Selling the Frequencies of Carpet Cleaning
By Jim Smith
What are the reasons for more frequent cleanings?
Most cleaners know that it makes the subsequential cleanings easier. It also boosts our business, but are those the reasons we want to give to the end user? Probably not!
Would it not be better to focus on what benefits them instead? The commercial maintenance side of carpet cleaning seems to be aware of those benefits. But what are they?
Let’s first consider the cost of ownership. The commercial maintenance side of carpet cleaning generally understands that replacing carpet less frequently is not just about the cost of the carpet, it is also about the disruption in business.
Similarly, homeowners share this issue as well. A homeowner must take time off from work to get their carpets cleaned. That means either using personal days or, if they are self-employed, losing income. What about the price of carpet? The price of nylon has skyrocketed.
With all these tangible reasons to clean carpet less regularly, it’s not as easy of a sell as it once was. That’s why you have to emphasize the lifespan of regularly cleaned carpet versus carpet that isn’t cleaned often. But why does less cleaning mean less life for the carpet anyways?
Less cleaning=Less savings
The primary reason carpet should be cleaned regularly is what we call apparent soil. Apparent soil looks like ‘real soil.’ The reasons for this would make a good supplemental article, so we will focus on one aspect of it: scratches on the surface of the filament. All translucent solids maintain their appealing luminosity by resisting scratches. Scientists and cleaners have agreed that nylon is at the top of the list for its hardness and scratch resistance. But do our professional cleaning methods factually tackle this issue?
Professional methods of cleaning focus on removing oil. Real soil can be divided into three groups based on its solubility:
- Water soluble: Accounts for a small percentage and does not scratch and dull the appearance of carpet to a significant degree. Any method of cleaning that gets the carpet wet will dissolve this.
- Dry-solvent soluble: Water is not going to dissolve this. Instead, we use water to carry emulsifying surfactants with alkaline salts plus semi-polar solvents to clean this. An alternative to this is to absorb it into an oleophilic textile or granular. When oil residues are light, these oils will adsorb on hydrophilic materials as well.
- Particle soil: The largest percentage of soil is particle soil of which routine vacuuming is far superior for removal when compared to any of our professional methods.
So how does this correlate to removing sand? Oil is the glue that holds particle matter onto the fiber. If one controls the amount of oil, they improve the vacuum efficiency.
While replacement costs are a notable reason for more frequent cleanings, our second reason far outweighs are first: health.
Cleaning for health
If the pandemic has done anything positive, it has been to place cleaning for health as a higher priority. When we started wearing masks and quarantining ourselves, most of us saw our cleaning business drop significantly. But that was not the case for everybody. Those that focused on a way to improve health frequently saw an increase. How much do you know and understand about this topic?
My experience as a consultant revealed a disaster. A lot of cleaners mixed their anionic surfactant detergents with cationic disinfectants. Instead of cleaning and disinfecting, they made sticky messes that virtually ruined the carpet.
How did so many forget this from what should have been in their professional training? It is this consultant’s opinion that oxidation is a more effective way of achieving our desired outcomes. In addition, oxidation is more compatible with different forms of cleaning.
Selling clean carpet is simple
So, are you ready to sell your customers on more frequent cleanings? Consider one last item; what method are you going to use? As we all know, all methods have strengths and weaknesses. Our truck-mounted water rinse extractors are at the top of the list for doing restorative cleaning, but they are near the bottom for interim cleanings. We do not need a lesson on the set-up and breakdown time and the cost of getting and running the equipment. Are you prepared to offer alternative methods that lower the price for more frequent cleanings? That too may be the subject of other articles, many of which have already been written.
The summary of all of this is we all need to change if we are going to thrive in the years to come. End-users are going to have to clean more frequently. Professional cleaners are going to have to offer more affordable services. Those services are going to have to lower the cost of ownership and improve health. Finally, trainers and writers need to equip themselves with a better understanding of these topics. I think we let yaw down in the past. It’s time to look towards a brighter future.
James · Jim € B. Smith is an IICRC-approved instructor and a senior practicing inspector. His educational studies come from Texas A&M University and the University of Houston. He has been in the cleaning industry since 1975. For more information, visit his website at www.carpetinspector.com/jbs, call (972) 334-0533, or email [email protected].
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February 21, 2023