The Advent of Hot Water Extraction Carpet Cleaning for Professionals

Who invented the Portable Hot Water Extraction Machine?

So just who invented the concept of hot water extraction carpet cleaning? No one can say with absolute certainty. This patent filed with the US Patent office in 1964 is certainly describing what essentially a hot water extraction machine was. The patent holder is named Fred Hays. Interestingly enough, in  the memoirs and discussions I had the opportunity to have with early industry pioneers like my father, Ralph Bloss, Clark Seabloom, and Bill Bane, none recalled or brought up Mr. Hays. It may have been a partner of Mr. Hays who eventually brought the product to market, because if you look at the machine drawing carefully, it certainly looks like the machine described by Bill Bane that Bill Wisdom built, or the machine I actually have a picture of – the Deep Steam Extractor.

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Names to Honor and Remember

My father, Ralph Bloss, did not join the professional carpet industry until 1971, and even by then, there was already much confusion about who exactly did what when. Looking through company archives certainly brought out some of the original inventors of hot water extraction equipment, many of which my dad knew personally. Names such as Clark Seabloom, Bill Bane, Gene Bates, Paul Brondyk, David Bergin, Judson Jones and someone named Mr. Steam all come to mind. Jack Bates, the founder of Stanley Steemer also should be mentioned here

In his 50 year anniversary retrospective, Bill Bane gives credit to a gentlemen named Bill Wisdom. “An ugly little carpet cleaning machine that was innovated by Bill Wisdom made its appearance. He used prevailing technology and material to build a machine that had two stainless steel, restaurant style coffee pots sitting on a base that rolled on four tiny casters. I believe the coffee pots were ten gallons each. One held the cleaning solution and the other was for recovered water. The base unit contained two small electric motors, a tiny solution pump and a small positive displacement sewage pump for vacuum. That little sewage pump would eventually revolutionize water recovery in the cleaning business. Wisdom’s concept was duplicated and improved by Steamatic® of Texas and Deep Steam Extraction of Michigan, both of which are still in business.”

One can certainly conclude that there were several variations of what later pioneers referred to as the “coffee” pot extractors – one had two canisters, and the other had one.

Judson DeepClean DC3

These next pictures were provided to me by Les Jones, son of the founder of Judson – Judson Jones. It shows their collection of early extraction equipment, including the DeepClean DC3, that they began manufacturing in 1959, and its related patent.

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Deep Steam extractor

This drawing and picture represent one of the very first production units for Deep Steam Extractors. The similarity to the two “coffee pots” idea is obvious. Though the company no longer produced equipment, it is still around. You would know them as DSC chemicals. There is also a picture of their first upholstery tool that went along with the Deep Steam Machine.

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Sani-Clean/Steam Way

In 1968, a gentleman named Clark Seabloom bought a company and the rights to produce the machine it has produced from a company called Sani-Clean. The machine was known as a Steam Way machine, and in this letter dated from 1968, the company had already established a network of dealers and distributors. Like many of the innovators of this period, the company could not decide for a while whether it was going to be a franchise or just sell its proprietary equipment. Eventually, Mr. Seabloom made the decision to sell the Steam Way machine to existing professional carpet cleaners and help people get into the business as independent operators. In 1971, Mr. Seabloom convinced my father – Ralph Bloss – to join the company, a career move that turned into an industry love affair for my father.

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Home show exhibition

In case you think exhibiting at the local home improvement trade show is a new concept, here was one of the original Steam Way equipment owners demonstrating at a home show in 1969.

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Steam Way 100

The Steam Way 100 was the company’s first production hot water extraction machines. You will notice from this picture that these original machines all came with what we would refer today as a drag wand, a heavy weighted tool. This was the way that many of us learned how to clean carpets. The scrub wand came along much later.

The Steam Way 100 was equipped with a Hypro pump set to 100psi, an in-line heating element to heat the water, and vacuum recovery was created by a Sutorbilt #2 positive displacement blower. The machine weighed over 150# and as you can imagine was no fun moving up and down the stairs.

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Early Competitors to the Steam Way Machine

Here is a lineup of some of the early competitors to the Steam Way machine from the original Steam Way archives, identified from left to right.

The Steam Genie portable made by Gene Bates. Steam Genie went on to produce truckmounts later, and Mr. Bates later started a truckmount company called Big Red.

The second unit in the picture was identified as being produced by Deep Steam, but as you can clearly see, it was one of the single canister “coffee pot” extractors – perhaps a Judson DeepClean DC3

The final two to the right were Mr. Steam Machines. Mr. Steam later became Windsor Industries.

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Polyester shag

Those early 1970 polyester shags sure made us look good, didn’t they?

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Bucket brigade

How many of you watching are card carrying members of the bucket brigade? This picture was taken aboard the Cruise Ship the Queen Elizabeth 2 that was being cleaned by a Steam Way 400 portable extractor. The second picture is provided by Loren Egland of Delta Steamway.

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Steam Way 400

Perhaps the machine that Steam Way was most known for throughout the 1970’s (even continuing to be made for many years after Steam Way introduced their first truckmounts) was the Steam Way 400. These pictures were provided by Loren Egland of Delta Steamway.

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Steam Way showroom

Here is a picture from the Steam Way showroom in the late 1970’s. By this time, the “scrub wand” had been introduced, but the drag wand remained the cleaning head of choice for most portable extractor owners.

Notice the blue metal airmover. It was made by a guy in South Dakota named Lloyd Weaver, who today is often recognized as the “father” of the water damage restoration industry. In a future blog, we will pay tribute to Mr. Weaver, and another incredible pioneer in our industry when it comes to water damage restoration – Claude Blackburn.

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Certi-Jet

Certified Equipment patented and produced the Certi-Jet portable extractor, pictured here.

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