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.

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 http://aafa.org/ , “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 http://www.nepacarpetcleaning.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-hiring-a-carpet-and-upholstery-cleaner.

The Four Factors for Effective Carpet Cleaning

Oriental rug being cleaned using the extraction processThere are four factors to be considered when it comes to effective carpet cleaning.   I use the word “effective” because cleaning carpet is not just soap and hot water.  They only account for half of the equation.

  • Cleaning solution strength
  • Water temperature
  • Dwell time
  • Mechanical agitation

The strength of water based carpet cleaning solutions is measured in Ph.   Solutions with a Ph range of 7.5-9 are common but it’s always wise to consult the manufacturer’s warranty information.   The wrong Ph can cause a host of issues including harm to the face fibers and backing materials, removal of factory applied spot and stain protection, rapid re-soiling and discoloration.

Dwell time, or the length of time the active cleaning solution is allowed to act on the soil being cleaned, is a crucial to the cleaning process.   Today, professional carpet cleaning companies apply pre-sprays before performing the actual cleaning process.   Dwell times will vary from product to product but should range from 5-15 minutes.   Rinsing agents are usually then employed to eliminate soapy residues, leaving the carpet clean, soft and not sticky.

In addition to solutions and dwell time, mechanical agitation and heat also play an equally important part in the cleaning of carpets and rugs.   Mechanical agitation can be the high pressure spray from an extractor wand’s jets, a rotating bonnet, brush or pad or the use of a groomer.   Care must be taken not to over wet the backing of the carpet being cleaned and to not disturb the natural twist and lay of the carpet’s face yarns.

The way in which a carpet lays is due in part to heat setting by the manufacturer.   Excessive heat either created through friction from a brush or pad or from the temperature of the cleaning solution being used, can permanently ruin your broadloom.   Water temperatures within the range of 120-200°F are usually considered normal for hot water extraction; however that is not the actual temperature of the atomized mist once it reaches the face of the carpet.

In closing it should be noted that the science of carpet cleaning is continuously evolving.   The changes in environmental regulation, new types of construction materials and customer expectations continue to drive these changes.   The four main factors for effective carpet cleaning will always play a critical role in the just how well the job gets done!   Finding the correct balance of “Cleaning Solution”, “Heat”, “Dwell Time” and “Mechanical Agitation” is the key to effective cleaning.

 

Education, Certification and Today’s Carpet Cleaning Industry

IICRC Certified FirmOne of the top 3 trends in the carpet care industry today is training. New cleaning techniques, environmental regulations, face fiber compositions and developments in manufacturing almost command the need for staying educated. Certifying bodies and organizations dedicated to improving the cleaning industry are a great way for carpet cleaners and building maintenance professionals to keep pace with the latest innovations.

Aside from the soft feel and insulating properties associated with carpets, they are also a common source for dust mites, soils, allergens and other contaminants.    Carpets and rugs also become visibly soiled from time to time and require periodic maintenance.    Just as your car and other expensive investments require some professional TLC in order to extend their lifespan, carpets too need attention.   It really does make sense to hire a trained and knowledgeable professional.  

Some consumers think that using a rented grocery store carpet cleaning machine and a little bit of laundry detergent is all you need in order to tidy up filthy floors.   However, different fiber compositions and evolving technologies add challenges to an ever changing floor covering industry.   The main goals for the cleaning industry are to create safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly products and technologies that will keep carpets lasting longer, looking cleaner between cleanings and ensure a safe consumer and environmental experience.   Understanding these concepts requires a dedication to continuing education.

The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, Restoration and Certification(IICRC) is just one of a few respected educational organizations for cleaning and restoration companies.   Certified firms are required to maintain two continuing education credits every four years.   But education is just one consideration when choosing a professional cleaning firm.     It’s also a good idea to consult your manufacturer’s warranty to understand what’s recommended to keep your carpet in good repair.   

Why Carpet Cleaning needs to be part of Spring Cleaning Routine

Children playing on clean carpetSpring is known throughout history and in most cultures as a time for purification, renewal and rejuvenation.   Aside from all the religious and pagan rituals citing spring as a time for purification, health should be a main reason for having your carpet and upholstery professionally cleaned.

After being cooped up with winters accumulating soil and germs it’s finally time to open the windows and let in some fresh air.   Carpeted floors and upholstered furniture all act like large air filters collecting any particulate soil that comes floating by.    Rugs, carpets and entry mats are considered the lungs of the house as most nasty allergy causing agents and other contaminants fall to the lowest point.   Studies have shown that inside air can be 5 times more toxic than outside air.

In addition to making your expensive home interior investments just look clean remember this; hair sprays, perfumes, common dirt, germs, spills, winter slush and other nasty substances have gathered and nested in your textiles for the last few months.   It’s time to remove these potentially harmful materials for an effective and healthy “spring cleaning”.

Choosing a true and trained cleaning professional can ensure a deeper cleaning and properly filtered equipment to eliminate soils from becoming airborne again while using safer and more effective cleaning solutions.   Just think of the cost of renting or purchasing a DIY carpet cleaner, the gas to get there, purchasing the detergents and selecting the proper carpet and fabric protectors and other specialty agents.   Then you still need to move the furniture and do the cleaning.  Hiring a reputable carpet cleaning company will actually save you time, money and aggravation in the long run while getting better results.  

On the subject of fabric upholstery, a thorough dry vacuuming is your first line of defense.   But it is important to make sure your vacuum cleaner is not blowing the soil back into the air.   Truck mounted cleaning systems have their vacuums located externally and therefore all soils are safely removed and collected outside the home.   If you decide to shampoo the furniture yourself make yourself aware of the manufacturer’s recommended instructions for cleaning.   Always check for the following codes as they each represent a recommended cleaning method;

  • “X” – Vacuum Only
  • “W” –  Wet Clean
  • “S” – Dry Clean
  • “W/S” – Wet or Dry Clean

Make carpet and upholstery cleaning an important part of your spring program.   Clean for health as well as aesthetics.    Above all read your manufacturer’s warranty and always follow their recommendations.

5 Important Questions to ask when Purchasing Carpet for your Home

Picture of bamboo carpet samplesWhen researching his or her subjects a good journalist considers who, what, when, where and why.   These are just a few questions you should be asking yourself when considering new carpet for your home.   Make a list of your habits, hobbies and other particulars that will help guide some of the decisions your sales rep may present. 

Why carpet and not hardwood or laminate flooring?

  1. Carpet is less expensive than hardwood flooring and may be easier on your budget.    The price of carpeting depends heavily on the quality.
  2. Carpet is quick and easy to install requiring far less time and labor.
  3. Carpeting acts as an insulator and is soft and warm underneath your feet.

Who will occupy the carpeted areas?

  1. Pet owners should consider the ease of cleaning up after an accident.   Laminates might be a better choice.
  2. Are there young children in the home?   Toddlers are prone to falling and carpet will cushion the impact.  
  3. Families that move frequently might consider return on investment when selling a home.    Buyers these days prefer hardwood.    Carpeting won’t command the same return for your investment.
  4. Individuals with allergies need consider that carpeting collects dust, pet hair and other debris.   When properly maintained carpet can keep these contaminants from easily becoming airborne.   Regular and professional carpet cleaning is recommended.

 What areas will I be carpeting and what are my expectations?

  1.  A high traffic living room or hallway might require more durable and tougher face fibers, providing greater resistance to stains.   In these areas a stain resistant nylon may be a good choice.
  2. In bathrooms, sun porches and laundry rooms susceptible to moisture, cleaning chemicals and or direct sunlight, olefin carpet would be a better choice.   It has superior resistance to bleaches, damage from moisture and color fading.   Olefin doesn’t last as long as nylon carpeting and you will usually see this type of carpeting in pool houses, basements, or other spaces that are not heavily used and that do not receive heavy foot traffic.
  3.  Looking for a carpet that ranks in strength between nylon and olefin carpet and has a very low price tag.    Consider polyester, it is non-allergenic, sheds moisture and resists moths and mildew at a lower cost than wool or nylon. While it’s susceptible to pilling, shedding and oil-based stains, it otherwise cleans fairly easily.
  4. The Carpet Buyers Handbook is an excellent reference for choosing the correct face fiber based on particular applications. 

 When is a good time to purchase my new carpet?

  1. Look for sales or slow periods to get a good deal.   However installation is another consideration.    Most “off-gassing” of new carpet occurs within the first 24 hours or so.   Schedule carpet installation when the weather is a bit warmer so you can open the windows for some air movement.   Properly ventilate with good air exchange for approximately 48 to 72 hours.   The new carpet smell should dissipate within this time.

Where should I purchase my carpet?

  1. Preparing yourself by understanding who, what, when and why will help you choose where you buy.   At least you will be able to tell if the salesman is knowledgeable or just trying to make a sale.
  2. Get referrals from friends and relatives.   Check with the Better Business Bureau.
  3. In Hazleton PA and surrounding areas, the professional staff of Bonomo’s Carpet and Floor Covering is a trusted name for sales and service.

How to Limit Damage to Floor Coverings caused by Deicers

Picture of Magic Ice MeltIn the harsh winter months facility managers are faced with the extra task of dealing with icy walkways and the interior mess caused by ice melting products.   Homeowners too struggle with many of the same dilemmas.   Ignoring the slick surfaces can lead to legal action and injury.   Dealing with the ice can potentially cause damage to carpets, wood floors, metal sills and the outdoor walkways themselves.   They can also be harmful to pets, animals and vegetation.   A good start to any winter maintenance program is a general understanding of the various types of deicing compounds.

Though many brands of ice melts are available on the market today, there are basically only two main types.   One type is chlorides and they contain some type of salt.   The other type is urea, also known as carbamide, usually found in animal feed and fertilizers.     Each has its own pros and cons and careful consideration should be taken to choose the one that best fits your particular application.

  • Sodium Chloride – sometimes referred to as Rock Salt or Halite, it can be quite destructive to a variety of building materials.   With limited effectiveness below 20°F, splintering to wood floors and dry rot to carpets and rugs are common problems along with hazy white stains.   It can also cause corrosion to steel and damage concrete and vegetation.
  • Calcium Chloride – similar to sodium chloride but effective to -25°F, this compound can leave oily residues that attract excess soil on carpets and make smooth surfaces such as VCT and ceramic tiles slippery.   It can also cause damage to vegetation and the wax and urethane finishes on wood floors.
  • Potassium Chloride – although it may be used in fertilizers, the concentrations used in ice melt products are not necessarily safe for plants and landscaping.   Good to about 12°F it is less corrosive than other products and effective at preventing icy buildup on walkways.
  • Magnesium Chloride – effective to -5°F, safer for vegetation, less corrosive and less harmful to concrete.   However after a short period of time it usually loses its ice melting capability calling for additional applications where there are larger amounts of snow and ice.
  • Urea – effective to about 15°F and a safer and less corrosive way to melt ice and snow.    It also provides nitrogen to plant roots although run off into waterways may cause issues.   Some urea based deicers are susceptible to caking both during storage and after application, making cleanup more difficult.

Wet mopping ice melt residue from lobby floorWhen trying to prevent damage to carpets, wood floors, rugs and other floor surfaces, regular and frequent cleaning is important.   Wet mopping with a mildly acidic detergent can help neutralize any residues.    For stained and soiled carpet your local professional carpet cleaner can assist in stain removal.   A comprehensive walk off mat program can aide in containing the spread of tracked in soils.  According to the Dow Chemical Corporation using more than called for does not do a better job.   Avoid excess application of deicers as more is not better and always follow the product recommendations listed on the container.