The History of Carpet Cleaning: Part II
In the early 1960’s, another “new” system hit the market. Steam cleaning. The first point that should be cleared up is the word “steam.” A very unfortunate choice of words. While technically water is vapor, hence steam, anytime it is warmer than the surrounding atmosphere there really isn’t what we would call live steam. Water does vaporize (steam) when it is warmer than ambient air, so the FTC in all its majesty decided we had to call them steam cleaners. Very misleading. Live or super-heated steam would ruin a carpet. The temperatures would be far beyond safe limits for any carpet dyes or heat set. Technically, this method should be described as hot water extraction.
Actually, steam cleaning systems, as hot water extractors, go back to the late 1700’s. The early 1900’s saw several systems that worked on the same principle. It was not until the 1960’s that it was refined sufficiently for general use. Again, the first workable “steam” cleaning units were in plants operated by cleaners.
The rebirth was in Southern California in a cleaning plant where the operator decided to make his unit portable, so he could take it to the home. Just as earlier equipment had been adapted to on location cleaning by making it portable. Evidently he wanted to keep this as an exclusive system, and be the only one in the country to offer steam cleaning in the home. Employees and coworkers who had used this method realized the profit potential. Some of them struck out on their own, and several units were offered to the carpet cleaning trade.
Each of these operators claimed patent rights, and either franchised their operations or attempted to. Several faults delayed acceptance by the established carpet cleaners. The first was price. Most of these units were very high priced. Fortunes were made as operators and manufacturers franchised these units to their customers, each with outrageous claims. Large franchise fees, high priced machines and a continuing high percentage of the operation were bound to limit the number of potential customers.
Once again, the established carpet cleaner was reluctant to accept anything new or different. Most of the marketing and advertising claims for these machines were grossly exaggerated, if not outright falsehoods. This led the builders of these fabricated units to go to the untrained and unqualified to sell their wares. There was no established technology, or state of the art, so most of the machines were not all that good a buy at any price. Not knowing any better, the purchasers of these new machines flooded the yellow pages and newspapers with ads wildly written, making all sorts of crazy claims. Many of these ads intimated that the established cleaner was in reality a thief, doing great harm to the carpets with his old scrubber or foamer.
Naturally, the established cleaner struck back. Another war was declared. Rather than promoting clean carpets, both sides spent a lot of time and money trying to gut-shoot each other. As late as 1970, the staff of the Institute of Rug Cleaning, Inc. was criticized for even publishing an article concerning this method. Many reputable carpet cleaners refused to even explore the system’s possibilities, and without actual knowledge of what they were talking about, started or carried on wild rumors about damage to the carpet and the dangers of steam cleaning.
The majority of the purchasers of the new units had little, if any, background in cleaning. All they had to go on was the word of the salesman who sold it to them. In most cases, he had never cleaned a carpet either. They were sold on the idea that this wonder machine could do any and all cleaning. Very little, if any, training was supplied. Usually, the purchaser cleaned his own house as a training exercise. The manufacturers who had jumped into a very lucrative field didn’t know how to clean either. In fact, the manufacturers still to this day don’t always know what they want as an end result when they build a machine.
Most machines on the market in the late 1970’s are really nothing more than slightly modified versions of what was produced in the 1960’s. A recent survey shows that of over 350 brands of machines on the market, less than 10 of them will achieve an efficiency of 50%. Very few carpet cleaners have any manufacturing knowledge. We have yet to meet a design engineer in any of the companies polled that had ever been to a carpet cleaning seminar or cleaned a carpet.
Most of the early machines put down too much water and didn’t extract enough, so a lot of carpets were ruined by inexperienced operators. An untrained operator can still over-wet a carpet, but the problem is improving.
Gradually by trial and error, this new group of operators, the steam cleaners, gained efficiency. At the same time, and mostly as a defensive means, the established firms were forced into acquiring steam cleaners. By 1971, “steam” had proven itself, and at the 1972 AIDS International Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, the new method was described as a superior way to clean carpets. Major manufacturers and chemical companies were entered into the field. Training seminars were being held and clinics, sponsored to orient the newcomer with the field and its procedures, were being organized. Steam cleaning has finally come into its own. What will be next?
Why Choose Quality Carpet Cleaning?
Our organizational structure allows us to deliver the same or better quality of service as any of the major companies out there for a much lower cost. We invite you to compare.
There’s no secret to doing what we do. There are industry and manufacturers’ standards. There is certified training. There are apprenticeships. The best equipment and cleaning solutions are available to anyone. If you strip away all their attempts to distinguish themselves, you will find that all the top companies essentially clean how Quality Carpet Cleaning does because it’s what works best. A rose by any other name is still a rose.
Quality Carpet Cleaning has thousands of independent reviews on sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Google, the BBB and various other review sites. These are not reviews we collect on our site where we can filter and control them. Thus, though we are rated highly everywhere, not all of our reviews are great. However, you will see that when a problem does pop up, we go out of our way to make things right with the customer.
If you are unhappy for any reason, we will gladly come out and re-clean any area you are not happy with.
We at Quality Carpet Cleaning appreciate how important your time is and give it the highest priority. We schedule ideally 3, but no more than 4, jobs per day for each technician where other companies schedule up to 6. In this way our technicians have plenty of time between jobs and don’t have to rush through a job to get to the next.
In the real world, situations arise where someone needs service right away. As a result, we keep our schedule flexible enough where we can do a reasonable number of same-day jobs. Obviously, the earlier you contact us the higher the likelihood we can accommodate you.
Our staff cares about our customers because we care about them. We look for people who like helping others and then train them on how to. We have an unofficial policy: If we have to supervise you, you don’t belong here. Our people know and like their jobs and it comes through when you talk to them.
All our products are safe for kids & pets. What most people don’t know is that California regulations are so strict that many cleaning products sold in other states are not allowed to be sold here. Some standards even go beyond “green”. That said, we also carry a line of green carpet cleaning products for hyper-sensitive people.
Our concern for our customers goes beyond the cleaning. We want to make sure they are completely happy with us, which is why we follow up after each job. Our goal is happy customers who continue to use us and recommend us to others. That is not accomplished with mediocre service.