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Good Bye Sales Pitch, Hello Science

One of the major changes that have taken place over the last 10 years in the cleaning industry is that science is slowing replacing seat of the pants. It’s used to be enough to go thorough the motions, sweat a little and say that we cleaned a floor, wall or carpet. As long as there was no visible soil on the surface, the job was done and everybody was happy. Now we know that what we can’t see (bacteria, viruses, micron size particulate) can be more dangerous, hazardous and damaging to our health and surfaces than the soil that we can see.

Even today sales pitches and marketing literature often contain wild and unsubstantiated claims of effectiveness or results. Removes 98% of the moisture, kills all the harmful germs, get’s your dirtiest carpets clean, neutralizes all household odors, it’s magic. Over the years, I think I’ve heard every claim imaginable.

What’s changed is that science is about to catch up with the cleaning industry. Technology has given us many new and inexpensive methods to test for just about any thing you can think of. Research studies are currently being conducted to test everything from chemical residue after cleaning to what’s in the air during cleaning. Some of the projects are mostly marketing hype or any non-favorable findings may be lost in the editing by the funding party, but the science exists and the process has begun to get the facts and sooner or later, the days of the wild sales pitch will be only a memory of the good old days.

X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF)
At the recent Connections Cleaning Show in Orlando, FL ( I attended a presentation sponsored by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) ( The CRI has partnered with NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) ( and KeyMaster Technology ( to use XRF technology to analyze what’s left behind after carpeting has been cleaned.

A hand held XRF unit (about $35,000) sends energy in the form of x-ray photons into a sample matrix (fiber, paper, plastic, metal) and the x-rays strike electrons in the shells of the atoms present and sends back a signature to the hand held device that measures the energy and number of returning x-rays to determine the quantity and type of elements present in the sample. So what you say.

In recent tests of this technology technicians found that home type portable extractors removed 6% of the soil present, rental unit extractors removed 15% of the soil present and truck mounted extractors removed 95% of the soil present. Once the price comes down and the size of the device shrinks to that of a cell phone or smaller, the subjective process we now call quality control inspections will take on a whole new meaning once they are based on quantative measurements.

What’s Ahead?
I’d say it won’t be long (3 to 10 years) before who ever cleans a building or surface will have to validate with scientific testing that the work they did actually accomplished the desired goals. It won’t be good enough to just go through the motions and say I cleaned the bathroom, the carpet or the office. After cleaning you will have to test several surfaces and prove that the germs and or soil are below an acceptable level.

This is not science fiction, the technology already exists and is being used daily in high tech cleanrooms around the world. As the cost comes down, what we are seeing is a migration of this technology to other industries. Good-bye sales pitch, hello science.

Other examples of tests that are already on the market include:

  • Particulate – Laser counters are available that can tell you how many particles of soil, larger than ½ micron are present in a cubic foot of space.
  • Sniffers- Can tell you what gasses and odors are in an area or system.
  • Bacteria identification: Swab tests used to take one, two or three days to grow a culture so you could count and type the bacteria present. Now with in 30 seconds a small portable meter can tell you which specific bacteria are present and give you a count as well.
  • Film thickness – Meters are available that can tell us the exact thickness of finish on the floor.
  • Conductivity- Meters are available to test the conductivity of floor finish in ESD flooring.
  • Reflectivity- Meters are available to test the refective ability of a surface. In the future when a customer tell you they want a shiney floor, you have to ask is that a 60 or 90 level shine that you want?
  • Infrared Camera Imaging- These highly temperature sensitive cameras can see minor temperature variations though wall, floors and other materials to identify the presence of moisture or water intrusion. You no longer have to ask the question. Is it dry yet?
  • Slip resistance – Meters are available to test the slip resistance of a floor covering or finish. Test records would be helpful when you or your customer have to defend against a slip and fall lawsuit.
  • Indoor Air Quality- I recently saw a portable air quality testing unit that could identify and wirelessly feed data to a computer on 10 different IAQ related measurements.
  • Moisture retention- We’ve heard many claims about how much water a certain type of extractor will remove from the carpet during the cleaning process. Recent studies by Shaw industries and the International Society of Cleaning Technicians (ISCT) indicate that the actual moisture removed can range from 40% to over 93% depending on the type of carpet, machine and wand used.
  • Some of the water damage restoration training facilities now in use, can flood a home, measure the weight to with in a faction of an ounce and then weigh the same home after the water is removed and tell you again to a fraction of an ounce how much water was removed, how much remains and how long it will take to dry, depending on what equipment and processes are used.
  • Detergent residue- Recent tests conducted by Shaw Industries found that many of the most popular car;et cleaning detergents on the market today actually clean worse than water and left residues behind that contribute to resoiling.
  • Carpet Spotter Testing- The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) recently anounced it will expand its Green Label Testing Program for vacuum cleaners, to what it now calls it’s “Seal of Approval” Program and will include carpet spotters, detergents and carpet cleaning equipment. Several spotters have already been tested and approved by the CRI. (

This is Good News
Certainly some people won’t welcome scrutiny of their work, chemicals or equipment, but in the long run science will improve the level of service provided our customers as well as the effectiveness of the chemicals and the equipment we use. And in the process the educational level of those doing the work will increase along with their pay.

Health Care Cleaning Manager Group to Issue Guidelines
Responding to American Society for Healthcare Environmental Services (ASHES) members and other Environmental Services (ES) Managers challenged by inadequate industry guidelines for day-to-day operations to guide performance to ensure a clean and safe health care environment, ASHES is taking the leadership role in an industry-wide effort to establish best practices.

The National Environmental Services Performance Indicators (NESPI) project ranks among the most comprehensive undertakings ASHES has embarked upon in its entire 20-year history. NESPI will compile, analyze, and report performance indicators for ES disciplines for areas such as staffing, waste management and compensation, to name a few. American Society for Healthcare Environmental Services(ASHES)

Economists Forecast Steady Robust Growth for USA Economy
According to the USA Today and a number of other sources “The USA economy should expand at a steady pace in 2005, with moderate inflation and more robust job growth. Allowing the Federal Reserve to keep raising interest rates at a gradual pace.”

No one is expecting any major growth for the year but things will continue to slowly get better.

Editor’s note: That was before GM announced it’s lay off of 25,000 workers and the government backed Pension Fund Program was $350 billion in the red. This rosey forcast could change with tomorrow mornings news.

Absorbant Roller Cleaning System for Carpet
According to Manufacturer Tennant: “ReadySpace relies on sprayer units that apply water to two counter-rotating, specially designed fabric rollers that [roll against and clean] the carpet. As the rollers turn at a rate of approximately 400 times per minute, they are rinsed with a solution spray, and a built-in vacuum extracts the soil from the rollers. Very little water reaches the carpet because the carpet is never actually sprayed with water.” For more information:

Hoover Vacuums Catch Fire and are Recalled
Hoover is recalling 636,000 vacuum cleaners after receiving about 250 reports of over-heating that caused the handle area to smoke, melt or catch fire. Seems the The Hoover self-propelled upright vacuum made in the U.S. have a defective on-off switch.

The North Canton, Ohio-based subsidiary of Maytag is aware of only one injury – a minor burn – caused by overheating, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported.
For more information:

ISSA Opens Door to End Users
The International Sanitary Supply Association has accepted a recent proposed amendment to the association bylaws to open membership to facility service providers. The bylaw change creates a new membership category for U.S. and Canadian building service contractors and in-house service providers.

ISSA’s current membership is 4,700 members – including distributors, manufacturers, wholesalers, manufacturer representatives, and international providers of cleaning services in more than 83 countries. This new move is geared to provide an opportunity to bring the industry together and elevate the professionalism and image of the cleaning industry worldwide. For more information:

Scratch Removal System for Class and Plastic
Shat-R-Proof Corp., has introduced a system for removing scratches from glass. The system includes two separate units: the Finer unit which performs the grinding or heavy stock removal and the Polisher unit which performs the polishing or light stock removal.

The complete system gives you the capability to remove any type of scratch including those made with a glass cutter. For more information:

China: The Dragon of the Future
China is fast becoming one of the chief drivers for the world economy. China used to mean little to the world economy but is now the world’s fourth largest trading country, the biggest consumer and manufacturer of steel, the greatest producer of consumer electronics, builder of ships, consumer of cement and the second largest consumer of petroleum.

China’s massive growth is fueling migration of hundreds of millions of Chinese from the rural farms to the cities booming industrial economy. The massive migration requires building on an unprecedented level. China currently must build out and power up the equivalent of a new Philadelphia or Houston every month to keep up with the mass migration.

While the economy of China is changing, China still has a long way to go. China’s entire economy is about the size of the U.S. manufacturing sector alone. Average per capita income in china, at about $1000 annually, is still only around one-fortieth that of the United States. Check back in 15 years for the rest of the story.

Hawaii’s Small Business Bill of Rights
House Bill 601, which brings together a host of initiatives already on the books, was approved Thursday by the Economic Development and Business Concerns Committee. There are 16 rights included in the bill that will cover things like one-stop permitting process. At least three other states have similar bill of rights for small businesses including Texas, Main and Arizona.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Wants to Terminates CA Outsourcing Ban?
According to an associated press article in The Ventura County Star Schwarzenegger discussed revamping janitorial outsourcing restrictions for state agencies during his radio address, he mentioned a proposal to repeal laws that prevent schools from using private companies for janitorial, cafeteria and other services. Of course the unions screamed bloody murder so he backed down this for now, but chances are good you haven’t hear the last of this effort by the Terminator to stick it to the unions and state employees. And Lord knows they need it.

Electrostatic Spray System Means Better Cleaning
ESS electrostatic sprayers apply an electrical charge to liquids as they are sprayed through a nozzle. The charged droplets wrap around objects, even overcoming gravity, to give a thorough, even coating. ESS sprayers can be used with almost any liquid or wetable powders and will not affect the performance of biocidal agents.
For more information:

Johnson Controls Sold to IAP Worldwide Services, Inc.
IAP Worldwide Services of Irmo, SC, completed the $260 million purchase of the Johnson Controls Inc. subsidiary Johnson Controls Worldwide Service, Inc. in March of 2005. Top officials at IAP Worldwide Services, fielded questions Wednesday related to job status, pay and how the company does business, according to the Kitsap Sun. For more information:

BSCAI/BOMA Panel Tells BSC What the Want
An industry panel of building owners and managers at the recent BSCAI Convention in Orlando, FL told attendees what they expect from cleaning contractors who want to service their buildings. “We want contractors who can do the job well, who are professional and who bring solutions to the table. We seek a prompt response from day 1, experience, competitive pricing and good communication. Larger customers prefer the industry leaders who are in touch with new technology and approaches and who utilize the best and most effective practices, based on actual customer needs in the market place.

The human touch is important, clients want contractors who respect their business, the working relationship and their customers. An understanding the customer’s needs must be combined with competence, flexibility, creativity, and problem-solving skills along with an attitude that keeps the customers best interests at heart. Customers have become more demanding and are seeking the professionalism that can deliver consistent, solid performance under difficult situations and that is based upon honesty, character and integrity. For more information on the next BSCAI Show scheduled for Nashville, TN, March 24 to 28, 2006, visit: for more information on the Building Owners and Managers Association and it’s annual Convention scheduled for June 24 to 27, 2006, in Dallas, TX, visit:

USA Cleaning Services to Exceed $138 Billion by 2008
Revenues for the building services industry are projected to increase over 4 percent per year to $138.5 billion in 2008. Gains will be driven by improvements in the overall economy and ongoing growth in both the size of the housing stock and the number of business establishments.

The shift away from “do-it-yourself” to “do-it-for-me” will continue in both residential and nonresidential markets. This trend is driven by the increaseing number of dual-income families that lack time but are better able to afford contract services. In the nonresidential marketplace, the trend will continue, albeit at a decelerating pace as certain markets mature. The building maintenance service industry includes contract landscaping, security, pest control, carpet and upholstery cleaning, building maintenance and janitorial cleaning.

These and other trends are presented in a recent study title “Building Maintenance Services” from the Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industrial market research firm. The firm has several studies available that deal with the cleaning industry, it’s equipment and chemicals. For more information:

Betco Corporation Acquires Wood Finish Maker Basic Coatings
Betco Corporation (Betco) of Toledo, OH, completed the successful acquisition in April, 2005 of Basic Coatings of Des Moines, IA. Paul C. Betz commented: “Betco’s mission is to provide the best in floor care chemistry, equipment, pads and other accessories bundled into a seasoned program.” The Betco/Basic Coating line of products will continue to be marketed through janitorial, paper and wood flooring distribution networks worldwide. Basic Coatings provides leading edges water-based coatings as well as oil-modified coatings that meet low VOC requirements. For more information:

FloodStopper Provides Water Leak Detection Protection
FloodStopper Systems is a patented high-tech water leak detection system that provides 24/7 protection against flooding due to internal plumbing failures and accidental overflows. The control panel automatically shuts off the water supply upon the sensors detecting a leak. The FloodStopper Systems is designed for use in residential, commercial and industrial buildings. For more information:

Looking for Leads in the USA
The BizJournals’ Book of Lists Provides Names and Numbers along with other essential information on the leading buyers, businesses and employers in over 60 of the US’s most dynamic markets. These directories contain the key contact information on thousands of top local businesses, professions, governmental units and organizations providing a snapshot perspective on local economies. The Book of Lists, compiled separately for 62 city/regional markets in the USA are available as print books, CD-Roms or as electronic downloads. Industry specific lists such as General Contractors, Homebuilders or Private Companies are now available. For more information:

Move Over Mr. Clean, Scotch-Brite Eraser Pad Hit Market
The Scotch-Brite Easy Erasing Pad from 3M is an innovative spot cleaning tool that is designed to erase stubborn, hard-to-clean marks without scouring or scratching. Yet no sprays or cleaners are necessary. You simply wet the pad, erase the mark and wipe away.

An innovative white polymeric foam erases hard-to-clean scruffs, stains and marks such as ink pen, crayon, soap scum, grease and grime and permanent markers. The soft, flexible pad cleans many surfaces such as ceramic tiles, vinyl seating, fiberglass, painted and bare metal, restroom walls and stalls, sinks and countertops and is safe for indirect food contact areas. This Easy Erasing Pad is an effective tool for commercial spot cleaning in restaurants, schools, hospitals and more. For more information:

Janitorial Training on a Cell Phone
MIKROKleen USA, Inc., a microfiber tool manufacturing and distribution company, has joined with Training inHand, Inc, to introduce the Personal Video Training Device (PVTD). The PVTD fits in the palm of the hand and is capable of playing back high-quality video stored on standard Compact Flash memory cards. The PVTD allows every supervisor or lead person to carry a complete training system in their pocket. Training inHand will offer a collection of training programs developed for the janitorial industry, as well as a service to convert existing training programs to the PVTD format, whether they are audio, video or slide-based. For information visit:

Airborne Bioaerosol Guidelines Established
Dr. Rajiv Sahay presented compelling findings of a decade-long study entitled “Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ): A 10-Year Study for Industry IEQ Guidelines at the 2005 American Industrial Hygiene Conference Expo in Anaheim.CA on May 23, 2005. Based upon more than 11,000 indoor and outdoor bacterial and fungal samples, this study provides important data on bioaerosols for both fungi and bacteria. These suggested guidelines for airborne bioaerosols for indoor environmental quality are designed to help IAQ technicians, environmental scientists and other air quality professionals gain a better understanding of building conditions, indoor air quality and bioareobiology. For a copy of this study, email request to:

Traveling to Attend a Convention Becoming Outdated
Here’s a trend for tomorrow that your hearing about today. The Training 2005 Conference and Expo offered an online version of it’s show for those who couldn’t attend in person. The on line program held completely over the Internet, will take place in a dedicated “Conference Community,” and feature a wide array of training, collaboration and networking opportunities. The program includes 25+ live interactive webcasts, recordings of all web casts, special web-only events from before and after the conference and a growing community for learning professionals to collaborate and network year-round. For more information:

Jail Time in the Sun for Hawaiian Cleaning Contractor
Police investigating improprieties in the awarding and performance of city janitorial contracts arrested the President of a local janitorial company in Honolulu. Nelson Aguinaldo, President of Diversified Janitorial Services was arrested on suspicion of racketeering, money laundering, theft, bribery and monopolization. For more information visit:

DuPont Buys Stone Tech
On February 14, 2005, DuPont acquired StoneTech™ Professional, Inc., a company providing products and services to the tile and stone flooring restoration industry. DuPont, as a leader and innovator in Surface Protection Products and Solutions for nearly 30 years, made the acquisition to further support it’s efforts to penetrate the floor maintenance industry. Mike Guasch, the founder StoneTech™ Professional and other key employees will stay with the company for now. For further information:

Connections Carpet Cleaning Show 2005 – Orlando FL
Larry Cooper and the Connections Team did it again with a well-attended trade show and educational conference for carpet cleaners and restoration professionals in Orlando FL, April 18 to 20, 2005.

Thirteen trade associations participated in the twice-yearly event, with over 1500 professional cleaner in attendance from around the world. It’s refreshing to see a resurgence of interest in this industry event for the carpet cleaning industry. Most of the regional carpets cleaning associations have given up sponsoring an annual convention and trade show for their members as attendance at the smaller shows has dropped off for one reason or another over the last 5 to 10 years.

There were a number of good presentation at this year show, two that stand out in my mind were ones by Phil Auserehl and Ron Toney who went in to great detail on how hand and machine made woven rugs should be cleaned. Phil showed many slides outlining the various issues and approaches to cleaning exotic fibers and weaves found in woven rugs from around the world. This was an especially timely presentation being that wall-to-wall carpet sales are declining as hard surface and area rug sales are increasing.

For more info on the Auserehl Cleaning School and process visit:

The other very informative presentation that I especially enjoyed was Lloyd Starks with KeyMaster Technologies ( Starks presentation dealt with XRF X-Ray Fluorescence testing and how Professional Testing Labs in Dalton GA and the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) in cooperation with NASA are now using the XRF technology to test the effectiveness of various carpet cleaning chemicals and processes.

These two presentations were worth the price of admission alone, but I wouldn’t do the show justice if I didn’t mention the exhibits area and trade show.

If it’s hot and deals with carpet cleaning or restoration it was on display in the exhibit hall. This show had it all. A $70,000 truck mount that could suck a carpet off the floor (, a dehumidifier so large you need a semi-trailer to move it (, and a number of companies offering mold killing and sealing products ( ( Other innovative products on display include a source for inspection tools (, a Canadian company this is marketing a natural disinfectant (, and a several sources for up to $25,000 infrared cameras, (
( that can find moisture inside of walls, floors, and ceilings by identifying and color-coding the temperature difference of surrounding materials.

The next Connections show is scheduled for September 23 to 25, 2005 in Las Vegas, NV, for more information or to exhibit or registar, visit:

Seeing Water in Walls and Floors
Thermal Imaging Infrared Cameras is a new technology allows you to diagnose moisture and water damage conditions in buildings quickly by viewing crisp thermal images. Accurate temperature measurement enables the user to identify and analyze moisture problems quickly and with assurance. An infrared camera can help to identify the extent of moisture related intrusion in a fraction of the time spent by using other traditional methods. For more info visit: or

Non-Toxic Natural Disinfectant Kills’em Dead
Benefect® Broad Spectrum Disinfectant and Fungicide contains botanically pure plant extracts and has been proven to kill 99.999% of bacteria, yeast, moulds, fungus and fungal spores. Benefect® has been approved by Health Canada and the US EPA as a high level disinfectant and fungicide that requires no rinsing or wiping after application.

Benefect® is ideal for construction materials such as walls and floors after water damage and mould remediation applications. It is also suitable for home use on cutting boards, countertops, children’s toys, change tables, garbage cans, pet areas, as well as healthcare facilities and any other instances where disinfection is required. For more information visit:

Sanitizing with No Chemicals
New nano-technology introduced by Advance Vapor Technologies (AVT), Edmonds, WA, can make surfaces almost sterile without the use of chemical disinfectants. The process – called Thermal Accelerated Nano Crystal Sanitation (TANCS) – has been extensively tested by Nelson Labs of Utah, a Nationally Recognized Test Lab (NRTL) similar to UL, which reported that a 7 second exposure to TANCS steam vapor, produces a 5-7 log reduction in microbes consistently on all microorganisms tested – including mold spores. For more information visit:

Dri-Eaz Draws a Line on the Wet Floor.
Bill Bruders, President of Dri-Eaz Said “We are taking action and call on other equipment manufacturers to join us in securing third party certification for new products. The practice of overstating performance claims is a dark spot on the industry that needs to be addressed. This practice undermines the integrity and professionalism of the entire restoration industry. We feel it is our responsibility to take action.”

Dri-Eaz announced that it will begin publishing equipment specs that have been independently obtained and verified by a well respected, third-party oganization. We will begin seeing certification on all their products, including verification by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) of water removal performance at 80 degrees F. and 69% RH on their dehumidifiers, AHAM’s Clean Air Delivery Rate(CADR) on new air scurbbers and Air Movement and Control Association International (AMCA) certification of airflow and acoustic output as well as UL and C-UL: listings on all Dri-Eaz equipment. For more information visit:

Air Duct Air Purification System
The HVAC PHI Cell by RGF is designed to eliminate sick building syndrome risks by reducing odors, air pollutants, VOCs (chemical odors), smoke, mold bacteria and viruses. The HVAC-PHI Cells are easily mounted into air conditioning and heating systems air ducts where most sick building problems start. When the HVAC system is in operation the HVAC_PHI Cell Creates an Advanced Oxidation Process consisting of Hydro-peroxides, ozonide ions, super oxide ions and hydroxide ions. All are friendly oxidizers. By friendly oxidizers we mean oxidizers that revert back to oxygen and hydrogen after the oxidation of the pollutant. For more information visit:

Canadian’s Come to Cleaning Show
This year’s Can Clean show at the National Trade Centre in Toronto, Ontario was billed as “the largest tradeshow in Canada for the cleaning professional”. With a 140 exhibitors showing everything from floor finishes to hand dryers, CSSA is one of the more rewarding events a cleaner could choose to attend.

For starters, unlike its larger counterpart, ISSA, CSSA has welcomed end-users for years. They, as well as members of the association, pay no admission charge. Parking is $10 a day. How inexpensive can a day’s exploration of the cleaning supply market get?

Want to take a picture of the product? Just ask at the booths, because there are no restrictions on getting the word out on what is available to the service supplier.

This year, several seminars were scheduled during the two days of the show. Daniels Associates’ Bill Garland substituted for Ian Greig, who is suffering from a back problem. The presentation for Wednesday, May 4, was on Day Cleaning. Thursday’s 1 ½ hour discussion was on Improving Cleaning Performance, keying in on reducing labor costs, and utilizing modern tools and techniques for workloading and quality auditing.

Wednesday afternoon, David Holly, with the Ashkin Group, presented “Why Green Cleaning is Important” to a large room filled with eager listeners. Most were from the supply side, and his remarks were directed to helping them see the potential for sales of environmentally responsible products. Green cleaning involves everything from entry matting and high quality air filtration to safe-to-use chemicals. With more and more emphasis on indoor environmental quality, this is an emerging market and the attendees were encouraged to become the sources of knowledge about green cleaning in their areas.

The seminars cost $40 per session and required advance registration on the website,
Carefully searching through all the booths would have taken days. There was much to see and the excellent turnout proved that a lot of people in the industry thought this to be one of the better ways to see the new stuff you just can’t do without.

The first display in the exhibit hall was the New Product Showcase (Photo #1), with samples from 33 companies whose latest innovations were on a printed list CSSA gave to each attendee as a guide to finding what is new. Talk to 10 exhibitors, have them stamp the card, and you might win a 42” plasma TV! I didn’t win it, but it was a good show and I might go back again next year. For a show which, according to a staffer, started in a garage with only a few exhibitors, the Canadian Sanitary Supply Association (CSSA) has come a long way in the right direction. For information on next year show visit: