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Take Some of the Work Out of Your Work, and Produce More

April 15, 2002
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The need for proper vacuuming is a truism that spans cleaning: From carpet to upholstery, proper vacuuming is a commonality.

As I travel the US and help to train new-and sometimes older-students in classes to earn IICRC Certification, I have found interesting similarities in practices for carpet and upholstery cleaning. These differences also apply to the cleaning of almost anything, in principle.

Most cleaners I deal with have little or no idea about the use of Vacuums, Power Agitation and give very little thought to Protective Coatings. Most are not aware of the written cleaning standards that have been with us since 1991.

One of the first points I focus on is the need for vacuuming. Many cleaners think they are vacuuming with their Big Super Truck mounts, yet seem surprised when it is explained that we are talking about 'Dry Vacuuming' with a commercial vacuum. I often ask, "How many of you vacuum the carpet or piece of furniture before any wet cleaning?" In a class of 20, a hand or two usually goes up, meaning that about 90 percent do not dry vacuum before wet cleaning. When I ask how many of those that do vacuum use a grooming tool to break up dry soil and lift crushed or matted carpet so their vacuum works more efficiently and picks up more dry soil, I might get one hand raised. If I ask how many use a pile lifter, I find most have never even heard of one.

While this is not a scientific poll or research, it seems to indicate that very little dry vacuuming is ever accomplished. Yet this is part of the cleaning standards, according to IICRC S001 Carpet Cleaning Standards, Section E points 1, 1a and 1b. So, if we are not performing this critical step, is the work 'substandard' carpet cleaning? Hardly something we would promote our business on.

When we discuss how much dry particulate soil can be found in carpet and how much can be removed by proper dry vacuuming using a grooming tool or a pile lifter, they're often amazed to hear that of 74-79 percent of the soil in a carpet is insoluble and in theory can be vacuumed out dry.

The question raised, "Then why do we spend $15,000 to $20,000 on a Big Super Truck mount designed to remove only about 21 to 26 percent of the soluble soils? This gives almost no attention to 74 to 79 percent that, in principle, can be removed with proper dry vacuuming procedures."

As the training continues, they realize that they are removing some dry soil through the wet cleaning process, but much remains in the carpet. A simple illustration I offer: Go to the beach, get into the water and then sit on the sand. This will get wet sand all over your swimming trunks. While the sand and the trunks are still wet, try to brush or wash off the sand. Some sand will be removed but most stays on the trunks. Then simply wait until the trunks and sand dry and all you have to do is 'pop' the trunks or brush them and the sand removes easily in a dry state.' Carpet with dry soil acts similarly: Wet it before removal and much of it stays in or on the carpet. Work on it dry and it's removed much easier.

When asked if they have ever had to 'Re-do' a carpet after they had cleaned it, many answer yes.

The joy of all of this is that most will see the importance of 'Dry Vacuuming' before they start to wet clean. They 'see' the point. I realize many of them will not completely change what they are doing-but some will and some do. This is what is encouraging.

At this point they are helped when they understand that if most cleaners never vacuum before wet cleaning, this simple procedure-performed correctly and with the use of commercial equipment-will set them apart from the competition. If most cleaners don't do this then most consumers have never seen a cleaner first dry vacuum for dry soil removal or have never seen a cleaner not only dry vacuum but groom the carpet first as well.

So for those who say they don't have time to vacuum first or that you can't afford to vacuum first, the truth is, You Can't Afford 'NOT TO!’

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