Overlooked Importance of Proper Vacuuming Procedure in Carpet Cleaning

Published: 28th May 2012
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It is surprising that the vacuum cleaner industry doesn't become more involved with their product. They offer a lasse' fair attitude and believe consumers will buy their product based on their marketing claims, alone.

Among the most often overlooked characteristics of daily care is proper vacuuming procedure. While any vacuuming is good vacuuming (it can become a drudgery and rarely performed with sufficient frequency), it is important to use good procedure to limit the amount of time on task and to improve soil removal efficiency.

I remember approaching vacuum cleaner manufacturers to assist the carpet industry in saving market share for carpet. The carpet industry believed that a reduction in market share for carpet, translated to a reduction in vacuum cleaner sales and other carpet-related products. The vacuum cleaner industry attitude was "we are real sorry about carpet market share, but consumers will buy our product for hard floors or whatever."

As a result, the carpet industry spent millions of dollars in developing an unbiased test procedure for rating the efficiency of vacuum cleaners. Now the vacuum cleaner industry became concerned, because testing revealed that some vacuum cleaners suck (pun intended) and others do not. The carpet industry theory was based in the fact that proper maintenance was the key to holding carpet market share. The more soil and allergens that could be removed through vacuuming, the happier the consumer would be with their product. The vacuum cleaner testing performed by the carpet industry was a real eye opener for both the carpet industry and the vacuum cleaner manufacturers.

Details of this vacuum cleaner rating program can be found in our selecting equipment section, but even a properly functioning vacuum cleaner requires the most efficient procedure.

The vacuum cleaner industry never realized that proper procedure would enhance the performance of their product (or they never bothered to tell consumers). This probably can be attributed to the procedure used to evaluate the performance of their vacuum cleaners. The Vacuum Cleaner industry procedure produced a 65% variability in results, so the results could not be certified as reliable. The carpet industry developed a test procedure that produced a 3% variability of results. This opened the door for other evaluations including proper vacuuming technique.

It was quickly learned that the direction in which the vacuum cleaner was pushed/pulled in relation to the direction of carpet manufacture, made a significant difference in the amount of soil that was removed.

Carpet is manufactured directionally, with the pile leaning toward the direction of manufacture (see photo right). You can easily determine your carpets' pile direction by placing a piece of paper on the carpet pile and laying a round pencil on top of the paper. Rotate the pencil back and forth and the paper will begin to "move" in the direction of manufacture. In the photo to the right, the paper will "crawl" to the left.

Most vacuum cleaners rotate in a direction that directs soil to a collection point at the rear of the vacuum head. If the brush roll could propel the vacuum, it would move (the vacuum cleaner) forward based on the direction of brush roll rotation.

Test results showed that by moving (pulling) the vacuum cleaner in the opposite direction of the carpet pile lean and in the opposite direction of the brush rotation (pull rather than push), the carpet pile is stood upright, thus removing more embedded soil.

Failure to fully understand carpet manufacturing always has been a weakness of the vacuum cleaner manufacturing industry. Failure to reach out and work with other industry's to produce a better product illustrates the arrogance that many of the larger manufacturer's display. While smaller manufacturers were quick to jump on board and actively participate in testing and test development, the larger Hoover's and Eureka's opted to remain unengaged and even participated in subtle obstruction (in our opinion) to prevent the vacuum cleaner rating system from becoming a reality.

This vacuum cleaner test procedure and rating system has accomplished more in it's first 6 years to improve the performance of vacuum cleaners than any other event. Consumer Reports used the vacuum cleaner industry's test procedure for many years and the results they published were flawed, based on the use of a procedure that produced highly variable (65%) results. The vacuum cleaner manufacturing industry may have been concerned that adopting a more reliable test protocol would "upset the apple cart" or transfer the balance of power from the larger manufacturers to the smaller, more pragmatic manufacturers. It also proved that just because a marketing idea sounded plausible (such as using water to trap and filter soil), the actual soil removal and filtration results may not be up to par.

The industry also learned that common sense may not be reality. Most vacuum cleaners produced a reduction in soil removal when using a high filtration vacuum bag. Smaller pore size (of the bags) reduced airflow (suction) through the unit, thus reducing suction and soil removal. Oreck found (through the test procedure) that by using a high filtration vacuum cleaner bag, their soil removal results actually improved. The better news (for Oreck) was that the high filtration bags (for their unit) were less costly, than their lower filtration vacuum cleaner bags. Net result: "higher profitability, better performance, happier consumers".

In shopping for a vacuum cleaner, look for the Green CRI Vacuum Cleaner Testing label that shows the vacuum cleaner meets Carpet Industry Minimum performance standards. If the Vacuum Cleaner does not display the label, one must assume it does not meet minimal performance standards.

For more info of this topic, check the link below:

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