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Management And Training

A Little Food For Thought

March 07, 2012
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I like variety in my life, so I''m always looking for exposure or experiences that are a little different in hopes it will give me insight that is beyond what I might come across in my normal daily activities.

Plastic Microfibers In Wastewater

When I travel, I often read the local newspaper to see what''s going on and to get a feel for the area I''m visiting.

This was the case on my recent trip to Australia for the Ausclean Convention.

I read an article titled, "Plastic Fibers Increase Threat to Marine Environment."

The article explained that synthetic clothing, blankets and cleaning abrasives are a significant source of micro-plastic pieces that are accumulating in the marine environment.

Research shows that a single item of clothing cleaned in a home washing machine releases more than 1,900 pieces of microfiber per washing.

I began to wonder if hot water extraction carpet cleaning wastewater adds to this contamination and if someday we will have to further filter our wastewater prior to disposal.

Or, is this problem another reason to consider using a low-moisture cleaning process?

Carpet Damage From Vacuum Cleaner Brush

As a carpet inspector, I get into a lot of homes and businesses and see some interesting stuff.

This week, one of my claims was related to the blooming of carpet yarn tips in a new home, the claim being that the blooming was a manufacturing defect.

What I found was that when a common upright vacuum cleaner with a spinning brush is used on long bulky cut pile yarns, the action of the brush can quickly and permanently damage/excessively bloom the yarn tips.

I have seen this before with shag style carpeting, and I had one manufacturer tell me a couple of years ago that they were recommending suction-only vacuuming for long cut pile yarn carpet due to damage they were seeing.

I asked several other manufacturers if they were aware of this problem and no one claimed to have ever heard of or seen the problem.

During the inspection, I wondered if the vacuum cleaner was really the cause of the bloomed yarn tips.

So, I used the consumer''s vacuum on a sample piece of carpeting and was easily able to duplicate the damage when I vacuumed slowly or stopped.

Even with the vacuum setting on low, the damage was almost immediate and quite severe.

The good news was that I was able to trim off the bloomed yarns and restore the three damaged areas to an appearance that was acceptable to the consumer.

The bad news is that many consumers may be damaging their cut pile carpeting when they use a vacuum cleaner that has a spinning brush in the head.

The manufacturer''s consumer instructions gave no warning that a suction-only vacuum should be used on the carpet or that there was any risk of damage when using a standard upright vacuum with a rotating brush.

China Seeks Educational Cooperation

Recently, I received a press release from Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWIT), a local technical community college, inviting me to attend a breakfast at the college with Dr. Xin Lu, vice minister of education and other delegates from the People''s Republic of China (PRC) along with officials from the college.

Dr. Lu explained that China is growing very fast in all industries; however, it lacks a modern and effective educational system to prepare people for all the new jobs that are being created in China.

The good Dr. proposed an exchange program at LWIT for Chinese students, instructors and administrators.

She also asked if the school could provide curriculum outlines and training materials related to software, medical, automotive and high-tech manufacturing.

Evidently, LWIT has a pretty tight relationship with Boeing, Microsoft and local medical facilities.

I made several attempts to ask Dr. Lu and others in the delegation a few questions, but when it came to answers, there seemed to be some kind of language barrier, as they rushed to tour the embalming, dentistry and building maintenance classrooms.

Dr. Lu didn''t seem to have any problem understanding when it came to answering questions about how long students took to complete a course, how they paid for it and what wage they expected to earn upon graduation.

Initially dismissive, I wondered, "Why not? We don''t manufacture much anymore, so why not a LWIT Beijing campus and maybe a University of Washington Hospital, Shanghai campus?"

Keep it clean out there.


Bill Griffin is president of the International Custodial Advisors Network Inc. (ICAN) and owner of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc. ICAN is a non-profit association comprised of industry consultants with a wide range of expertise in building management, indoor environmental and service disciplines. This network provides free janitorial and building maintenance consultation service to the industry through the Cleaning Management Institute (CMI). Comments to Griffin are welcome: (206) 848-0179; WGriffin@CleaningConsultants.com.

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