Surfactants are also involved in the formulation and there can be up to 100,000 different types. To retain some sanity, however, we will concentrate on those that have shown success. Research will extend itself to cross certain lines of surfactants to improve cleaning ability. But here again, this will be necessary to establish cleaning performance.

Hydrotopes is a fancy word for coupling, to keep the formula together, so it won't fall apart once the powder has been solubilized. There have been times when I have received calls on a product that has solubilized because it was incorrectly stored for a long time. Long periods of storage will kick out sediment mostly attributed to hard water. If you're large user of solubilized chemicals, then I recommend using a soft water unit to cancel out the water's hardness. This will stabilize the cleaning solution and prevent long-standing sedimentation. We do incorporate ingredients known as chelates to correct this condition, but their cost is prohibitive in trying to justify hardwater differences throughout the country.

Solvents, surprisingly, are incorporated into powders by spraying them into the powder, which absorbs the liquid. Solvents play the role of removing grease and oil and greatly assist the all-around cleaning attributes of the formula. If you notice a color change in your product once it has been opened, it could be that the solvents are vaporizing from the product and you are losing the benefits of their presence. It's best to reseal the container for maximum efficient use. There is basically some solvent loss in the hot cleaning cycle, but in the purge of the wand, the effects of degreasing are accelerated by pressure. The removal of soil is so fast that the vacuum cycle removes whatever solvent residue is left in the carpet. Solvents are a must in the removal of greases and oils, but I predict that in the future you'll see formulas based on non-solvent systems and geared more to super surfactant systems. These "green" formulas will be the next wave of the future and will assure research chemists guaranteed employment in the years to come.

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