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Carpet Cleaning FAQ 5

Q: I’m a student writing a research paper about the cleaning industry. I was wondering if you knew how many carpets are cleaned each year in the United States approximately? I was also wondering how much revenue is generated by the industry each year – just an estimate. Thanks. Look forward to hearing from you.

A:Thanks for your interest in the cleaning industry. Foremost, understand that the term “cleaning industry” really refers to a variety of industries. Included are:

Dry cleaners who do clothing

On-location cleaners who specialize in carpet, upholstery and other household fabrics

Disaster restorers, who do fire and water damage cleanup

Janitorial firms who do routine maintenance and cleaning in commercial buildings

Maid services who concentrate on routinely scheduled residential cleaning

Exterior pressure cleaners, ductwork cleaners . . . the list goes on and on.

I suspect what you’re primarily interested in is fabric cleaning; indeed, your question relates to carpet cleaning so I’ll help – maybe confuse – you as best I can.

Carpet cleaning is a highly fractured industry, composed of a lot of independent-minded small business men and women. As such, it’s a little hard to get a handle on.

According to mailing lists, there are some 35-40 thousand independent and franchise carpet cleaners out there. Like most small businesses, there are new entries and failures every day. That figure does not include a like number of janitorial firms that clean carpet in the course of cleaning the rest of the building. Nor does it include all the in-house custodial workers who get involved in cleaning carpet.

Bottom line, I don’t think anyone knows for certain how many firms and individuals there are in the industry, or the amount of carpet being cleaned.

The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is a non-profit certifying body that sets standards and course curricula for the cleaning industry. We think it has the cream of the crop in terms of this industry. Currently, it has some 5000 Certified firms and some 16,000 Certified Technicians. This means that those firms and technicians have been formerly trained and tested, and that they commit to a code of ethical behavior. The Certified Firms further commit to consumer protection, complaint handling, and liability insurance.

We estimate that those Certified Technicians are entering some 7,000,000 homes annually cleaning an average of 600 square feet in each. You can work the figures from there. Remember, it’s an estimate, but it’s probably as good as any.

Sorry I can’t be of more help. Don’t hesitate to call or write with other questions.


Q: What’s GLS and Crystal Dry? Is this a method of cleaning? Also, do you accelerate Clorox with alkalinity or acid?

A:Consider GLS and Crystal Dry a modified form of shampoo cleaning. The difference is that the two counter-rotating nylon-bristled brushes on the GLS operate on a vertical, rather than a horizontal plane, as is the case with rotary shampoo. It looks a good deal like the old Host machine. The agitation is excellent. It’s weak on extracting suspended soils.

Crystal Dry is a good detergent, like many others. It does dry to a crystalline residue that vacuums easily from carpet.

Sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) is stabilized with alkalinity (but not ammonia), and accelerated with a variety of acids. This is covered in a rather comprehensive chapter on cleaning industry bleaches in our book, Specialized Carpet Spotting.


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