Carpet Cleaning Was Good, Now is Even Better. Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI)’s Seal of Approval Program Raises the Bar on Testing
On the flooring industry news website Floordaily.net, Carpet and Rug Institute President Werner Braun discussed with publisher Kemp Harr the history behind the development of the Seal of Approval program, specifically, the need to find a way to test and measure carpet cleaning products like spot removers, and equipment, like extractors and vacuum cleaners. CRI worked with carpet manufacturers and representatives from the cleaning industry, along with experts from Georgia Tech and NASA to develop an effective and reliable way to measure the amount of soil removed from carpet during cleaning.
Braun says the level of participation in the program and the fact that new performance categories have been added to accommodate the increasingly efficient machines that are coming to the market bears witness to the SOA program’s effectiveness. Machines and systems are improving, in part, Braun says, because of the information they have gained through the SOA testing. That in turn, he says, has led to greater customer satisfaction with their cleaning.
Joan Meyers-Levy, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, says her research shows that the feeling customers get from a store’s flooring can affect how a product makes them feel, which can in turn determine whether or not they buy it.
The study even looked at the difference the flooring made when someone was looking at a product close-up versus from far away. From far away, carpet makes a product look more comfortable, “While hard tile would leave the customer less content with the same product, the findings show.
At a distance, when fine details are less apparent, customers “fill in” the gaps in their perception of a product with their physical sensations at that moment. Customers take their physical comfort into consideration on a subconscious level, Meyers-Levy said.
In the study, researchers had participants stand on both vinyl tile and soft carpet in an otherwise bare room to judge items like a gift basket, a vase and a clothes hamper.
When the customers are near a product, they have a full understanding of its detail. In this case, Meyers-Levy said, the flooring acts as a frame of reference.
When looking at a couch, for example, it would seem very comfortable and suitable in comparison to cold, hard vinyl tile.
Even larger stores that use vinyl tile simply for utility can learn from the research.
In stores like Wal-Mart, carpet may be used in a small “feature area” of the store, such as for home furnishings.”
It’s interesting to think that carpet can help retailers sell product, but carpet adds a lot more to indoor environments than just comfort – subconscious or otherwise. There’s increased safety, better acoustics, and energy conservation, among other things.
It’s official – a product made entirely of recycled carpet fiber is being used in a Florida state park to help keep the beaches clean if and when the oil spill reaches shore there.
Highly-absorbent bales of GeoHay have been used for several years in Florida to control erosion along the state’s highway construction projects, but emergency response crews have discovered that the fiber rolls will also attract and capture oil floating in the water. The GeoHay holds onto oil, but lets the water drain out. Best of all, the water that drains out is clean – nearly 100% oil-free. [See Walton County responds quickly to oil impact at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.]
CARE issued a press release about the use of GeoHay. In it, CARE Executive Director Georgina Sikorski said, “GeoHay is addressing two environmental needs: The immediate one, which is to protect beaches and wetlands, and CARE's long-term goal of reducing waste going to landfills."
This article, titled "Carpet a safety device", says, “The reasons people continue to put carpet on their floors are almost as varied as the choices of colors, patterns and textures of the carpet itself. Make no mistake; carpet is the floor covering of choice for a reason… Carpet continues to make our homes and businesses a better place by providing a softer surface that is ideal for cushioning our footsteps, reducing slips and falls and minimizing injuries when falls do occur; not to mention, carpet underfoot just feels better.”
The article mentions one study that shows carpet is 82 percent less stressful to stand on for prolonged periods compared to hard surfaces. Multiple studies show that pleasing surroundings play a vital role in job performance, and teachers and others who spend much of their workdays on their feet appreciate the cushioning carpet provides. In schools, carpet helps create a better learning environment for teachers and students alike.
Carpet also prevents slip and fall accidents that happen when there is too little friction or traction between footwear and walking surfaces. The most common slips happen on wet or oily surfaces, occasional spills, or loose, unanchored rugs or mats, and flooring or other walking surfaces that do not have the same degree of traction in all areas. The article continues to point studies that show that people – especially toddlers and the elderly – are less likely to be injured when falls do occur.
“Not to mention, have you ever dropped a dish or glass before? Chances are you probably spent the next few minutes cleaning up broken dish and glass if it wasn’t on carpet.
So what can you do to protect yourself and your family, specifically toddlers and older individuals, from slips and falls? Make sure that all rugs and mats are properly attached to floors, especially in bathrooms and kitchens where spills are more prevalent. As for all the other rooms in your house, properly installed carpet is the number one safety measure for slips and falls, and the best comfort.”
Werner Braun: Carpet just sounds better! How Carpet Improves Acoustics
Werner Braun’s series of articles for the Dalton Daily Citizen-News continues. His latest article titled "Carpet helps absorb background noise" addresses how carpet makes it easier to hear things indoors and begins by asking, “Imagine reading this column where every fourth word is blacked out or missing completely. Imagine reading without every fourth word. Wouldn’t make much sense would it?”
The article then quotes a study that found that students who sit in an uncarpeted classroom miss a good bit of what is being said by the teacher and their fellow students.
“It has been documented that excessive noise and reverberation interfere with speech intelligibility, resulting in reduced understanding and therefore reduced learning. Tests have shown that listeners with normal hearing can understand only 75 percent of the words read from a list. We’re not talking about children with hearing problems here; we’re talking about children with normal hearing.”
“In a survey by the General Accounting Office, school administrators ranked poor acoustics as the most significant problem affecting the learning environment. Twenty-eight percent of responding schools, representing 11 million children, identified acoustics as being unsatisfactory or very unsatisfactory.”
“Carpet is one of the best noise-absorbing acoustical materials. Carpet absorbs 10 times more airborne noise than any other flooring materials and as much as most other types of standard acoustical materials. Carpet also will reduce noise resulting from students sliding chairs or desks on the floor. It can also keep the sounds of footsteps in a hallway from disrupting classes in session.”
For more information about the acoustical properties of carpet, visit:
Through it all, the heroic Stanley Steemer guys stay focused, energetic, and on the job. So what if they’re a little obsessed? As one online commenter said about the commercials, “I’d definitely let that guy clean my carpet…”
Bravo to Seal of Approval Service Provider Stanley Steemer!
A recent article by CRI President Werner Braun that appeared in the Dalton Daily-Citizen-News tells about how several classes of sixth graders from Dalton’s Valley Point Middle School spent their year studying the carpet industry’s environmental efforts. The students’ work culminated in a 28-page magazine titled, “Rolling Out the Green Carpet - Our Projects About Environmental Issues in the Carpet Industry”.
Here are excerpts from Werner Braun's article titled "Valley Point sixth-graders research environmental attributes of carpet":
“Filled with interesting articles and colorfully illustrated by the children, the publication reflects the kids’ careful research on the various subject areas - energy and water conservation, carpet (and carpet packaging) recycling, and making carpet greener by extending its useful life through proper care and maintenance.
The kids came up with some engaging ideas, like using squares of discarded carpet as beds in animal shelters, fashioning jackets out of reclaimed carpet fiber, and making bath mats out of real moss that would act like water-absorbing Chia Pets. Two inventive girls used carpet samples to construct a collection of pet products, including a scratching post and custom-designed bed.
The team of boys who studied carpet’s impact on the economy exhibited an impressive understanding of the complex economic relationship that binds Dalton and the carpet industry. Their report reads, “… Carpet is more than just something that comforts our feet. It helps provide jobs, income, products to sell, increases trade in our country, and provides choices for consumers as they search for the perfect floor.” True, indeed.
Several student teams made video documentaries of what they learned, and another group collected enough plastic water bottles to make enough polyester fiber for the carpet in a Habitat for Humanity home.
Another student surveyed Valley Point teachers and students to find out who would be willing to spend more for environmentally-responsible carpet. She was surprised to find that the vast majority of people she asked said they would be willing to go to a little extra trouble to protect the environment. “You wouldn’t think that people would pay extra money to purchase something that doesn’t affect them, but actually it does affect them,” she said. She’s right”
Thanks to the kids at Valley Point for their remarkable work this year, and thank you Werner for bringing it to our attention!
Copies of “Rolling Out the Green Carpet” are available for purchase by contacting Valley Point Middle School at 706.277.9662.
I don’t generally go to a cardiac surgeon to ask him for advice on what he thinks about the carpet in my house, but thanks to Oprah Winfrey (truly the most powerful woman in America) none of us have to ask for such unsolicited advice. In fact, Fox just recently offered it - courtesy of their cardiac surgeon Dr. Oz - with inaccurate advice about the hazards of carpet at home!
It’s probably not fair to pin this one on Oprah, but given the fact every doctor who appears on her show more than once apparently gets a consolation prize of hosting their own TV show, I felt compelled to vent toward her as well.
Of course, I’m talking about the duet of good doctors: Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz. Thus far, Dr. Phil has managed to stay out of the carpet bashing business. The same can not be said for our fine cardiac surgeon, Dr. Oz.
A few weeks in a segment entitled “Health Hazards at Home” the good doctor decided he wanted to focus on hazards inside the house and before you could say “follow the yellow brick road” this Wizard of Oz had pulled out a bunch of Petri dishes filled with mold, mildew and fungus and claimed all of it could be found in the carpet!
I mean, this was some nasty-looking stuff that looked as if it has just showed up from wiping away a third world country. And before the audience could finish all of its “ohhs” and “ahhs” Dr. Oz whips out a bottle with a skull and crossbones on it and says there is also formaldehyde in the carpet!
Dr. Oz quickly goes on to say that he’s really nervous about this stuff being in a place where kids are constantly crawling around. And right before he moves towards the kitchen to attack something else, he makes the only sensible statement of the entire program: “So as you can see, it’s really important to keep your carpet clean”.
I don’t mean to make light of this subject, but really, when you step back and look at the whole thing in context, there is some humor to it. Except that 3.7 million television viewers watch this show on a daily basis.
It is clear that Dr. Oz – a cardiac surgeon who ranges far beyond that expertise to dispense more generalized health advice – has credible, consistent critics who voice concern with the science, or lack thereof, behind some of what he communicates. His media spokespeople often answer this criticism with sentiments such as, “we must include a multitude of voices and opinions, even those that may be controversial.”
But in this case, Dr. Oz – not some other voice – made the assertions about carpet.
My initial call was to chat with a producer of the television show who was sympathetic to my disappointment in the show and the way carpet had been depicted. I explained to her many of the points you’ve seen written in this blog time and again, and that I hated that Dr. Oz had been supplied with out-of-date information, especially when it came to formaldehyde. Assuming the stuff he had in his skull and crossbones jug was formaldehyde, the chemical hasn’t been used in the manufacture of carpet in over 20 years.
And from the looks of those Petri dishes, if that stuff truly did come out of a carpet, it probably hadn’t been cleaned in 20 years.
I went on to explain to her that the majority of carpet was synthetic which simply means it is not a food source for mold. In order for mold to grow on a piece of carpet two things must occur: an uncontrolled source of moisture and lots of dirt! Dr. Michael Berry, the former head of EPA’s Indoor Air Quality program, did a study that found carpet was among the last things to foster mold in an environment that was filled with dirt and moisture and concluded if your carpet has mold in it then you can bet your mold problem is out of control in other areas such as the drywall, etc.
An article in PRSM's Professional Retail Store Maintenance Magazine lays the groundwork for selecting and maintaining carpet for best performance in retail stores, from small businesses to big box warehouses. Without doubt, "Clean Carpet is Good Business" as the article's title states.
The article, written by Carpet and Rug Institute President Werner Braun begins by describing the benefits to specifiers of using CRI’s Texture Appearance Retention, or TARR Rating before choosing the carpet for any retail installation. It goes to describe how to design and implement an effective maintenance plan. Here are a few excerpts:
“To help make the process of specifying carpet easier for designers and facility managers, the Carpet and Rug Institute, the association that represents carpet manufacturers, developed a texture appearance retention rating, or TARR system, that outlines a simple 6-step process for matching products to their intended end uses. To find each product’s TARR rating, a carpet is exposed to simulated wear testing and then assigned a number rating to represent its ability to handle heavy foot traffic. That number can then be matched against a reference list of various environments and their expected use. A retail facility, for example, needs carpet with a 3.5 or greater TARR rating on the sales floor, but only a 3.0 or greater carpet for the administrative offices. The Carpet and Rug Institute has posted an easy to use guide for using the TARR system on its website, http://www.carpet-rug.org/.”
“A correctly designed and implemented maintenance program performed by qualified personnel who are properly equipped and trained is absolutely essential to ensure the best long-term performance for carpet. It’s important to clarify terms: there are important differences between keeping carpet clean and maintaining it. Cleaning involves the removal of apparent soil, but soiling is a cumulative process which, if allowed to go too far, cannot easily be reversed, and can easily cause permanent damage to the carpet. Maintenance, in contrast to cleaning, is a scheduled and ongoing process of soil removal designed to maintain carpet’s daily appearance at a consistent level of cleanliness.”
The article talks about the four steps of good carpet maintenance:
Step One: Make a Map
“A good carpet maintenance plan requires a system-wide approach, meaning it should consider space and usage issues like building layout, traffic flow, and daily and special activities as well as cleaning and maintenance techniques. Areas like entryways, main corridors, elevators and break rooms experience the heaviest foot traffic, while private offices and cubicles will normally be light traffic areas. Of course, traffic patterns will be extremely heavy in the very public spaces found in most retail locations. Once you identify the different traffic areas, it’s a good idea to map them out in a color-coded chart to help organize the cleaning schedule. As a general rule, you can expect to focus 80% of your efforts maintaining the roughly 20% of your carpeted area that sees the heaviest use.”
Step Two: Preventative Maintenance
“A system of walk off mats, either removable or built into a building’s entrance, are very effective at removing dry soil, water, and other debris before they hit the interior space. Adequate length is important – mat systems designed to be six to 15 feet long will normally trap a full 80 percent or more of all soil and moisture – think of the cost savings of this simple preventative step. A mat system should include rugged outside mats to scrape off mud and dirt first, then inside mats with their relatively smoother texture to absorb water and other liquids and trap small particles of dirt. Vacuum mats often to keep them from getting too saturated with dirt to work effectively.”
Step Three: Daily Maintenance
“The “V for Victory” in any maintenance plan stands for “vacuum.” Vacuuming removes 80-85% of all the loose soil on a carpet’s surface and is the most important step in any cleaning and maintenance plan. To get the most out of this vital cleaning element, it is important to use the most efficient vacuums available. Vacuums that have passed CRI’s Seal of Approval testing earn Gold, Silver, or Bronze-level ratings depending on their rates of soil removal and containment. Luckily, price is not always a predictor of performance - Seal of Approval testing reveals that moderately priced models often perform as well as their more expensive counterparts.”
Step Four: Restorative Cleaning
“Hot water extraction, sometimes called “steam cleaning”, mixes hot water with cleaning pre-spray to help suspend dirt particles in solution, where they can be extracted. CRI Seal of Approval, which lists extractors and deep-cleaning systems according to the amount of soil they remove, recently added a new Platinum performance level to accommodate those machines and systems that remove 90% or more of soil from carpet.
Ensuring that carpet dries quickly after extracting is important so that business continues safely and without interruption, and any possibility of mold or mildew growth is eliminated. The Carpet and Rug Institute suggests running HVAC systems set at 68 -70 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 24 hours after hot water extraction. Air Movers – special fans designed for drying carpet also boost drying times.”