ICS Magazine

Game Plan: Man vs. Machine

October 6, 2011


This month, as we start our look at the cleaning process, I want to first discuss the role of the technician and the various pieces of equipment we use. What I will call “Man vs. Machine.”

One quick note: we often show the cleaning technician as a man, but there are a significant number of women who are top-notch carpet and upholstery cleaning technicians. And I am a big fan of women as cleaning technicians. I’ve had a number of women in my CCT and UFT classes over the years and I have found them to be very conscientious about the whole process. In the residential cleaning segment, women have a clear advantage, as the vast majority of clients are housewives. I would love to see more women in the business.

The point I want to make about Man vs. Machine is that I think sometimes we lose sight of the true cleaning machine. We have looked at some of the outstanding pieces of equipment in the industry and have confused those pieces of equipment as the cleaning machine. In fact, the technician is the cleaning machine.

If we consider the IICRC S100 Standard and Reference Guide for Carpet Cleaning, the Principles of Cleaning involve dry soil removal, soil suspension, soil removal, finishing, and drying. No single piece of equipment can accomplish all those steps. Most achieve only one step. Only the machine that is the technician can control all the steps.

Next month: a deeper look at the cleaner as machine.

Time Out: A Technical Discussion

In a recent conversation with colleague and fellow instructor Jim Smith, the subject of “reappearing spots” and “wicking” came up. This discussion has come up periodically over the years, but it still seems to cause consternation.

The set-up: A cleaner removes a spot or stain, for example, coffee, and he gets a call a few days that the stain has come back. Without analyzing the cause, the cleaner will often treat the stain the same way he did previously, which is often with a heavy chemical treatment and a good rinsing. The stain is gone, everyone is happy…and then a few days later he gets the call and the process starts all over again.

The problem involves the law of physics. When a cup or larger container of coffee (or any fluid) is spilled on carpet, the law of gravity pulls it through all the multiple layers of face yarn, backings, latex, pad, and sub-floor until it can’t flow anymore. The water component evaporates, leaving the heavier components in place.

Next Month: The Next Law of Physics – how the stain reappears and what to do about it.

Coaching Tip

“Take two and hit to right.” Translation: just do it.

Bulletin Board Material

“Old coaches never die, they just don’t score anymore.”

  Got a technical question? Send your question to me, and, if chosen for the column, you will receive a $100 gift certificate to put toward the purchase of Chemspec products. All other questions will be answered directly.