Commercial Cleaning


Carpet Cleaning Standards Part 2: CRI SOA Story

CRI Seal of Approval Formulas for Success

 

High Test Standards Improve Carpet Cleaning Product Performance: Part 2

[Link to Part 1 of this conversation]

This is the second of two conversations I had with Professional Testing Laboratories PresidentGary Asbury talking about his experience with how Seal of Approval testing helps manufacturers of failed cleaning solutions improve their product formulas so that they pass the second time through. It is a frequent claim here at the Carpet and Rug Institute that the Seal of Approval (SOA) testing and certification program for carpet cleaning solutions and equipment was developed primarily to increase customer satisfaction with carpet by raising the bar on cleaning performance – and there is no one more able to assert the truth of that than Gary Asbury and the rest of his team at Professional Testing Laboratories.

The most significant testimony to the success of any testing program lies in its power to shape product performance, right? What good is a standard if everyone can pass it? CRI’s claim that “Only the Best Pass the Test”, is a statement we stand behind.

Last time, Gary talked about a manufacturer who didn’t use his product’s SOA failure as a teachable moment for product improvement, but today he relates some more positive examples.

“A large commercial cleaning solution manufacturer presented its product to PTL for Seal of Approval testing. The company had been doing its own performance testing on their product – which is commendable of them, but the problem was, they had only been comparing their product against their number one competitor, and the competition’s product had a horrible problem with accelerated resoiling. Accelerated resoiling happens when a carpet cleaning solution leaves a sticky residue behind that acts like a dirt magnet. The first manufacturer’s product performed better than its competition in terms of resoiling, but it was a far cry from being at a level that would meet the Seal of Approval requirements.

After receiving their failure notice, the first manufacturer was astounded. But, after looking at the test results and seeing the problem, they went back to the drawing board, and within three months, they had reformulated and passed the testing.

Another time, a huge carpet cleaning retail supplier had a product that failed the colorfastness testing. We’d tested their product on over two dozen fiber types, colors, and constructions of carpet, and the testing definitely showed their product caused a significant color change in the carpet after it was exposed to light. This was a major concern – a big manufacturer with a lot on the line. Within a week of the failure notice, the company sent a private jet to Dalton with five of their top executives on board. In two months the problem was solved.

One more example – several years ago, a fairly high-level executive from a major retail chain visited PTL to look at our testing methods and tour the facility. He was impressed with the lab, and particularly impressed with the Seal of Approval program itself. The day after he left, he contacted every one of his suppliers and told them to submit their products for Seal of Approval testing. It was a powerful testimony to the value of the program.”

Located in Dalton, Georgia, Professional Testing Labs is an ISO 14025 and NVLAP-certified lab that has provided federally-certified test results for all types of flooring manufacturers since 1988. In 2009, PTL performed more than 3000 batteries of tests, at an average of five tests per battery.


Carpet Cleaning Standards: CRI SOA Success Story

Professional Testing Laboratories’ President Gary Asbury

CRI Seal of Approval Formulas for Carpet Cleaning Success

High Test Standards Improve Carpet Cleaning Product Performance

It is a frequent claim here at the Carpet and Rug Institute that the Seal of Approval (SOA) testing and certification program for carpet cleaning solutions and equipment was developed primarily to increase customer satisfaction with carpet by raising the bar on cleaning performance. The rationale behind the SOA program is captured in CRI President Werner Braun’s trademark statement, “If you can measure it, you can improve it.”

The most significant testimony to the success of any testing program lies in its power to shape product performance. What good is a standard if everyone can pass it? CRI’s claim that “Only the Best Pass the Test”, is a statement we stand behind, and CRI touts the benefits of using SOA products and Service Providers in multiple marketing efforts, including the CRI blog. We celebrate every product that passes SOA testing; no more so than when a once-failing product tries again and gets it right.

One of the key players behind the scenes of the Seal of Approval testing program is Professional Testing Laboratories President Gary Asbury. Located in Dalton, Georgia, Professional Testing Labs is an ISO 14025 and NVLAP-certified lab that has provided federally-certified test results for all types of flooring manufacturers since 1988. In 2009, PTL performed more than 3000 batteries of tests, at an average of five tests per battery. According to Gary, PTL prides itself on helping carpet maintenance equipment and chemical manufacturers make better products that result in improved satisfaction for flooring consumers.

Gary says he’s seen “dozens of cases” where manufacturers of carpet cleaning products that initially failed CRI’s Seal of Approval testing used what they learned from the test results to improve their products’ performance to the point where they received a passing grade the next time through.

For the most part, if a conscientious manufacturer fails the first time, they’ll go back to the drawing board,” he says. “Many times, the testing will reveal a problem they didn’t realize they had, but once they see the problem, they can fix it.”

I asked Gary to share a few of his more interesting testing stories with CRI blog readers. Sadly, not every solutions manufacturer is willing to learn from his mistakes, as you shall see in Gary first story about a colorful carpet cleaning fat cat who wouldn’t change (or remove) his spots.

“Several years ago, PTL was doing some compliance testing for a “big-box” retailer on a carpet spot remover they were considering for inclusion in their product mix. The product failed miserably and we informed the manufacturer. Next day, the president of the manufacturing company shows up at the lab unannounced and wants to see our testing. We understood this contract meant a lot of money to him, and luckily, we still had his tested carpet samples, so we took him through the process. He wanted to try his product on our test materials for himself, so we re-stained some carpet samples and let him have a go.

Normally, we let a staining agent dwell for 24 hours on a piece of carpet before we start the product testing, but there was no chance for that with this guy. He took his product and set to work on the stains himself. It was Kool-Aid – a toughie. He rubbed and blotted on that stain until he’d just about worn the pile to a nub, but – nothing – the stain stayed put. He didn’t understand it – said the product worked great when he demonstrated it on his infomercials.

He decided the problem must be with our carpet samples, so he goes and gets some of his own samples out of the trunk of his car. We could see right away what was going on – his samples were made of polypropylene – a powerfully hydrophobic fiber that shrugs off just about any wet stain. He pours Kool-Aid on one of his polypropylene samples, and shows off how his product removes the stain – obviously pleased with himself. I couldn’t believe it, but here was a guy who represented himself as an expert on carpet stain removal and he didn’t know the difference between nylon and polypropylene in terms of their stain resistance!

I’ll never forget what happened next. PTL lab chief Lee Phillips picks up another of the guy’s samples, douses it with Kool-Aid, and, without saying a word, takes it over to the sink and turns on the faucet. Of course, the running water takes the stain right out.

Needless to say, the guy lost his contract with the big box retailer. Last I heard, he was still selling his product on infomercials where his polypropylene carpet samples clean up just like magic”!

In the next blog post, Gary talks about three SOA testing cases with very different outcomes…


Facing the Scientific Facts: Carpet vs. Hardwood

It’s time for critics of carpet – specifically those critics who say carpet is bad for indoor air quality – to lay their cards on the table.

We can challenge carpet detractors to a debate on which floor covering is more beneficial to indoor air quality. No mudslinging, he emphasized, but a focused dialog based on scientific data.

This challenge stems from frustration with the continued perception in the media and public that hard surface flooring holds advantages for allergy and asthma sufferers – an enduring perception that is not based on reliable scientific research.

CRI has long cited scientific data which supports carpet as the best option for people who suffer from asthma and allergies. The science behind this is rather simple: carpet acts as a passive filter, trapping dust and other particulates that are held in place and out of the room air until removed with proper vacuuming or cleaning extraction. Foot traffic on hard flooring, on the other hand, readily knocks dust back up into the breathing zone.

CRI has amassed a list of more than 25 various studies that support this view. They are compiled in the international literature review document, “Carpet, Asthma and Allergies – Myth or Reality?” by Dr. Mitch Sauerhoff.

carpet cleaners vacuum extraction

Here are two examples of the studies listed in Dr. Sauerhoff’s work:

A 15-year Swedish study showed no link between the use of carpet and incidences of asthma or allergies. Quite the opposite was discovered, in that when carpet usage decreased, the number of allergy reactions increased.

The colloquially-named “Inner City Asthma Study” found that children with asthma who had carpet in their bedrooms had no more symptoms, doctor visits or missed school days than children with hard flooring in their bedrooms.

CRI advises having a maintenance plan that includes regular vacuuming with a Seal of Approval certified vacuum and professional deep cleaning every 12-18 months. This maintenance plan will create a healthy indoor environment for asthma and allergy sufferers.

We at CRI hope there is a dialogue on this issue, but in the meantime CRI will continue to provide the facts on carpet and indoor air quality.