- Buyer's Guide
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Last week, we discussed the plan of attack and the necessary tools involved when it comes to carpet and upholstery cleaning.
This week we discuss the various methods to try when it comes to carpet and upholstery cleaning.
Cyclo method: Spot the carpets and upholstery with cleaners and scrub carpets with cyclo tool. This is a great tool that takes a lot of stress off of you on a busy day. Let the machine do the work. Remember to blot oily soiled areas before using cyclo tool otherwise you may spread the problem, making more work for yourself. Another great feature about this tool is that it loosens up sand and dirt. Steam method: With steamer and terry cloth towel, direct steam to problem area and blot clean. You will see stain compound coming up on the towel. This may take several applications to remove all stains. Another benefit of this tool is that is usually does not leave the fabric as wet as the extractor or hand cleaning method.
Extractor method: Use this method only after carpets and upholstery have been spotted or brushed clean on heavy soiled areas. Fill your extractor with clean water and recommended amount of shampoo. Add a defoaming agent to the waste compartment side as this will reduce the amount of foam generated in holding tank. This is important because some extractors can be affected when excess foam gets into motor area. The idea behind the extractor is to use more of the hot water to clean and extract the problem area. Removing the water is equaling important because if the carpets remain damp, it could cause a mildew problem. If the vehicle will be sitting for a while before being picked up, crack the windows for air flow.
Eliminating odors: In the case of an extreme spill (pet urine, for example), locating the source of the odor problem will cut your time in half. Haphazardly running the machines and cleaners over the carpet and upholstery may not solve the odor problem. On the surface, they may look clean but still smell because odor is trapped in padding. In extreme cases, the seats and carpet may need to be removed. If this extra step is necessary, be sure to remove the padding under the carpet as this holds the foul odor. Replacing the padding is easy. Go to to any carpet store, cut a piece the same size and reattach with spray adhesive. With all of your hard work, always remember to bill accordingly. You will be spending more time and effort taking pieces apart and putting them back together again.
Mold problems and elimination: Mold comes from spores inside and outside of the vehicle. It is a living microscopic fungus that feeds on decomposing organic matter. Molds flourish in warm, damp and humid environments by multiplying. Usually mold will come into the car by a leak or wet carpets. It’s always best to dissect the problem and notify your customer as soon as possible to stop or control the problem. When mold is located, it’s best to clean metal surfaces with bleach and water. Then, clean the carpet with the steps above. If the vehicle is highly contaminated with mold, you may want to suggest the installation of new carpeting.
Gum removal: The best way to remove gum from carpets is to use the ice method. Take a small plastic bag filled with ice and place it on top of gum for about 15 to 20 minutes. When gum is hard, scrape with a putty knife or butter knife. Once the large portion is removed try putting a little Bengay® on top of the residue to loosen the remainder of the gum. Then clean carpets as usual. Even though carpets look clean on new cars that have only been driven a few thousand miles, there may be dust and dirt hidden to the naked eye. Fill your extractor with clean water then spot the carpets with a light coat of all purpose carpet cleaner. Then run the extractor over the carpets. Check the catch container and you’ll be surprised how dirty the water is. The point is, just because carpets look clean, doesn’t mean they are as clean as you or your customers think.
When cleaning doesn’t cut it: There are going to be times when you tried every method and the carpets just don’t clean up 100 percent. Dying the carpets or replacing them is an option that can be suggested to the customer. Several companies manufacture pre-molded automotive carpets and offer choices with aerosol or water base dye systems. When re-dying, it’s always best to go a shade darker to cover any stains that may still show. This is more relevant with lighter colors. Bottom line: Clean your interior as frequently as possible. Just a quick vacuum every other week of so can prolong the life of your carpets. Keep in mind the longer stains remain in the carpet, the harder to remove and clean.
What to charge: All markets are different and pricing may vary depending on where you live. The rule of thumb is whatever you charge retail, cut that number in half and you have your dealer price. Although this is not exact, it’s a good way to gauge your pricing. Your price will also change depending on how much service you are offering. If you’re doing a quick clean up, full detail or are removing all the carpets and seats, your prices will increase. Typically with a quick wash and vacuum, bump up the sale by suggesting the removal of stains, or remove all seats to attack every part of the carpet properly.