What about the use of gas phase ozone as a treatment for the inactivation of the COVID-19 virus?

Recent articles, webinars, and even quoted scientific studies have referred to the application of gas phase ozone from readily available ozone generators that can be used to inactivate the COVID-19 virus. Typically, in the past, these gas phase ozone generators have been widely used to combat smoke odors and other odors by restoration contractors after a fire, or in the use of treating the water as a biocide in hot tubs and whirlpools.

In an article entitled, “Ozone vs. Coronavirus: Ozone’s Efficacy as a Virucidal Disinfectant, “ published in the April 2020 issue of Restoration and Remediation Magazine, David Hart, inventor and manufacturer of several innovative systems in the cleaning and restoration industry for duct cleaning, and a manufacturer of an ozone generator made specific references to studies that certainly support the idea of gas phase ozone being used to inactivate viruses. In his article Mr. Hart recognizes, Dr. Gérard Sunnen, a medical doctor in New York City. Dr. Sunnen specializes in the uses of ozone in the medical field, ranging from cutting-edge ozone therapy to the use of ozone as a disinfectant.  According to Dr. Sunnen. “Ozone has unique disinfectant properties. As a gas, it has a penetration capacity that liquids do not possess. In view of the fact that , SARS-CoV-2, MERS, and previous SARS strains persist on fomites (surfaces) for up to several days, it is suggested that ozone technology be applied to the decontamination of medical and other environments”.

Mr. Hart further asked Dr. Sunnen to explain how gas phase ozone would work to inactivate viruses:  “Typically, viruses are small, independent particles, built of crystals and macromolecules. Unlike bacteria, they multiply only within the host cell. Ozone destroys viruses by diffusing through the protein coat into the nucleic acid core, resulting in damage of the viral RNA. At higher concentrations, ozone destroys the capsid or exterior protein shell by oxidation” explains Dr. Sunnen.  Further, “most research efforts on ozone’s virucidal effects have centered upon ozone’s propensity to break apart lipid molecules at sites of multiple bond configuration. Indeed, once the lipid envelope of the virus is fragmented, its DNA or RNA core cannot survive”.

Mr.  Hart finishes the article with his own conclusions: Ozone, having been proven in the lab and in the field to be an extremely effective virucide and full-spectrum antimicrobial, killing pathogenic bacteria and fungi, offers many benefits over alternative ways of disinfecting.” Mr. Hart believes that Ozone has a very important advantage over liquid disinfectants and antimicrobials because it has better penetration capabilities

Source: https://www.randrmagonline.com/articles/88901-ozones-efficacy-in-deactivating-coronavirus-like-pathogens

Dr. Sunnen and Mr.  Hart are by no means alone in their belief and understanding that gas phase ozone can be effectively used to inactivate the COVID-19 virus. There are several studies listed in the bibliography sections of other studies which reinforce this principle. The chief criticism of most of these studies is that they were sponsored, often paid for, and published by manufacturers of ozone generators themselves. The studies were not often independently scientifically peer reviewed.

But as you read the comments below from other scientists, be careful not to jump on the negative band wagon too easily and quickly when it comes to the application of ozone for this use. As you will see many of these experts quoted recognize the need for and call for more confirming or non-confirming research. Another criticism of the pro-ozone group that I have heard is that there has been no testing of the effectiveness of ozone at inactivating the specific COVID-19 virus. That criticism is true. But it is also true of all the disinfecting agents on the EPA Registered “N” list that is so often referred to. As of April 2020, none of these products were tested specifically against the COVID-19 virus. I f that is true, why does the EPA recognize these disinfectants as being effective and promote their usage? Well simply stated, previous studies submitted for these disinfectants have demonstrated successful inactivation of other coronaviruses. Because these disinfectants proved effectiveness against other strains of the coronavirus, the EPA is confident that they are effective against COVID-19. We may be well into the year 2021 before the specific testing against COVID-19 is completed for many of the registered disinfectants on the EPA N List.

Now let us look at the flip side of the argument as it relates to the potential use of gas phase ozone to inactivate the COVID-19 virus.

Steven M. Spivak, PhD is a Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland, Technical Advisor to RIA and an icon in the cleaning and disaster restoration industry. Recently in an email communication coordinated by John Downey at the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI), Dr. Spivak was asked about his opinion on the use of gas phase ozone as a potential bio-cide and specifically in the use against the COVID-19 virus.” ‘In years past I’ve seen and heard claims from aerial ozone generator machine supplier(s) that aerial ozone – If and when concentrated into close quarters, at “high concentration within unoccupied spaces,” might act as a germicide or disinfectant of sorts? But I’d never seen any scientific data or independent research to validate this – and whether or not the suspect use of aerial ozone efficacy and any -cidal benefits apply to bacteria; or mold & fungi; or viruses – or whichever?  It remains to be known and reliably tested, in my opinion and base of understanding.  I believe we are presently valid questioning about unknowns – unless proven otherwise – for efficacy of concentrated aerial ozone in unoccupied spaces? That is, how to use aerial ozone to affect a diminution or elimination of infectious COVID-19 or SARS-2 COVID, et al and especially in senior loving or elder care facilities? It remains to be tested and proven, albeit a viable research effort to discover”

In the same email communication, Dr. Stefan Wagener, SM (NRCM). CBSP, RBP. A scientific advisor for the Global Bio-Risk Advisory Council (GBAC) and Executive Director at Biorisk International stated: “In my opinion, the technology is not yet ready to be used in mainstream surface and room disinfection for COVID-19. Concentrations required are above health limits and cannot be used in occupied spaces. Monitoring of ozone levels might be needed as well as post-treatment processes (e.g., removal of ozone). It definitely requires further work and investigation.”

Also in the same CIRI email communication asking about the use of gas phase ozone for inactivating the virus, Dr. Eugene Cole took an even stronger stand: “It is hard to believe that anyone is even considering the use of gas-phase ozone as an indoor biocide these days.” Dr. Cole is Director of Research for LRC Indoor Testing & Research, Cary, NC; and formerly Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT. Dr. Cole referenced a research paper he released in 2003. From the the abstract of the study, “this review of the peer-reviewed, published, scientific literature has found no appreciable antimicrobial effect of gas-phase ozone on either airborne or surface microorganisms. Its potential role in the control of biological pollution in the indoor environment is not substantiated by scientific investigations”

In the summary of the study, Dr. Cole reinforces that the review did back what was stated in the abstract. The conclusion states: “In general, considering the extent of the variability of types and concentrations of biological pollutants, their spectrum of intrinsic inactivation resistances, their range of recognized reservoirs. And the extreme variability in environmental conditions relative to temperature, RH, air flow, and organic matter interference among others, there remains no recognized antimicrobial effectiveness nor recommended protocol for the use of gas-phase ozone for the indoor environment”

Source: “Gas-phase ozone: Assessment of Biocidal Properties for the Indoor Environment – A Critical Review,” Applied Bio-Safety, Volume 8(3), pages 112-117, Copyright ABSA 2003

So, what does the United States Environmental Protection Agency have to say on the subject? After all, if they are the organization that regulates claims of disinfection by liquid chemicals, what about gas-phase treatments? Well the first thing that the EPA says is that they do not test nor regulate, nor even have authority over the claims of disinfection by electronic devices and gas-phase treatments. This information is taken directly from their website:

Why aren’t ozone generators, UV lights or air purifiers on List N? Can I use them to kill the COVID-19? –   

These are examples of pesticidal devices. A pesticidal device is an instrument or other machine that is used to destroy, repel, trap, or mitigate any pests, including bacteria and viruses.

Unlike chemical pesticides, EPA does not routinely review the safety or efficacy of pesticidal devices, and therefore cannot confirm whether, or under what circumstances, such products might be effective against the spread of COVID-19. Accordingly, List N only includes surface disinfectants registered by EPA and does not include devices.

Pesticidal devices, while not required to be registered with EPA, are subject to certain regulatory requirements under FIFRA, including labeling and reporting requirements. Importantly, FIFRA prohibits the sale or distribution of misbranded pesticidal devices, i.e., pesticidal devices with false or misleading claims on their labeling. Selling pesticide devices with false or misleading claims about its safety or efficacy may subject the seller to penalties under FIFRA.

EPA only recommends use of the surface disinfectants identified on List N against SARS-CoV-2.”

https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/why-arent-ozone-generators-uv-lights-or-air-purifiers-list-n-can-i-use-them-kill-covid

The last sentence is the one I would ask professional cleaners, restorers, and facility managers to carefully consider. If you are going to use gas-phase ozone as a potential treatment step in dealing with the COVID-19 virus, you need to fully understand that the EPA does NOT consider it be a measure they would recommend. The EPA goes further in discussing Ozone on their website:

“Will an Ozone Generator protect me and my family from COVID-19?

No, do not use ozone generators in occupied spaces. When used at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone applied to indoor air does not effectively remove viruses, bacteria, mold, or other biological pollutants. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for best practices to protect yourself and your family.

https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/will-ozone-generator-protect-me-and-my-family-covid-19

Now keep in mind, this statement by the EPA is referring to running an ozone machine in an occupied environment. Mr. Hart and others who advocate for the use of ozone always recommend ONLY using in an unoccupied environment and take into consideration several other safety factors – removing all people, pets, and plants from the premises is just a start. This allows them to use gas phase ozone at much higher levels of concentration.

The deeper that I have gotten into my studies of the science of virus inactivation, and in learning more about how the research scientists, medical and research doctors, and other bio-risk assessment experts address the subject of COVID-19, one thing stands out to me: We don’t know much of anything for sure. We are still learning. As you hear politicians, the media, and others repeat the saying over and over again – “we are following the science” – they repeatedly act like the science is absolute, and that what the science says is a foregone conclusion. As I spend more time with the true scientists and research doctors, I find them taking on a much humbler attitude. It is almost “this is what we think we know based on our review of the facts we have in hand at the moment.” They are far more open to the fact they could be wrong, or something could change their mind than it seems many of the rest of us are. My interpretation is that they often take the best information that they have, and in what I would call a “leap of faith” (not sure they would appreciate that term) they reach recommendations for specific procedures based upon the best information, albeit science, they have at the time.

As the EPA stated in one of their answers to questions: Because air disinfection or purification devices do not need to be registered with the EPA, companies that make them aren’t required to disclose their efficacy data or verify their efficacy claims in their marketing materials. EPA does not routinely review the safety or efficacy of pesticidal devices, and therefore cannot confirm whether, or under what circumstances, such products might be effective against the spread of COVID-19If you are interested in gaining a fuller understanding of what this really means, and how it may apply to any and all other types of devices designed to treat or clean the air in a building, I highly recommend you take a look at the information on the website provided by Scientific Air Management, a manufacturer of an electronic air disinfection and purification device. If you visit https://scientificairmanagement.com/evidence/ you will find this company openly and readily ‘confesses” that the EPA has not reviewed their device. They then proceed to demonstrate how they did laboratory testing that did follow the recommended protocol the EPA uses to test efficacy of liquid disinfectants. From their website, “Even though air cleaning devices do not have to be registered, the EPA does have guidelines for the appropriate type and size of bioaerosol chamber in which to test. Scientific Air Management products are tested under these strict EPA guidelines and have laboratory-verifiable pathogen-killing efficacy. Two independent, nationally recognized lab facilities (Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory and MicroChem Laboratory), using EPA guideline conditions, performed efficacy testing in airborne pathogen killing rates. The following are the tests results and compiled reports. Per EPA guidelines, Scientific Air Management adhered to the following test protocols: 1); Test methods employed; 2) Contact time (minutes vs. hours); 3) Type of pathogen; and 4) Killing percentage (minimum 99.9995%).” The transparency of this company to the facts at hand is refreshing and leads me to believe that the claims they make about their device have a better scientific footing. Of course, these devices cost thousands more that a high-quality ozone generator and are really designed for on-going use in hospitals and other medical facilities. Still, the technology would apply to the treatment of the inactivation of COVID-19.

So where does using gas-phase ozone fit in to all of this? Perhaps the most important contribution, even considering the CIRI scientists, and the EPA’s concerns about effectiveness lies in the visual reinforcement. Generating a higher concentration of ozone into an unoccupied environment as an ADDITIONAL step beyond deep cleaning, and even beyond applying disinfectants to all common “touch points” may provide a higher level of “peace of mind” and confidence of the people who are going to live/work/shop in the home or building being treated. The problem lies when contractors take a little information and apply it indiscriminately. One strong example stands out where an “advisor” was advocating for the continuous running of an ozone generator in a COVID-19 stricken nursing home for the purpose of “killing the virus.” Not only would ozone have had no effectiveness at this level, it would have presented to occupants of the nursing home with another severe potential contributor to respiratory stress.

In conclusion, what can we do as contractors and facility managers with ozone? First, if we are going to use it we only do it in unoccupied environments. Well what exactly does that mean. Does everyone in an apartment house have to leave their apartment if we are using ozone in one apartment? If we are using ozone in one room of a 200,000 square foot commercial building, does the entire building have to be empty? Well, a well trained and certified cleaning or restoration contractor will take the right courses and learn how to use ozone in an environment safety and effectively. This includes the removal of all people, pets, and plants from the premises, as well as the removal or protection of vulnerable furnishings and electronics which may be comprised of a high level of natural rubber. High concentrations of ozone gas can break down natural rubber components.

With some level of assurance, properly used and applied, the application of ozone to treat an unoccupied environment hey could not likely not hurt and even might be helpful, so long as:

  • You must deep clean the entire indoor environment first (understand how the virus is transferred)
  • You apply an EPA registered disinfectant to all common touch points
  • You use the ozone machine strictly according to manufacturer directions in ONLY in accordance with generally accepted industry standards of care
  • Take precautions to protect people, pets, plants, and vulnerable furnishings
  • You do not oversell your capabilities and over promise what you can accomplish

In the interest of full disclosure, you should be aware that the company that the author of this article (R. Doyle Bloss) works for (HydraMaster) until recently manufactured an ozone generating device for use in fire and smoke damage restoration and odor control

 

 

What is wrong with the fogging and or electrostatic spraying a disinfectant as a sole response/treatment to COVID-19?

In any application of sanitization and disinfection, the first step must first be deep, restorative cleaning, extraction, and removal of unwanted substances. For surfaces that can be treated with chemical sanitizers and disinfectants, removal, and extraction of as much of the harmful contamination prior to the application of those disinfectants is extremely important.

During this time of pandemic, many cleaning and restoration companies are being asked to, or are tempted to sell “fogging a disinfectant service” as a sole treatment step in making an indoor environment safer. We will never stop the “fogging and miracle cure” crowd during the time of a pandemic, any more than we can stop untrained carpet cleaners extracting grey or black water after massive flooding with a portable extractor and box fans they bought for $13 at Walmart, When the demand exceeds the supply, the snake oil salesman will always show up. However, it would be nice for organizations, rather than just individuals to be “louder” in talking about the truth. There ultimately is HUGE value in applying disinfectants – even if it just mainly brings “peace of mind” There is nothing to lose here for our industry by promoting the truth

I guess the most perplexing part of all of this to me as to why people keep asking the same questions over and over again about fogging a disinfectant is this: The EPA is being asked the same questions that are being asked of “experts” in the cleaning and restoration industry. They are answering them with virtually the same answers as those in our industry who understand this would, with the caveat they (EPA) understand they are writing for a wider audience with varied levels of education and comprehension. Here are some examples:

In 2013, the EPA sent a letter to all the companies who had approved and registered disinfectants addressing their concern about the measured effectiveness of fogging a disinfectant. Part of the letter stated:

“The reasons that the EPA believes that fogging/misting methods of application may not be adequately effective include the following:

  • Application by fogging/misting results in much smaller particle sizes, different surface coverage characteristics, and potentially reduced efficacy when compared to sanitization or disinfection product applications by spraying, sponging, wiping, or mopping
  • The absence of pre-cleaning in the presence of soil contamination, potential reaction with or absorption of the active ingredient for different surfaces, and humidity/temperature fluctuations can also impact distribution and efficacy of the product.
  • A surface treated by fogging/misting does not receive the same amount of active ingredient per unit area as the standard methods of application and, as a result, the level of efficacy actually achieved may not be the same level claimed on the label.”

Source: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/fogger-mister-final-signed-letter.pdf

On the EPA website, they have a frequently asked questions section. Several of the questions they answer are related to fogging or electrostatic spraying a disinfectant.

Can I use fumigation or wide-area spraying to help control COVID-19?

  • Unless the pesticide product label specifically includes disinfection directions for fogging, fumigation, or wide-area or electrostatic spraying, EPA does not recommend using these methods to apply disinfectants. EPA has not evaluated the product’s safety and efficacy for methods not addressed on the label.
  • A disinfectant product’s safety and effectiveness may change based on how you use it. If a pesticide product’s label does not include disinfection directions for use with fogging, fumigation, wide-area, or electrostatic spraying, EPA has not reviewed any data on whether the product is safe and effective when used by those methods.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you clean contaminated surfaces with liquid disinfectant products to prevent the spread of disease. 

Source: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/can-i-use-fumigation-or-wide-area-spraying-help-control-covid-19

Many EPA registered disinfectants on the COVID-19 “N” List do not include directions and/or have not been tested for use in fogging. The EPA addressed this issue too:

Can I apply a product using a method that is not specified in the directions for use?

  • Any time you use an EPA-registered disinfectant, you should read the product label and follow the directions, including the method of application. This is the best way to ensure the product will safely kill pathogens that cause human illness.
  • A disinfectant product’s safety and effectiveness may change based on how you use it. If a disinfectant product’s label does not include disinfection directions for a certain method of application, EPA has not reviewed any data on whether the product is safe and effective when used in this way.
  • EPA’s regulatory process ensures that all registered disinfectant products legally sold in the United States include directions for use which, if followed, will allow a product to carry out its intended function without resulting in unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.
  • Before using a product, always read its label and follow its instructions, including the application method.

Source: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/can-i-apply-product-using-method-not-specified-directions-use

Finally, heath experts who understand the potential pitfalls of widespread use of fogging disinfectants are beginning to speak up. An article published by the CTV Television Network in Canada written by Brooklyn Neustaeter quotes an email they received from Thomas Tenkate, director of Ryerson’s School of Occupational and Public Health. In her article, Ms. Neustaeter points out that “there is no evidence to suggest that misting sanitizer into the air is effective against the COVID-19 virus.”  The article quotes from Professor Tenkate’s email:  “Getting the disinfectant onto the right surfaces, surfaces which people are likely to touch a lot, in the correct concentration to kill the organism, and in a way that doesn’t cause additional safety risks to workers or the public can be challenging,”

https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/does-spraying-disinfectant-in-public-places-kill-the-covid-19-virus-1.4902771

.Industry IICRC instructor and consultant and Aramsco associate Rachel Adams-Beja has written.

“Regardless of what chemicals may be able to destroy the Novel Coronavirus, most efficacy tests are done in clinical environments and not tested “in field” meaning that the real-world application and efficacy may not achieve the same results. As such, it is critical to remember that most antimicrobial products (disinfectants) are not going to achieve the desired results when applied to soiled surfaces, soft furnishings, etc.
Even surfaces that appear visibly clean must be cleaned thoroughly prior to application of chemicals. The fact is that proper cleaning of surfaces is much like washing of hands and offers more protection than application of hand sanitizer as it removes the contamination rather than trying to “kill” or destroy it. The international restoration industry should lead by example and not engage in ineffective practices of applying chemicals (spraying or fogging) without proper cleaning first.”

Yet the “fog the world” crowd seems to be the ones who get most of the press coverage about attacking the pandemic aggressively. The media that covers this stuff mostly does general society a great disservice by not digging into this more with readily available resources like the EPA. But then what else is new with the media not doing their job of a fair investigation?

In my opinion fogging or electrostatic spraying a disinfectant is not a deep cleaning step. Is there enough “cleaning capacity” in many disinfectants to “help” clean? Certainly. But as the Cleaning Industry Research Institute scientists (www.ciri.org)taught us in their training webinar early on in the response to this pandemic, the virus is often encased within other materials – mainly body fluids and whatever else someone may have had on their hands.

Inevitably, we finish where we started – the first step to maintaining a healthier indoor environment is to deep clean. This must include a commitment to deep clean on a more frequent basis.

So where does fogging or electrostatic spraying an EPA registered disinfectant fit in? When an EPA registered disinfectant is applied in a controlled environment, specifically according to label directions, it can make an important contribution to maintaining a healthier indoor environment and potentially contribute to the inactivation of the COVID-19 virus and other harmful microorganisms.  Perhaps the most important contribution, even considering the EPA’s concerns about effectiveness lies in the visual reinforcement. Fogging as an ADDITIONAL step beyond deep cleaning, and directly applying a disinfectant to all common “touch points” may provide a higher level of “peace of mind” and confidence of the people who are going to live/work/shop in the home or building being treated.

 

 

 

Communicating with your customer before the residential cleaning job

Great! Now you have the job booked! So what should you communicate with the Technician with customercustomer prior to the visit? There are different names for it, and many different ways to communicate it (a printed sheet when you book the job, direct mail, email, in social media, on your website); but essentially you are asking them to take some steps prior to your visit to make things on the job site go easier and faster. Now easier and faster is certainly a benefit for you. But you need to think about what is in it for your customer. Before you give them a long “to-do” list, part of this communication needs to be about explaining why taking these steps is a benefit to them.

imagejpeg_1001The most important benefit to having them prepare the home for your visit needs to recognize that reducing the amount of time the total job – from set-up to cleaning to tear down to drying- is a big advantage to them. They want their home back to normal as fast as possible. Reducing the time the job takes reduces the inconvenience of not being able to use their home in a normal manner.

So what can you include in your precleaning communication? Feel free to copy paste and use any or all of these into your own communication. Comments to each listing are in italics.

We are so pleased that you have chosen our company to provide your carpet and/or hard surface floor cleaning services. Prior to our arrival, there are a few steps we would ask you to take so that the cleaning process goes as smoothly as possible. These steps will allow us to provide you with a faster and more efficient cleaning and reduce the amount of time it will take before you can return to fully enjoying the comfort of your home:

  • Any carpet that we will be cleaning should be thoroughly vacuumed prior to our arrival. Removing the dry soils before we apply any cleaning solution greatly improves the cleaning results. If you’re unable to vacuum before we arrive for whatever reason please let us know so that we can set aside time to vacuum the carpet. (This should be edited to match how your company operates. Even if you pre-vacuum on 100% of the area you are cleaning, it is still a good idea to suggest this to your customer)
  • Another helpful consideration is that we would ask you remove any knick-knacks, breakables, collectibles, vases, lamps, pictures, small end tables, and plants out of the areas we’ll be cleaning before we arrive, and secure other breakables as well.
  • Our truck mounted carpet cleaning machine produces a cleaning solution that reaches temperatures of 200-230 degrees. Please ensure that you, your children and/or pets are out of the area we are cleaning or clear of our hoses while we are working. We want everyone to be safe in your home while we are working. (If using a portable or a low moisture system, adjust this wording)
  • Remove any small furniture items or fragile items that you are able to move, such as dining room chairs, magazine racks, ottomans, etc. Please pin up (or use a clothes hanger to hang away from the floor) any full-length draperies or skirts on upholstered furniture that may be touching the carpet.
  • Please make sure that children’s toys are picked up and stored in an area off the carpet or floor we will be cleaning.
  • Please note that your electronics, pianos, china cabinets, sectional sofas, beds, entertainment centers, aquariums, and antique and fragile furniture cannot be moved by our technicians. If you would like the carpet or floors under these areas to be cleaned, you should make arrangements to move these items prior to our arrival. Alternatively, we can clean carpet underneath such items when sufficient room is available, or we can clean right up to the edge of these items. (This is another item you will want to adjust to your specific policies. It is also a good idea to check with your insurance agent on what you are and are not covered for)
  • During our pre-inspection or pre-cleaning walk-through, please advise us if you have any areas that require special attention, and spots or stains or pet “accidents” that you are especially concerned about. (If you use a Seal-a-door or other door covering device during cleaning, this would be a good place to add that you do that and why – security and keeping warm in or out)
  • Be aware of and plan for your outside door being ajar during the cleaning process. Put your pets in a safe, quiet place where our cleaning crew won’t disturb them. (If you use a Seal-a-door or other door covering device during cleaning, this would be a good place to add that you do that and why – security and keeping warm in or out)
  • If it is convenient for you, we would appreciate being able to park our van close to the door in your driveway or parking lot where our hoses will be entering. Please note: For safety reasons – we will NEVER park inside a garage or carport. Our cleaning equipment is powered by a gasoline motor and outside parking will ensure proper ventilation. (If you are not using a truckmount, then you would eliminate this item)
  • As a general rule, so long as it is safe for out technicians to operate, we will continue to clean during rain or snow. In the case of severe inclimate weather, we may ask you to reschedule for safety reasons. (Adjust this to the climate you work in)
  • We prefer to hook up our truckmounted equipment to your outside water faucet. Please clear the area so we can access your faucet safely and easily. In special circumstances, if required we can access a faucet in your home. (Again, use this one only if you are operating a truckmount)

After completing your checklist, you want to reassure your customer what a smart investment they are making in having booked your company to clean their carpet or hard surface floors. You also want to reiterate that if they have questions or concerns before, during, or after the job, how to communicate with you and to encourage them to communicate with you.

Consider something along the lines of:

We are looking forward to the privilege of working with you as a valued client in providing you with a cleaner, safer, and healthier home. Our state of the art equipment and processes, operated by our trained and certified cleaning technicians, will provide you with the cleanest clean. Our reputation as a superior company is not just built on how well we clean your carpets and floors, but also in how we provide a superior hassle-free customer service experience. Please feel free to contact us at any time with any questions or concerns.

 

Consumer Series #1 – How to Care for Your Carpet

Soil Tracking Control

Place walk-off mats or grids at the entry points to your home or business. This will help prevent soil from being tracked from the outside onto the inside carpeting. Vacuum and/or clean these mats frequently. Once they become loaded with soil, their effectiveness is greatly reduced.

Vacuuming

Vacuum your carpet frequently using a vacuum with a high efficiency collection bag or system. In high traffic areas, carpet manufacturers recommend you vacuum at least once or twice a week.  Vacuuming removes the sharp and abrasive soil that can cut, scratch, and abrade the fiber causing premature wear. Particulate soiling left in your carpet has sandpaper like effect on the carpet. Much of this soil is not visible to the eye. Vacuum before the carpet looks soiled. Keep your vacuum in good working condition – check the belts and change the collection bag frequently. Confused about which vacuum to buy? One good source of information is the Carpet and Rug Institute. Click here for more information about the Carpet & Rug Institute’s testing program for commercial and residential vacuums. Another great resource is your local trained and certified carpet cleaning professional. They can provide you with clear recommendations based upon the carpet installed in your home or business the next time they clean your carpet.

Spot and Spill Treatments

Immediate spot removal is the key to a clean carpet. Great care also must be taken in how spot cleaning is performed. When a carpet is new, or has sufficient protector on it, plain tap water will remove many spots. However for those spots that will not move easily with water, you should use a spotting solution specifically designed for carpeting. We recommend getting your carpet spotting solution from your local cleaning professional. They have access to spotting solutions which have been formulated by the same companies who make their professional cleaning solutions. These types of spotters have been demonstrated to be more effective, as well as not to leave sticky residue which can cause your carpet to re-soil rapidly.

Most spot removers that are purchased over the counter at your grocery store or home improvement center leave too much sticky residue and can cause rapid re-soiling or yellowing. Avoid using foam carpet cleaners or any product that is not made specifically made for carpet. The longer the spot is allowed to dwell on the carpet, the more chance there is of permanent discoloration.

Blot up any excess spill. Apply spot cleaner sparingly to white cotton towel and gently massage spot causing it to transfer into the cloth. Never pour spot cleaner directly on carpet. Blot area with water. If the spot persists, consult your professional carpet cleaner. Some spots and spills require the professional equipment, cleaning solutions, and skills of a professional. Repeated attempts to remove the spot may set the stain or cause permanent damage.

Professional Cleaning

As a general rule for residential carpeting, cleaning by a professional, trained, certified firm should take place about once per year. For extremely heavy traffic areas, homes with pets, and homes with people with allergic sensitivities and immune-compromised individuals, more frequent cleaning is often required. Proper professional cleaning will not leave a sticky residue behind and can be done as many times per year as needed. Professional cleaning with truckmounted or high performance portable hot water extraction cleaning is the method most often recommended by cleaning industry experts and carpet manufacturers. Professional cleaning removes the damaging abrasive soil, along with sticky and oil based soil that vacuuming can not remove.

For commercial carpeting, periodic professional cleaning with hot water extraction may need to be combined with interim encapsulation low moisture encapsulation cleaning for maximum carpet appearance and performance. The frequency of cleaning will depend on the amount and types of soiling, the traffic load on the carpeting, carpet owner considerations, budget considerations and other indoor and outdoor environmental conditions.

Protective Treatments                                                      

 Residential carpets are treated with stain and soil resistant treatments when they are manufactured.  These protective treatments will wear and traffic off over a period of time. After a period of 1 to 3 years, carpet manufacturers recommend the re-application of a protective treatment such as HydraMaster Complete Guard Carpet Protector to enhance the performance of your carpet. Your carpet protector should provide your carpet with additional soil resistance for water and oil based spills and soiling, as well as protective barriers which prevent spilled liquids from staining your carpet. The soil resistance will help the soil slide off the carpet easier when vacuuming, spots will be easier to remove, and professional cleaning will be more effective.

Warranties

Copies of specific warranties on your carpet purchase may be available from your carpet retailer. Your carpet’s stain and soil resistant warranty, wear warranty, and texture retention warranty most likely requires periodic (at least every 12-18 months) professional hot water extraction cleaning by a trained, certified professional cleaner. Many warranties on your carpet provide coverage for five years or longer if your carpet is maintained according to the manufacturer’s directions.

 

 

 

 

How much should I charge?

By Doyle Bloss    Marketing and Brand Manager

HydraMaster/US Products Pro

Probably the most commonly asked question we hear from professional cleaners is “how much should I charge?” While the often quoted answer is “whatever the market will bear” may sound cute, it does not really answer the question. Why? Because within every market; within every service offering; there are several different “markets.” A lot of what your price should be is determined by the type of market you are going after. The biggest mistake that many new professional cleaners make is using the local competition to set up their price – either being slightly cheaper or slightly more expensive. So what are the most important factors that determine what to charge?

Your cost of doing business

The most important consideration is your cost of doing the service. You may be saying “duh” right now, but it continues to amaze me how many professional cleaners have no clue what their actual costs are. Charging 28 cents a square foot can launch one guy into retirement and send another to the unemployment line! – Everyone’s costs are different. Home based vs. facility, single vs. multi-truck, regional costs, etc.

A reasonable profit margin

If you can not make enough money to stay in business, you are doing your customers a big disservice. You have to be able to make money in order to provide the service that your customer wants and needs. If your customers are not willing to pay a price that allows you to make a reasonable profit, you have one of two choices – get new customers or get a new business.

Your competition

There is something to be said for what your competition is priced at – but not much. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Do they offer the same services you do? Really? Are you sure? What is your service level and how does it differentiate you from other cleaners? The value of your service as determined by your customers is more important than what the competition is charging. Why? Because there are different markets

Determining your market

Your market and the clientele you are directing your service at will greatly influence your price. There are at least three distinctive categories of residential customers who have their carpets professionally cleaned. Howard Partridge calls them KIA customers, Chevy customers, and Mercedes customers. The Mercedes Client (high end) is primarily concerned with your reputation and experience, and is looking for a client experience that goes well beyond having a clean carpet. The Chevy customer is concerned with the value they will get for their investment. The KIA customer is looking for the lowest price .In our industry they have also been defined as “bait and switch” customers, value customers, and high end customers. The wants, needs, and motivations of these three markets are decidedly different.

Reinvesting Strategies

Most people would say that reinvesting strategies would be the same as a “reasonable profit margin,” but not necessarily. This really relates to what type of business you are desiring to build long term. Are you looking to stay an owner operator or become multi-truck? Are you going to expand into restoration? Do you want to have a building dedicated to your business or are you happy with operating out of your home. Wanting your business to become something is not good enough. Planning for it to be something requires that you build in a profit margin to allow you to reinvest in the company toward that goal from day one. This does not preclude you from taking whatever job you can get when you are new or cash-starved. There are plenty of pricing and marketing strategies available to you that can be designed to build your price toward a stronger future and still get the business you need now to make the lease payment or put food on the table.

Your degree of professionalism

In order to reach high end clients, you have to be willing to “play the part.” This does not necessarily mean you have to wear a tuxedo as your company uniform. It does mean you have to make your client comfortable with how you dress, talk, walk, and even letter your van. Have you every heard the term “birds of a feather flock together?” People associate with people who are like them and make them comfortable. It comes down to conformity. If you pride yourself on being a “non-conformist,” that may limit what kind of clientele you seek and what kind of “mark-up” you can put on your services.

Business author Lawrence Steinmetz has defined nine reasons you do not want to deal with a customer who only buys on price. You will have to decide whether you are willing to make the steps in your business that allow you to move your price beyond the latest set of coupons in the local “Val-Pak.”

  • They take all of your time
  • They do all the complaining
  • They forget to pay you
  • They tell other customers how little they paid
  • They drive off good customers
  • They’re not going to buy from you again
  • They’ll require you to “invest up” to supply their needs – and then they’ll blackmail you for yet a lower price.\
  • They destroy the credibility of your price and your product (service) in the eyes of your consumers
  • They will steal any knowledge they can get their hands on so they can do the work themselves

Getting the right kind of advice

If you are relatively new to the cleaning business, you won’t find a shortage of strong opinions about how much to charge and the way to do it. You will find a whole slew of folks talking about how high a price they can get for their cleaning services and a whole other set complaining no one will pay those prices in “their town.” Just be careful about whose advice you listen to. If you determine your price by an unemotional, strategic evaluation like the one above, that needs to be your price. Spend less time asking how much to charge and more time getting advice on how to market your business to get the price you determined you must have to accomplish your personal and business goals.

Cleaning the “New” Softer Carpets

By:          Doyle Bloss, Marketing and Brand Manager, HydraMaster   Rick Evans, West Coast Regional Manager, HydraMaster

With the assistance of Charles Rollins and Darrell Hagan, Shaw Industries – Product Care and Maintenance

What are these “softer” carpets?

They are incredibly thin denier (thickness) cut-pile and loop carpets presented in a plush, high pile density format. They range in ounce size from 50-100 ounce (apartment grade carpet is generally 20-28 ounce). They are typically designed for high-end residential settings. However, some hospitality companies are considering for using in high end hotel rooms.

The formats for the carpets differ from carpet mill to carpet mill. Shaw Industries product is identified as Caress®, made of type 6 nylon. Invista manufactures StainMaster® Trusoft® which is made of type 6,6 nylon. Mohawk’s Smartstrand® is made of PTT polyester fiber. Beaulieu sells Bliss SoftSense® which is also made from Polyester.

They are relatively new product offering with Shaw introducing Caress in January of 2013. However, they are gaining market share in the carpet market rapidly. Many old-time carpet cleaners believe this is because they have finally identified and marketed one of the main reasons why people buy carpet – softness. The ads for these carpets reflect this, showing happy families with their pets playing, laying, rolling, and jumping on their new soft carpet. When you get a chance to visit a retail showroom and feel this carpet for the first time, the softness of the fiber strikes you instantly. With many of these carpets now being installed for over a year, your chances of having to clean one increase daily.

Difficulty in Vacuuming

This softer carpet provides obvious benefits to the homeowner, particularly one who enjoys the floor(s) of the room it is installed in. However, just as your hands and toes sink into the thick soft pile, so does the cleaning head of your typical vacuum cleaner. More power just means more fiber getting sucked into the head reducing or stopping airflow through the vacuum. This makes vacuuming more difficult to do.

The carpet manufacturers themselves have even a bigger concern than vacuuming taking longer. They are even concerned about texture damage to the ends of the thin carpet fibers themselves. In fact many of the same vacuums they have recommended in the past (such as those that have passed the CRI Seal of Approval Program for Vacuums – http://www.carpet-rug.org/CRI-Testing-Programs/CRI-Seal-of-Approval-Program/Vacuums/Certified-Vacuums.aspx ) they do not recommend for these softer carpets. For example, Shaw Industries now does specific testing of vacuums for use on Caress carpet, and they approve and recommend a specific group of vacuums  – http://shawfloors.com/tips-trends/luxurious-carpet/carpet-care/vacuuming/which-vacuum-models-are-recommended-by-shaw.

Here is an update on Shaw Industries research on vacuums from Darrell Hagan – the Manager of Product Care and Maintenance:

 “Vacuums work best when the brush roll is turned on vacuuming this soft carpet.  I believe the key is airflow, as you mentioned.  One thing in common with some of the vacuums is the plate underneath the vacuum head has slots which allow air to flow underneath the vacuum to keep it from sealing off on the carpet.  Also, vacuums are being modified to have pressure relief valves to reduce suction which allows the vacuum to move across the carpet.  The difference in the soft carpet vs. traditional carpet is that suction isn’t the key, we believe it is the agitation of the brush roll that is key to cleaning the soft yarn carpets.”

Potential Issues Related to Professional Carpet Cleaning

While the evaluation of issues that vacuums might have with this softer carpet pile can teach us some things related to how various carpet cleaning wands and agitation methods might work or not work on this type of carpet; this conjecture was not enough to satisfy the Product Care and Maintenance folks at Shaw Industries. Recently, Charlie Rollins and Darrell Hagan for Shaw Product Care and Maintenance flew to HydraMaster headquarters in Mukilteo, Washington to do some testing on the interaction of various cleaning tools (specifically hot water extraction wands and power wands) with this softer carpet. I had been in contact with Charlie and Darrell asking them questions about this, and with HydraMaster being one of the leading innovators and developers in carpet cleaning wand technology; it only made sense to start their testing here. Specifically, Shaw and HydraMaster wanted to look at three areas for evaluation:

  1. The use of Rotary Jet Extraction on these types of carpets with the RX-20.
  2. The Evolution Wand – how did the built in molded glides assist or restrict cleaning of these carpet fibers and what were the differences between a 1.5” wand and a 2” wand.
  3. Was there chemistry which stood out in performance to assist cleaning these carpets, specifically in the area of presprays used as a lubricating application to make the wand easier to move across the carpet?

Specifically, the testing team was looking to see the effects that cleaning these types of carpets with existing technology in truckmounted equipment and cleaning wands might result in changes in:

  • Productivity
  • Texture Change/Damage
  • Drying Time
  • Spots and Stains
  • Any Specific Tool Related Issues

 The Testing

  • 60, 70 and 100 ounce cut pile Shaw Caress carpets were used in the testing.

Picture of carpets

  • A HydraMaster Boxxer XL Truckmount was used. We were cleaning 150 feet from the truck, with the solution temperature at the wand constantly being monitored with an in-line pressure and temperature measuring device. Temperature settings on the machine were purposely varied from 180-245°F.

Boxxer xl

  • The first thing we tested were HydraMaster’s sister company, Advance Commercial Vacuums, leading models and how they performed on vacuuming the carpets.

Advance vacuum

  • We tested with various types of conventional scrub wands

Conventional scrub wand

  • We tested cleaning with both 1.5” and 2” versions of the Evolution Wand with molded glides

Evolution wand

  • Finally, we tested with the RX-20 Rotary Jet Extractor

RX20

Results and Findings

Overall, the results of our testing alleviated or reduced any fears or misgivings about the “cleanability” of these carpets. We found the carpets overall to be very responsive to vacuuming, cleaning, and spot and stain removal. Certainly one of the reasons for this is the high quality of the carpets themselves. A 60, 70, or 100 ounce carpet does not come inexpensively. I will tell you after completing the tests, everyone at HydraMaster involved in the testing were ready to go home and put this carpet down in their living rooms. The luxurious feel of these carpets can simply not be denied. We can see why these carpets are gaining market share fast.

Results

We did find that one of the things we anticipated held true. Certified and trained professional carpet cleaners have long known that plush cut pile carpets virtually always requires some specific care considerations. As with all plush, cut pile style carpeting, special attention must be given to monitoring the potential for scrub wand jet streaking.

Wand marks 2Wand marks 1

Variables include

  • Type and number of jets on the wand
  • Proximity of the jets to the carpet pile
  • Angle of jets to the carpet pile
  • Wear on the orifices of the jets themselves – make sure you replace your jets at regular intervals recommended by your wand manufacturer. If the orifice becomes too large, this can contribute to jet streaking.
  • Temperature of solution being produced at the wand jet tip
  • Taking a dry stroke or pass only
  • Post cleaning grooming

 

Productivity Best Practices

General cleaning considerations

These practices were developed after repeated tests to see how to increase cleaning speed, avoid any agitation/texture change related issues, and a very important item considering the plushness of these carpets – reducing drying times. Can you clean these carpets safely and effectively with “normal” cleaning procedures? The answer is yes. These procedures are designed to speed up the process without compromising quality cleaning.

  • Carpet grooming with Grandi-Groomer is highly recommended after cleaning (faster and more effective than grooming brush)
  • Carpet density mandates using airmovers post cleaning to reduce drying times

Using Cleaning Wands

  • 2” scrub wands are very difficult to move across a 100 ounce carpet connected to a truckmount.
  • Dry strokes (vacuum only wand passes) are absolutely necessary
  • Use of the Evolution wand reduced drying times in comparison to conventional wands.
  • Glided wands will be an absolute must! Slotting in the glide is important too.
  • A Continuous overlapping wet pass, followed by continuous overlapping dry pass cleaned the fastest, worked best, and dried the fastest

Using Rotary Extraction Tools Such As the RX-20 Rotary Jet Extraction® Tool

  • The RX20 worked extremely well on 60 and 70 ounce carpets. Use on a 100 ounce carpet required a great deal of strength and stamina. See chemical prespray directions below, as the use of a lubricating prespray helped considerably.
  • Swirl “marks” groomed out right away and are not a concern
  • There was no visible physical texture change from rotary action. Even at abuse level (no water lubrication) there was no pile texture damage visible. (Of course, we did this to measure “worse case scenario,” you should never operate any rotary extraction tool without water or prespray).
  • The use of a rotary extraction tool is highly recommended for productivity and reduced drying times on 60 and 70 ounce carpets.

Cleaning Solution Consideration

The use of a high quality carpet prespray is a must when cleaning these types of carpets. The prespray helps to lubricate the carpet so that the scrub wand or rotary extraction wand flows more smoothly across the carpet. As a general rule, detergent free or soap free formulas such as CleanMaster HydraFREE DFC will not provide the level of lubrication you want on these soft carpets. Since these carpets are made of either nylon or polyester, you can use most of your favorite carpet presprays. However, we had great results cleaning our test samples after soiling built up with CleanMaster Fast Break HD and CleanMaster PolyBreak as presprays. We also found that if you wanted to use an alkaline extraction rinse, HydraClean worked extremely well. If you prefer an acid neutralizing rinse, our studies showed that a solution which does have detergency in it, like CleanMaster ClearWater Rinse worked extremely well.

From a spot and stain removal point of view, the high quality of these carpets means that they are more likely to resist staining from common spills than an apartment grade nylon or polyester carpet. When a staining material such as children’s fruit drinks was applied, it usually extracted out during cleaning. When we purposefully tried to stain the carpet, and agitated the spilled material down into the carpet and waited 48 hours before treatment began, we had excellent results removing stains with CleanMaster RedBreak 1 or CleanMaster KnockOut 1, depending upon the composition of the staining material. At no time, other than with mustard was acceleration with heat from a steam iron or wallpaper steamer necessary. That certainly does not mean these carpets are “stain-proof,” and we know your customer’s children will answer the call to eventually provide a more difficult stain, but based upon the limited testing we did on these types of carpets, they certainly responded well to spot and stain removal treatments. We also found that using a sub-surface spotting extraction tool, such as a Water Claw® or FlashXtractor®, on larger liquid spills helped reduce any chances of spilled materials wicking to the surface of the carpet pile later.

One final thought and finding related to spot and stain removal – due to the plush nature of the carpet pile, if grease and oil spilled contaminants were rubbed into the carpet, or “ground-in” with foot traffic, it was important to agitate solvent spotters and gels into the affected area to increase speed and efficiency at removal. We believe this same principle would hold true if these carpets are subjected to long term high levels of oil based soiling and traffic; i.e., that using the right prespray, and mechanical agitation such as using a Counter Rotating Brush (CRB) will be necessary to increase cleaning speed and effectiveness, especially with those made of polyester carpet fiber.

So what is A Professional Carpet Cleaner to Do?

The good news is you are already likely equipped with all of the tools and chemistry needed to effectively clean this carpet. More importantly though, you may need to slow down and approach these carpets with a kinder, gentler set of procedures. You may have to clean them with a little more thought and observation as to how the cleaning tools are going across the carpet and what kind of texture change is occurring from your cleaning tools. Without a doubt, drying time is going to be extended if these carpets are allowed to reach an unacceptable soiling level. You can get them clean, but it will take more wet passes. The manufacturers of these carpets recommend cleaning every 12-24 month basis with hot water extraction cleaning. Some require this as a provision of their texture retention or stain resistant warranty. Educate your customers to this fact so that their cleaning frequency does not allow the carpet to become extremely soiled. This will allow them to get the full benefit of these soft, plush, and luxurious carpets. Then everyone is happy.

Carpets, Health, and Science – A New Understanding for the Residential and Commercial Carpet Owner

By Doyle Bloss and Robert Kravitz, HydraMaster, Inc.

In January 2014, a study was released in the United States that should put an end to any doubts cleaning professionals, carpet consumers in the residential environment, health care professionals, educational facilities, building owners,  and facility managers have about carpeting and indoor air quality. According to Dr. Bruce Mitchell, chairman/CEO of Airmid Healthgroup (which conducted the study), the findings of this nearly 200-page report “Challenge the long-held belief that carpet adversely impacts indoor air quality (IAQ). [Instead], effectively cleaned carpets have the capacity to trap allergen and microbial particles,” Mitchell continued, “making these particulates less available to become airborne and thus maintaining [enhanced] indoor air quality.

Mitchell goes on to add that these results will be very good news to the parents of children who suffer from respiratory ailments, Imageincluding asthma.  It is also good news for educational and other facilities that have long debated the benefits or drawbacks of carpeting as it relates to air quality, allergens, and health. In fact, this study’s conclusions may very well likely impact the flooring industry around the globe.

The History of the Debate

Sweden began removing carpets from government controlled facilities throughout the country more than 30 years ago. They believed that hard surfaces would contribute to a healthier indoor environment. Soon, the same thing happened in many areas of North America. Health Care, education and government facilities also began removing carpets, as did many other commercial facilities as well. Many websites and educational publications representing physicians and medical experts in the areas of allergy and asthma also took to the task of recommending carpets be removed from homes where children or immunocompromised adults lived.

The reason behind the removal of carpets and the installation of hard surface floors was concerns that allergens of all types, including Imagedust mites, molds, bacteria, germs, and other contaminants, would become lodged in the carpet’s fibers and are then released into the air as foot traffic occurs. In fact, in its recommendations on flooring and allergies, the Mayo clinic website still states: “Flooring. Remove carpeting and use hardwood or linoleum flooring or washable area rugs.”

However, follow-up studies by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) disputed these studies and stated that there was actually an “inverse relationship” between the installation of carpeting and an increased occurrence of allergic reactions. In fact, CRI had found that as carpeting is removed, allergic reactions among building users actually increase—hardly what you would expect if carpeting contributes to poor IAQ.

While CRI is certainly a respected organization, some parents and school administrators may have taken their findings with a grain of Imagesalt. After all, one of their key roles is to support the carpet manufacturing industry. However, it was not long before the Institute’s findings were backed up with some undeniable facts and figures. A Swedish study (and we must remember this was the same country that first began removing carpets from schools and other facilities) found that as carpet sales declined in Sweden and carpeting was replaced in many facilities with hard surfaces, the occurrence of allergic reactions dramatically increased.

This report, which was released by the Swedish Institute of Fiber and Polymer Research, found that in 1973 there were more than 15 million square meters (M2) of carpeting sold in Sweden and the number of people reportedly suffering allergy problems in the country amounted to about 1 million. By 1990, nearly 30 years later, only about 5 million M2 of carpeting were being sold in the country, yet the number of people reporting allergy problems had jumped to nearly 3.5 million.

Reviewing the 2014 Data

It can be hard to dispel misconceptions once they spread—especially if they involve children and their health. This has certainly been the case when it comes to carpeting and IAQ. While a variety of studies seemed to indicate that carpeting actually improves IAQ, the idea that carpeting led to increased risk of allergies among children appears to have had a life of its own.

Replacing Myths with Science

The results of a 2010 study conducted by Airmid Healthgroup, a leading research organization, were released earlier this year. The Imagestudy was termed a “definitive work” comparing the indoor health impacts of carpeted versus hard-surface flooring. Introducing the study, the Airmid researchers began by saying that historically, “many medical, educational, and patient bodies have arrived at the conclusion that carpets…represent a health hazard to individuals, especially those with asthma and allergic diseases.”

To see if this is true or not, the researchers built test facilities based on American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) specifications that allow for complete control over all indoor environmental conditions. The tests involved nine different floor plans or rooms: one room with a hard floor surface and the others carpeted with different materials as well as carpeting of different weights and piles.

Allergen test dust was applied to all floor surfaces. The rooms were allowed to equilibrate overnight before testing began. Then, after normal room disturbances and cleaning, airborne particulate counts as well as surface and allergen measurements were undertaken for each room type.

After performing their tests, among the conclusions the researchers reached are the following:

  • Different floor coverings have a significant impact on airborne particle concentration (which can potentially cause allergic reactions).
  • In general, airborne particle concentrations were lower with carpet as opposed to the hard-surface floor.
  • The pile height of the carpet and carpet fiber composition influenced the particulate retention capacity of the carpets.
  • Carpet made of 100 percent nylon medium pile height broadloom consistently performed best in terms of low levels of airborne allergens.

The results tell us that the carpets, especially 100 percent nylon carpets which are a common type, acted as a reservoir, capturing and trapping allergens and reducing airborne allergen levels overall in the rooms when compared to the hard-surface floor. In other words, the carpets would help reduce allergic reactions, not cause them.

The Cleaning Connection

While the researchers concluded that carpets do help protect health overall, they added that in order for carpets to continue doing this, they must be properly maintained. According to the report, “the findings also reinforce the desirability (or need) of regular carpet maintenance. [This includes] frequent vacuum cleaning and intermittent use of steam or water-based cleaning systems.”

As to vacuuming, the recommendation is to use machines with advanced filtration capabilities. This means that a filter, such as a ImageHEPA filter, has been placed over the machine’s exhaust, helping to prevent dust and potential pathogens from being released into the air.

As to the use of steam or water-based cleaning systems, the researchers suggest carpet extraction—and more specifically hot-water carpet extraction—is necessary to thoroughly clean carpets and remove deeply embedded soils and contaminants, helping to prevent them from becoming airborne.  According to the researchers, “results show that the proprietary hot water extraction cleaning process was highly effective in reducing allergen levels in carpets and soft furnishings. Surface levels of dust mite allergens on carpets, for example, were reduced by 91 percent, of cat allergen by 95 percent, and of dog allergen by 97 percent. The cleaning process also resulted in a marked reduction in airborne cat allergen exposure. The process also effectively reduced exposure to airborne mold.” 

While most cleaning professionals and building owners/managers can understand why high-performance vacuum cleaners are Imagenecessary to keep carpets clean and healthy, fewer may understand why “hot water” carpet extraction is so essential. Studies going back more than 100 years have proved the importance and value of using heat when cleaning. 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.

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 Image(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%

Other potential benefits of using hot water go beyond just cleaner carpets. Hotter cleaning solution also contributes to faster evaporation of residual moisture resulting in faster drying of the carpets and reducing “downtime.” Synthetic and wool carpet fibers tend to regain their original “fluff’ and “resilience” when a hot-water carpet extractor is used to clean the carpets. While this does not Imageimpact the health benefits of carpeting, the “like new” appearance of a carpet after it has been cleaned using a hot-water extractor is of great importance to many commercial and residential customers.

Time Will Tell

Only time will tell if this latest scientific study will help consumers and managers realize the key role carpets can play in keeping indoor air clean and healthy. It is undeniable that people are more concerned than ever about the health of the facilities in which they live, work, and play. With this in mind, more consumers and managers will realize there is little value in turning to myths when it comes to protecting human health, instead choosing proven science as their guide.

Further Information/Article Resources

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/in-depth/allergy/art-20049365

Sneeze-Free Zone” by Tanya Mohn, The New York Times,  January 10, 2011

Indoor Environment Characterization of a Non-Problem Building: Assessment of Cleaning Effectiveness, US Environmental Protection Agency, March 1994. (conducted at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, Chapel Hill, NC)

Indoor Environment Characterization of a Non-Problem Building: Assessment of Cleaning Effectiveness : Cole, E.C., D. L. Franke, K. E. Leese, P.D. Dulaney, K. K. Foarde, D. A. Green, R. M. Hall, and M Berry. Indoor Environment Characterization of a non-problem building: Assessment of Cleaning Effectiveness. Research Triangle Report Number 94U-4479-014, Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle, North Carolina. 202 pages. March, 1994.

Shaw Floors Press Release

The Airmid Health studies can be accessed at: http://press.shawinc.com/Airmid/

Related Links

AAAAI

ACAAI

Related Testing

http://www.airmidhealthgroup.com/industries-served/floor-coverings.html

http://www.airmidhealthgroup.com/services/climate-controlled-environmental-chamber-studies.html

http://www.airmidhealthgroup.com/services/environmental-field-studies.html

http://www.airmidhealthgroup.com/carpetcleaning

Carpets, Health, and Science – A New Perspective for the Cleaning Professional

By Doyle Bloss and Robert Kravitz 

HydraMaster Corporation

In January 2014, a study was released in the United States that should put an end to any doubts cleaning professionals, carpet consumers in the residential environment, health care professionals, educational facilities, building owners,  and facility managers have about carpeting and indoor air quality. According to Dr. Bruce Mitchell, chairman/CEO of Airmid Healthgroup (which conducted the study), the findings of this nearly 200-page report “Challenge the long-held belief that carpet adversely impacts indoor air quality (IAQ). [Instead], effectively cleaned carpets have the capacity to trap allergen and microbial particles,” Mitchell continued, “making these particulates less available to become airborne and thus maintaining [enhanced] indoor air quality.”

Mitchell goes on to add that these results will be very good news to the parents of children who suffer from respiratory ailments, including asthma.  It is also good news for educational and other facilities that have long Child laying on carpetdebated the benefits or drawbacks of carpeting as it relates to air quality, allergens, and health. In fact, this study’s conclusions may very well likely impact the flooring industry around the globe.

The History of the Debate

Sweden began removing carpets from government controlled facilities throughout the country more than 30 years ago. They believed that hard surfaces would contribute to a healthier indoor environment. Soon, the same thing happened in many areas of North America. Health Care, education and government facilities also began removing carpets, as did many other commercial facilities as well. Many websites and educational publications representing physicians and medical experts in the areas of allergy and asthma also took to the task of recommending carpets be removed from homes where children or immunocompromised adults lived.

The reason behind the removal of carpets and the installation of hard surface floors was concerns that allergens of all types, including dust mites, molds, bacteria, germs, and other contaminants, would become lodged in the carpet’s fibers and are then released into the air as foot traffic occurs. In fact, in its recommendations on flooring and allergies, the Mayo clinic website still states: “Flooring. Remove carpeting and use hardwood or linoleum flooring or washable area rugs.”

However, follow-up studies by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) disputed these studies and stated that there was actually an “inverse relationship” between the installation of carpeting and an increased occurrence of allergic reactions. In fact, CRI had found that as carpeting is removed, allergic reactions among building users actually increase—hardly what you would expect if carpeting contributes to poor IAQ.

While CRI is certainly a respected organization, some parents and school administrators may have taken their findings with a grain of salt. After all, one of their key roles is to support the carpet manufacturing industry. Carpet feels better 2However, it was not long before the Institute’s findings were backed up with some undeniable facts and figures. A Swedish study (and we must remember this was the same country that first began removing carpets from schools and other facilities) found that as carpet sales declined in Sweden and carpeting was replaced in many facilities with hard surfaces, the occurrence of allergic reactions dramatically increased.

This report, which was released by the Swedish Institute of Fiber and Polymer Research, found that in 1973 there were more than 15 million square meters (M2) of carpeting sold in Sweden and the number of people reportedly suffering allergy problems in the country amounted to about 1 million. By 1990, nearly 30 years later, only about 5 million M2 of carpeting were being sold in the country, yet the number of people reporting allergy problems had jumped to nearly 3.5 million.

Reviewing the 2014 Data

It can be hard to dispel misconceptions once they spread—especially if they involve children and their health. This has certainly been the case when it comes to carpeting and IAQ. While a variety of studies seemed to indicate that carpeting actually improves IAQ, the idea that carpeting led to increased risk of allergies among children appears to have had a life of its own.

Replacing Myths with Science

The results of a 2010 study conducted by Airmid Healthgroup, a leading research organization, were released earlier this year.** The study was termed a “definitive work” comparing the indoor health impacts of carpeted versus hard-surface flooring. Introducing the study, the Airmid researchers began by saying that historically, “many medical, educational, and patient bodies have arrived at the conclusion that carpets…represent a health hazard to individuals, especially those with asthma and allergic diseases.”

To see if this is true or not, the researchers built test facilities based on American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) specifications that allow for complete control over all indoor environmental conditions. The tests involved nine different floor plans or rooms: one room with a hard floor surface and the others carpeted with different materials as well as carpeting of different weights and piles.

Allergen test dust was applied to all floor surfaces. The rooms were allowed to equilibrate overnight before testing began. Then, after normal room disturbances and cleaning, airborne particulate counts as well as surface and allergen measurements were undertaken for each room type.

After performing their tests, among the conclusions the researchers reached are the following:

  • Different floor coverings have a significant impact on airborne particle concentration (which can potentially cause allergic reactions).
  • In general, airborne particle concentrations were lower with carpet as opposed to the hard-surface floor.
  • The pile height of the carpet and carpet fiber composition influenced the particulate retention capacity of the carpets.
  • Carpet made of 100 percent nylon medium pile height broadloom consistently performed best in terms of low levels of airborne allergens.

The results tell us that the carpets, especially 100 percent nylon carpets which are a common type, acted as a reservoir, capturing and trapping allergens and reducing airborne allergen levels overall in the rooms when compared to the hard-surface floor. In other words, the carpets would help reduce allergic reactions, not cause them.

The Cleaning Connection

While the researchers concluded that carpets do help protect health overall, they added that in order for carpets to continue doing this, they must be properly maintained. According to the report, “the findings also reinforce the desirability (or need) of regular carpet maintenance. [This includes] frequent vacuum cleaning and intermittent use of steam or water-based cleaning systems.”

As to vacuuming, the recommendation is to use machines with advanced filtration capabilities. This means that a filter, such as a HEPA filter, has been placed over the machine’s exhaust, helping to prevent dust and potential pathogens from being released into the air.

As to the use of steam or water-based cleaning systems, the researchers suggest carpet extraction—and more specifically hot-water carpet extraction—is necessary to thoroughly clean carpets and remove deeply embedded DSC_2095soils and contaminants, helping to prevent them from becoming airborne.  According to the researchers, “results show that the proprietary hot water extraction cleaning process was highly effective in reducing allergen levels in carpets and soft furnishings. Surface levels of dust mite allergens on carpets, for example, were reduced by 91 percent, of cat allergen by 95 percent, and of dog allergen by 97 percent. The cleaning process also resulted in a marked reduction in airborne cat allergen exposure. The process also effectively reduced exposure to airborne mold.”

While most cleaning professionals and building owners/managers can understand why high-performance vacuum cleaners are necessary to keep carpets clean and healthy, fewer may understand why “hot water” carpet extraction is so essential. Studies going back more than 100 years have proved the importance and value of using heat when cleaning. 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.

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%

Other potential benefits of using hot water go beyond just cleaner carpets. Hotter cleaning solution also contributes to faster evaporation of residual moisture resulting in faster drying of the carpets and reducing “downtime.” Synthetic and wool carpet fibers tend to regain their original “fluff’ and “resilience” when a hot-water carpet extractor is used to clean the carpets. While this does not impact the health benefits of carpeting, the “like new” appearance of a carpet after it has been cleaned using a hot-water extractor is of great importance to many commercial and residential customers.

These are just some of the reasons why HydraMaster is such a stickler when it comes to the solution heating performance of its Boxxer and Titan Series slide-ins and the CDS direct drive truckmounts. We are kind of freakish 20131024_163531about making sure that every machine we design and engineer offers the best heat performance in its class. It is so much more than what the temperature gauge on the machine says. It is about having heated solution to the wand tips quicker after start-up. It’s about faster heat recovery under all conditions, even when cleaning with maximum water flow and solution pressure. We test against our competitors on a constant basis to make sure we maintain or increase our 20-30 degree competitive edge. Maintaining hot cleaning solution is not just a cleaning performance or dry time issue, it is a health issue.

Time Will Tell

Only time will tell if this latest scientific study will help consumers and managers realize the key role carpets can play in keeping indoor air clean and healthy. It is undeniable that people are more concerned than ever about the health of the facilities in which they live, work, and play. With this in mind, more consumers and managers will realize there is little value in turning to myths when it comes to protecting human health, instead choosing proven science as their guide.

For more information about HydraMaster Truckmounted equipment, visit our website at www.hydramaster.com.

Originally published at Mikeysboard – www.mikeysboard.com

Article Resources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/in-depth/allergy/art-20049365

Sneeze-Free Zone” by Tanya Mohn, The New York Times,  January 10, 2011

Press release on the Airmed study:

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/2/prweb10470656.htm\;

Detailed information on the study: http://press.shawinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Shaw_Phase_I_Study.pdf

and http://press.shawinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Shaw_Phase_II_Study.pdf

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.