Archive for Carpet cleaning tips

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.

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 , “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

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.