How to Clean and Remove Ice Melt Stains from Carpet

Winter time in the Pocono Mountains and Northeast Pennsylvania can be a wonderful experience.   However, the sights and scenes and activities that come along with the wintry weather also bring maintenance problems that can damage homes and businesses.   Ice melt products that are meant to keep people safe from slip and falls can also cause damages to textiles, structures and furnishings.   Cleaning up this winter weather mess can be quite challenging. Picture of Magic Ice Melt

Ice melt products come in different chemical compositions which affect they’re operating temperatures, however they all have one thing in common.   Ice melt products don’t actually melt ice they lower the temperature at which water freezes.   The resulting chemical reaction between the melted ice and the product being dissolved creates a compound known as calcium carbonate which is just basically the same as hard water.   Many people know hard water due to lime scale build up and its ability to stain and damage plumbing and fixtures.  

When ice melt residue gets tracked onto carpets and rugs, or brushed onto fabrics, it leaves unsightly white crusty stains which can be difficult to remove.   The residue has a high alkalinity which can also cause deterioration to items like door jambs, thresholds and concrete.   Although some ice melting mixtures claim to be safe for plants, animals and walkways, removing their ugly presence from your floor coverings requires the proper treatment. 

Furnishings and rugs should be cleaned a little differently but usually a mild acidic rinse needs to be applied with a sprayer, gently brushed into the affected area and then rinsed away.   This must be accomplished without over wetting and without causing more damage than already exists.   There are effective products on the market such as “Back to 7” or “All Fiber Rinse” that the Do It Yourselfer may purchase and try but some tasks are best left to someone with the proper equipment and knowledge.   As a certified and professional carpet cleaner I must offer a word of caution though.   Follow the directions, pretest any cleaning solutions in an inconspicuous area and test run a very small area first so that you can check for adverse reactions that may occur, mainly color loss and dye bleeding. 

For small areas, vacuum the area thoroughly first to remove any loose debris and undissolved ice melt.   Then mist on a mixture of half vinegar and half water with a clean spray bottle.   Use a large tooth hair comb to gently brush in the solution and let it sit for a few minutes so that it can have time to neutralize the residue.   After about 5 minutes or so take a white absorbent towel and start blotting up the moisture.   Use a clean spray bottle to mist on some plain water as a rinse and blot again.   If you are getting positive results, continue this process until you have achieved the best possible result.   Remember to blot and never rub as aggressive actions can cause permanent damage to the face of the carpet yarns. Dry the carpet as best you can.

In some cases, calling your trusted professional  IICRC certified cleaning firm is the best idea.   The time, labor and material costs you invest might be better spent on having the carpets, rugs or furniture professionally cleaned.   Services Etcetera Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning has been serving Northeast Pennsylvania, the Poconos and surrounding communities since 1990.   We offer friendly and free estimates with IICRC certified Journeyman Textile Cleaners on staff.   Give us a call today at 570-459-0429 or visit us at  

Pocono Mountain Carpet Cleaners Affected by Groundwater

At Services Etcetera Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning we know that the level of hardness in drinking water has a definite impact on the effectiveness of carpet cleaning detergents.   Hard water levels are determined by the amount of calcium and magnesium in the water. It is known to cause unsightly scaling in plumbing fixtures and fittings. Water hardness levels also affect how well cleaning solutions perform and can diminish their effectiveness.

Flowing water

Understanding groundwater in the Poconos for better carpet cleaning.

According to a Pennsylvania American Water 2016 draft assessment of drinking water sources in the Pocono Mountains, the level of water hardness was determined to be slightly hard to hard. By understanding the alkalinity and hardness of available water sources, carpet cleaning companies can compensate for this condition by using water softeners or boosters and by using cleaning products containing buffering agents. This will increase the performance of the cleaning solutions being used and allow for cleaner carpets, rugs and furniture.

When serving communities such as Pocono Pines, Lake Naomi, Albrightsville, Mount Pocono, Blakeslee and surrounding areas, Services Etcetera Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning uses its own pre-treated and pre-softened water that we bring in our truck mounted tanks. The products we use are biodegradable, non-toxic and eco-friendly. When finished we take the dirty water away with us for proper disposal into a sanitary sewer system at our facility. Municipal water processing facilities can then reclaim the water just like domestic sewerage.

For all your carpet, upholstery and area rug cleaning needs call Services Etcetera Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning at 570-459-0429 or contact us at  We now offer grout and tile cleaning and sealing. Proudly serving Northeast Pennsylvania, the Pocono Mountains and surrounding communities since 1990. Be sure and check us out on Facebook, Google and YouTube for more helpful hints and tips.

Vacuuming your Carpet Daily as a New Year’s Resolution

The Party is over, a new year has begun. Some have made new year resolutions to clean up the mess we have made in our lives. For others it’s time to just clean up the physical mess we have made in our little part of the world. Simple things like vacuuming our carpets can make a huge change in our lives.Sink overflowing with dirty dishes
Just think about how a dirty carpet is like a kitchen sink, it can only hold so much filthy water before that filth spills over the top. When carpets, rugs and floor coverings capture too much filth, the excess is pumped back into the air you breathe and spread across to other areas of your dwelling.
Here are a few helpful ideas to consider when making healthy choices and getting life back in order after the party is over.

  • Asthma sufferers can benefit greatly by vacuuming carpets daily and using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter.
  • Use a carpet groomer to loosen compacted soil prior to vacuuming. This will help prevent matting and crushing while allowing for more partials of soil to be removed.
  • Rotate area rugs twice a year to prevent early wear, sun fading and traffic patterns.
  • Rubber back floor mats are less likely to cause discoloring to both hard surface and carpet floors. Mats come in a variety styles so be sure to choose the proper back and face design.
  • Not all ice melting products are the same. Purchase an ice melt that is vegetation and structure friendly when possible. Advise your supplier about a specific application, there are effective alternatives to Rock Salt.

So while some may say “the party is over” and some might say the “party has just begun”, doing some small thing like vacuuming your carpet can make you breathe a little easier, reduce an early demise to your building and preserve your landscaping. Having carpets professionally cleaned on a regular basis by Hot Water Extraction, also known as steam cleaning is a smart starting point for making your maintenance tasks run smooth and easy.

Why you need Schedule your Holiday Carpet Cleaning Now?

red wine in a glass

The time to turn back the clocks is here.   Quicker than you think it will be time to put a delicious Thanksgiving turkey on the table.   Christmas is on its way too and all this means one thing; family and friends scrutinizing the cleanliness of your home.   Here are a few reasons why you should seriously consider scheduling your holiday carpet cleaning now.


  • Many reputable carpet cleaning companies start getting booked up and your choice of available appointments becomes limited as the holiday get closer.
  • A fresh clean carpet can help eliminate the filth and bacteria that cause unpleasant odors allowing more room for the mouth watering scent of that holiday feast you’re working so hard to prepare.
  • There is always that one relative who faithfully manages to drop a large heap of food or beverage on the floor so consider adding some protection.   An application of carpet or furniture protector should only be applied to clean items.
  • Finding the time to make everything just right at this time of the year is time consuming enough.   The convenience of hiring a professional carpet cleaner is worth the small investment.
  • Give an early holiday gift to a family member.   Every visitor to their home will be told how thoughtful you are. Gift certificates make for fantastic Christmas gifts and are very thoughtful.  The appreciative recipient can select the goods and services they really need without you just handing out cash.

How Worn Garage Door Seals can Cause Damage to Health and Home

Worn side garage door sealsWith winter weather quickly approaching time is a valuable commodity right now.   While making considerations for your winterization budget, many big ticket items in your home are often overlooked.   The largest item would be the health of you and your family.  A few simple adjustments, preventative measures and small “DIY” repairs can promote healthy living and save on utility bills as well as preventing damage to much larger investments in your home.   These investments include, but are not limited to carpet, laminate flooring and wool area rugs.   Now you might be thinking; what do garage door seals have to do with the condition of my health or my home’s interior and its contents?

The answer is air flow.   By many accounts the air inside your home is three to five times more toxic than outside air.   That’s because air flow carried toxins in from the outside and deposited them into your home where they are now nested deep inside places that a normal Worn seal at bottom of garage doorhousecleaning can’t reach.   Closing up your home for winter traps in these pollutants, germs and bacteria and can trigger allergies and illness.   This same air flow chilled by winter winds brings in harsh abrasives such as ice melt and rodents and also causes structural damage.

Garage door seals, when you think about it, tally up to over twenty five linear feet of potential air infiltration points per door. In plain English, that’s a lot of space for cold dirty air to enter your residence. Checking to see that the rails for the door itself are properly adjusted and positioned could be a Garage door quick fix and making sure the seals are in good repair will save you many future headaches.  Living here in Northeast Pennsylvania, many towns like Hazleton, Mountain Top and White Haven, experience harsh winters, where busted and frozen water pipes cause an unfortunate amount of damage.   Heating bills can easily skyrocket if insulation and air flow are not carefully considered.

Most seals for garage doors are standard and can be readily purchased at your local hardware store.   I purchased mine at Lowes HomeNew garage door seals ready for painting Improvement.   Remove the existing seals and clean off any dirt and caulking from the previous installation.   The side and top seals can be painted to match or meet any color scheme and easily tack onto the exterior of the door frame.   Running a bead of silicone sealer along the edge will keep out any moisture.   Foam and rubber molding for the bottom dust seal come in standard sizes too and are usually packed in rolls of various lengths.   You may need to loosen a bolt or two, but the old seal slides out of its grooves, the new seal folds into a “U” shape and the seal then slides back into the grooves of the bottom track.Side garage door deals being installed

There are many more quick, easy and cost effective tasks you can do to minimize the impact of winter on your house, in a short amount of time. Take simple walk around the exterior of your and home and look for other air entry points.  Look around pipes, windows, dryer vents and other hardware entering the structure and pack the gaps with putty, insulation, caulking or silicone.

Placing the proper entry matting at entry points is another quick and inexpensive preventative measure.   Tracked in soils will quickly deteriorate the condition of carpet, laminates and other flooring materials.   For the interior, try to use rubber backed matting; avoid using vinyl backed mats as they may discolor the floor.   Even the cheapest mat will remove some of the harsh elements that will dirty up your home.  Scrapper or bristle type mats are ideal for the exterior and fully effective interior floor mat should be long enough to accommodate 5-6 steps.Fine area rug

Closing up your home for the winter months will trap in many types of soils, germs, pollutants and other toxins. Air flow will bring in more while increasing heating bills so seal up those gaps. Rotate wool area rugs to avoid sun fading and traffic patterns.   Having your carpets and fabric upholstery professionally cleaned and applying protector will give you a fresh start and prevent early replacement of these big ticket items.



Inexpensive Options to Replacing an Entire Carpet

If you experience the same destructive forces during the winter season that many of my customers experience then you are not alone.   You know that ugly, unsightly and just downright disgusting patch of dingy and worn out carpet at about a 3 feet perimeter around the front entry door destroyed by winter’s mess.   You tried to have it cleaned, you tried to clean it yourself and you even tried to cover it with an entrance mat but nothing seems to work.   Don’t fret; there are options that won’t require you to replace the entire carpet.Laminate flooring at entry door surrounded by carpet

If the remainder of the carpet is in decent condition and can still survive a few more years without replacement, you should consider installing a few square feet of laminate or tile floor just at the problem area.   In other words eliminate the worn piece of carpeting.   Just cut out a rectangle or semicircle shape at the affected area and install a more durable and easily maintainable type floor covering.   Not only are laminates and tile functional but with the various types and styles of flooring on the market today you can add some real beauty and class to your home rather inexpensively.

Ceramic tile at entry door surrounded by carpetYour local home improvement or floor covering retailer should carry all the materials to DIY or offer you a reasonable price on installation.   In the Hazleton Pennsylvania area we refer our customers to Bonomo’s Carpet & Floor Covering.

You can also do this when having new carpeting installed too.   Rather than have to deal with the inevitable at some point in time, it would be wise to consider installing the alternate flooring now.   Again, there are some inexpensive yet highly fashionable and easy to install choices in laminate flooring and ceramic tile on the market.

Removing Black Filtration Lines from Carpet is Tricky

The unsightly black lines around the edges of your carpet, especially near heat vents, doorways and walls, are called filtration lines.   The cause is fairly simple yet scientific.   It’s removing these spots that can be difficult.  I’m not aware of any “DIY” remedies that exist.

Air passes through and over the carpet and upholstery in your home which can be considered the lungs of a dwelling, capturing particulate soil, pollution and other nasty substances.   Some of the particles become magnetically charged and attach themselves to fibers around areas of restricted air flow, usually around heat vents, doorways and walls.  The indoor air quality(IAQ) outside your residence can be over 3 times more toxic than outside.

Don’t despair as there are treatments that break these magnetic bonds.   Your trusted professional carpet and rug cleaning company should carry these treatments and know how to properly use them.   As with any spot cleaning agent it must be used properly or permanent damage may occur.   Again there are no Do It Yourself remedies of which I’m aware.

Holiday Cheer and Removing Red Wine Stains from My Carpet

red wine in a glassIt doesn’t have to be a holiday for certain drinks and foods to cause permanent and unsightly stains in the most visible spot on your carpet.   However you did have a Christmas party, somebody spilled red wine on your gorgeous white Saxony and now what?

In most cases stains are absorbed over time so cleaning the stain while still fresh is important.   This would apply to your “stain resist” Nylon, Olefin and PPT (aromatic polyesters) carpets.    These types of carpets account for more than 85% of the residential carpet being sold today so don’t despair.   If it spilled on your fine wool or Oriental rug then you might be in for a bigger challenge.   Dry red stains can be tough too but chemistry has evolved and can work a few wonders.

Red Grape Wine contains tannin which can be tricky to remove along with beer and other alcoholic beverages.    Tannin is a naturally occurring vegetable dye found in the leaves, barks, stalks and skins of certain plants and found in drinks like Coffee, Colas, Fruit Juices and Tea to name a few.

The following steps can be used remove tannin stains.   Always consult your carpet’s warranty and cleaning recommendations prior to using anything stronger than a mild detergent.   Always blot and never rub.

  1. Blot fresh spills with a an absorbent white towel to extract any excess liquid
  2. Use a quality carpet, laundry or dish detergent and a clean white towel to spot clean the area
  3. Thoroughly rinse the area with a mix of half water and half white vinegar and blot excess liquid
  4. Rinse with plain water, blot and dry thoroughly
  5. If stain still exists then use a tannin stain remover (acid based cleaning agent) following the manufacturer’s instructions.

If the stain still remains there are still options, however I suggest calling a professional carpet cleaner at this point.   A true professional will have access to a wide range of cleaning agents, will be able to properly assess the problem and then suggest the next course of action.   This might include oxidizers, reducers or other chemical treatments that can seriously affect the color dye.

How do Holiday Celebrations bring New Challenges in Carpet Cleaning?

colorful goodiesAs the Christmas, New Year and other celebrated holidays approach, many will find themselves preparing and eating ethnic and traditional foods and goodies.   Decorating the house and wrapping packages will weave its way into our busy schedules too.   But each of these activities has the potential to cause unforeseen specialty spots and stains on your carpets and rugs.   Please keep in mind that cleaning these odd types of soils may require more than just an all purpose cleaning agent.

Some of these specialty carpet stain makers include heated liquors and alcohol, sap from the Christmas tree, sugary teats with food dyes, fruits and dressings.   I have seen bright red wrapping paper leave pink patches on white nylon carpet.   Artificial grass craft paper contains dyed particles that can shake loose, fall to the floor and cause large green stains if they should get wet.   Many of the simple and innocent looking items we see around our homes and businesses during the holidays can cause unsightly damage to our floor coverings.

For the residential consumer, the best advice I can offer is vacuum, vacuum and vacuum; dry soil removal plays a key role in the daily maintenance of your home.   A well maintained carpet will usually have “stain resist” in place and a minimal amount of dry soil.   Both will greatly improve the chances of removing spots and spills from the soiled areas.   Some quick tips for cleaning up minor accidents are listed below.

  • To avoid further damage always pretest cleaning products in an inconspicuous area first.
  • Use a clean white towel to blot up excess liquid from spills and avoid rubbing.
  • Blot on cleaning agents, never pour.
  • Remove as much particulate material before applying spot cleaners.
  • Work spots from the outer edge inward to avoid spreading.

Professional carpet cleaning companies usually carry a variety of specialty products designed to aid in the removal of stubborn stains.    The IICRC can provide a list of trained and certified cleaners based on zip code.   The website also offers a wealth of consumer information.

Easy Tips for Asthma and Allergy Friendly Carpet Cleaning

Dustmites under magnificationRecently while watching television, I noticed a new commercial for a national carpet cleaning company claiming to be the first asthma & allergy friendly™ certified carpet cleaner.   Having an interest in the floor cleaning industry I decided to further review this newly discovered information.

According to the certifying organization’s website , “the asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program, is an independent program created to scientifically test and identify consumer products that are more suitable for people with asthma and allergies”.   In short, the certification is awarded to those Professional Carpet Steam Cleaning procedures that have been scientifically demonstrated to contribute to the goals of allergen reduction.  

Based on these criteria it would appear that only the products and procedures, rather than the individual cleaning technicians performing the work, are receiving the certification.   The effectiveness of this certification then seems limited to the skill, education and ethics of the technician using certified cleaning procedures and products.   If the technician is not performing the procedures properly does this then void the certification?

 Mold spore under magnificationAlthough at present there seems to be only one carpet cleaning company among the masses worthy of the A&A Friendly Certification, have no fear, many cleaning companies out there will continue to meet and exceed these standards just as they have for many years.   There is no dire need or advantage to changing your choice of carpet cleaners now, especially if you have been satisfied with their service.   Asking your local carpet and upholstery cleaning company a few basic questions should put your mind at ease.  Do they use external extraction, such as a truck mount system, to avoid the vacuum from contaminating the indoor air?   Do they use HEPA filters on their equipment?   Some basic steps you can take to reduce allergy and asthma triggers are:

  • Control Mites – wash bedding in 130 plus water at least once per week
  • Avoid Spreading Contaminants – keep windows closed if possible.   Remove garments and fabrics worn outside at the front door and launder.
  • Use a Certified Vacuum – use microfiber clothes and dusters on baseboards, sills, door jambs, air registers, vents and other hard surfaces.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals – avoid using products with heavy scents, VOCs and natural lemon.
  • Change Filters – service and clean air filtration equipment regularly, including vents, registers and ducts.  Use Certified Filters on air conditioning units and change every 60-90 days; follow manufacturer guidelines and recommendations.
  • Humidity – eliminate any water leaks and try to keep humidity levels under 50% to reduce the chances of mold.
  • Hot Water Carpet Cleaning – it’s recommended that carpet and heavier rugs be professionally cleaned 3-4 times per year.   Vacuum fabric upholstery at least once per week.

For the Top Five questions you need to ask your choice in carpet cleaning companies visit