Jul 12, 2014

Study: 97% reduction in allergies with truck-mounted carpet cleaning

A recent study by Airmid Healthgoup, a Dublin, Ireland-based research organization, reports that carpet and upholstery cleaning with truck-mounted equipment improves indoor air quality and reduces allergens with regularly scheduled professional cleaning.

"To maintain the healthiest environment for occupants, we recommend hot water extraction cleaning two to three times per year and vacuuming at regular intervals.”—Dr. Bruce Mitchell, CEO, Airmid Healthgroup.

Airmid teamed up with Stanley Steemer, a Dublin, Ohio-based company to help with the research. Stanley Steemer of course uses the hot-water extraction method as their primary cleaning process.
The study’s main focus was to find ways to improve indoor air quality.

“Our goal at Airmid is to identify and evaluate situations where indoor air quality is a concern, and then work with corporate household names to provide the best possible solution, through contract research and technology transfer,” said Dr. Mitchell.

 How they did it

The study took place in 20 U.S. homes in February 2013. Surface and air samples were taken before and after cleaning. The results seem to be very impressive: up to 97 percent reduction in allergens  in carpet and 96 percent reduction in soft furnishings.

From the graphs, which can be seen here, you'll notice a spike in airborne mold during the cleaning by what appears to be about 30-40 percent, but just one hour after the cleaning the levels drop dramatically and fall well below the original airborne mold count. There are also graphs displayed showing dog and cat allergen removal.
"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," said Dr. Mitchell.

If carpet has contaminants, why don't I just get hardwood floors?

That's exactly what the Swedish government thought in the 1970s. During that period they reduced carpet in buildings by 70 percent, but years later studies revealed that allergies had increased 30 percent simultaneously. A fifteen-year study of this confirmed that, yes, carpet and soft furnishings contain allergens and other contaminants, but they were more easily removed from carpet, as opposed to hard surfaces, with regularly scheduled cleaning.
We tried finding the source of the study on the Swedish Statistics website but none existed. There are, however, several reputable websites that refer to the study, two of which can be found below:

Simply put, carpet acts as a large filter in a home, catching all these contaminants we are sensitive to. And with hot-water extraction, they can efficiently be removed, creating a healthier home and working environment.

Can we trust this study?

I do think it's notable that the study was sponsored and paid for by Stanley Steemer, which coincidentally uses hot-water extraction as their primary carpet cleaning system. 
It would be nice to see a larger case study involving more than twenty U.S. homes. We also don't know anything about the homes – whether the residents suffered from allergies, the geographic location of the homes, or if they had pets or kids. We also aren’t told the last time the carpets had been professionally cleaned.

We'd also like to see other cleaning methods in the study. This was an obvious attempt to tout hot-water extraction (which we agree is the best system), but there are many other methods by which to clean carpet, and many recent advancements in chemistry.


Feb 5, 2014

Review of Hydro-Force 15", 5-Jet Titanium Carpet Wand

The basics

The new Hydro-Force titanium carpet wand is a very lightweight and durable carpet-cleaning tool. Weighing in at just 9 lbs, it features a 15-inch, 5-jet head. The built-in Teflon glide helps the wand
Image from interlinksupply.com
slide over carpet easily, reducing back fatigue.

The 2-inch tubing should increase vacuum power by allowing more airflow all the way to the carpet wand tip. It is an S-bend wand, making it easier to reach under beds and furniture while cleaning.

The standard jets (called VeeJets) are stainless steel and include a strainer and check valve within each jet.

What we like

The durability and weight of this titanium carpet wand is fantastic. Our vans seem to always be at maximum capacity, running day and night at both residential and commercial jobs, and this wand has held up very well. The large head allows for large cleaning extraction passes, shortening job times, albeit very little. The difference in pushing this titanium wand with built-in glide vs. pushing a smaller, heavier carpet wand like the Prochem 4-jet is so drastic, even a stubborn carpet-cleaning veteran will admit its superiority.

To sum up what we like:
  • Lightweight
  • Large head
  • Built-in glide
  • Durability

What we don't like, and changed

The first week we had this wand we had many problems with streaking. If you're a seasoned carpet cleaner, you know that your body naturally adjusts to the repetitive back-and-forth carpet-cleaning strides, making it easier over time. The problem with this wand is that it wasn't allowing the technician to use it naturally like other carpet-cleaning wands. When you are making a carpet stride,
first going forward, then back, there was a gap between each jet, not allowing the jet spray to overlap when holding down the trigger. As a carpet cleaner, we know that when pushing the wand forward, we hold the wand with one hand in a semi-low position, making it easier to push forward. But when pushing forward with this wand in that same, semi-low stride, the jets were so close to the carpet that the spray from the jets were not overlapping. We also worried about carpet fiber distortion with the jets being so close to the carpet. So what we did for that first week was hold the wand much higher, at the handle, when pushing it forward and back. This raised up the jets from the carpet a few inches, allowing the jet spray to overlap and preventing streaking. But it made it harder pushing it forward, increasing fatigue, and it felt very uncomfortable doing so.

To fix the problem, we first tried to adjust the depth of the jets. Here is what Hydro-Force claims as a feature of the wand:

"A unique feature of the wand is the ability to adjust the depth of the jets. The jets can be moved closer to the carpet to reduce heat loss, or moved back for a wider coverage." – www.interlinksupply.com
Carpet wand head break-down
Maybe I should have cleaned it before taking a picture?
This doesn't really work as easily as they claim. Yes, you can try to adjust the depth by moving the manifold bracket up, but it doesn't really have anywhere to go, because any direction you move the manifold bracket, the manifold itself hits the tube on the S-bend. You can see in the picture that the manifold is already touching the tubing, so raising the manifold bracket is impossible – making this feature utterly useless. You can also see that you cannot lower the bracket manifold any more than it already is, because it's at its lowest position.

In my opinion the wand itself has a great design, but where Hydro-Force made a mistake was the design and functionality of the bracket manifold, or perhaps even the placement of the manifold itself. It seems they did not consider, or even try, to see how you can adjust it. Which is strange
because this is claimed to be one of its crowning features.

To sum up what we don't like:
  • Manifold & jets too close to carpet
  • Poor design and placement of manifold bracket


Without being able to move the manifold up and away from the carpet, the only other solution would be to replace the standard jets with a jet that sprays a wider angle. Now this wouldn't necessarily fix our concern of carpet distortion, because the jets would still be (too?) close to the carpet, but perhaps it would at least fix the streaking problem.

So we decided to replace the standard 80015 VeeJets, which have an 80-degree spray angle, with the 9501 VeeJets. The 9501 has a spray angle of 95 degrees, covering a wider margin of carpet. For the most part it fixed the problem. We can't really push the wand as low at the handle as we do with other wands, but it's not as high as we had to hold it before replacing the jets. It's now in a comfortable enough position to use without causing quick back fatigue. And we love the wand enough to deal with the slight adjustment.

Overall we really like this wand, but it seems to be made for a tall person. If they could somehow fix the bracket manifold issue, maybe by re-designing it and actually allowing adjustment, it would certainly improve the wand and its customization.

Resources used to create this review

Hydro-ForceTitanium Wand Product Manual

Listing onInterlink Supply website

Video of the Titaniumwand in action

Infoon the VeeJets for this wand

Listing onHydro-Force website

Jan 27, 2014

Carpet Manufacturers: Hot-water extraction best choice to clean carpet, but not the only one

About a year ago a customer tried to convince me the best spot chemical for removing stains on carpet is "stainless steel cleaner." I of course (in a professional manner) questioned that tactic. Then without permission or warning he proceeded to "pre-treat" the stains on the wool rug I was cleaning for him with said cleaner. I assume this was an attempt to prove me wrong. I guess 13 years of experience, countless certifications and thousands of hours of classroom training just wasn't quite enough to convince him. But as a maintenance employee at a local casino, he felt he had the answers.

Do not use stainless steel cleaner to clean carpet

This illustrates the misinformation out there about properly maintaining carpet and rugs. There are probably a few home remedies out there that might do the trick in a pinch if you’re just trying to quickly remove a spot, but this article is not about spotting stains; it’s about choosing a carpet cleaning method provided by a professional carpet cleaning company. 

Carpet can be the biggest investment in your home, and if you want to protect that investment you need to maintain it, much like changing the oil in your car. If a car manufacturer states the oil needs to be changed every 3,000 miles, and you change the oil every 6,000 miles, you should not expect your vehicle to run very well...and for very long. 

The major carpet manufacturers like DuPont and Shaw tell us we should have our carpets professionally cleaned every 12 to 18 months. So if you wait 5 years to clean your carpet, that’s like changing the oil in your car every 10,000 miles instead of 3,000. The damage done by improper maintenance can be permanent. That’s why there are maintenance guidelines in the first place. If you don’t follow maintenance guidelines, don’t be upset with the service provider when they cannot reverse permanent damage.

The debate about what is the superior carpet cleaning method has been an exhausting dialogue over the years. If you’re a professional and have taken certification courses, you know that every carpet cleaning method has its place. But as a homeowner and a consumer, you want a deep restoration cleaning, not a maintenance or surface cleaning.

So I decided the best solution would be to ask the carpet manufacturers themselves instead of asking a professional carpet cleaner (or consumer).

Below is a list of the top 20 carpet manufacturers in the US with all their contact information (feel free to contact them yourselves to verify).
This includes the top dog of them all: Shaw Industries . Shaw sells almost $5 billion (yes, with a "B") worth of carpet annually. Most of the carpet they sell requires a professional "steam" cleaning every 12 to 18 months to maintain a valid warranty. Don’t take this article as a legal document; I recommend you read your warranty yourself because they are all different. 

You'll see that every manufacturer endorses "hot-water extraction." Some manufacturers also recommend "dry compound." Dry compound is a very non-intrusive type of cleaning typically performed with a CRB (counter-rotating brush) machine. You'll often see this type of cleaning in commercial buildings for preventative maintenance cleaning.

Atlas Carpet Mills
Phone: 800-372-6274
Deep Cleaning Method: Hot Water Extraction

Barrett Carpet Mills
Phone: 800-241-4064
Deep Cleaning Method: Hot Water Extraction

Beaulieu Group, LLC
Phone: 800-227-7211
Deep Cleaning Method: Hot Water Extraction

Bloomsburg Carpet Industries, Inc.
Phone: 800-233-8773
Deep Cleaning Method: Dry Compound Extraction/Hot Water Extraction

Burtco Enterprises, Inc.
Phone: 800-241-4019
Deep Cleaning Method: Hot Water Extraction
Carpets America, Inc.
Phone: 800-433-2440
Deep Cleaning Method: Hot Water Extraction
Recommended Service Providers: IICRC Certified Firms and Technicians

Creston Carpet Mills LLC
Phone: 800-899-7776
Website: N/A
Deep Cleaning Method: Hot Water Extraction

Fortune Contract, Inc.
Phone: 800-359-4508
Deep Cleaning Method: Hot Water Extraction

Interface, Inc.
Phone: 800-336-0225
Deep Cleaning Method: Dry Compound Extraction/Hot Water Extraction
J & J Industries, Inc.
Phone: 800-241-4585
Deep Cleaning Method: Hot Water Extraction
Recommended Service Providers: IICRC Certified Firms and Technicians

Langhorne Carpet Company, Inc.
Phone: 215-757-5155
Deep Cleaning Method: Hot Water Extraction

Mannington Carpets, Inc.
Phone: 800-241-2262
Deep Cleaning Method: Hot Water Extraction

Mohawk Industries, Inc.
Phone: 800-622-6227
Deep Cleaning Method: Hot Water Extraction

Monticello Carpet Mills
Phone: 866-287-7847
Website: N/A
Deep Cleaning Method: Hot Water Extraction/Bonnet Cleaning

Royalty Carpet Mills, Inc.
Phone: 800-854-8331
Deep Cleaning Method: Hot Water Extraction

Shaw Industries, Inc.
Phone: 800-441-7429
Deep Cleaning Method: Hot Water Extraction
Recommended Service Providers: IICRC Certified Firms and Technicians

Some manufacturers simply point to the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) for carpet cleaning guidelines and cleaning methods. You can also check out the IICRC (Institue of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification) for some great information and also to find an IICRC technician or certified company.
As far as the wool rug my customer used stainless steel cleaner on, he called me a few days later to tell me to never use that on carpet—as if I had actually taken his advice.