Like many industries today, "green" is all the rage - and it's no different with carpet cleaning. Manufacturers in this industry believe strongly in the concept. But what does it mean exactly?
Green carpet cleaning encompasses both the equipment (ergonomic designs and environmentally friendly construction) and the method of cleaning (conservation of water and smaller amounts of chemical used).
"'Green' is the whole process," says Paul Albrecht, national rental sales manager for Clarke US. "From the design of the carpet cleaner to the way it's used to the chemicals that are used in the machine."
Russ McKay, channel manager with Windsor Industries, agrees. "As manufacturers, we're looking at what our products are made of - is it recyclable? Are they ergonomically friendly?" he says. "We're even looking at the manufacturing process. We're trying to reduce waste in both creating the product and shipping the product."
The role of ergonomics
Both Windsor and Clarke have invested in the green movement. McKay says Windsor consulted with experts in ergonomics, sound acoustics, muscular & skeletal fatigue and operation safety to design its products.
"Ergonomics is crucial because we want operators to be safe from strain," says McKay. "Our Chariot line of products was designed by ergonomic experts to reduce injuries caused by muscular and skeletal strain."
One example of designing ergonomics into the equipment involves measuring the stride distance from the handle to the machine to reduce fatigue caused by improper operator position.
Other examples include multiple-position handles which allow adjustment for operator height and repositioning to reduce muscular and skeletal strain. Comfort grips on the handles help reduce vibration and help to correctly position hands to lessen muscular fatigue.
Clarke also offers ergonomic-friendly products. Its extractors feature proprietary back-saving belts in the ErgoEx line that reduce back and shoulder strain.
In addition to ergonomics, chemical and contaminant removal is a big "green" issue. "The chemical aspect is the biggest change in the industry," says Albrecht. "The green movement has hit chemical manufacturers the most in our related industry, because they have to produce more people- and environmentally-friendly products."
These two manufacturers are offering several new transformations when it comes to retrieving chemicals and contaminants from carpet.
"Clarke has several innovations that are green motivated," says Albrecht. "The Wash & Rinse System on its extractors is a metering system that accurately measures and dispenses the proper amount of chemical, while the separate rinse system washes more of the chemical out of the carpet than other units."
Windsor offers the DUO line of deep extraction interim cleaning equipment and iCapsol encapsulation chemicals. Designed to remove soil and other contaminants, the iCapsol chemical breaks down, then surrounds the soil and other detergent residue from previous cleaning. It dries into a hard, non-sticky crystal, encasing the soil in about 20 minutes.
"The iCapsol chemical process does not leave behind any sticky detergents or chemicals that will attract dirt and result in rapid resoiling," says McKay. "The dried crystals can easily be removed during regularly scheduled vacuuming.
"It used to be that every time you cleaned the carpet, it was a deep cleaning process," he continues. "This had a tendency to leave chemical in the carpet. The DUO interim system is designed to clean the carpet between the deep cleanings. This system uses less water and less chemical than deep cleanings."
Of course one way to eliminate retrieving chemicals is by not using any to begin with. Products like Windsor's Zephyr steam cleaner protect the environment by cleaning hygienically without chemicals. And Clarke's BEXT hot water extractors reach a temperature of 212 degrees F, which can help sanitize the carpet without chemicals.