To groom or not to groom…that is the question. Knowing the basic fundamentals of cleaning will set you apart from your competitors. Believe it or not, performing the most common steps of carpet cleaning will have the homeowner asking what you are doing and why are you doing all that?

A client of ours once asked me “What are you scratching my carpets with?” English was her second language, so I got a kick out of her question! I replied, “This is a carpet rake.” The previous carpet cleaner never used mechanical agitation to release the embedded soil – they didn’t even have a vacuum and requested that the client vacuum the carpets before they arrived. That’s a shame!

The standard of cleaning doesn’t always apply to every carpet cleaning company in the cleaning world. Not all companies perform by the same standards. I have found that the most promising and successful companies stick to a cleaning process and procedure. Their employees buy into the culture of the owner’s vision of being a successful cleaning company and “We are a team not individuals” attitude. Most of all your cleaning technicians – your entire team – works within the basic principles and documented standards of cleaning, such as the ANSI/IICRC S100 The Standard for Professional Cleaning of Textile Floor Coverings.

Roby Harris
Roby Harris III President, CFI 2020-2021

Now what are the five recommended Principles of Cleaning?

Dry particulate soil removal

Soil suspension

Extraction of suspended soils

Pile setting or grooming


Basically, it comes down to these nine procedures: Pre-inspection, pre-agitation with a carpet rake, pre-vacuuming, pre-conditioning, agitating the pre-spray into the carpet with a carpet rake to perform proper soil suspension, detergent extraction rinse, post-cleaning grooming with a carpet rake, applying protector, and finally grooming with a carpet rake.

Not every client wants a carpet protector reapplied to their carpets or textiles, however as professionals we should be asking – it will help maintain the carpet and prevent potential staining. You may think that’s a lot to do on one job, however that’s the basics of cleaning. Out of the nine steps to cleaning I hope you saw how many times we should be using a carpet rake to prepare the carpet fibers for the steps of cleaning. I counted four times. Believe it or not, we as professional and knowledgeable cleaners should be preparing the carpet before wet-cleaning to remove as much dry particulate soil as possible – otherwise it turns into mud! Agitate the pre-spray into the fibers to properly distribute the pre-spray, pre-groom to receive protector, and a final grooming to distribute the protector through the fibers.

Now there are some cleaning companies that don’t believe in grooming, or even vacuuming. If you’re not going to vacuum, then you should at least groom your carpets at the end of every job. We as professional cleaners want to give the appearance of a new carpet, just the way the carpet came from the manufacturer and after the carpet was freshly installed. Leaving wand marks that look like shark teeth is sacrilegious, don’t do it!

Remember that when being a team player and living up to the standards of your company, the standards written by the IICRC, and the promise to live up to the ethical standards of the CFI, you won’t go wrong! What it comes down to is that the basic steps of using a carpet rake and grooming carpet will set you apart from your competitors.

I have an open-door policy. My email is and my cell number is 530-941-7390. If you have a question or if you just want to talk please feel free to email or call.

Your President Roby Harris,

Roby Harris III
President, CFI 2022-2024

Roby Harris
  • IICRC Senior Carpet Inspector
  • IICRC Master Textile Cleaner
  • Certified Master Rug Cleaner
The Carpet and FabriCare Institute