ICS Magazine

Cleaning Standards: Do We Really Need Them?

August 12, 2004
During a recent phone conversation with an insurance broker I realized, again, the impact that the IICRC is having in the marketplace.

This gentleman was trying to find a way to market a new insurance product to the list of IICRC Certified Firms, and was asking me for some inside help. He was offering a unique insurance product, which he was in the process of creating, specifically for Certified Firms. The main requirements are that the firm be IICRC Certified and that it follows the published standard for that particular discipline.

What a compliment, and what a bonus for Certified Firms.

Just before my time on the board, IICRC S001, since revised as the S100 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Carpet Cleaning, was written. At the time there was a huge communication gap between the cleaning industry and the carpet manufacturers.

On one side sat the cleaning industry and the cleaning equipment manufacturers, promoting what they believed was the best way to clean carpet. On the other side sat the carpet mills, hesitant to recommend cleaning or specific cleaning methods because they simply did not understand them.

Nobody was communicating, nobody benefited, and the consumers were getting less value for their investment. Ron Van Gelderen and Ned Hopper of the Carpet and Rug Institute suggested that the IICRC write a standard for the industry on carpet cleaning, hence the birth of IICRC S001. The relationship between the CRI and the IICRC has blossomed ever since.

The same is true about the S300 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Upholstery Cleaning. Until the mid ‘90s, furniture and fabric manufacturers simply did not understand the cleaning industry. Until the writing of S300, the only directions available for upholstery cleaning were the deck labels, supposedly saying whether the fabric should be wet (W) or solvent (S) cleaned, or just vacuumed.

Imagine that: just vacuumed.

It was about that time when I approached the AFMA, on behalf of the IICRC, to open the lines of communication between the upholstery manufacturers and the cleaning industry. With the help of Ruth Travis and Jeff Bishop, we were able to provide the AFMA with enough education about cleaning that they finally agreed to help with the writing of the standard.

The S300 task force had more than a dozen contributors from the furniture and fabric manufacturing industries. By 1999, we were done; the S300 was printed early in 2000. We have since been asked by the AFMA to sit on their Standards and Guidelines Committee to help write identification codes and cleaning standards for leather upholstery. Leather expert Lonnie McDonald represents us on this committee.

Our cleaning standards have as much or more technical and consumer information as many of the industry's training manuals. So pull your copy off the shelf or order one for the first time, and the next time someone asks, "Why use a cleaning standard?" open it up and show them the wealth of information inside.