Why Reducing Professional Vacuuming to Save Money is a Bad Idea
by Joe Clark
As professional carpet cleaners, my company’s operatives see it all, but there’s one disturbing new economy that our clients (and yours) need to know about. Companies are always looking for new ways to save, and one of the latest trends is to reduce the frequency of vacuum cleaning. If your clients are trying to implement something like this, they need to know that what they’re doing is a false economy.
Here’s all the ammo you need as a cleaning contractor to persuade your clients to do the right thing, and if they question you, feel free to refer them to this article. They’ll soon see that you’re speaking out in their best interests.
It’s all Based on Good Science
When you’re just looking at numbers, the solution to reducing running costs seems easy: reduce the frequency of cleaning. It will save hours of time, and with it, a few dollars every day. However, the indoor environment where employees work becomes far less healthy – and there’s an even bigger expense in store. Carpets that aren’t cleaned frequently don’t last as long, and of course, soiled carpets create a bad impression too.
Let’s look at the ways in which reduced cleaning frequency can hurt your clients far more than the few dollars they save can benefit them.
When Carpets “Ugly Out”
The wonderful thing about the synthetic carpet fibers used in most commercial buildings is the durability of the fibers. They’re made from nylons, olefins and polyesters. Architects and interior designers love using them because they’re so durable – but they do suffer from another problem that’s commonly known as “uglying out.”
You will surely have noticed areas of carpet in high traffic areas that begin to look gray. Admittedly, much of this is ingrained dirt, which our carpet cleaners can get rid of – but what happens is that the fibers become crushed beyond recognition, and individual fibers are scratched and matted. When this happens, no amount of cleaning will restore the carpeting to its former glory.
Carpet and rug manufacturers have access to some pretty cool technologies these days, the fibers they use are purposefully designed to conceal dirt as much as possible. But that doesn’t mean the dirt isn’t there, and it doesn’t mean that the wear and tear caused by dirt isn’t a factor.
Rug manufacturers warn that reducing the frequency of vacuuming just because the carpet doesn’t look dirty will reduce its useful lifespan.
Fiber Abrasion on a Micro Level Leads to Mega-Damage
While a lot of foot traffic over an area of carpet certainly does contribute to wearing it out, the problem is compounded by the dirt that gets worked into the carpet fibers. Think of the way sandpaper wears wood down. If you were to grab sandpaper and rub against the grain of wood, it would soon be full of ugly scratches, and that’s just what happens with ingrained dirt. Every time another person steps on that spot, fibers are being scratched and abraded.
The problem is worst in high traffic areas, and these should get daily vacuum cleaning, even if the rest of the carpet is left uncleaned for the sake of time savings and economy. With every step on a soiled area of carpeting, the dirt becomes more stubbornly embedded until it’s basically part of the carpet fiber.
When this happens, it becomes extremely hard to remove the dirt, even with the best carpet cleaning equipment and professional carpet cleaners to deep clean carpets. In the end, the color of the carpet fades out, and since it does this to a greater degree in higher traffic areas, the carpet develops an ugly two-tone effect. It retains its original color in the lower traffic areas and fades where there is a lot of foot traffic.
The secret to preventing this is simple: regular vacuuming, and the provision of entry mats that will take the worst of the dirt off shoes. The long and the short of it is that regular vacuuming preserves carpets – and when your client has a whole building with carpet-covered floors, extending the life of the carpet will likely save far more than reducing cleaning frequency will.
Irregular Cleaning Affects Employee Health
A carpet that is not regularly cleaned is a disgusting object, even when it looks fine. What people don’t see is the microscopic dust mites that breed there and the even smaller fungi and bacteria that make it their home. Companies are eager to reduce sick days among their employees, and simply keeping carpets spotless will go a long way towards reducing absenteeism as a result of upper respiratory tract infections and allergies.
Air quality isn’t just a function of the HVAC system and its associated filters (which, by the way, require regular attention too) it’s also related to cleanliness, and particularly the cleanliness of carpeting.
Saving Cents Costs Dollars
The British have a saying: “Penny wise, pound foolish,” and although you probably need a more diplomatic way of saying that cutting on cleaning costs is really a waste of money, it’s just what skip cleaning savings drives amount to.
Let’s sum up the reasons why your clients shouldn’t reduce cleaning frequency:
- Vacuums won’t lift deeply embedded dirt. For that, they’ll need a company like ours – and real deep cleaning is way more expensive than vacuuming. Yes, they’ll still need us every 18 months or so, but reducing vacuuming will make our visits more regular.
- Dirt wears away carpet fibers, causing discoloration that can become permanent. Since company image is important, keeping carpets looking good is a basic that can’t be ignored.
- Discolored, worn carpets need to be replaced. Getting extra years of service from carpeting can save companies thousands.
- Dirty carpeting affects air quality and employee health and may increase absenteeism owing to allergies and illnesses.
Carpet Manufacturers and Carpet Cleaners Agree: Janitors Save Carpets Through Vacuuming
Our company doesn’t do janitorial services, and we don’t install carpets. We just see the results of neglect, and a few of our clients have admitted to reducing janitorial cleaning services in an attempt to save. In the end, doing this will only cost far more than regular vacuuming would.
As we know, the client is king, but if we want to provide a service that benefits our clients, it’s up to us to explain the disadvantages of reduced cleaning. If you’re into building management or offer janitorial services, be sure to explain the benefits of daily vacuuming combined with professional carpet cleaning. Your customers will save money in the long run if they’re willing to spend a little more in the short-term.
About the Author
Joe Clark is the co-owner of a local carpet cleaning company in Salt Lake City, Utah with over 10 years’ experience in residential and commercial carpet cleaning.