Ten Tips for Tip-Top Carpet Care
Due to the global economic decline over the past few years, many cleaning contractors have been expanding their service offerings. Contract cleaning is no longer viewed as recession-proof; even so, it can be recession-resistant, and one of the ways to make this possible is to offer more services, including carpet cleaning. But before contacting your jansan distributor and ordering a new portable extractor, there are a few things contractors should recognize about carpet cleaning.
Let’s examine 10 important items contract cleaning professionals should know about carpet cleaning. There are certainly are more that can be added, but being aware of these 10 subjects can give you better insight into carpet cleaning.
No. 1: Training. Might as well as start with this one first. Carpet cleaning is both a science and a skill, and as such it requires contractors to have some quality education under their belts. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is probably the leader in these training programs; however some national janitorial supply houses offer excellent training programs. It is important to know that just like refinishing floors, no contractor should learn how to clean carpets on their customers’ carpets. Learn first―then clean.
No. 2: Low moisture. A term you should understand is low-moisture carpet cleaning. The Low Moisture Carpet Cleaners Association defines it as any procedure that allows carpet to dry in approximately two hours taking into account climatic and other conditions. A low-moisture portable extractor is designed to use less water than a conventional extractor and typically has an advanced vacuum system to more effectively extract moisture from the carpet. Together, these features help carpet dry faster with less chance of mold or mildew developing.
No. 3: Hot or cold. Some portables are cold-water machines; others have a heating element that heats the solution to approximately 212 F. Both types of machines can prove very effective; however some technicians find that heat can make the molecules in a cleaning solution work more effectively.
No. 4: Stains and spots—there is a difference. If a carpet has spots in it, you’re in luck. Spots are soils or residue that generally can be removed with extraction or by using the proper spot remover. A stain, on the other hand, actually changes the color of the carpet. While correction is still possible, it can be difficult.
No. 5: The spot test. This term can be misleading. The spot test refers to testing a cleaning solution in a small inconspicuous area to be sure it does not cause damage, discoloration, or bleeding of dyes. This term also is common in upholstery cleaning and rug cleaning as well as other types of cleaning.1
No. 6: Pre-spray. Rarely do carpet cleaning technicians mix cleaning solution and water in the tank of the extractor. Instead they pre-spray it onto the carpet―one section at a time so it does not dry out―and apply more pre-spray to spots. Remember, the pre-spray also needs a few minutes to dwell to work effectively.
No. 7: Avoiding the call-back. It is very important in commercial carpet cleaning to clarify with the client if stains, spots, or soiling in the carpet may remain after cleaning. This helps eliminate what the industry refers to as call-backs―when the customer asks you to come back and clean the carpet again. Time is money in the carpet cleaning business, and avoiding call-backs helps ensure this add-on service is lucrative for your business.
No. 8: Equipment selection. Today there are many portable carpet extractors available. The best advice I can offer is to look for a manufacturer that has been in the business for several years, and possibly even better, has built the same or similar machine for several years. View portable extractors like computer software. Version 1.0 may have problems that are corrected in version 2.0. You want version 2.0 or higher. Also, a system with variable pound per square inch—or psi—allows you to clean more delicate fabrics such as upholstery and partitions.
No. 9: Interim or restoration. Very likely, you already perform interim carpet cleaning. This is the use of a low-speed floor machine to shampoo or bonnet clean carpets. Interim means it is an effective cleaning procedure between carpet extractions. Carpet extraction is restoration cleaning; the goal is to help restore the carpet to its original condition.
No. 10: Pre-vacuuming. This has become a forgotten step in carpet cleaning, and that is a mistake. Carpets should be vacuumed before cleaning. Vacuuming removes dry soils in the carpet. If dry soils are left in the carpet, the moisture from the extractor essentially turns them into mud, making them more difficult to remove. Pre-vacuuming allows the extractor to work more effectively and can improve worker productivity as well.
One additional point to consider is certification. It is a wise idea to not only learn about carpet cleaning but become certified by an organization such as the IICRC. Certification can open many doors for you. In the eyes of your customer, certification tells them you are a trained carpet cleaning technician.
1 Source: Scott Warrington, Director of Technical Support, Bridgepoint Systems
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