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Your Janitorial Company Doesn’t Suck (and That’s the Problem)

When it comes to cleaning your carpets, all companies are not created equal. Sure, the carpets in your office might look clean at first glance after a visit from your janitorial company. You don’t see any noticeably dirty areas, and the neatly lined pattern shows someone vacuumed.

But it’s fairly likely your carpets are still incredibly dirty. In fact, they might have hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds of dirt and dust buried inside them. That debris isn’t just unsightly; it’s impacting the quality of the air your employees and visitors breathe every day.

It’s a well-known fact in the facility maintenance industry that most janitorial companies aren’t properly vacuuming. This is due to either a poorly written contract, an under-budgeted contract, or a janitorial company that bids to the contract but performs on price. Thanks to tightened budgets and vague contractual agreements, janitorial companies often resort to doing only the bare minimum to remain profitable.

Think about caring for your floors like caring for your teeth.

Your janitorial company handles the daily brushing while companies like APEX are your dentist. We clean, polish and repair your floors periodically throughout the year. In fact, most maintenance programs result in us cleaning the gross square footage of a facility approximately two times per year—sound familiar?

Would you expect your dentist visit to go well if you skipped brushing your teeth, used a ratty toothbrush, or only brushed every other tooth? Just like plaque and bacteria can build up on your teeth without proper brushing and flossing, dirt and grime can build up on your floors if your janitorial company isn’t doing its part.

So what exactly are janitorial companies doing wrong?

They don’t use the right vacuum. Most janitorial companies use backpack vacuums and single-motor uprights because they’re light and easy to maneuver. What they aren’t is effective. Most of these vacuums aren’t powerful enough to suck all the debris out of your carpet. They’ll pick up the obvious clumps of hair but leave behind the deep-down dirt and dust.

They don’t vacuum often enough. Have your employees ever joked about that one paper clip that seems like it’s been on the floor forever? They aren’t imagining things. With most janitorial companies, you’re lucky if they vacuum once a week. And when they do vacuum, it’s done quickly and with the least amount of effort possible.

They don’t vacuum the entire surface. Hey, no one said it was easy to vacuum every nook and cranny of a room. Without the proper equipment and attachments, it’s hard to get into the corners and clean the edges of a carpet. But if you don’t, you’re just allowing dust to build up. Considering debris tends to accumulate the most in the corners and edges, this is one problem you can’t afford to ignore.

They bid to the contract but perform on price. Many facility managers have worked with service contractors who overpromise and under-deliver. However, some facility managers knowingly put themselves in this position when they execute a contract that has vague performance and reporting standards. Janitorial companies can struggle with staffing when they don’t have the budget to retain good employees, so they fall into firefighting mode and only clean what is most visible. The cost and time needed to replace the vendor is simply too much for the facility manager, and the result is apathy—and a floor that starts to degrade quickly.

Why does it matter if your carpets aren’t being vacuumed correctly?

It means you aren’t getting what you’re paying for. Janitorial contracts typically cost between $0.07 and $0.10 per square foot per month. If your building is 100,000 square feet, you are probably paying between $7,000 and $10,000 per month for janitorial services. Vacuuming is one of the most labor-intensive items in a janitorial contract, but it’s also the one item a janitorial company can elect not to do without anyone knowing. As long as it’s clean on top, no one notices what’s underneath. 

It shortens the life of your carpet dramatically. The No. 1 cause of carpet deterioration is soil. That’s why carpet manufacturers are so adamant about proper vacuuming. Dirt in carpet can tear apart the fibers, dull the color, and result in premature wear. 

It requires facility managers to pay more. Most clients we work with that have a proper vacuuming program actually pay less per square foot or have fewer cleanings built into their maintenance program. Clients that do not vacuum properly end up paying more because we have more work to do to extract the embedded soil out of the carpet. 

So what are companies that vacuum correctly doing right?

They use vacuums certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI). CRI’s Seal of Approval program was designed to identify the most effective vacuums, extractors and cleaning solutions based on a scientifically proven method developed in partnership with scientists at NASA. Most of the best vacuums have a powered beater bar, dual motors and a top-fill bag. 

They adhere to a strict schedule. You don’t have to vacuum every square inch of your carpet every day, but you do need to maintain a regular schedule depending on the foot traffic of various areas. In general, high-traffic areas should be vacuumed daily; medium-traffic areas should be vacuumed twice a week; and light-traffic areas should be vacuumed weekly.

They vacuum wall to wall every time. Vacuuming is about more than walking around looking for random loose items on the floor or discolored spots. It’s about thoroughly and methodically removing dust, dirt and debris from every part of your carpet. This means vacuuming wall to wall and corner to corner.

At APEX, we know what top carpet manufacturers recommend in order to keep your carpet looking new for years to come. We follow best practices and ensure our teams have the tools and training they need to properly and expertly vacuum. When it comes to carpet maintenance, we do suck—and that’s a promise.