I’m no Einstein, but I think I’m smart enough to keep from killing myself or my customers when I’m cleaning their carpet. Just the other day I was driving through a neighborhood when I spotted a competitor’s cleaning van at a customer’s house. The problem? He had parked inside the garage while he was cleaning. So what’s the big deal with that?

“Truck mounted” carpet cleaning machines are powered by the engine of the vehicle they are mounted in. Either that, or they have their own separate little engine, normally about the size of a powerful commercial lawn mower. In either case, an internal combustion engine is running at full-tilt to power the cleaning machine, then hoses are run into the building…meaning a door has to stay open to allow the hoses to come through.

So you tell me…is it a good idea to have a carbon monoxide-belching engine running at full speed and blasting exhaust fumes through an open door? I’m sure you realize that’s a really, really bad idea. In fact, carpet cleaners have died from doing this before. Google “carpet cleaner dies carbon monoxide poisoning” to see for yourself.

When I saw this the other day, I was about to walk up the driveway to tell the homeowner how dangerous it was, but the technician came out and shut off his machine just as I was pulling over. I’m glad no one was injured.

Another thing I see other cleaners do, although not life threatening, is still pretty stupid. In an attempt to save a buck, they’ll try to substitute professional chemicals with lesser products that can be purchased at Wal-Mart or Home Depot. I’ve seen guys use everything from Tide, WD-40, bleach, adhesive remover, dish soap, brake cleaner, vinegar (which actually has ZERO cleaning ability despite what we’ve been told) and fabric softener. This stuff has no place in a professional’s cleaning arsenal!

Not too long ago, I did a job that had giant, black dirty patches all over the great room of a very nice house. The homeowner told me she responded to one of those “$8.99 per Room” coupons that come in the mail, and this was the aftermath of the local yokel who showed up to perform the work.

She said he used liquid laundry detergent to try to clean up some pet stains she’d pointed out. Not only did it not work, he was unable to rinse out the extremely foamy detergent, and over time dirt started to collect on the sticky residue that was left over. That’s why the large, black dirty spots started to appear. To make matters worse, by trying to rinse out the detergent, he had overwet those areas and all that extra water completely delaminated the carpet.

Delamination is a problem where the top side of the carpet–the part you can see–detaches from the back side. As a result, ugly wrinkles form that can only be fixed by a professional. So after I spent three hours re-cleaning her carpet and properly rinsing the detergent (a room that size would normally take about 30 minutes), an installer charged another $150 to stretch the wrinkles out.

The poor lady wanted to pay $8.99 for the job, should have actually paid about $100 to a reputable cleaner, and ended up spending hundreds to fix all the problems that were caused by the local yokel and his stupid coupons. Sheesh!

One last thing I see carpet cleaners do…and maybe this is just a pet peeve, but I bet it upsets some of you too. I can’t believe how many times I’m driving to a job, only to have a carpet cleaning van blow my doors off, driving 80+ MPH in the left lane. Their vans are covered on all sides with phone numbers, and they are driving around the city like it’s the Indy 500! It blows my mind that someone would drive like that with advertisements all over their vehicle. It’s an excellent way to lose business.

Okay, that’s the end of my little rant here. If you have any cleaning needs and you’d like to hire a pro who won’t accidentally kill you, won’t use cleaning products from Wal-Mart, and won’t race to your house at 90 MPH, I’m your guy. Please call me now and I promise I’ll take great care of you.