Heart-to-Heart Conversations about Carpet Odors

Talking with customerAs the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, people have a tendency to go inside, make sure the windows are closed, shut the door, and spend more time inside. With less airflow and ventilation, and the simple fact that the people and pets living in a home are spending more time there, the likelihood of odors emanating from the carpet becoming more obvious greatly increases. The problem is that the homeowner is often the last to notice or know. Why? –  Because they are used to the smell. The time often comes when someone, and often that someone is you, needs to have a heart-to heart conversation about carpet odors with the homeowner. So just why are the carpet odors anybody’s business other than the occupants of the home?

A pricey condominium in a Chicago high-rise was proving to be a very hard sale.  The property had been on the market for over six months—a long time even considering the tough real estate market.  The real estate agent decided it was time to have a “heart-to-heart” conversation with the frustrated seller, an older gentleman who had lived in the unit for more than a decade.

Did the agent tell his client the price was too high?  Actually, both the agent and the seller believed the property was priced rather competitively.

Maybe the property needed some updates, maybe a new kitchen?  While the property was certainly not brand new, the kitchen and bathrooms were recently updated, making this unlikely the issue.

Instead, the heart-to-heart the agent had to have with his client focused on something entirely different—the condominium smelled.  While the seller tried to refrain from smoking in the condo, there were many days and nights when it was simply too cold to go outside, so he smoked inside.  The years of smoke and odor buildup had taken its toll on the condo, especially in the carpets and certain fabrics.  Upon entering the property, this tobacco odorswas often the first thing visitors and, most importantly, potential buyers noticed.

When the agent mentioned that he believed the smoke odors most likely emanating from the carpets were contributing to the slow sale, the client indicated he never even noticed the smell and questioned if there even was malodor.  This is not uncommon.  Long-term occupants of a building or residence where odors are a problem often no longer notice them.  Additionally, men, such as the seller discussed here, typically do not notice odors or smells as much as women.  And, older people in general are not as odor conscious as younger people.

A homeowner finally decided that the real estate market in their area had gotten active enough that they could get the price they needed to be able to sell their house and get out from underneath an overbearing mortgage payment. They had been “upside down” for several years but wanted to keep their commitments to their bank, and had been continuously making their mortgage payments. Finally the pressure could be relieved. They had just seen two neighbors houses down the roads sell literally within days of being put on the market, and in both cases, the homeowners received bids for more than they were even asking. They had a beautiful Victorian style home nestled up against some beautiful, mature evergreen trees on over an acre of land. The home had a beautiful wraparound porch on the front and a great deck for entertaining out back. The home was around 15 years old but in reasonable good condition. They had a thick off-white cut pile carpet installed throughout much of the house. The carpet definitely needed cleaning. So they hired a local coupon carpet cleaner whose price was just too good to resist. Their relator had recommended another company she worked with on a regular basis, but their prices seemed so much higher.

The cleaning turned out to be a disaster. The carpet looked better, but not great. The problem was that it was in the middle of winter. The homeowner had a couple of dogs, but they were generally well behaved, and sad-dogusually went outside to “do their business.” Now though, the whole house smelled like a mixture of mustiness and dog pee. Potential buyers were looking at their house, and quickly leaving. Offers were not coming in.

These situations are not uncommon.  Smoke, typically from cigarettes, is one of the most common carpet odors in both residential and commercial properties.  Along with smoke, some of the most frequently encountered odors include:

  • Pet urine
  • Mold and mildew from water damage and mustiness
  • Off-gassing from chemicals and materials used in the home.
  • Food and beverages that have seeped into the carpet

So how do you deal with the emotions and potential hurt feelings of folks you want to be your carpet cleaning customers, but that you have deliver some not-so-wonderful news about the odors in their home?

A Heart to Heart Conversation – “Honey-Slap-Honey”

“Honey-slap-honey” is a term used to describe how to deliver not so great news or critique a person who you want to have a good relationship with or perhaps even that works for you. Always start and finish any conversation with honey – in other words, compliments and praises. In our cases above, both the condominium and the home had plenty of wonderful attributes. Compliment the homeowner on their choice of location, their décor, their man cave, or anything you can think of about their home which you genuinely like. Don’t be deceitful or phony. Find something you really do like and start and finish the conversation with something positive in between the “slap” – delivering the not-so-wonderful news.

Secondly, deep down the homeowner is likely a little embarrassed that another person had to point out to them the odor problem in the first place. They may be a little worried they hired a competitor on price alone who could not solve the problem or actually made it worse. The truth is though that both of these things just mean they are an average person. Relieve them of this potential stress immediately by telling them what they are encountering is not uncommon. You can even talk a little bit about the science of how we perceive odor and that we do get used to the odors around us. Explain you are here to solve their problem, just like you have solved THESE EXACT SAME problems for lots of other homeowners.

Finally, separate yourself from all of the magical odor control treatments they have heard of or been promised with the science of odor control. Explain how odor is an effect. It has a source which emits gases. These gases travel throughout the house by means of air movement. When the doors and windows are closed, they become more obvious. Explain how odor is interpreted by the olfactory lobe in the brain, and like many things that the brain interprets, different people can reach different conclusions about the same odor. Explain to them that the first rule of permanently eradicating any odor is to eliminate the source, and since we and our beloved pets are part of what is the source of the odor, it is an on-going process that requires knowledge of the science of control, not just masking and covering up one odor with a stronger perfume or fragrance.

Traditional Odor Eradicating/Elimination Strategies

There are some traditional ways to remove odors from carpets and many continue to prove quite successful. Removing odors from carpets and masking odors with a fragrance are two different things. While some strategies may include a fragrance, removing offensive odors means attacking the source of the odor so it has been eliminated.

Here are the basic categories of odor elimination and deodorization treatments you have at your disposal as a professional to deal with the most common odor problems found in carpets:

  • Urine Pre-treatments: These solutions typically used as a pre-spray, are used to dissolve and break down urine and feces deposits left in the carpeting. They are the most effective way of dissolving the lipids that bind the urine deposits to the carpet. The more of the urine contamination that you can effectively neutralize and remove from the carpet, the easier the treatment for deodorization will be. Whatever stain or odor control treatment is your favorite for treating urine, using a urine pre-treatment, such as CleanMaster UPS will make your treatment faster and more effective.
  • Pairing Agents:  A pairing agents is defined as a solution which combines with the malodor molecule or substance and then      gives it some of its own chemical properties which transforms the odor’s chemistry into a new non-odorous compound. The pairing agent must make direct contact with the malodor source in order to be effective. Some pairing agents contain aggressive attacking and counteracting agents where the aggressive pairing action transforms the odor cell and the condition of the total environment. Pairing agents, such as CleanMaster OdorMate Tropical Breeze, are typically used to treat and eliminate tobacco and smoke odors, and also work effectively against chemical off gassing odors.
  • Chemical Oxidizers: These chemicals are derived from peroxide compounds and are activated by effervescent activity. They oxidize and help decompose odor-causing bacteria—very often a source of carpet odors—which are then removed in the      extraction process. They are typically used as powders, mixed with hot water, and then poured onto the carpet where the source of the odor is contained. After a few minutes the, solution is extracted from the carpet, usually with a subsurface extraction wand or tool. These oxidizers are effective at eliminating the yellow carpet stains caused by urine contamination, as well as oxidizing the odors, making them a growing favorite with professionals. They can also be used effectively against mustiness and mildew odors, and to eliminate odors caused by chemical off-gassing. Some of these powder oxidizers, like CleanMaster USR with Multi-Phase, are fortified with an encapsulating and bonding deodorizing agent to provide additional odor control benefits.
  • Electronic oxidation or deodorization–  The production and use of ozone gas. A gas produced from arcing electricity through oxygen molecules.  This gas oxidizes odors it comes in contact with, totally destroying the odor. Ozone is typically more      effective on chemical off gassing and smoke odors. As a general rule, it is too slow for use on urine odors. Ozone must only be used in unoccupied areas.
  • Encapsulating and Bonding Deodorizers – Specially formulated deodorizing treatments that bind to and encapsulate odor      molecules, effectively eliminating the odor cells ability to produce odors. In addition, most of these types of solutions also contain a pleasant pairing fragrance specifically geared to treat all types of malodors – urine, smoke, chemical off-gassing, and mustiness. These broad based deodorizers need to come in direct contact with the source of the odor for maximum effectiveness. CleanMaster MultiPhase is an example of this type of product and was the pioneer in the development of his technology.
  • Vapor phase diffusers- The diffusion into the airspace of natural essential oils and odor neutralizing compounds that have been      suspended into a membrane. These diffusers breathe a penetrating dry vapor into the air. The most popular vapor diffusers are made by Vaportek®, and have been found to be very effective against smoke and tobacco odors.
  • Biocides/Disinfectants/Sanitizers – Disinfecting agents that have the ability to kill a broad range of microorganisms, but not necessarily all their spores. Disinfectants are primarily used to resolve odor problems related to microorganisms. They can be effective against mustiness and mold smells, although their primary purpose is to kill the source of the odor – the microorganisms. These types of products use is highly regulated under federal law, so become familiar with the product you are using and the directions called for on the label.
  • Digesters (Enzyme Deodorants) – These are living organisms (bacteria) which produce enzymes that digest or consume decaying organic and protein contaminants. They contain living organism(s) that emit an enzyme to consume protein found in odor-causing bacteria, which destroy odor. They are often used for deodorizing decaying organic materials, such as urine, meat, fish, milk, blood, body fluids, and human or animal waste. They are typically effective against urine and protein odors, but to work effectively need prolonged contact time with the odor source.
  • Sealing – Sealing agents are solutions which “lock-in” odor molecules by preventing the evaporation of odorous gases.The sealing agent is applied to sources of malodor to prevent the further evaporation of the malodors into the airspace. Sealing is often required on various salvageable surfaces exposed to concentrations of malodor. Sealants are often applied to wood, concrete, subflooring, duct and ventilation systems etc…, to prevent wicking of odor contamination from urine and smoke deposits.

Effective odor control methods, procedures and agents can include masking, oxidizing, adsorption, absorption, counteracting, digesting, sealing, killing, and pairing. “The effectiveness of all of these products – as with most all cleaning chemicals — invariably improves when using a high performance hot-water extraction portable or truckmount to effectively clean the contamination out of the carpet both before and after the deodorization treatment

When Problems Persist

There can be many reasons why a carpet odor problem persists.  Possibly, more effort is needed in determining the cause of the odor or its actual source.  Using a black light and/or a moisture sensor can help find the source.  In some cases, it may not be the carpets at all, but walls, furniture, or other surfaces can be contaminated.

In other cases, the wrong chemicals or combination of chemicals used to eliminate the odor were employed.  Or possibly, the machine did not have the extraction power to effectively remove the source of the odors.

Finally, if odor is still a problem after you have employed a combination of usually effective treatments, and you are sure it is still coming from the carpet then you must have a heart-to-heart discussion with the customer as to their remaining options which generally means the carpet and cushion needs to be replaced and the subfloor underneath sealed with an effective agent.

For a free step-by-step interactive electronic Deodorization and Odor Control Procedural Reference Guide that provides more specific details on the treatment procedures discussed, simply click here.

Odor Control

About the author: R. Doyle Bloss has been a part of the cleaning and restoration industry for over 30 years. He presently serves as the Marketing and Chemical Brand Manager for HydraMaster and US Products in Mukilteo, Washington.  Doyle has a long, successful track record of developing education and training systems in the areas of technical procedures, as well as marketing and management principles for the cleaning entrepreneur. He has headed up the two largest training programs in the industry,  assisted in developing complete chemical lines for three leading manufacturers,  and has been honored and awarded for his innovative programs that build bridges throughout the cleaning and restoration industry. He has a passion for hands-on presentation that provides an entertaining and thought provoking style that fully engages the student into the learning process. When not thinking about the latest innovations for removing cat pee, and how to market that service, Doyle enjoys college football, wildlife photography, Yellowstone National Park, and church activities. Doyle and his wife Tammy have three children and currently reside in Snohomish, Washington. Doyle can be reached at doyle.bloss@hydramaster.com

So how do you make green work for you?

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The use of green cleaning solutions will matter to most professional carpet cleaners when they make it matter in their marketing and advertising. I know of carpet cleaning companies that have grown to several million dollars in annual revenue within a few years of their inception emphasizing green concepts in cleaning and learning how to market it properly. I would argue that it was not the fact they were using green concepts that fueled their growth. It was that they found effective ways to make the fact matter that they were using green concepts to their potential customers and clients. In fact, other cleaners in their same towns who emphasized green have already disappeared. It is much like IICRC or other industry certifications, or belonging to industry trade associations, or just about any other expensive exercise a company undergoes to professionalize itself. It matters to the customer when you make it matter to the customer. It comes back to the ages old sales and marketing concept – answering the question of what is in it for them? Then, your company has to proceed to assuring them that your company is reputable and will stand behind its claims. Before you make the investment of time and money to add “green” or “eco” or “environment’ into your company name and cleaning procedures, put together a marketing plan where you can identify to your potential customers why that should matter to them.

CleanMaster has a complete line of products that are manufactured utilizing ingredients recognized as “green.” These include products that have earned our prestigious SafeClean designation, which was initiated back in 1991 long before Green became a buzzword. SafeClean™ is HydraMaster’s long time trusted designation for cleaning solutions formulated with the latest technology in environmentally preferable “green” technology. SafeClean designated formulations meet or exceed industry ingredient guidelines for green cleaning solutions. The SafeClean designation goes well beyond traditional definitions of what a green formula should be like. It takes into consideration utilizing sustainable and renewable ingredients, environmental and health impact footprints on the indoor and outdoor environment, and perhaps the most important consideration of all- removing and extracting the soil from the surface being cleaned.

These products include Release with OxyBreak Carpet Prespray, RinseFree with OxyBreak Carpet Extraction DetergentHydraFree DFC Carpet Cleaning Solution, and ZipDri Encap TS Encapsulation Cleaner.

Carpets, Health, and Healthcare

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By Doyle Bloss and Robert Kravitz

A recently released study conducted by Airmid Healthgoup Limited, a leading biomedical research organization, finds that properly maintained carpets (using high performance vacuum cleaners and cleaned using hot water extractors) can trap foreign allergens helping improve overall air quality…and can do this far better than hard surface flooring. 

Similarly, a May 2008 study found that carpet can actually decrease the likelihood of infections being transmitted in a healthcare facility because of its ability to hold and trap contaminants.  The study said carpets help “sequester” biological contaminants, keeping them from becoming airborne or transmited.*

This is very important information and is of value in not only healthcare settings but also schools, office facilities, and many other types of locations where many building users are located, often in rather crowded situations. However, for healthcare facilities, this type of information can actually save lives.

Each year it is estimated that approximately 100,000 people die in the United States due to healthcare acquired infections (HAIs). Because we have an estimated 50 direct and indirect contacts with floor surfaces each day, if a hard surface floor in a medical facility is contaminated with germs and bacteria, having a carpeted floor installed that can “sequester” these pathogens may help stop cross-contamination and potentially reduce HAIs.

Another benefit, often overlooked, is that carpeting has natural anti-fatigue properties, especially if it has a very firm pad or cushion below the carpet. This is of great importance for those working in hospitals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses spend most of their days on their feet, and because of this, they are one of the top groups at risk for workplace-related injuries. Installing the proper carpeting, such as a modular carpet or a broadloom carpet with low pile construction, helps ensure that these important caregivers are productive, comfortable, and healthy.

Finally, carpets help quiet a facility. Anyone who has recently visited a hospital or similar healthcare facility with hard surface flooring installed knows these locations can be quite noisy. According to one study, conducted by Press Ganey Hospital, which works with healthcare providers to understand and improve the patient experience in medical facilities, the number one complaint among patients in American hospitals is that they are simply too noisy. Installing carpeting can help rectify this problem and could increase healthcare worker performance, improve patient morale, reduce medial errors, and even help prevent violent or erratic behavior of patients and staff due to stress.

However, there is one caveat to most of the benefits mentioned here, and that is that carpets must be adequately cleaned. Thorough and effective cleaning, which can only be accomplished through the use of truckmounted and high performance portable hot-water extraction equipment, is the only way to ensure that the “filter” (i.e; the carpet) has had the contaminants removed, and to keep indoor air quality healthier. Further, a clean, healthy carpet simply performs better, meaning it can also be more effective at reducing worker fatigue and workplace-related injuries and keeping facilities quiet as well. All of these benefits underscore the many health and healing properties of carpeting.

In addition, the proper use of carpet cleaning solutions ensures the maximum cleansing of the filter (i.e; the carpet) to eliminate potentially harmful contaminants, soil, and allergens. We recommend the consistent use of an effective carpet prespray like CleanMaster FastBreak HD, with the use of an “in-tank” solution through the extractor like CleanMaster HydraClean. Studies have also shown this combination of cleaning solutions removes the most amount of soil and leaves the least amount of residue.

To request your complete FREE cleaning reference guide that details step by step effective hot water extraction procedures, and the right cleaning solutions, simply click here.

 

* “Carpet, Asthma and Allergies—Myth or Reality” by Mitchell W. Sauerhoff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What other incentives are there for cleaners to “go green?”

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I would make the case that many professional cleaners employ the use of an extremely green concept every day in their cleaning. One of the most overlooked ‘green” contributions that carpet cleaners make is in the use of heated cleaning solutions with their truckmount or high performance portable extractors. Several independent and peer reviewed scientific studies have confirmed the value of heat in the carpet cleaning process. Yet this remains one area of carpet cleaning where gross misconceptions still exist. Hotter cleaning solution increases the chemical molecular activity of the cleaning chemical you are using (including water). This basic chemistry concept can be confirmed in basic science concepts by the Argonne National labs (http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/gen01/gen01759.htm) . Increased chemical activity means you will need to use less chemical to clean. Dr. Michael Berry, author of the book Protecting the Built Environment: Cleaning for Health, found that heat simply improves cleaning’s effectiveness. “Even without soap, small amounts of grease will dissolve in water, [but] the amount increases in hot water, sometimes ten-fold,” he says. There is nothing “greener” than a reduction in overall chemical usage.

Hotter cleaning solution contributes to a healthier indoor environment.  Dr. Michael Berry and his associates, on behalf of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, did two groundbreaking studies measuring the impact of deep restorative carpet cleaning (utilizing hotter cleaning solution) in 1991 and 1994. The “Denver” Study in 1991 and the “Frank Porter Graham” Study in 1994 greatly advanced our understanding of the interaction between cleaning and the indoor environment. The “Denver” Study mainly looked at whether they could actually even measure particulates, gas phase organics, and biological contamination in carpeting before, during, and after carpet cleaning. The “Frank Porter Graham” Study was a collaborative effort that involved participants from the cleaning industry utilizing “best industry practices” and deep cleaning methods for on-going cleaning and maintenance in a Child Development Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Airborne dust contaminants were reduced by 52%. Total Volatile Organic Compounds decreased by 49%. Total bacterial was reduced by 40%, and total fungi declined by 61%. If the measurement of “green” includes making the indoor environment “healthier,” the contributions of hot water in the cleaning process cannot be overstated.

One of the points that I brought up with one third party certification group  that seems to get completely overlooked by organizations writing policy that affect our industry has to do with the way that most modern truckmounts work. The fuel consumption used to power a truckmounted carpet cleaning machine, whether it be a slide-in or direct drive unit is going to exist in order to operate that unit. In most cases, it runs on gasoline. The heating of the water in a heat exchanger truckmount works by capturing heat from other sources (engine, blower, radiator, etc…) that are being powered anyway. The hot water created by a truckmount does not require the use of any additional resources beyond those required to run the truckmount. Using the fuel source for dual benefits – what could be greener than that?

CleanMaster has a complete line of products that are manufactured utilizing ingredients recognized as “green.” These include products that have earned our prestigious SafeClean designation, which was initiated back in 1991 long before Green became a buzzword. SafeClean™ is HydraMaster’s long time trusted designation for cleaning solutions formulated with the latest technology in environmentally preferable “green” technology. SafeClean designated formulations meet or exceed industry ingredient guidelines for green cleaning solutions. The SafeClean designation goes well beyond traditional definitions of what a green formula should be like. It takes into consideration utilizing sustainable and renewable ingredients, environmental and health impact footprints on the indoor and outdoor environment, and perhaps the most important consideration of all- removing and extracting the soil from the surface being cleaned.

These products include Release with OxyBreak Carpet Prespray, RinseFree with OxyBreak Carpet Extraction DetergentHydraFree DFC Carpet Cleaning Solution, and ZipDri Encap TS Encapsulation Cleaner.

Are “green” chemicals more expensive? If so, why should cleaners invest in these?

When green ingredients were first being introduced, there is no doubt that they made some products more expensive. As their use has expanded greatly, most green ingredients are very competitive today with their “non-green” counterparts. In our relatively small industry, much of the cost of some green products is to pay for the expensive third party certification. Believe me, getting those certifications is a lengthy and expensive process. The manufacturer who gets a product certified is going to most likely pass along that cost to the customers who use it.

So what should a cleaner do? If they have a need for third party green certified products, they should expect to pay more. We have already defined in a previous question when those times might be. If they are simply wanting to use products that are “totally” green or contain a large percentage of “green rated” ingredients, there are lots of great performing, competitively priced products to choose from.

ImageCleanMaster has a complete line of products that are manufactured utilizing ingredients recognized as “green.” These include products that have earned our prestigious SafeClean designation, which was initiated back in 1991 long before Green became a buzzword. SafeClean™ is HydraMaster’s long time trusted designation for cleaning solutions formulated with the latest technology in environmentally preferable “green” technology. SafeClean designated formulations meet or exceed industry ingredient guidelines for green cleaning solutions. The SafeClean designation goes well beyond traditional definitions of what a green formula should be like. It takes into consideration utilizing sustainable and renewable ingredients, environmental and health impact footprints on the indoor and outdoor environment, and perhaps the most important consideration of all- removing and extracting the soil from the surface being cleaned.

These products include Release with OxyBreak Carpet Prespray, RinseFree with OxyBreak Carpet Extraction DetergentHydraFree DFC Carpet Cleaning Solution, and ZipDri Encap TS Encapsulation Cleaner.

If you “go green” with your cleaning operations, do you risk sacrificing cleanliness? In other words, is there a difference between green and clean?

Clean is GreenDr. Michael Berry said it best. “Green” and “clean” should be synonymous terms. A clean environment is a green environment so long as the wastes produced from the cleaning process are properly disposed of.  If, in order to get an extremely dirty surface clean, you have to use massive amounts of a green chemical to get it clean, and in doing so, you leave a large amount of organic material behind on the surface, you may be contributing to the growth of mold or bacteria in the indoor environment. That is not a green concept. The good news is that the performance of green chemicals has improved dramatically in the last 10 years. In cases where an indoor environment is being properly cleaned and maintained by a trained and certified cleaning professional; on a recommended frequency basis using industry accepted and defined standards of care; you will not have to sacrifice anything by using green chemicals. The bad news is that this still takes the cooperation of the residential or commercial cleaning client. How many carpet cleaning jobs have you done in the last year that were “being properly cleaned and maintained by a trained and certified cleaning professional on a recommended frequency basis using industry accepted and defined standards of care?” If people, whether they be the facility manager of a large commercial building or Mrs. Piffleton, really want you to be able to effectively clean their indoor environment with only “green products and procedures, “  then they have to make a commitment too. You can’t let soil and filth and grime and allergens and pollutants and volatile organic compound’s and bacteria build up and build up in a high traffic carpeted environment, and then expect the professional cleaner to restore the carpet to a “like new” appearance without stronger or harsher chemistry. A day may be coming where you can clean a neglected Chinese Restaurant carpet with only green chemicals, but I don’t think we are quite there yet.

CleanMaster has a complete line of products that are manufactured utilizing ingredients recognized as “green.” These include products that have earned our prestigious SafeClean designation, which was initiated back in 1991 long before Green became a buzzword. SafeClean™ is HydraMaster’s long time trusted designation for cleaning solutions formulated with the latest technology in environmentally preferable “green” technology. SafeClean designated formulations meet or exceed industry ingredient guidelines for green cleaning solutions. The SafeClean designation goes well beyond traditional definitions of what a green formula should be like. It takes into consideration utilizing sustainable and renewable ingredients, environmental and health impact footprints on the indoor and outdoor environment, and perhaps the most important consideration of all- removing and extracting the soil from the surface being cleaned.

These products include Release with OxyBreak Carpet Prespray, RinseFree with OxyBreak Carpet Extraction Detergent, HydraFree Carpet Cleaning Solution, and ZipDri Encap TS Encapsulation Cleaner.

How Do I Know What Hard Surface Floor I Will Be Cleaning? – Floor Identification Series – Part 7 of 7 parts

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Testing Procedures for Floor Identification:

There are actually six different “tests” or evaluations you can perform to zero in on the type of floor you are being asked to clean. In this post, we will cover the sixth and final test and evaluation – the floor finish test (sometimes called the scrape test).

6. Check for Floor Finish. The pores in stone and grout should be filled with a penetrating or impregnating sealer. This will hold outImage water, oils and other soils.

  • Some floors may have been coated with a topical finish or wax. Finishes easily become worn in high use areas but may build up in other areas resulting in an uneven, blotchy look.
  • The presence of a topical coating will make your work much more difficult!
  • If you suspect a topical coating is present, try to scratch or scrape it off using your fingernail. A polymer finish will flake off. A wax finish will roll into a ball. A finish meant to be permanent cannot be easily removed.
  • A splash of water will not penetrate the tile if a finish is present and intact. Another test is to apply some rubbing alcohol to the surface. This will penetrate many finishes leaving a white milky appearance.
  • A topical coating will need to be stripped off. The process will vary according to the type and thickness of the coating.
  • CleanMaster HydraStone or CleanMaster HydraSolv will remove some coatings, but a product intended for stripping finishes is often required. Use according to manufacturer’s directiions.
  • We recommend against the application of topical coatings on stone or tile floors!

Cleaning application – if there is floor finish on the tile, you can rest assured it is on the grout too. This will limit the cleaning process and the grout will not likely come clean until the floor finish is stripped off.

Once you have completed the series of tests to determine what type of floor you are cleaning, it is time to precondition the customer before you precondition the floor for cleaning. You do this by doing a proper pre-inspection and reporting process. The pre-inspection process for cleaning stone, concrete, and tile floors will be the next series of blogs we do at thecleaninsceneblog.com.

If you want to learn more about restorative cleaning procedures for these hard surface floors we have been discussing, you can download the complete hard surface cleaning procedures guide that will detail for you the exact cleaning solution and step by step procedures by clicking here.

If you would prefer the cleaning procedures guide in electronic form so that you can load it onto your computer, tablet, or smart phone, simply request your free copy here.