Pro's Corner

Clearing Up Some Misconceptions About Portables

Portable (por.ta.ble)            

Capable of being carried or moved about, mobile, or moveable.

Why would an article start with a definition? Maybe it’s important we understand the word, maybe a little sarcasm, or maybe, it’s a combination of both. Ever notice how often sarcasm has a bit of truth or accuracy to it?

Contractors buy or use portables for many reasons.

  • It could be because of their budget or that they only clean part-time.
  • They might buy one for security purposes where business doors must remain locked.
  • They might not have a vehicle able to support a truckmount package.
  • The fact is there are tens of thousands of portable extractors in use every day (and night).

This article is in no way intended to talk you out of purchasing a truckmount. I wrote this article to help you understand the opportunities or even NEED to have them in your arsenal. Please note, there’s nothing you can do with a truck mount that you cannot also accomplish with a quality portable.

Now before the hate mail begins, before mercury levels exceed any safety levels, or the heart palpitations start, let me state that I am a truck mount guy and I am a heat freak. I fully understand professionalism and production rates, as well as heat and vacuum efficiency required on the job, etc. However, I’m also a businessman, and at the end of the day, we get paid to remove soil from the fiber surface. Portables do an excellent job of this, just as a truck mount does.


Let’s consider a few situations where portables could be valuable for your business


Portables as a Backup Cleaning Machine

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve likely experienced equipment failure (AKA “Downtime”)  We don't like downtime. A portable will allow you to finish the job(s) or keep you working until your truckmount is up and running again. This has become even more of a necessity during the past year or two as supply chain disruption has caused extended delays on some components and getting our machine fixed may have taken longer than expected.


Opportunities to Offer Cleaning Services in Impractical Areas

Portables allow you to perform services in areas where truck mounts may not be practical. High-rise condos or apartment buildings and interiors of shopping centers are good examples of this. There are often security issues such as cleaning banks, credit unions, or other facilities where the doors must remain locked. People that live near the water often target high-end boats and yachts where long hose runs and locked gates present hurdles that can be hard to overcome. Portables are great for content cleaning for restoration companies. You don’t have to tie up a van and truck mount to do upholstery and rugs.   

 Portables web banner

Space and Size

Depending on your vehicle, you may be limited on space, the GVWR of the vehicle doesn’t support a truckmount, or you may need extra room for other equipment. Portables work great in this scenario.


Portables are Great for a New Start-Up

Sometimes a portable is better for new start-up companies because they help control your upfront costs. This also applies to companies that only do this work part-time. We used to have several customers that were firefighters or worked in the airline industry that had a cleaning business on the side. They only cleaned one or two weeks a month.


Capabilities of Portables


People often ask, “Does a portable really do the job? Can it do what I need it to do”? The answer is, yes. The key is to make sure you have the right machine(s) for the cleaning you are performing. The good news is that portables come in a variety of sizes and performance capabilities so it’s certain you can find one to fit your needs.

You can get portables with as little as 50 psi suited just for spotting or small touch-ups, up to 1200 psi to handle tile & grout cleaning, or other hard surfaces such as concrete, decks, and patios, etc. Portables have various vacuum configurations to allow for proper dry times. They have special features such as heaters which aid in cleaning efficiency. You can also have machines with auto-fill functions or auto-pump-out options for high-volume cleaning or restoration work.



There is a portable extractor for virtually any situation. Whether you target residential or commercial cleaning, hard or soft surface or restoration work, need a workhorse for the most demanding jobs, or a basic extractor for touch-ups or a backup, there is a portable made for that application.


Enjoyed reading this post? Read the following articles:


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Is Your Truck Mount the Right Upholstery Cleaning Machine cover


Steve Johnson Interview Blog Post Cover

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