ICS Magazine

Education + Execution = Excellence

March 11, 2010

As an instructor, I get to meet a lot of interesting people. Everyone has a story to tell and, if it is related to our business, I find I absorb the information even more.

Recently, a gentleman told me that he could maintain his cleaning and upholstery business with only three cleaning solutions. Now, before you all rush to tell me, “Well, I only use three” and so on, this is not to dispute the claim, but to say that you would have to be very selective in the solutions you use and, most of all, understand them completely.

Our cleaning solutions are just lubricants to assist the emulsification and break down of the soil. However, you cannot simply purchase them, apply them and step back, expecting them to work their magic. Practice and education is paramount in the use of the cleaning solutions you carry.

Talk to the people who sell you the product and learn the best way to use it, read technical articles explaining procedures, attend educational seminars and, whilst there, talk to others who use the products to learn from their mistakes and successes.

We use various techniques and procedures to treat spots or stains, and a lot of how we deal with them depends on the nature of the stain and the type of fabric, fiber or construction of the item stained. For example, a stain may be wet or dry, built up or compound. On some surfaces you may not be able to use such techniques as scraping with a spatula or tamping. A stain may be better rinsed from a loosely woven fabric than from one that is tightly woven such as printed cotton, but a tightly woven fabric will withstand treatment such as tamping more successfully.

Rinsing removes loosened staining and any residue from the stain-removal agent. This is an important step in the process; if any cleaning solutions are left in the fabric or carpet, they may cause additional staining or damage the item.

When rinsing a stain, you will need to control the flow of water carefully. For really small soils you may want to rinse with something as simple as an eyedropper and blot with kitchen paper. If you are carrying out spot or stain removal in a small area, a hair dryer is a necessity. If the area is dry before you leave, were there to be a wick back it would show and you can re-rinse, reducing the possibility of a call back.

Cleaning solutions are important and, at this writing, I have not yet found a “one product does everything” solution. Of course, some solutions may only be needed on rare occasion, and so you could be forgiven for not having them in your vehicle all the time. The problem with this is, if you are unable to successfully deal with a stain that is driving your client mad, she calls in someone else and they remove it immediately. Goodbye repeat business.

That’s where IICRC certification and education comes in handy. You not only learn about fibers and textile construction, but also the proper type of solution to best assist in the removal of spots and stains on various textiles. On top of which, you also learn the safe practices and procedures vital to carrying out your profession. Be wise. Be IICRC certified.