In the future, cleaning technicians will need to ask more questions.

As a Master Textile Cleaner and instructor with a total of 16 certifications, I spend a lot of time learning about new surfaces and materials. Not only is it important for me to be informed about what’s new in the marketplace, but I also need to know how to clean these products effectively without damaging them. In order to stay abreast of emerging trends, I spend a good amount of time talking to various manufacturers.

New Products, New Challenges
What manufacturers have in store for consumers over the next few years is very exciting. An array of innovative new products is coming. From luxury vinyl tile and prefinished, oiled wood floors to textured products and epoxy grout that doesn’t stain –- consumers can expect plenty of exciting materials and surfaces in showrooms. Additionally, there appears to be a new emphasis on durability and creating products that are easier to clean. This is great news, but don’t be fooled. There are many challenges ahead for cleaning technicians who encounter these new products, not the least of which is confusion.


Take, for example, the new textured products being offered. New technologies allow one wood to be textured to look like another. Porcelain tile can be textured to look like almost anything. These new surfaces and materials are actually designed to trick the eye. This is fine if you’re admiring them, but not so great if you’re a cleaning technician who chooses the wrong product or tool. An important concept to apply when you’re not sure is to treat the product like the more delicate of the two. Of course, that only works if your eye isn’t completely fooled –- a real possibility as technologies to create these materials and surfaces continue to improve.

Stay Informed. It’s Crucial.
Increasingly, it will be important for cleaning technicians to make fewer assumptions and ask more questions. Companies will need well defined processes for assessing surfaces and materials before they clean. They’ll also have to do their homework on products. 

Even with surfaces and materials that are recognizable and have been around for a while, the knowledge base continues to improve. Two years ago, bamboo was the renewable flooring. A dried grass, it was the darling of the sustainability movement. Since then, it has been discovered that bamboo scratches more than originally thought, and swells if moisture gets past its protective finish. Manufacturers now discourage consumers from installing bamboo on slabs because of swelling. This could become key information to a technician responsible for cleaning a bamboo floor installed on a slab.

As I tell my students, cleaning professionals must stay informed. This means following developments in materials, surfaces, fixtures and finishes. In today’s marketplace, cleaning companies need to realize the more they know, the more they’ll grow.


Bruce Vance is a widely recognized expert. He runs Town & Country Cleaning, a million-dollar house cleaning company located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.