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  • The drying game

    Choosing right chemicals, equipment should help cleaners dry carpet more quickly.

    By Taf Baig
    From the May 2002 edition of Cleanfax magazine.
    After the price question, “How long will it take to dry?” is the question customers ask us the most.

    Customers want to be inconvenienced as little as possible. They pretty much want their carpet to dry before you leave. So, how do you dry carpets before you leave?

    According to Aziz Ullah, Ph.D., president of Fabpro Manufacturing, drying is a function of:

  • Humidity
  • Temperature
  • Atmospheric pressure
    It also depends on:
  • Equipment
  • Chemicals It’s the easiest for bonnet cleaning because this uses very little moisture. Dry Foam also is relatively easy.

    What about hot water extraction?

    Portable and truckmount users both put down pre-spray, then extract and, in some cases, put down protector. All three steps involve adding moisture to the carpet.

    Dry run

    So, how do dry the carpets before you leave? Here are some tips for pre-spray:
  • Put down only what’s needed
  • Apply only in traffic areas
  • Don’t overspray
  • Use chemicals that have alcohol as a base. As the need for drying has increased, manufacturers have started producing fast-drying pre-sprays. And alcohol evaporates faster than water and will help water evaporate faster, Dr. Aziz says.

    In the extraction stage, there are numerous ways to facilitate drying. A powerful truckmount machine is the most efficient, as only one pass is usually needed to pick up the majority of the water.

    Dry passes after cleaning almost guarantee drying before you apply protector.

    Mean machines

    How do you know what machine is better at drying?

    Having higher cubic feet per minute (CFM) is important, but there is only so much CFM you can get out of 1½- to 2-inch hose or wand. After a certain point, adding a larger blower increases the CFM only marginally.

    Most manufacturers use CFM of the blower rated at the factory with no hoses attached, which can give the user a false impression.

    Water lift is by far the most important ingredient in drying the carpet. It is:

  • The ability of your machine to pull more water from a 1½- to 2-inch wand or hose
  • Measured in inches of mercury
  • The lifting power to lift water molecules out of carpet. “The waterlift is the muscle behind the vacuum,” according to John Sales, president of Steam Action, a truckmount manufacturer.

    Water lift is measured in inches of mercury. Basically, one inch of mercury lift, as indicated on a vacuum gauge, will lift water 14 inches, Sales says.

    Chemical use is key

    Using fast drying chemicals in place of what you use now will also decrease drying time. Even adding two to four ounces of rubbing alcohol to your portable extractor or 16 to 32 ounces to your truckmount stock solutions can decrease drying time.

    Alcohol keeps your detergent on the surface and evaporates quickly to help you easily accomplish faster drying.

    Dr. Aziz warns, however, that alcohol can be a fire hazard and may create liability if used improperly.

    Other ways to facilitate drying include turning on fans in all the rooms after you finish cleaning, or using air conditioners on humid days.

    The costs of drying

    Offering faster drying time puts you in another league, but the equipment, extra labor and chemicals will cost you more. Therefore, you need to charge extra for this service.

    You can offer it as an option in addition to your steam cleaning or do it for all your customers as a value-added service that your competitors may not be able to offer.

    How much to charge is not as difficult to calculate as it seems. Figure out the cost of better equipment compared to your current equipment, and the additional cost of fast-drying chemicals and labor.

    If you raise your prices even by one-third to offer this service, you can still have happy customers while increasing your profit margins. In our business, we calculate on an hourly basis, but we never tell this to customers. Just build it into the price.

    Offering faster drying time puts you in another league.

    We charge $100 per hour for a 2-man/woman crew for steam cleaning and $150 per hour for dry cleaning. We use the best truckmounts that get higher water lift from our 1½- to 2-inch wands and vacuum hoses.

    We use alcohol based pre-sprays and detergents made by reputable manufacturers and follow up the cleaning with a dry pass. We use lower psi, around 200, when performing fast drying services, and we use solvent protectors that are sprayed concentrated and evaporate faster.

    Taf Baig is president of Magic Wand Company, a manufacturer and distributor of carpet cleaning tools, equipment and supplies. He is also president of a very successful carpet and furniture cleaning company. He owns patents to several tools and pieces of equipment. To e-mail him, visit www.magicwandco.com.