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Cleaning Paradigm Shifts of the 21st Century, Part One: Evolving

Paradigm shift

A paradigm is a way of looking at something from a different viewpoint. A paradigm shift is the action, trend, or movement away from the status quo, or “trending in a new direction”. In the simplest terms, we’ll use everyone’s favorite, “CHANGE”.

Change happens (especially in our industry) for reasons that include, but are not limited to innovation, education, standardization and especially, regulation. They may happen by choice or even be forced, but rest assured, they will happen. Who would have predicted less than 40 years ago that bottled water would be the norm, having evolved from “I’ll never pay for that”. Who’d of thought chicken wings would evolve from the last piece in the KFC box no one wanted to the single most ordered appetizer, and often the main course? You used to throw your old electronics in the garbage can. You now must take them to a sanitary landfill that manages hazardous waste.

AdobeStock_480885844This three-part blog series will focus on major changes to the cleaning industry, both evolving and transformative, as well as regulatory. These changes may be well down the road, or even the new norm, while others are evolving as we speak. We should note that changes can be interpreted as progressive and for the better while others may seem regressive, depending on your point of view. If we’re honest with ourselves, we can likely agree that most changes within our industry have been for the better, and we have the necessary data to support that. Other changes however, not so much. As an industry leading manufacturer for nearly 40 years, and with hundreds of years of hands-on industry experience contributing to this series, please know that we are in this with you. We will continue to monitor closely as we always have and will confidently share the facts as well as our opinions regarding topics that affect this industry.  

Paradigm shifts exist in our world in every industry and at every rate of speed imaginable. Electronics for example become obsolete within weeks to months of being released, and some potentially before they were ever even released to the public. Is the Super Gadget 147 really that much better than the SG 146? The cleaning industry has experienced many paradigm shifts as well, however soils have not changed. Many still use the same chemistry formulations they’ve used for decades. Some of our friends in the oriental rug trade have been using the same formulas for generations. The point is that some shifts are amazingly fast while others are incremental.


Evolving Changes

Changes in carpet fibers continues to be something we monitor closely. Nylon carpet has long been the preferred choice for residential carpet and even had a good percentage of the commercial space, while olefin and polyester lagged behind. However, polyester (in its various forms) has grown to nearly three times that of nylon. For those of us that have owned a cell phone that didn’t have a camera, nine out of 10 carpets we cleaned were nylon. Today, you’re likely trending 2/3 polyester, depending on where you are and the housing developments you are targeting. View this previous blog for more info.

The Brave New World of Carpet Cleaning

Blog Images-1

Nylon is much more durable and far more resilient than polyester and with the proper carpet protector, offers tremendous resistance to water, oil and dry soils. Polyester is not as durable as nylon but can be naturally resistant to stains based on the characteristics of the fiber. Unfortunately, polyester is also oleophilic (oil loving) and oils have a tendency to bond with the fiber making it a poor choice in many commercial and residential settings.

The Rise of Degreasers

Fluorocarbon protectors provided polyester the oil repellency it needed, however, over the past few years these treatments have been restricted by some states. As a result, carpet mills have removed fluorocarbon protectors from their products in lieu of polymer-based protectors. This change in the level of protection for any fiber, but especially polyester, suggests that carpet could be a poor flooring choice in high traffic areas, or areas exposed to excessive oil base soils. It certainly suggests the need for much more frequent cleaning. We will address “forever chemicals” in more detail in a later edition.


Luxury Vinyl Tile/Plank

Whether a side effect of what was explained above, the need for more flooring options, or a combination of both, LVT / LVP has become the fastest growing flooring option in the industry. Recent numbers indicate resilient flooring at roughly $10 billion in annual sales and 5 billion sq ft of flooring sold with LVT / LVP getting the lion’s share at over 30%. Talk about a paradigm shift; you need to be cleaning and maintaining LVT/LVP.

View Viper LVT System Brochure Here
LVT/LVP: Should I Be Paying Attention?

AdobeStock_444774673The growth of LVT / LVP will likely lead to a surge in the sale of area rugs to meet the fashion needs of the typical consumer. As you are already aware, rug values range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands, or even higher for exotic or heirloom rugs. That wealthy aunt on your mom’s side may have a Hereke Silk rug valued at more than your van and machine is worth. You must be educated and confident with fiber identification and the cleaning of area rugs. You may find yourself cleaning rugs at the same square footage price you clean carpet or you may have an in-plant service that brings $10 - $20 a square foot, or more. We encourage contractors to pursue this service, but PLEASE get the proper training, and know when to stay in your lane.

Let the Rug and Customer Select the Rug Cleaning Process


What is on the Horizon?

There are many other evolving changes in the industry. This article was intended to get your gears turning and to begin implementing strategies necessary for staying successful. Some likely topics of discussion that will need even MORE attention before too long include, but are not limited to:

  • Low moisture cleaning as a result of carbon emissions or even water consumption.
  • Rebirth of portable extractors.
  • Electric vehicles - Cost of equipment packages and what it means to us (electric truck mounts).
  • Further chemistry regulation.

In short, the changes from nylon to polyester and from carpet to LVT / LVP are well under way. Are you keeping up with it? Are you using the same old pre spray and rinse you’ve always used regardless of soil or fiber type? Have you cleaned your first LVT floor as of yet or applied an LVT coating (correctly)? Are you feeling and adapting to the paradigm shift(s).

Watch for Part Two in this series; "Transformative Change" Coming Soon!

Watch for Part Three in this series; "Regulatory Change" Coming Soon!

-Steve Johnson & Tom Forsythe


Rugs, Business, Carpet


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