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Cleaning in the U.S.A.

California Passes School Restroom Cleaning Law
Some would say only in the US. Others might add, only in California. But the fact remains that effective January 1, 2004; SB 892 became law in the Great State of California. The new law mandates that that all education facilities (private, public, parochial, etc.) from kindergarten through 12th grade must keep open and maintain their restrooms in a safe and sanitary condition. Violation of the revised education code may result in withholding of deferred maintenance funds, as well as the associated negative publicity and community displeasure.

The basic tenets of the bill state: Restrooms are to be maintained, cleaned and stocked with soap and paper supplies at all times. All restrooms are to be kept open during school hours, although individual restrooms may be temporarily closed due to safety, maintenance, or renovation issues. If an organization receives a citation, it has 30 days to “cure” the violation or a process may start to withhold state funding from the educational organization.

We will see how long it takes before the bathroom cops begin making their rounds and if other states follow California’s lead. Regardless of what happens in CA, the fact remains that the public wants and is willing to demand sanitary restrooms, which is good for the cleaning industry. We will keep you posted if there are any arrests.

International Custodial Advisors Network
ICAN is a newly formed industry trade association for custodial advisors, educators and consultants. The group currently has 30 primary, 15 associate and 5 corporate members.

ICAN’s primary goal is to educate contractors, manufacturers and in house cleaning managers as to the benefits of using the services of a professional cleaning consultant. Other interests include the development of custodial literacy programs for custodians, cleaning industry standards as well as product, chemical and equipment testing.

For information on the group or to view a listing or profile of members visit:

Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)
Exam Fees Increase
Discussions are going on the behind the scenes at the IICRC about raising exam fees from the current $30.00 or $40.00 per exam to $50.00 or more per exam.
The IICRC is expected to authorize the formation of a Marble and Stone Maintenance certification category at its next board meeting, which will be held March 20th in Portland, OR.

If you have any thoughts about these or other IICRC issues you should contact IICRC President Cary Vermeulen at:
And or Exams Chair Mike Reed at:
For information on IICRC or it’s certification programs visit:

Polished or Densified Concrete Gain in Popularity
A recent innovation in the world of modern day flooring is the use of polished and or densified concrete. Basically a large, heavy and expensive floor machine with diamond abrasive pads is used to wet or dry grind and polish a concrete floor to the desired level of shine. The process is very similar to how terrazzo floors have been polished since the early 1900’s.

Much like sanding a wood floor, the process starts with course abrasives (100 grit) and progresses incrementally (2 to 10 steps) to fine abrasives (up to 3500 grit) until the desired appearance is achieved. This process can be used on new or existing concrete with many variations including color, shine, texture, insets in the concrete or in an overlay with glass, metal, stone or other materials. During or after the process a penetrating sealer, topical finish or natural wax is applied to the floor to give it the desired protection, shine or luster.

Densification is accomplished much in the same way, except that during the initial grinding process an application of a modified sodium silicate hardener is applied to the surface, which penetrates into and reacts with the concrete. A densifier can be applied to new or existing concrete and works by forming a hard crystalline structure within the surface of the concrete itself. The resulting harder, denser surface is easier and cheaper to maintain because no periodic maintenance other than dust mopping and scrubbing is required for up to 10 years or more.

Some of the commercial densification systems on the market promote their floors as being waterproof, stain resistant, dust free and requiring no stripping, topical finish, recoating or burnishing to maintain a shine. Other benefits include up to 400 % more abrasive resistant, 20% more impact resistant and as having 30% more light reflectivity than untreated concrete.

Considering all of the benefits, it is easy to see why polished and densified concrete is beginning to seeing wide spread use in shopping centers, warehouses, factories, schools, retail stores, automobile dealerships and even upscale homes.

For more information on this subject visit:

Politics as Usual in the U.S. A.
Recently we have seen several raids by US. Govt. Custom’s Officials on Wal-Mart Stores. Seems that the contractors doing the cleaning work were hiring undocumented workers or what are commonly referred to as illegal aliens (usually from Mexico). This type of action is often related to activity instigated by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in an attempt to force employers to hire contractors who hire union workers. The same type of thing happened last year California with large grocery store chains. In that case the SEIU claimed that the grocery stores were at fault for hiring contractors who bid too low on their contracts. Interesting concept of trying to make the customer responsible for a supplier bidding too low.

Now with Wal-Mart, which if I remember correctly is the largest company in the world, things are a little different. When you’re the biggest beast in the forest you have friends too. So today I read that the federal government is going to loosen up and allow employers to make wider use of a little known and used loop hole in the immigration law that allows large companies to bring in foreign worker on a temporary basis as long as they don’t stay for more than six months at a time. I can just see it now, an entirely new type of travel agency. Fly home for the weekend and come back refreshed on Monday morning. What a concept.

The Market For Hard Floor Care Services in the U.S. A – Facts and Figures
Hard floor care is a big and growing market. Carpet sales over the last ten years are down as much as 15% depending on whose numbers you believe. In 1992 carpet accounted for roughly 70% of all floor-covering sales, in 2002, that number was more like 55% and still falling. Meanwhile, wood, stone, ceramic and laminates are growing at double digit rates. The only bright spot in the carpet market is area rugs, which are still growing in volume and account for about 12% of the market. The commercial market for carpeting remains strong, with the greatest loses being in the residential side of the market. What’s the cause of the downturn? Again it depends on whom you ask. Most experts agree that it’s a combination of factors that include: out of control oil prices, a slowing economy, unstable interest rates, a decline in consumer confidence, indoor air, product and installation quality concerns as well as changing consumer tastes related to interior design. Some carpet industry optimists expect the trend to reverse itself over time, but are not saying when. Personally, I don’t see this happening any time in the next 20 or 30 years without a major change in technology, such as self-cleaning carpeting. In an effort to make up for the loss in business and profits, carpet manufacturers are diversifying and expanding their offerings to produce, import and sell hard floor coverings such as wood, stone, ceramic and laminates.

A Look at the Numbers
As for hard floor sales, here’s the number’s from Floor Covering Weekly which publishes a statistical issue in July of each year.

Area rugs
Resilient tile and sheet goods
Ceramic Tile

$20.3 billion or 25.34 billion Sq.Ft. of Floor Covering
* not reported by FCW, but estimated by WRG

Here’s potential size of the market for floor care in the U.S
– 7.9 million businesses*
– 115 million housing units, 68% of which are owner occupied
– 1.165 million new single family homes sold each month
– 1.87 new housing units starting construction each month during 2003
– 4.7 million commercial buildings in the USA with 67.3 billion square feet of space.

* This does not count those businesses that do not pay taxes or report their income or loss as part of their individual income tax return.

Number of Businesses Broken down as follows per industry segment,
Industry segment – # of buildings – total square feet of space

Industry segment # of buildings total square feet of space
– education
– food service
– health care
– lodging
– mercantile
– office
– warehouse
8.7 billion
1.9 billion
2.9 billion
4.5 billion
10.4 billion
12 billion
10.5 billion

Sources: Dept of Energy Consumption Survey 1999 and the U. S. Department of Commerce

Other Numbers of Interest
– Population in 2004 – 285,266,000
– Projected population for 2050 – 403,687,000