The overall description, in a company’s name, is usually carpet cleaning company. This must mean that the work is limited to
the cleaning of wall-to-wall carpeting, right? After all, there are rug cleaning companies also. Don’t they pick up rugs at
people’s homes and take them to their rug cleaning plants, where the cleaning is actually done?
Well, yes and no. There are now, and have always been rug cleaning plants out there. They perform what some call full immersion
cleaning of area rugs, very often expensive oriental rugs. However, many carpet cleaning companies clean both wall-to-wall, and area rugs, performing both services right on the customers’ premises. Rug cleaning doesn’t always have to be done in a so-called wash pit, in several inches of soapy water. On both the wet and dry sides of the carpet cleaning industry, area rugs can be effectively cleaned “in situ” – on the customer’s premises – without causing water damage to the customer’s floor. There may be special circumstances where traditional rug cleaning establishments might be the wiser choice. These would include situations where pet urine damage is extensive, or where hazardous materials have come into contact with the rug. A full immersion cleaning at a rug cleaning plant at a high price per square foot might be justified in circumstances like these. But in most situations, the less costly and more convenient on-premises rug cleaning, performed by the professional carpet cleaner or his knowledgeable technician, should completely fill the customer’s needs.
In addition to the cleaning of wall-to-wall carpeting and area rugs, many homes and business premises also have carpeted stairs.
These are most often permanently installed to the floor itself, and therefore cannot easily be sent out to a rug cleaning plant.
There are both wet and dry techniques for the cleaning of stair carpeting. The soil on stair carpeting is usually concentrated
where the footsteps ordinarily land. So in the cleaning of a carpeted stair, much of the effort is focussed on a limited area of each tread.
Some carpet cleaners also clean upholstered furniture. Others choose to avoid offering this service. The challenge of cleaning
upholstery fabric seems to frighten away some carpet cleaners, but there is really nowhere else for the furniture owner to go
for a cleaning. In all but the very largest metro areas, there are few if any services which limit themselves to the cleaning
of upholstered furniture. So it is in the carpet cleaner’s own interest to learn how this work is done. Most upholstery is
cleaned using traditional HWE (hot water extraction) cleaning methods, but for the carpet cleaning professional who desires
to wet the fabric as little as possible, there are lower moisture techniques available. These include so-called dry foam
methods, as well as systems which use hand-held rotary or oscillating devices combined with absorbent materials, such as terrycloth cotton and microfiber.
From time to time carpet cleaning customers are looking to have all or some of their hard-surface floors cleaned. And again,
as with upholstery, this type of work is most often performed by someone whose main business is carpet cleaning.
Tile & Grout Floors
Both homeowners and businesses frequently have floors composed of ceramic tile with grout lines. While the customer is frequently able to handle the removal of soil from the surface of the tiles himself, he usually performs this task while adding further
dirt in the grout lines, which become increasing unsightly over time. The carpet cleaner should have at least one of the tools
and methods to clean dirty grout. These would include scrub brush attachments to floor machines, angled narrow brushes attached to broom handles, steam vapor machines with grout cleaning attachments, rotary disc head attachments to hot water extraction (HWE)
equipment, and ordinary wet-vacs. Sometimes a combination of these approaches is involved on a single tile & grout cleaning job.
Vinyl Tile Floors
Many businesses, and some home owners also have extensive areas of vinyl tile flooring, sometimes referred to as VCT (vinyl
composition tile). With VCT, the individual one foot square tiles are most often glued to the floor, with their edges abutting.
So there is no cleaning of grout involved. Here the carpet cleaner equipped with either a rotary or orbital (also called
oscillating) floor machine might be best able to get the job done. These machines scrub very effectively, and the dirty water can be removed with absorbent floor pads or a wet-vac, or a combination of the two. Any kind of hot water extraction device, whether
portable or truck-mounted, could also suck up the dirty water quite nicely.
Hardwood Floor Cleaning
As with ceramic and vinyl tile floors, the carpet cleaner will sometimes be asked if he or she can clean their customer’s
finished hardwood floors. The answer is “It depends”. Most hardwood floors, and even those composed of softer woods, such as pine or fir, are today finished with multiple applications of some type of polyurethane. Some poly is oil-based; some is water-based.
The more water that is used in cleaning these floors, the more water will seep down into the cracks in the boards themselves, or
into any slight spaces between the individual floor boards. This is a bad combination, and can result in a damaged floor.
The less water that can be used in cleaning a finished wood floor, the better. A very light misting of even just plain water,
followed by scrubbing with a barely dampened soft absorbent pad fitted to a rotary or oscillating floor machine is likely to be the best and safest way to clean wood floors.
Natural Stone Floors
Marble is the most commonly found natural stone floor surface. Others include limestone, travertine, terrazzo, and polished
concrete. Cleaning of materials such as these should be kept simple. Preferably, after a very light amount of pre-spray
(alkaline, definitely not acid) go over the floor with a rotary or oscillating floor machine to which is affixed a soft, absorbent
pad. Cotton terrycloth would be the best choice. This combination is effective enough to loosen and remove soil, but will not
dull whatever level of shine the floor might have. If the floor still looks dull after being cleaned in this manner, what is really
required, to bring back the shine, is a professional in the field of stone floor refinishing and restoration. While stone floor
cleaning can be performed inexpensively, stone floor refinishing can cost up to several dollars per square foot. In recent years
there have appeared simpler and less costly ways of doing some of this work. These will be explored in a later blog posting.
As summarized above, carpet cleaning businesses can operate in a number of areas beyond the cleaning of wall-to-wall carpeting.
If you elect to offer an array of services, rather than just one, you will have to decide which ones you want to learn and to perform, and which ones to pass on. For the services you choose not to perform, you might consider having one or more “partner”
businesses. With each partner business, you will work on a mutually agreed to referral fee basis. You will send your customers who seek, say, upholstery cleaning, to Company X, and Company X, it it gets the job, will send you a referral fee somewhere in the range of 10% to 15% the value of the job you sent them.