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Cleaning in the USA – Hard Floor Care Trends

Hard Floor Care Trends
You can expect to see more pre-finished floor coverings on the market in the future. It started with laminates, moved over to wood and is now finding its way into resilient flooring. The use of aluminum oxide/mineral based coatings that do more than provide a shine will see wide spread use and application. Examples include wear and scratch resistance, anti-microbial protection and anti-slip characteristics. One example is a recently introduced wood floor by Mohawk Industries that incorporates 3M ScotchGard advanced repel technology to protect against staining.

Wood, stone, ceramic and high-end vinyl will continue to grab market share in both residential and commercial buildings. I also think you’ll see a lot more polished and densified/hardened concrete.

Building owners and managers are and will continue to seek ways to reduce their cleaning costs and one way to do that is to install hard floor surfaces that require less maintenance. This doesn’t mean floors won’t need cleaning, but the application of floor finish; burnishing and stripping are definitely on the decrease in large commercial facilities. In some facilities I’ve been told that this strategy has reduced floor care costs by as much as 65%.

I’m starting to see a backlash against burnishing because of the time and cost involved, as well as the problems related to breathing and cleaning up the dust that goes into the air if the equipment used doesn’t have a positive vacuum attachment.

I think you’ll also see more acceptance and use of micro-fiber flat mops and bucket less mopping systems where the cleaning solution is contained in or on the mop handle verses in a bucket with a wringer.

At this point I can say that if you are not using a micro-fiber flat mop for at least finish application, you are out of touch with modern day floor care.

Carpet Care Trends
I’m continuing to see a backlash against the use of carpeting in commercial and residential construction. The carpet industry continues to pump out marketing research disguised as scientific studies and then can’t figure out why it is losing market share. I’d say one reason is because their science doesn’t match what buyers experience once carpeting has been installed in a home or office.

Installation is often of poor quality, traffic lanes mat down, while cleaning and spotting is difficult, time consuming and expensive. Add to this, that warranties are confusing, misleading and do more to protect the manufacturer than the buyer and you can start to see why carpet sales are in a slump. Of course, this is not what the CRI, which represents the carpet manufacturers, will tell you, but it is what I’m hearing on the street. You can only ignore and offend your customer base for so long before they catch on and won’t take it any more.

The use of area rugs is continuing to grow, while the use of wall-to-wall carpet continues to decline. In high end home being built today you will find little or no carpeting. If a soft floor covering is desired in the bedroom or living space, areas rugs will fill the need.

Washroom Trends
Restrooms are a touchy subject. Users complain when they are dirty, not stocked or smell bad and rightfully so. Some organizations are starting to get the message and are dressing up their facilities and keeping them spotless, but that approach is certainly not the norm. I think we will see more awareness on the part of building owners and managers in the future regarding the condition of their restrooms.

Powered restroom carts (spray and suck) are continuing to find more widespread acceptance in larger commercial facilities, even though their cost remains high ($3000 to $5000 per unit). Cleaning restrooms has never been a pleasant task so anything that makes the work easier and more pleasant is going to be popular with those doing the work.

Hillyard recently introduced its C2, which is more compact than most carts and incorporates a battery for cordless cleaning. (

In looking at the process, I find the greatest benefit of most carts is the inclusion of a wet pick up vacuum process. You really can’t get a grouted floor clean with a dirty wet mop.

If you are into cleaning and want to see all the latest and greatest equipment, supplies and chemicals you don’t want to miss the ISSA/INTERCLEAN Show in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, May 9 to 12, 2006.

This is the granddaddy of all cleaning shows and where the really new stuff gets introduced. Three to five years later we will begin to see the same items in the USA.

This is a show you don’t want to miss. I haven’t been to it in a couple of years so I’m looking forward to attending. Not to mention all the other fine attractions and distractions one finds in Amsterdam. For more information visit:

Contract Trends
Costs are going up, at the same time, customers are looking for ways to reduce their costs. I get a lot of calls from contractors asking me how they should go about increasing their rates to existing customers. In most cases my advice is don’t. If you want to make more money on a job, find ways to reduce your costs. Your costs are something that you have full control over; you have little or no control over your customer’s finances or budget. Anytime you send a customer a notice to raise their price you take a chance that their response will be to put the property out to bid.

Where can you find good help these days? Staffing is still a problem for most cleaning businesses and departments. Our work force is retiring and young people are not stepping up to fill the increasing vacancies that employers are left with and many of those who do apply aren’t acceptable for one reason or another. I see this as one of the major crises facing the industry in the years ahead and one that is basically being ignored by industry leaders and trade associations.

In the years ahead (10 to 20 years) I think you’re going to see more widespread use of engineered cleaning systems that are part of the building system. Beyond that much of the work will be done by small-specialized robots. Robots that are much like today’s auto scrubbers but much smaller and automated to operate on their own for several hours without much human intervention.