Most carpet cleaners ask me the same question (besides, “Oh God, could you save this rug?”). This is => “What rug-cleaning equipment should I purchase?”
My answer is always the same.
Do you offer rug cleaning as a secondary service or as a primary one? Do you expect to wash 500 rugs per week or 5? Are you able to train your team for a larger volume?
How much space do you possess? How much capital can you invest in a new wash floor or larger equipment? Do you own any equipment that is free of charge? Do you pick up and deliver?
What is your level of enjoyment with rugs? Do you think it’s a passing trend (like all the equipment you sold at the last Carpet Cleaners Swap Meet …)) or are you a true Textile Professional?
I’ve helped more carpet cleaners get started in the rug cleaning business than all the other trainers combined. Here’s why.
I asked a distributor friend who had hosted four IICRC classes (taught by others) in the last two years to poll the students and see how many of them were TODAY cleaning rugs FULL-TIME as a direct result of the course. The answer was… THREE. Nearly 100 people attended the event and were “certified.”
This is a sad thing. It’s also an indication of uncertainty. It makes sense that they would stay in their comfort zone if they didn’t leave the class feeling confident about cleaning rugs or even knowing how to get the job. Rugs are scary if they’re not understood.
Many Piranha Members and Rug Secrets alumni in the US, Canada, and abroad are actively cleaning rugs and expanding their rug-cleaning businesses.
Why aren’t my “students?” quitting? You are reading this post for the same reasons. It’s because I “make sense.” I have a very clear teaching style. When you have understood something, TAKE ACTION.
I also clearly understand how to grow a rug-cleaning company smartly. I’ve seen too many people fail and ruin their businesses. I don’t wish that for any of the cleaners or restorers I work with.
Instead of pushing them to lease expensive equipment (from which I may or not receive a kickback…LOL), I’m very cautious with them. I start with low-tech items to help them develop their skills (and ensure they love rugs), then move up to more expensive, cooler options when they’re ready.
This post will show you how to set up your rug-cleaning workshop. You will want to return to this post. Then I will organize them from “low-tech/small money” to “high-tech/big money” so you can choose the best option for your financial and space situation. **
**My disclaimer**: I am not endorsing any particular item but simply listing the options. We will tell you the products we like and use. This does not mean that this is *the* best choice. If I haven’t shared something, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t purchase it. It just means that perhaps I’m not aware of it. All the information on this blog and my other blogs is my opinion. I am a very knowledgeable person, but I don’t know everything. This is because there’s a lot of misinformation about rugs out there. Please don’t think a rug is wet and assume it can be drenched without consequences. It is important to invest in education before purchasing equipment.
The rug cleaner, not the rug cleaning equipment, is most important.
Our antique rug gallery is located in sunny La Jolla in California. We started our washing process on the sloped cement driveway in the rear. Our parents were the “car wash,” and we kids were the “rug brats.” We climbed up the piles of rugs to scrub them by hand, just like in a carwash. (Wax on-wax off !!!). It was fun and low-tech, but the results were fantastic.
Los Angeles is a couple of hours north. There are large automated rug-cleaning plants. They clean about 1,000 rugs per week. It requires very little preparation; you just need to feed the rug on the treadmill. Each rug is the same. Like an automated carwash, you can still end up with dirt caked onto the windshield or side doors.
I guarantee I can clean a rug better than the large operations in LA because I am focused on achieving the best possible result. It would take several hours…but even with low-tech equipment (a vacuum cleaner, bucket of suds for hand brushes, a squeegee, and cool water), I could out-clean them. I could achieve stellar results with my “boutique” rug business, but I could only do a few rugs daily. It would require more work.
I would become the “car wash detailer” instead of their “automatic car wash.” As real detailing earns me $125 versus the drive-through wash’s $9, I could attract investment rugs for my expert care.
The best LARGE Rug Cleaning Operations are a combination of these two styles. They use the attention and care of a boutique shop on the wash floor, BEFORE AND AFTER the rug is put through the automatic rinsing/wringing procedure. In my mind, I can think of a half-dozen operations that are at this level in the US. There are some not-so-great operations among the many large and successful ones.
I want to make a point: larger equipment does not necessarily mean “best” cleaning. Low-tech can be the best. The RUG CLEANER’s attention to detail and care is more important than the equipment.
The equipment allows you to wash more effectively. Being more efficient will allow you to accomplish more in less time.
My advice for those who want to start a business is to start with low-tech and then move up the ladder as your business grows. I’ve watched friends invest a lot of money in large equipment and office space, thinking, “if I built it, they would come,” and then fail.
Rug cleaning is a lucrative business, but it’s not easy money. It is hard work. Business owners don’t mind hard work as long as they enjoy it. You better be crazy about rugs if you want to dive in.