ICS Magazine

Game Plan: The Cleaning Process

November 11, 2011

Last month we discussed the concept of the cleaning technician as the actual cleaning machine. We as technicians must perform all the steps in the cleaning process, using available equipment to accomplish the goal of safely removing all the soil possible while maintaining the integrity of the fabric and dye systems.

I really want to emphasize this concept of the technician as the machine, and then for each of us to characterize what kind of machine we are. Am I a Yugo or a Mercedes?  Am I a lean, mean cleaning machine or what? When I think of the cleaner as machine I’m reminded of the late Jim Henry, a colleague and fellow IICRC instructor.

One evening after teaching, we were relaxing and trading stories about our experiences in the industry. Jim related about getting into the industry by buying a carpet cleaning franchise. The method of cleaning the carpet at the time involved vacuuming the carpet, and then using trays of detergent and rinse water, applied to the carpet with sponges, with the cleaner on his hands and knees. That is the technician as the ultimate cleaning machine.

Jim related that it was a very thorough method of soil removal, although more than a little labor intensive. Later Jim improved his methods while still remaining the machine. The point is, “we are the cleaning machines.” In the future we’ll focus on making the machine as effective as possible.

Time Out

Last month we discussed the situation of “reappearing spots.” The law of gravity causes soil to penetrate as deeply as it can. What we as cleaners need to understand is that another law of physics causes soil to work its way back to the surface of the carpet after the carpet has been cleaned and all soil apparently removed.

For many it may be a rhetorical question as to why it happens (see below). It is obvious that soil can reappear. What to do about it? There are a number of things that can be done. What cannot be done is to thoroughly rinse out the soil again and cause the spot or stain to reappear a second time.  The basic principle involved is to confine the spot and stain removal to the top third of the carpet yarn. That is where the reappearing soil has accumulated after working its way up the surface of the fiber.

Confining the soil removal method to the tips of the yarn will assure that the residual soil deep in the carpet will not be able to be re-suspended. Next month we’ll discuss some of the several surface soil removal methods.


The law of physics involved in reappearing spots is “capillary action.” Google that and you will get over a million sites discussing it. Take your pick.

Coaching Tip

Pick the low hanging fruit; then shake the tree to get the rest of the fruit. In other words, “maximize every job.”

Bulletin Board Material

Torrin Polk on his coach, John Jenkins: “He treats us like men; he lets us wear earrings.”

Lou Holtz

“Motivation is simple. You eliminate those who are not motivated.”