Covid-19: An Accelerant to a Growing Trend in the Multi-surface Cleaning Industry

If we go back as far as the mid 1990’s, we see the trend to replacing carpeting with hard surfaces. Whether they are laminate, real hardwood, ceramic, porcelain or natural stone, and more recently vinyl plank, consumers were making a conscious choice to replace their carpeting. Since the advent of flooring companies marketing resilient flooring, my company has endeavored to try to understand this change up.

 

We asked customers, retailers, family, friends, and acquaintances at every opportunity. The reasons are numerous but the ones that stand out most to me are:

  1. Inconsistency in both cleaning practices and results by “professional” carpet cleaners lead customers to doubt the value of cleaning their carpets with regularity if at all. With no ascribed standards, regulations and measures as to what is a deep cleaning, up starts, wannabees, and even nationals have all delivered less than satisfactory results. And we haven’t even tried to address the low moisture carpet cleaning industry and the problems and issues they have created.
  2. Flooring manufacturing companies went all in on Polypropylene/Olefin and Polyester carpeting. With that there were the problems of oil retention, fibre memory loss, and premature greying on the yarn tips; not to mention the huge problems with water penetration through the primary backing and wicking/ brownout problems on olefin/polypropylene Berber carpets. Hence greater customer dissatisfaction with carpet.
  3. Clients were showing mental and physical fatigue with trying to determine the best way to vacuum and retain the appearance of their poly-based carpet. They would ask, “Do you use a power beater bar vacuum, a brush head wand, or a glide head attachment?”
  4. With more single and lone parent families and the need for both parents holding down jobs in order to afford living, a home with less or no carpet is perceived as easier to clean.
  5. The ever-changing need to diversify and capture new markets by the major flooring manufacturers. More products equals more profit.


With the Covid-19 concerns gripping the country, there is a renewed emphasis on cleaning and more so deep cleaning. Staying healthy and safe from Covid-19 is where the entire focus of the population is at this time. Given that restoration companies have always been tasked with deep cleaning, it is a natural step in the progression for them to capitalize on this “rebirth” in deep cleaning of structures. Their training, equipment, and history have always been about the “deep clean”. Training for restoration companies has always been soft clean, deep clean, rinse, dry, and then apply the final agent if it is an antimicrobial. We are seeing more and more advertising and marketing of the restoration companies targeted to home and business owners as well as public facility operators. Groups like GBAC and ISSA are stepping up to provide valuable education and training to assist these companies. Other associations will soon follow suit.

 

Where there is issue is when unethical operators (i.e. home based carpet cleaners, home base custodial janitor services, maid services, etc.) will not offer honest and pertinent information as to the proper protocols and limitations of cleaning and disinfecting to their prospective clients. Furthermore, we are already seeing where cleaning companies will offer a disinfecting service without a discussion of a deep cleaning, and then strongly suggest that the structure need periodic disinfecting for a protracted period.

 

It is not only inevitable it is already happening where cleaning companies are doing this. This practice will soon be exposed, and the impact will be felt by all professional cleaners with yet again our industry will be lowered in the eyes of the community. Many years ago, I coined the phrase “Dirt Trade Worker”, and we will perceived as that and it will still remain in place if we don’t correct our practices and straighten out the industry. With families and businesses now struggling to make ends meet like North America has never seen even in the period of the Great Depression, professional cleaners must give absolute and fair value for their services if we are to esteem ourselves.

 

Over my 40 plus years in the cleaning industry I have seldom ever heard a client ask about virus mitigation services let alone regularly scheduled cleaning for health until this year. Far and few between are there clients who truly understand the bioscience behind what it is to maintain a clean and healthy indoor environment regardless of SARS-Covid-2. I always have emphasized PPE and safe cleaning practices with my staff because they were always at great risk to disease and infection just from the contents and environment they were cleaning prior to this pandemic.

 

Trying to educate the population about how unhealthy their work or home environment regardless of Covid-19 is a very difficult, delicate, and sensitive task. No one wants to be thought of as a sloppy, careless homeowner or business owner or public facility operator. Hence, the easy thing to do it seems for “cleaners”, is to conflate removing the biofilm with disinfecting for Covid-19. The prevalent attitude is the less the client knows the less conflict and liability. This is the wrong thing to do, as they are two different things. Education of the cleaner and the client is the single most important first order of business and it must be 100% based in the science of cleaning for health and safety.

 

In Canada we are facing unemployment nearing 20% with over 3 million unemployed due to Covid-19. America is tracking for the same with over 40 million unemployed. It cannot be emphasized enough that we as professional cleaners must come together and subscribe to best practices and procedures for the good of the industry.