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Complaints Into Compliments: How Scotchgard Met a Strata’s Expectations

During a recent staff meeting, one of our technicians told the following story:

“I’m doing a carpet maintenance program at a building downtown.  They have called to complain about their lobby carpet outside of the elevator being dirty several times.  It is a high traffic area; people are bringing their bicycles and garbage out through there, so it always looks dirty.

I’ve gone back to re-clean and re-clean, but the area out front always looks dirty.  So, I was getting really frustrated, always going back.  Then I went in, roto-scrubbed the carpet, steam extracted it with the truck mount, bonnet cleaned it after, got the carpet looking really good and clean.  Then, I put Scotchgard down.  I didn’t even tell them, I just put it on the carpet.

They don’t call me anymore.

Now out front the carpet looks really good.  When I go in and do the maintenance, there are a couple of spots or stains but they just come right out.  It was worth it for me to cover the expense myself.  It saved me going back over and over, and the customer is happy now.

Carpet Cleaning Explained – Hot Water Extraction vs. Interim Maintenance Cleaning

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Hot Water Extraction vs. Interim Maintenance Cleaning

What Are The Differences – Why Do They Both Work?

When your carpets are being cleaned, the most important thing to remember is that it is not a matter of using one method or the other, but both combined in a maintenance program to achieve the desired results and follow warranty requirements.  Interim cleaning generally cleans the top 30% of the carpet fibers removing spots and stains, and hot water extraction cleaning includes the bottom 70%Interim cleaning is considered a more frequent and necessary step by carpet manufacturers, while hot water extraction is required less often and considered restorative.  Use of both interim and restorative cleans is mandatory to keep a carpet warranty valid.  This is because used together, they are very effective; much more so than when just one method is used alone.

You, or building managers and strata members may wonder, what are the differences?  What should be expected when they see each method of cleaning being performed?  The following breakdown will hopefully provide some necessary insight as to what is being done in order to properly maintain your carpet, extend its’ lifespan, and keep the warranty valid.

Rotary Method – Interim Maintenance Clean

Cost Per Visit: Less than hot water extraction, typically 1/3 to 1/2 of the price.

Frequency: 3x per year based on the amount of foot traffic typically found in residential strata buildings.

Time To Perform: 1/3 to 1/2 of the time when compared to hot water extraction, depending upon the condition of the carpet.

What this looks like: The technician will inspect the carpet and pre-spray spots and stains with appropriate cleaning agent, 5 – 10 minutes at least before cleaning the area with the rotary machine.  He may pre-spray the entire length of the common area with a more general soil lifting agent prior to cleaning the carpets.

After the cleaning agent has some time to suspend the soil, he will clean the area with the rotary machine, which I would compare to moving like a lawnmower; it is pushed down the halls in a side to side motion, scrubbing the top 30% of the carpet fibers removing dirt and stains.  This method is especially effective against greasy or oily stains.

The pads which are used to do this cleaning, are flipped and changed as necessary to ensure carpet is being cleaned effectively.  They are washed in a washing machine prior to reuse.

It should be noted that stairs cannot be cleaned with this interim method.

Drying Time: Minimal to none.  Since there is no hot water being injected into the carpet fibers as would be done with a restorative hot water extraction cleaning, some areas may feel damp immediately afterward where pre-spraying spots was necessary, where other areas may feel dry to the touch.  The spinning action of the dry pad pulls the soil and cleaning agent previously applied quickly from the carpet fibers and wicking finishes drying time almost immediately.

Result: Spots and stains should be removed, carpet is cleaner.  Top 30% of the carpet fibers have been serviced.  On carpet with longer fibers, there may be swirl marks from the rotary motion which will disappear as people walk on the carpet, or once it has been vacuumed.  Technicians have reported that this is the best method for getting most visible stains out of carpet.

Hot Water Extraction – Also Known As Steam Cleaning or Restorative Cleaning

Cost Per Visit: Most expensive type of carpet cleaning, 2x – 3x that of interim rotary cleaning

Frequency: 1x per year in typical high traffic areas of residential strata buildings, based on foot traffic.  Some buildings where tenants do not take as much care with the carpets may require more frequent cleanings, especially in problem areas.  These typically include outside elevators, main entrances, stairs to parking areas, etc.

Time to Perform: slower than maintenance cleaning, as the technician must methodically move the wand by hand in patterns to ensure this cleaning method is working most effectively.  Time must be taken to remove the hot water injected into the carpet.  Usually this takes approximately 2x as long.

What this looks like: A properly trained technician will use a truck mounted cleaning system or high powered portable to clean the carpets.  It involved a pre-conditioning phase to emulsify soil (pre-spraying), and an injection extraction rinse phase that remove the soil.

The technician will pre-spray spots and stains, and then use either the wand connected to the truck mount unit or the high powered portable, to inject and remove hot water from the carpet, sucking up the soil so that it may be disposed of.

Drying Time: this can vary greatly, depending on air flow, humidity in the air, what the carpet is made of, and the experience of the technician.  Properly trained professionals can ensure they do not over wet a carpet, which can result in extended drying time and possible damage to the carpet. 6-8 hours is optimal.   Open windows and doors to increase air flow and hasten drying time, which can be as little as 2 hours.

Results: Spots and stains removed, bottom 70% of the carpet fibers are cleaned as well as the top 30%.  Best restorative method for heavily soiled carpets.  Carpets with longer fibers may show a pattern from the cleaning wand being moved across the carpet.  This will disappear as it is walked on or vacuumed.  It may not be visible at all on short fiber carpets.

No individual cleaning method can be accurately described as best for every carpet in every situation.  Each has its’ place in the overall picture of carpet maintenance.  However, both methods combined with frequent vacuuming and spot removal are necessary to keep a carpet warranty valid.

Fern Barker – Senior Property Manager CROSBY PROPERTY MANAGEMENT LTD.

As a Property Manager I have worked with ServiceMaster for approximately 14-15 years in a variety properties. The quarterly carpet maintenance service they offer has been extremely well received by my clients and has been most beneficial in extending the life and look of the carpets. ServiceMaster staff have always ensured that my clients have been well serviced and in some cases gone out of their way to look after a problem I thought could not be fixed. I can truly say that I have found the pricing as being well within the market range and the service to be excellent; And working with David and many of the other staff members over the years has been a supportive and pleasant and co-operative arrangement.

Dave Olafsson – Property Manager Crosby Property Management Ltd.

I have been in the property management business for 13 years. When I need work done, … either carpet cleaning, window cleaning service, difficult or tricky projects, ServiceMaster has always been able to help. They are quick to respond to any request or problem, and I can wholeheartedly recommend them.

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