Tales From the Pad: Effects Of VLM Cleaning On Carpet (over an extended period of time)

Tales From the Pad: Effects Of VLM Cleaning On Carpet (over an extended period of time)

Many of the arguments against VLM cleaning (mainly in the bonneting or oscillating pad cleaning category) are that, over time, the build up of residue will “catch up to you” and it will be necessary to HWE (hot water extract) the carpets to remove this build-up. Often, carpet cleaners report that they use VLM intermittently as an “interim cleaning system”. Most of the hotels and motels (that I have cleaned for) have expressed the same concern [That, while they have no problem with me using VLM, I must hot water extract the carpet at least once a year to keep it free of all the residue and soils deeply imbedded in the carpet fibers.]. Shaw Industries and other manufacturers of carpet have stated similar things in their carpet maintenance information, as well as, in their warranty statements.

HWE is perceived as the method of choice, and looking at if from the outside, I can understand why they would feel this way. After all, doesn’t it makes sense that rinsing the carpet would help remove these residues and using a system with high pressure (psi) and high vacuum (inches of mercury) would also remove any remaining, deeply embedded soils?

Here are a few of the recommendations from the Carpet Manufacturers:

Dupont StainMaster
[ source: http://www.dupont.com/stainmaster/choosing/smlife_new.html ]

“Hot water extraction to refresh carpet texture, performed by a trained, qualified carpet care professional, is required at least every 1.5 to 2 years for coverage under this warranty. Please keep your receipts for proof of service.”

Wear Dated (formerly Monsanto)
[ Source: http://www.wear-dated.com/care.htm ]

Deep Cleaning
1. The Hot Water Extraction method (also known as steam).

Light Surface Cleaning
1. Bonnet Cleaning, which utilizes a carbonated solution. An example of this type of cleaning is the Chem-Dry system.

Shaw Industries (Berkshire Hathaway)
[ source: http://www.greatfloors.com/carpetcare/cleaning.html ]

Cleaning Tips

Hot Water Extraction System
“Shaw Industries recommends the hot water extraction system, which research indicates
provides the best capability for cleaning.”

So, it becomes painfully obvious that VLM cleaning is not the manufacturer’s choice of
cleaning methods. Now, does this mean we, as VLM-users, are second-class carpet
cleaners? Does this suggest that we are not giving our customers the quality of cleaning
that they are looking for, or paying for? Are we the “rip-off artists” that so many in this
industry contend that we are? Can we have any confidence in our VLM systems and still
have integrity in this industry?

Like so many things in life, things are often not as they appear. So, what is the effect of
using VLM cleaning on carpets over an extended period of time? If the manufacturers
are correct, then the tell-tale signs of extended VLM usage should show up and there
should be enough evidence that we see for ourselves that we are failing our customers
and not offering the best in carpet care.

The examples of evidence against this misguided philosophy are countless, but I will use
just one of my favorite accounts to counter the contention that VLM is not a “complete”
cleaning method.

Richard works for a Golf Country Club. He started there when he was just 16 years old
(as a bus boy). He has been involved with the country club for approximately 30 years.
In that time, he has moved up the ladder to become the manager, moving through
house cleaning and maintenance to get there.

Richard had one major obstacle in his job as manager the carpets. He would have them
regularly cleaned and they would look bad again, in no time. Over a period of 5 years,
the carpet’s appearance grew worse and worse. He went through most of the cleaners
in the phone book. They all promised him a great cleaning job. They all promised him
that the carpet could be maintained so that it stayed looking great. All failed to live up to these promises.

The carpet finally came to the point where, after having been cleaned just two weeks
before, it appeared just as dirty as it was before it was cleaned. He even used an IICRC
instructor’s company to clean it, in hopes of returning the carpet to a good shape again,
but all to no avail. Sometimes, he was having the carpet cleaned every two weeks,
trying different companies each time in hopes of finding some solution to his depressing
situation. The guests were starting to complain, and in the Country Club business, that
is something that will cause your termination faster than anything.

In 1998 Richard gave my wife, Patty, a call, he was referred to us by one of their
guests, a customer of ours who has a lot of woolen floor coverings we have maintained
for years. Well, he was looking for something different, a “no steam” process was tough
for him to consider, though. However, after the track record of the past few years, he
was willing to give anything a try, plus that “1-hour dry time” would save him a lot of
time on getting the place set up for guests after the cleaning.

I arrived at 9 AM one morning and met with him. He took me through the Country Club and showed me his carpets. Yuck! They were very nasty, even though they had been cleaned just a couple of weeks previously. When he asked me if I could get them clean, I stated, “Sure, this is just a cut nylon commercial grade carpet. It will be easy to clean! However, the first time is going to take me a while, because I can see it has a ton of built up grease and soil in it.”

Of course, the first words out of Richard’s mouth were, “They have all said that”. Noticing his apprehension, I told him I would clean a strip right across his heaviest traffic area and if it didn’t stand out from the rest of the carpet, two weeks from now, he shouldn’t call me. I realized that this was going to be a tough test because all that old grease and such would be tracked onto the cleaned strip, but I felt that this was the only way for him to have confidence in us to be able to take care of his problem.

Two weeks later, we were called to come and clean for him.

“Yes sir, there was gold in them thar hills!” That carpet was filthy and we worked and worked, going through 250 pads on the downstairs alone, but it looked like new! He was happy but still doubted that they would stay looking nice. Well, they did and we suggested a maintenance-cleaning schedule of every three months, which of course thrilled him.

3 months later, the carpets still did not look bad, so for the next two years we cleaned this carpet every three months. It eventually came to the point where it only took 90 pads to clean the entire downstairs, so for the last 2 years we have cleaned it only once every 4 months.

Yesterday, we again finished another cleaning at the country club. It didn’t look dirty when we got there, but looked new when we left. Richard gave us the highest compliment we could get as cleaners. He stated to Patty, “For all these years, the thing Ihated most about my job was the carpet maintenance. Thanks to you and your method of cleaning, now I never even think about it!”

Consider The Implications

This carpet was cleaned over and over, HWE after HWE, and yet the soil and grease was embedded into it so deeply that it would not stay looking good. Removing that soil and grease with pads had “eliminated” all those problems. So, I ask you, who knows carpet maintenance better? Is it the manufacturer or is it the cleaner? The old saying is that, “the proof is in the pudding”. Well, ladies and gentlemen, the proof is in the lasting effects of our VLM cleaning.

Another Point To Ponder

I ask this question, “Is interim carpet cleaning with bonnets and pads followed by, at least, once a year of HWE, making pad cleaning look good as an interim carpet cleaning method or could it be that the pad and bonnet cleaning actually is making the HWE job
look good?” I, personally from my experience of 28 years, would contend that it is the latter rather than the former.

John Geurkink

November 30, 2005 / by / in
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