The Squid Marketer: Postcarding Your Regular Client Base

The Squid Marketer: Postcarding Your Regular Client Base

Postcarding. Sure, almost all of you do it… right? You send 6 month and 1 year reminder postcards to your “regulars”. Right?

Well, I certainly hope you do, but is that really enough?

Lets face it, no matter how good of a cleaning job you deliver, when you are gone, YOU ARE GONE! How does the old cliche go? “Out of sight-out of mind”? There exists a high probability that many of your satisfied customers may have already forgotten your company’s name.

“Oh, we had a great company here to clean our sofa last month. They did a fabulous job! I can’t think of their name right now, but I will look to see if I can find their card.”

Do not let this happen to you! Besides the standard reminder postcards, there are many others you can and should mail on a regular schedule. Here is a sampling of three of them that I use with great success.:

1. IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) postcard: This postcard points out the OTHER important reason for having carpeting and furniture cleaned. Healthy Indoor Air Quality! We mail these out in January and February when more people spend their time indoors.

2. Recipe postcard: Designed like a real recipe card, it lists the various “ingredients” necessary for a clean healthy carpet. This one is great mailer for the Summer months!

3. Rocksalt – End Of Winter Special postcard: This is a postcard mailed out in March touting the harmful effects of Winter rocksalt on carpet. It also offers a discount with a 30 day “call to action”. It is very effective in jumpstarting your busy Spring season!

These are just a few of the many variations you can utilize in your quest to keep your company name in your customer’s face! Different postcards for different seasons… Your clients will never forget you!

Armand Taddeo Squid Marketing Forms

November 30, 2005 / by / in
The Squid Marketer: Marketing For The Slow Times

With all the talk of an upcoming recession and in light of the recent tragedies our Nation has faced, I know many carpet cleaners are concerned, if not downright worried, about the future of their firms. On top of all of this, Winter 2002 is fast approaching.

Well, my article this month will not offer a magic pill for you, but it may just plant a seed or two in your mind on how to help offset the slow times ahead.

Property Management Companies

While commercial work typically keeps us busy all year round, my favorite type of commercial account has to be Property Management Companies for a variety of reasons.

These firms are in charge of handling the over-all YEAR ROUND maintenance of a myriad of businesses. Apartment complexes, office buildings, condominiums, etc. Needless to say, there is a huge amount of carpeting involved and Property Managers need to have it maintained, regardless of the time of season or current economy!

This steady, year round work has been a Godsend for my company for many years now. We maintain several apartment complexes as well as the hallways and stairs of a large condominium complex. This work comes in very handy in January and February!

Offering additional services such as carpet repair (power stretching, seam repair, replacing metal, etc.) and spot dyeing will go along way in helping you land one of these prime accounts! They are always looking to save money and in tough economic times, these add-on services just may save them a call to the carpet retailer.

A little legwork coupled with some imagination can go along way towards helping offset the economically tougher times, which may or may not lie ahead.

Develop a letter of introduction, use the telephone, or better yet, pay a personal visit to the offices of these companies. You can find a listing in the yellow pages under ‘PropertyManagement”.

Until Next Time!

Armand Taddeo

November 30, 2005 / by / in
The Squid Marketer: Marketing Carpet Retailers

Hi All! My days of drawing a paycheck in the floor covering business actually began in 1973 (not, 1982 – the year I started my carpet cleaning business). While in school, I took a part-time job working in the warehouse of a large carpet store chain here in New Jersey. By 1978, I was managing two of their stores.

You know… If I had a dime (OK, a quarter!) every time a customer asked me about professional carpet cleaning (when to call and who), I would be penning this article on the beaches of Maui rather than here in New Jersey! :o) The fact of the matter is carpet retailers offer you (the professional carpet cleaner) a wealth of opportunities! The product they sell on a daily basis will need to be cleaned professionally. That is simply “a given fact”.

In fact, some carpet mills now insist on it in order to keep their warranties in force.

Ok, that is the easy part. The real question is: “By whom?” Believe me when I tell you most carpet retailers do not have a clue. They not only have no idea who to recommend, they are quite “clueless” about our business, in general. They are, more often than not, totally misinformed regarding the facts. That is where you come in the picture, though. Here is what I suggest you do:

#1) Compose a letter of introduction.
#2) Introduce yourself and your firm.
#3) Tell them the number of years you have been serving their area.
#4) Let them know that you use state-of-the-art equipment and methods, but do not dwell on technicalities (e.g. why your method is better) as they do not care!
#5) Do stress your qualifications and training in cleaning today’s stain resist fibers.
#6) Offer them a “no obligation” demonstration (at their store – at their convenience).

You will also want to offer them some “incentives”.

A) For the Owner/Manager, you could offer a yearly or biannual carpet cleaning of the store.

B) For the Sales staff (the ones who will do most of the actual referring), you could offer
a 15% referral commission on the total ticket of the completed job.

You can print up a “referral card” that the salesman writes his name on. This card
should also offer the client something, such as:

A) Free deodorizing
B) A room of free carpet protector
C) A percentage discount off the total price of the cleaning

This is the client’s incentive to call you. Do you see where I am going with this? It is a
win-win deal all around!

– The store Owner/Manager gets his carpets cleaned free.
– The Salesman makes some spending money (as well as satisfying his customer with a
– The homeowner gets a discount as well as your fine services.
– You get a new “cheerleader” for your growing business!

Here is a simple Plan of Action:

#1) Go through the Yellow Pages and mail to all the retail stores in your service area.
#2) After approximately 2 weeks, follow up with either a visit or a telephone call.

If stopping by in person, pick a slow time of week when you can get the owner’s
undivided attention. Remember that the carpet retailer’s primary concern is to have
someone they can recommend to their clients, not only for scheduled cleaning, but also
for “emergency spot removal”.

Back when I was the Manager for two carpet retail stores, I took many calls from
panicky homeowners who did not even consider calling a carpet cleaning company when
that potted plant fell onto their new carpet. Instead, they called the carpet retail store
where they purchased it!

Believe me, his happens all the time. Now, “Go Get ‘Em!”

Armand Taddeo
Squid Marketing Forms

November 30, 2005 / by / in
The Squid Marketer: Educating Your Clients

Human Interaction and Customer Relations

You hear these words all the time. Treating your clientele like “Kings and Queens”. It is a known fact that this philosophy has a major impact on building a successful business. High End department stores, such as Lord & Taylor have been preaching this to their employees for years. There is an additional way to win over your customers and turn them into life long clients and I would like to discuss that with you in this article… EDUCATION!

I cannot understate the importance of educating your client base in our continuing quest to raise the professional bar, not just for the sake of your company’s image but also for our industry in general. You can go along way towards achieving this goal before you even arrive for your appointment and in the process, save the time you would normally be spending on the job site answering the questions most customers, especially new ones, seemingly always have.

How? By mailing out various client info aids and documents days before your scheduled appointment. In doing this, you will also be alleviating the anxiety many homeowners have prior to allowing a “new contractor” into their home.

Client Info Pack

Some items to mail along with your Customer Prep Sheet are as follows:

A) A comprehensive FAQ sheet listing and answering 5 to 7 of the most frequently asked questions such as “How long will it be before we can walk on the carpet after cleaning?”

B) Another sheet explaining some of the more common carpet problems such as loose rugs, soil filtration lines, etc. This sheet goes along way in your favor by letting the homeowner know when they may have a potential problem and the steps for remediation before you arrive.

You can also explain the many benefits of your add-on services and offer incentives without the face-to-face “high pressure selling” with yet another info sheet. Some include pamphlets explaining the numerous benefits of Teflon/Scotchguard treatments. We also include a Bait & Switch warning letter for those clients who may have had trouble choosing between you and the $6.00 a room company. This convinces them they are making the RIGHT choice and alleviates any fears they may have before you show up at the front door.

Using Psychology

In another article, I discussed the Dos and Don’ts of our business when making that
initial contact with a new client. Adhering to them, along with a smile and friendly,
pleasant demeanor, and the mailing of a client info package and you have won 75% of
the “battle” before you ever clean a fiber! What is the battle, you ask? That would be
winning a customer for life as well as a new cheerleader for your firm and NOT your

Armand Taddeo

November 30, 2005 / by / in
The Squid Marketer: Ease Their Fear!

Thanks in large part to the many unscrupulous Bait & Switchers and Splash & Dash Artists that our industry as fallen victim to in recent years, many homeowners are understandably reluctant (and in some cases) downright fearful of hiring a carpet cleaning firm to work in their home!

After hearing numerous “Horror Stories” from friends and neighbors, they simply do not know who to call. Hence the power of REFERRAL, but that’s for another article!

There are several ways for you, the carpet care pro, to project your professionalism, but initially, you have to get that “first time” potential client to call you! Here is a suggestion.

This worked for us: Recently, our local newspaper featured my company in it’s “On the Job” column. I was interviewed and spoke of the satisfaction I get after restoring a battered and neglected carpet & sofa and seeing the happy faces of my clients. My picture was inserted in two sections of the article. I was uniformed and standing next to a shiny clean van. Let me tell you… the phone hasn’t stopped ringing since!

A large portion of the callers were senior citizens living in local adult communities in the area. Many told us that they simply did not know who to call until they saw my article. I have never been a proponent of newspaper advertising (as repetition is the key to success in this medium). It can be quite costly and out of reach of many advertising budgets.

I am, however, considering running a reprint of that article. I can safely say that if I had paid for it, I would have been thrilled with the results. [ It should be noted that this newspaper article ran in July, a typically slow month here at the Jersey shore. ] I can only imagine how it would have faired had it been published in the Fall!

Another option would be to place an abbreviated version of the story, replete with my handsome uniformed mug :o), on either flyers or postcard mailers.

When planning your next marketing – advertising campaign, do not focus on price as much. Rather, concentrate on easing the client’s fear! Most will pay top dollar for a top flight job performed by a neat, responsible, caring Professional (You!).

Good Luck!

Armand Taddeo
Squid Marketing Forms

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Tales From the Pad: Effects Of VLM Cleaning On Carpet (over an extended period of time)

Many of the arguments against VLM cleaning (mainly in the bonneting or oscillating pad cleaning category) are that, over time, the build up of residue will “catch up to you” and it will be necessary to HWE (hot water extract) the carpets to remove this build-up. Often, carpet cleaners report that they use VLM intermittently as an “interim cleaning system”. Most of the hotels and motels (that I have cleaned for) have expressed the same concern [That, while they have no problem with me using VLM, I must hot water extract the carpet at least once a year to keep it free of all the residue and soils deeply imbedded in the carpet fibers.]. Shaw Industries and other manufacturers of carpet have stated similar things in their carpet maintenance information, as well as, in their warranty statements.

HWE is perceived as the method of choice, and looking at if from the outside, I can understand why they would feel this way. After all, doesn’t it makes sense that rinsing the carpet would help remove these residues and using a system with high pressure (psi) and high vacuum (inches of mercury) would also remove any remaining, deeply embedded soils?

Here are a few of the recommendations from the Carpet Manufacturers:

Dupont StainMaster
[ source: ]

“Hot water extraction to refresh carpet texture, performed by a trained, qualified carpet care professional, is required at least every 1.5 to 2 years for coverage under this warranty. Please keep your receipts for proof of service.”

Wear Dated (formerly Monsanto)
[ Source: ]

Deep Cleaning
1. The Hot Water Extraction method (also known as steam).

Light Surface Cleaning
1. Bonnet Cleaning, which utilizes a carbonated solution. An example of this type of cleaning is the Chem-Dry system.

Shaw Industries (Berkshire Hathaway)
[ source: ]

Cleaning Tips

Hot Water Extraction System
“Shaw Industries recommends the hot water extraction system, which research indicates
provides the best capability for cleaning.”

So, it becomes painfully obvious that VLM cleaning is not the manufacturer’s choice of
cleaning methods. Now, does this mean we, as VLM-users, are second-class carpet
cleaners? Does this suggest that we are not giving our customers the quality of cleaning
that they are looking for, or paying for? Are we the “rip-off artists” that so many in this
industry contend that we are? Can we have any confidence in our VLM systems and still
have integrity in this industry?

Like so many things in life, things are often not as they appear. So, what is the effect of
using VLM cleaning on carpets over an extended period of time? If the manufacturers
are correct, then the tell-tale signs of extended VLM usage should show up and there
should be enough evidence that we see for ourselves that we are failing our customers
and not offering the best in carpet care.

The examples of evidence against this misguided philosophy are countless, but I will use
just one of my favorite accounts to counter the contention that VLM is not a “complete”
cleaning method.

Richard works for a Golf Country Club. He started there when he was just 16 years old
(as a bus boy). He has been involved with the country club for approximately 30 years.
In that time, he has moved up the ladder to become the manager, moving through
house cleaning and maintenance to get there.

Richard had one major obstacle in his job as manager the carpets. He would have them
regularly cleaned and they would look bad again, in no time. Over a period of 5 years,
the carpet’s appearance grew worse and worse. He went through most of the cleaners
in the phone book. They all promised him a great cleaning job. They all promised him
that the carpet could be maintained so that it stayed looking great. All failed to live up to these promises.

The carpet finally came to the point where, after having been cleaned just two weeks
before, it appeared just as dirty as it was before it was cleaned. He even used an IICRC
instructor’s company to clean it, in hopes of returning the carpet to a good shape again,
but all to no avail. Sometimes, he was having the carpet cleaned every two weeks,
trying different companies each time in hopes of finding some solution to his depressing
situation. The guests were starting to complain, and in the Country Club business, that
is something that will cause your termination faster than anything.

In 1998 Richard gave my wife, Patty, a call, he was referred to us by one of their
guests, a customer of ours who has a lot of woolen floor coverings we have maintained
for years. Well, he was looking for something different, a “no steam” process was tough
for him to consider, though. However, after the track record of the past few years, he
was willing to give anything a try, plus that “1-hour dry time” would save him a lot of
time on getting the place set up for guests after the cleaning.

I arrived at 9 AM one morning and met with him. He took me through the Country Club and showed me his carpets. Yuck! They were very nasty, even though they had been cleaned just a couple of weeks previously. When he asked me if I could get them clean, I stated, “Sure, this is just a cut nylon commercial grade carpet. It will be easy to clean! However, the first time is going to take me a while, because I can see it has a ton of built up grease and soil in it.”

Of course, the first words out of Richard’s mouth were, “They have all said that”. Noticing his apprehension, I told him I would clean a strip right across his heaviest traffic area and if it didn’t stand out from the rest of the carpet, two weeks from now, he shouldn’t call me. I realized that this was going to be a tough test because all that old grease and such would be tracked onto the cleaned strip, but I felt that this was the only way for him to have confidence in us to be able to take care of his problem.

Two weeks later, we were called to come and clean for him.

“Yes sir, there was gold in them thar hills!” That carpet was filthy and we worked and worked, going through 250 pads on the downstairs alone, but it looked like new! He was happy but still doubted that they would stay looking nice. Well, they did and we suggested a maintenance-cleaning schedule of every three months, which of course thrilled him.

3 months later, the carpets still did not look bad, so for the next two years we cleaned this carpet every three months. It eventually came to the point where it only took 90 pads to clean the entire downstairs, so for the last 2 years we have cleaned it only once every 4 months.

Yesterday, we again finished another cleaning at the country club. It didn’t look dirty when we got there, but looked new when we left. Richard gave us the highest compliment we could get as cleaners. He stated to Patty, “For all these years, the thing Ihated most about my job was the carpet maintenance. Thanks to you and your method of cleaning, now I never even think about it!”

Consider The Implications

This carpet was cleaned over and over, HWE after HWE, and yet the soil and grease was embedded into it so deeply that it would not stay looking good. Removing that soil and grease with pads had “eliminated” all those problems. So, I ask you, who knows carpet maintenance better? Is it the manufacturer or is it the cleaner? The old saying is that, “the proof is in the pudding”. Well, ladies and gentlemen, the proof is in the lasting effects of our VLM cleaning.

Another Point To Ponder

I ask this question, “Is interim carpet cleaning with bonnets and pads followed by, at least, once a year of HWE, making pad cleaning look good as an interim carpet cleaning method or could it be that the pad and bonnet cleaning actually is making the HWE job
look good?” I, personally from my experience of 28 years, would contend that it is the latter rather than the former.

John Geurkink

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Heacock’s Corner: The Myth Of Acid Dye Blockers (revisited)

I say there is no such thing as an acid dye blocker!

We were told in 1987 by DuPont’s representative (when they went all over the country teaching the course about the new stain resistant 5th generation carpets) that the 5th generation fibers would resist acid dyes such as Kool-Aid and other beverages, that contained acid dyes. Furthermore, we were told that these fibers had an added “clear dye” that filled its “dye receptor sites” so spilled materials containing dyes would not stain the fibers.

The problem, as I see it, is this:

There is no such thing as a clear dye!

Dyes are nothing more than pigment that has been dissolved in water or alcohol. The dyes are set with chemicals, heat, or both. If this “clear dye” was truly a dye, it could not (by definition) be clear.

If it is not a clear dye, what is it? Furthermore, why are we told that it is a clear dye? Again, I say, “There ain’t no such a thing!”

All of us have seen stains from products such as Kool-Aid and many other staining substances spilt on carpets. If there were such a thing as an acid dye blocker, then these staining substances would not make a stain at all! However, they all do. In theory, if there were such a thing as an acid dye blocker, these potential stains would easily wipe up, or come out with a water-based spot remover. However, they do not.

Question: How do we remove these stains?

Answer: With an acid stripper and heat, or a bleaching agent.

While these stains are not as “color fast” as the carpet’s original dyes, they are almost as color fast and will not come out with a routine cleaning (or spot removers of any sort).

In 1987, we were told that cleaning temperature must be limited to 150 degrees, and the cleaning agent used should not have a pH over 9. Yet, time has proven both of these points to be fairly inconsequential.

A while back, I “Turbo-Steam Cleaned” my own carpet. It is a two years old Stainmaster 5th Generation nylon. This was its third cleaning. I have grandchildren, who drink and spill Kool-Aid, as well as other beverages containing acid dyes.

How many of these acid dye spills came out with my cleaning? None.

How many came out with spot removers of any kind? None.

So… Where are the stains blocked (if there is such a thing)?

In my opinion, the existence of acid dye blockers is simply not true. If anyone can show me an acid dye spill that has been blocked by, this so called acid dye blocker; I will become a believer.

Until then, the existence of acid dye blockers remains a myth.

Gary Heacock -The Interstellar Crossroads of The Universe-

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Heacock’s Corner: Speedy Furniture Cleaning

There are many ways to clean a given article of furniture. You can shampoo it with a bucket and a brush. You can dry clean it with a bucket and a brush.

You can use a sponge instead of a brush. You can steam-clean it with a machine, or dry-clean it with a machine. You can apply shampoo or solvent with a hand pumped garden-type sprayer, you can shampoo with a rotary machine, or bonnet with a rotary machine.

All of the above require approximately one hour to clean an average sofa. Times vary due to degrees of soiling, type of fabric, and method of applying the cleaning chemical.

Speedy Cleaning Method #1

The Bonnet System Simile

This idea is from cleaning very delicate silks and satins, and lightly soiled furniture. By extension, and a lot of practise, I have found all but the very grimiest will clean satisfactorily.

Apply the shampoo with either a hand held quart bottle with a trigger sprayer, a garden-type hand pumped sprayer 1 or 2 gallon, or an electric sprayer, such as is used to apply topical treatments to carpet.

You can also use a portable steam-cleaning machine with pressure up to 100 lbs., by using a spraying attachment only,not a cleaning tool. If using a Steam Cleaning machine, or an electric sprayer, use a fine jet, such as an .01 or .050 sized hole.

The method of applying the chemical is not important. Use whatever is conveniently available to you.

Dry vac the entire area. Get into crevices, and recessed buttons. It is important to have all of the loose dust and soil off before applying moisture. Remove any conspicuous spots first, by applying spot remover to a towel, then onto the fabric. Towel dry. Depending on the soiling condition of the fabric, whether to apply to the entire body, or cushion at one time, or only onto your bonnet. You can use a folded towel for a bonnet, or something such as a car wash mit. The car wash mitt is the fastest to use.

With most fabrics, apply the shampoo to the entire sofa or chair body first.

Put on the mitt, and spray it (or the towel). Rub briskly all over the area. Towel off with a dry towel. There is nothing to vacuum off, you are finished.

Apply in the same manner to the cushions. Stand cushions on zipper side, on seat decking, to dry.

With some delicate satins and silks, you may wish to apply the shampoo only to the bonnet and not directly onto the fabric. This system isn’t faster than the other way, but it leaves the fabric very dry. The customer could use it in minutes.

Speedy Method #2

Pressure Washing Simile

This idea is from cleaning fire and smoke damaged furniture, but will clean most fabrics, whether lightly or heavily soiled.

The kind of fabric does not matter. If it is colorfast, and does not shrink, it can be cleaned this way. I have cleaned hundreds, for over twenty years. If possible, you should run a test before beginning, to determine if the fabric is colorfast, and whether it will shrink. Make the test on the zipper side of the cushion. Here, you can tell shrinkage, if the zipper puckers. If the colors run, it will be in an inconspicuous area. If the fabric passes these tests, then proceed. It will not matter how wet it gets. This system requires an area to work in where it does not matter how wet the surrounding area gets. It can be done in a plant, or outdoors on a customer’s patio or deck. Never do this indoors in a customer’s living room, unless you spread a lot of tarps out on the floor first. Dry vacuum first to remove loose dust, or soot, if smoke damaged. Vacuum all the crevices and recessed buttons. With a pressure-washing gun, connected to a steam-cleaning machine, use a jet sized at .02 to .06 depending on the pressure available, and the degree of soiling, and the fabric type.

The water does not need to be very hot. Anywhere from stone cold, to 160 degrees at the fabric. Temperatures over 160, you may lead to problems with shrinkage, and color run of the fabric. Hold the gun as you would when pressure washing a building, at an angle of about thirty degrees to the work area. This causes the soil to be sheared off.

If required, tilt, or turn the work area so that you are not getting splashed. Do the body first, so there will be a clean place to put the cleaned cushions.

To clean the cushions, place them flat on the floor, several at a time, depending on space. Clean top, and edges, of all of them, turn over, clean other side, and get any missed edges.

Stand on zipper side to drip while next batch of cushions is getting cleaned. Vacuum the first batch while the second batch is dripping on their zipper edges.

This system is the best for coarsely woven nylons, and herculons, vinyls, naugahyde, and ultrasuede, even tightly woven nylon parachute cloth. Velvets, corduroys, any pile fabric can be done this way. Be sure to groom any pile fabric forward and down to restore proper appearance.

This system is the only way to fully clean smoke-damaged items. Sometimes there is no way to run pre-cleaning tests with smoke-damaged items, because of the severity of the soot and other chemicals. Go ahead and pressure-wash them.

They would be considered a loss anyway. You very likely will be able to improve the article, to where it will be acceptable to the customer.

Gary Heacock
-The Interstellar Crossroads of The Universe

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Heacock’s Corner: Soil Filtration Lines (What They Are And How To Remove Them)

Filtration lines are caused by air movement (where air is moving between the inside and outside and wherever there is a gap between the floor and walls). In many homes, the worst filtration soiling is on the stairs. Although, most carpet cleaners spend some time attempting to removing these filtration lines, along with the rest of the soils present, some cleaners do not spend any time on them, thinking: “They are not removable, so why bother?” The soils that cause filtration lines (in the cleaning trade, we refer to them as “soot lines”) are composed of burned petroleum (the by products of combustion). This is basically, soot. This is why most readily available cleaning products for the home have little or no effect on them.

Soot can come from cars, furnaces, wood fires, etc. In the cities, it is primarily from cars and furnaces, (including those furnaces in big buildings). In the country, it comes from cars and from wood fires. With the same types of carpeting, the problem is just as bad in the country as it is in the city.

Soot is composed mainly of solid particles, and adhere to carpet fibers by an electrostatic means. This is why most detergent cleaners alone will not have much effect on them. A cleaning agent that utilizes both a solvent and a detergent, such as Pre-Oil Break, will work better than a water-based product, without scrubbing with a brush.

Isopropyl (Rubbing) alcohol also works, but if you need to use a lot of it, remember, it is flammable, and could possibly cause a fire due to fumes traveling to an ignition source. While it does work, I don’t think it is a good idea to use. There is also an unpleasant odor from it that takes quite a while to dissipate, and could be objectionable to the customer.

Synthetic carpets are also petroleum based. “Like is attracted to like”.

Soot’s solid particles need suspension, and not being soluble, they do not dissolve. If you think of them in the same way you would a graphite spill under a recliner, and deal with them accordingly, you will have much better luck removing them.

My preferred method of removing these soot lines is to apply a neutral pH detergent, either by spraying on, or pouring on a small amount, then agitate with a special brush (although, most brushes will work to varying degrees).

I have (and use professionally) a special brush for this purpose (as well as a special narrow steam cleaning tool). It is only 1/2 inch wide by 2 inches long. This brush is the correct width for getting up next to the walls, especially on stairs. It has the correct degree of stiffness to scrub loose the solid particles clear down to the carpet backing, and the fairly “wet amount” of detergent keeps the solid particles in suspension, as well as dissolving any soluble soils until they can be rinsed or toweled up.

Sometimes, I will use my regular carpet wand, placing it parallel with the wall, and spray the areas needed, then extract. On other occasions, I use a narrow crevice tool for spraying and extracting. It all depends on how much soot is present and how long of a distance is soiled.

Question: Can I use an antistatic product to remove filtration lines?

Answer: I have never tried to remove soot with an antistatic product. It may work, but I think using anti-stat is going to create a problem. Carpets are in fact anionic. Most cleaning agents are anionic. A few of them are nonionic (All Bi-O-Kleen products are nonionic). All anti-stats are cationic. Whereas, cationics produce a positive electrical charge, anionics produce a negative electrical charge.

If you put an anti-stat on the carpet, being cationic, it will remove the negative charge from the carpet, as well as the anionic protector that is usually present. It will probably void the warranty (if any) on the protector and the carpet. Most all anti-microbials are cationic. All defoamers are cationic. Any time cationics are used, the protector must be reapplied, thereby reestablishing an anionic charge to the carpet.

It is a judgment call, whether to use cationics or not. Sometimes, you are forced to use them anyway, because of a specific problem.

The soot particles themselves are nonionic. The individual particles (while microscopic), are very large. I think of them the same way as I would a spill of graphite, like that under a recliner or office chair. More effective than just a steam cleaning by itself is using a soap and water type spot remover followed with brushing action and then, rinsing with HWE (hot water extraction).

Based on this thinking, the soap and water and agitation from the brush, loosens and suspends these particles better than the very thin solution of a steam cleaning, even with the greater heat and water pressure. A spot remover solution has about 1 ounce of detergent (soap) concentrate per quart of water. The steam solutions have an average of 8 to 16 ounces of detergent concentrate per 100 gallons of water. As I see it, extra detergent is needed to loosen the electrostatic grip of the soot particles, and hold them in suspension, for removal by a towel, steam rinse, or by bonneting or shampooing, etc.

To prevent these filtration soil lines from forming (or, after they have been removed), the carpet must be lifted off of the tack strip and all gaps must be caulked in order to keep the air from flowing through them. If you are going to do this work, you will also need to reinstall the carpet when the caulking is dry (after about 24 hours curing time).

This is a major task, therefor, most folks prefer to just deal with the filtration soil as it occurs. If you elect to have the sealing done professionally, it may cost several hundred dollars, but that is the best answer.

On my website, the brush I use is for sale and I also sell a product that is very effective for removing these soil filtration lines (Bi-O-Kleen’s Spray and Wipe Cleaner).

My website is here.
Gary Heacock -The Interstellar Crossroads of The Universe-


November 30, 2005 / by / in
Heacock’s Corner: Ozone

Ozone is a gas, as well as one of the many components which make up the air we breathe. That means all of the air around you right now. Adding some ozone to the air with an ozone machine will accomplish one thing for sureā€¦ It will remove malodor molecules from the air by breaking down the odor molecules themselves.

There are a number of ozone machines on the market and they are definitely not all alike, except for the fact that they generate various amounts of ozone. Some are so small that they will only treat an area such as that found in a car, a truck, a restroom, etc. These machines have a very small output and would prove ineffective at treating an entire home, office, or store, etc.

Larger ozone machines generally have a control knob that determines the ozone’s output (from very small amounts to fairly large outputs). Their range of effective treatment can be anywhere from a single home, to restaurants, to auditoriums (depending on the cubic feet of air needed to treat). Many restaurants, bars, taverns, etc. use these machines, especially businesses that allow smoking in their establishments.

The problems associated with ozone depend on the amount added to the air. Like most anything, it can be helpful, or dangerous, depending on the amount.

Just like water, for instance. We all need some water, but too much can kill you!

Ozone can be used to control odors following a water or fire damage restoration job and depending on the severity of the problem, how much ozone is needed to remove the odors. The worse the odor, the more ozone is needed to correct the problem.

So, for small odor problems, only a slight amount is needed, and people can be present without problems. On the other hand, for severe odor removal, like that after a fire, a lot of ozone is needed, and people cannot be present where there are very large amounts of ozone.

OK, how much ozone is safe to be around, and how much is dangerous?

It all has to do with how many “parts per million” of air. Small amounts of naturally occurring ozone are present in the air, all the time. This amount is approximately 2 parts per million of air. If you have a small odor problem and add some ozone, the amount shouldn’t rise above 3 to 4 parts per million to be effective. You cannot smell the ozone when it is at 3 or less parts per million. You begin to smell it when it passes the 4 parts per million mark.

For severe cases, such as a fire, the amount of ozone from large output machines can increase to as much as 3000 to 5000 parts per million of air. This much ozone becomes dangerous, and this is what many people think of whenever ozone is mentioned, never realizing that there is ozone in the air all the time. They only know that “Ozone is dangerous!”

When there is any appreciable malodor, and a spray will not cure it, or if it is in an inaccessible location, such as, in the floor, sub floor, cement, walls, or ceilings, then a more powerful cure is needed.

How it works…

An ozone generator produces a “corona electrical discharge”, creating a gas called ozone. This gas is then distributed into the air via fans. It can also be blown under carpets with air movers. Ozone is formed with oxygen in the air. A third radical molecule is added, which not being stable, rapidly combines with anything it can adhere to, changing the composition slightly. It will combine with almost any hydrocarbon, and since the odors you smell are a gas given off from a hydrocarbon, the ozone alters that smell, along with its chemical composition.


Every living thing is based on hydrocarbons, including mildew, and bacteria. Given long enough exposure, ozone will kill living organisms, even plants and pets! Take great caution when using ozone. Keep customers and pets out, and remove fish and plants, etc. from the treated areas. Close all outer doors tightly during treatment. Put a warning sign on the outside of the door, warning not to occupy this room because of the ozone treatment going on inside. Under normal use, ozone is not dangerous. The small deodorizing equipment will not generate dangerous levels to people. A respirator is not needed when going in to shut the machine off. However, ozone can be an eye irritant, so eye protection is a good idea when going in to open all windows and doors to air the room out. A timer can be used to shut off the ozone machine at a certain hour, also.

An ozone treatment is very effective, and will penetrate walls, etc. Because it is a gas, it will go anywhere air is. For that reason, separate clothing in closets, open up cushions in furniture, open drawers, etc. to get the most effect from the circulation of the gas.

Ozone, in large amounts, has a deleterious effect on foam rubber. Remove this from the treated area, if possible. Otherwise, it will most likely have to be replaced. Small latex items can be covered with petroleum jelly.

Ozone in the air will NOT combine with water to form peroxide. While it seems possible that it might, and some people are concerned with this possibility, it simply cannot happen. First of all, there are not enough molecules of ozone in the air that might combine with water to form peroxide for this to actually occur.

At a maximum of 3000 to 5000 parts ozone PER MILLION of air, the amount needed to form peroxide is well over hundreds of thousands per million, which is simply not reachable.

Furthermore, the ozone molecules are constantly breaking down, because they are not stable in the air, or anywhere, and when they touch anything, they break apart. This “breaking apart” is what actually performs the deodorizing, and if a molecule in the air Would happen to touch a molecule of water (should peroxide form at all), it would also be unstable and break down immediately.

Like fire, ozone should not be feared so much as it should be respected for what it can do.

Gary Heacock
-The Interstellar Crossroads of The Universe

Copyright 2003 Gary Heacock. All rights reserved.
Used here by permission of Gary Heacock.

November 30, 2005 / by / in