Captain Rug Wash was originally founded by Andi’s father, Phil in 1988 who named it ECS (Executive Cleaning Services SW Ltd). Andi’s mum, Sandra joined the team in 1995 where she carried the office side of the business. At the time, they specialised in carpet and upholstery cleaning and fire and flood restoration. They worked alongside insurance companies in the late ’90s who helped the company to grow their fire and flood restoration section of the company. They managed to expand their business and had 4 part-time firemen join the team who were originally close friends with Phil.
After Andi finished school, he began working with his parents at ECS in 2000 when the company were primarily working with fire and flood restoration.
Things took a turn for the worse for the family in 200 when Phil developed cancer and had to take time off work to fight the illness. Balancing the heavier workload and coming to terms with his father’s illness made things all the more challenging for Andi and his mother, Sandra. And then the recession hit in 2007 which forced the insurance company they worked closely with to shut down meaning they had just lost 80% of their business overnight. The team quickly shrank to the three of them again and life became very difficult for the family.
A year later, things began to turn around for the family as Phil recovered from cancer. Phil wanted to take life at a slightly slower pace so he came back to help with the quoting in 2012 when he felt ready.
With this relief, Andi devoted himself to saving the family business by doing everything he could.
In 2009, Andi won a machine that essentially beats rugs 10 x faster than a manual wooden beater and soon after, he realised how lucky he was to have this machine as people were offering him thousands of pounds for it. This machine then kickstarted his ambition to take courses and to gain more skills. Once he felt confident that he knew as much as he could about the processes, he realised he wanted to make this business his own which started with a change of name. Andi and his family were brainstorming ideas until Phil joked about ‘Captain Pug Wash’, they all laughed and then looked at each other and paused, ‘Captain Rug Wash!’ To their amazement, Captain Rug Wash had never been used before so they soon had it copyrighted and began to design the branding.
Andi had a friend in Manchester who told him to post on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook every day and sure enough, it grew. He attended classes with YouTube Gurus and experts and picked up a few tips and tricks that are still ever-present on his social media today. At this point, Captain Rug Wash was the only carpet cleaner in the South West on social media. The videos he posts are still to this day, very popular and loved by thousands across the world. His content consists of satisfying videos of Andi cleaning rugs using various different machines and tools.
After the re-brand and the surge of followers on his social media channels, he went from cleaning 1-2 rugs a year with ECS to cleaning 200+ rugs a year as Captain Rug Wash today. Phil retired from the company in 2019 and it is now run solely by Andi and Sandra. Andi does all the cleaning and Sandra works in the office.
He began working in his parents’ garage from 2010-2014 which wasn’t ideal as every time he needed to clean a rug, he’d have to take everything out of the garage and put it all back after it had been cleaned. In 2014, he built a double garage onto the side of his parent’s house which offered him more space and a more permanent base, until 3 months ago when he moved into the unit he’s in today!
Andi has never considered himself to be a businessman, he likes to never take himself too seriously and he even dresses up as Captain Rug Wash from time to time!
Captain Rug Wash now specialise in carpet, upholstery, rugs and hard floor cleaning such as stone, wood and vinyl and they offer a premium service to give credit to Andi and the experience and knowledge that has come from the certificates he has rightfully earned over the years. Andi has cleaned rugs that are £20,000-£40,000 in value so it requires a great amount of care, knowledge and attention to detail. He has been trained properly and knows the chemistry, fibres and mix of chemicals in order to create the right outcome for each individual rug.
In Andi’s new unit, they have a space to clean the rugs which is watertight so that the rugs can be completely submerged in water. They also have a section to beat the rugs using the machine Andi won in 2009 as well as having a dedicated rug drying room where rugs are hung up using dehumidifiers and air movers to accelerate the drying process and to stop shrinkage and colours from bleeding.
All of the rugs are cleaned in the unit due to the amount of water he uses to thoroughly clean them. Some rugs that are machine-made with backing can be cleaned at home however, to get the best outcome, it is always best to take it to Andi and have him clean it at the unit.
Persian rugs require additional attention as the colours will always bleed but it’s about knowing the specific chemicals that will stop the deeper colours from running off into the lighter shades. Persian rugs take a lot of time to make by hand and they involve a lot of skill therefore Andi treats the rugs with the respect they deserve and feels privileged to clean them. To Andi, these expensive rugs resemble art as opposed to the less expensive rugs that act as décor and match the curtains and furnishings.
A friend of Andi’s in the rug cleaning industry offered Andi the opportunity to help clean one of Saltram Houses’ massive rugs as part of the National trust. The work was especially difficult as he had to clean the rug in the house which meant he had to measure the air humidity and temperature every 20 minutes so that the paintings and wood furnishings didn’t become damaged.
The pandemic was a bit of a scary time for Captain Rug Wash as their industry aligned themselves with the infection control due to their chemicals being medical grade. During an infection control course, Andi met a fellow rug cleaner from Ipswich who has since become Andi’s girlfriend. They were both worried that their companies would have to make the permanent move to become infection control cleaners which were something neither of them wanted to do.
Fortunately, they received furlough pay and managed to stay afloat for three months without any work. During this time they updated their cost sheets, procedures and had time to service the machines before starting up again. They have only just caught up with the backlog from the last year and now they have taken bookings until the third week of August (from the date of interview 11/06/2021.
Every rug is priced on a square foot, with a price range of £2.50 – £7.00 depending on the type of material the rug is constructed from. Either being machine made right through to silk, also whether rugs are stained or have had animal accidents on them. You can apply for a free consultation on their website (details listed below) or phone the office to discuss your rug with Sandra.
Captain Rug Wash covers the whole of the South West however, Andi will travel as far as Bristol, Milton Keynes and London if the job is worth travelling for. Andi has a network of rug cleaners across the UK who pass work on to others closer to their area.
In 5 years, Andi would like to have two more people on his team to work primarily out in the van, cleaning carpets and upholstery whilst Andi spends more time doing what he loves, cleaning the rugs. Moving into a bigger unit is also something Andi would love to do in the future so that he can have an office onsite.
Andi’s reputation, skill and determination to keep his family business going, even at the most challenging time of his life, is how he has gained so many loyal customers and why Captain Rug Wash is able to grow day by day.