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.

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.   

The 3 Ways to Control Reoccurring Pet Odors in Carpet

Does your home experience a reoccurring pet smell that seems to come and go with the changes in the weather?   No matter what you try the foul and embarrassing scent returns.   Humidity may be a factor and with summer coming soon it will only get worse.   Odors that seem to come and go, or change in intensity are an indication that bacteria and other contaminants are present.  

Three ways to control a pet related odor are

  • Completely remove the source
  •  Seal in the source
  • Masking over the foul smell with a more pleasant scent

Masking should only be considered as a temporary fix because the source still remains and can pose health problems.   It can also cause further damage to your carpet or sub floor.   Never place a liquid or deodorizing scent somewhere it can’t easily be removed.

Sealing in the source of an odor should be considered where the contaminated surface is highly porous and previous attempts to remove the contamination are proving ineffective.  This may require peeling back the carpet to expose the carpet padding and sub-floor.   Before sealing make sure the area is thoroughly washed, dry and able to be painted.   Most hardware stores carry sealing products for a variety of odor and surface applications and that can be painted on with a brush or in a spray.  

Completely removing the source of an unpleasant odor can also require peeling back the carpet to expose the carpet padding and sub-floor.   Other times flushing the area with the proper odor counteractant and a water claw might be effective.   Sometimes a syringe can be used to inject an enzymatic digester behind the carpet’s face.  Your professional IICRC certified carpet cleaner can help you choose the best plan of attack.

It also important to note that odors can saturate porous surfaces such as curtains, ceiling tiles, fabrics and unfinished wood.   You may eliminate the source of an odor however residual smells absorbed by other surfaces may remain.   Residual odors may dissipate but most likely an ozone machine or fogger may need to be employed.

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.

Preventing Busted Water Pipes in Frigid Temperatures can be Dangerous

 

home engulfed in flamesYou turn on the TV and hear the weather man say that temperatures are dipping into the single digits and as always you say “honey make sure the windows are latched it’s going to get cold tonight”.   Then you head into the garage or basement and grab the space heaters or perhaps you have them set up already near your pipes.   You may even have a few set up to supplement your heat.

These seem like harmless things you have done in the past.   However, never become complacent when it comes to fire safety.   You should be asking yourself; do I have Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors, fresh batteries and a fire extinguisher?   Have I thoroughly inspected the areas where I’m placing the heaters to ensure I haven’t overlooked something?

Tape, plastic ties and other materials used to secure insulation and pipe wraps can also succumbed to the cold temperature and crack, become loose or just fail.   That can result in flammable material falling onto heat sources.   Combustibles might be stored nearby, vaporize and ignite.   These are items that can cause more damage than broken water lines.   These are items which can cost lives.

According to FEMA  

  • An estimated 900 portable heater fires occur annually in the United States.
  • Only 2 percent of residential building heating fires involve portable heaters, but these fires account for 25 percent of fatal residential building heating fires.
  •  Residential building portable heater fires peak in February (21 percent).
  • Thirty-four percent of residential building portable heater fires occur in bedrooms. Of these fires, 23 percent are started by bedding such as blankets, sheets, and comforters.
  • Fifty percent of the residential building portable heater fires occur because the heat source is too close to combustibles.

Keeping your primary heat source up a few degrees and running the water slightly are safe alternatives to space heaters.   If it is necessary to use space heaters make sure you perform a thorough inspection of all areas prior to each use, make sure you have working extinguishers and at the very least smoke detectors and an emergency plan.  

Residents of Hazleton PA and surrounding areas I would much rather correct damage caused by frozen plumbing than learn of my customers’ early demise for lack of some $10 items and a simple inspection.

Pardon the Interruption while we pause for Station Identification

TV sign off screenYou might be wondering what a “professional carpet cleaning company” and TV and radio stations both have in common?   Aside from Broadloom and Broadcasting each containing a common word, both know there is a proper time and place to take a short pause for letting your audience know just who you are.   To the customer this establishes a sense of legitimacy and also displays a concern for their trust and time.

Taking it a step further, broadcasters usually identify the different channels they operate, coverage areas and sometimes the network programs they carry.   “Carpet cleaners” and other service businesses for that matter aren’t much different as they mention their name, credentials, serving area and the additional services they offer.   In either case the pause or plug must be done at the proper time, without major inconvenience and provide useful and pertinent information.   It’s a necessary evil that does serve a legitimate purpose.

According to “Wikipedia” the FCC, U.S. radio and television stations are required to identify themselves at the beginning and ending of each time of operation.   Radio stations are required to verbally identify themselves each hour; they must announce their legal call sign followed immediately by the station’s community of license.   I’m not aware of any regulation requiring cleaning companies to identify themselves at any certain time and frequency however we know that failure to do so will result in a short lived business venture.    

For the residential carpet cleaning audience, our station identification should definitely occur at the beginning and end of each operation.   Hello, my name is Bob from Services Etcetera Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning, I’m an IICRC certified cleaning technician and I’m here to clean your carpets today.   Our home office is located in Hazle Township and we also offer additional services like furniture cleaning, fine area rug cleaning, odor control and pet accident cleanup.   If there is anything else I can asses for you today please let me know.   A simple 30 second statement at the proper time no longer seems like an interruption but more like a courtesy.

Even neglecting to periodically broadcast our company name frequently and regularly to customers who have used our service will leave them saying; “that carpet cleaning company I used the last time did a fantastic job but it’s been a while and I can’t seem to remember their name”.   Just like when I’m driving down the road and can’t seem to tune in a favorite radio station, I hit the “seek button”.   The last thing a carpet cleaning business needs is a satisfied customer hitting the seek button and finding the competition.   Done properly, regular mailings, emails and or courtesy calls keep your name fresh in the mind of your audience.

According to WNEP Channel 16, Mahanoy City is known as the birthplace of cable TV with their new headquarters just down the road in Hazleton, PA.    Having been raised in this area I’ve witnessed firsthand how many broadcasters have experienced increased competition.   Regardless of the amount of competition I can very easily tell you the names of the successful ones.   That’s due in part to the Pause for Station Identification!

Pet Accidents on Carpet include more than just Cleaning Urine, Feces and Vomit

Carpets and rugs are prone to pet accidentsA recent pet emergency at my home this past holiday week reminded me that pet accidents can involve more than just odors and the usual urine and fecal carpet stain related problems.   Our 10 year old Black Lab, Princess Cleopatra, had a terrible medical issue and the mess in my home required a thorough deep carpet cleaning and sanitizing.

On the Monday before Thanksgiving, I arose from my bed at 6am and started toward the coffee only to step in several wet areas on the carpet.   My first thought was the dog had gotten sick and vomited as she was not feeling well the night before.  But the more I stepped, the more I began to change my mind and started thinking maybe she had urinary problems.   I spotted the dog at the top of the stairs and seeing that her entire rear end, rear legs and tail were completely soaking wet I knew we had bigger problems.

Upon further investigation my wife and I determined that Cleo had a serious infection which was causing a continuous and foul smelling discharge of blood and nasty fluids.   After rushing my faithful hunting companion and best friend to the Hazleton Veterinary Hospital, the fantastic staff there examined and admitted her for emergency surgery.   She needed to have her uterus removed.   Everything went well but now we were faced with the daunting task of cleaning up the extremely soiled carpet.

Identifying the properties and composition of the contaminants we were attempting to clean was our first consideration.   In this case we were dealing with blood which would normally require a protein type carpet spot cleaner.   Not only was there blood to consider but the byproducts of an infection, bacteria and possibly urine too.  That would require an “EPA Registered” germicidal cleaner.

My carpet extractor was not readily available so I had to initially make do with household items.   I was lucky enough to be able to use some clean white towels to quickly absorb the mess from the carpet before it had time to dry.   Also the mess did not penetrate the carpet backing and I did not need to treat the sub-floor or carpet padding.

Until I was able to use my carpet cleaning equipment, I used a mixture of about 10-12 ounces of water and one teaspoon of liquid laundry soap in a spray bottle.   Most liquid laundry detergents contain the necessary ingredients for doing an excellent job of cleaning carpet spots which are protein based.   I continued to spray and blot the area until there was no more visible transfer of the soil into the towel.   When spot cleaning most protein carpet spots and stains definitely avoid the use of hot water.   Heat can set a protein stain making it permanent and reduce the chances of a successful removal.  When attempting to remove a protein stain use cool water.

Furthermore I needed to treat the carpet for germs and bacteria due to the nature and severity of the incident.    Your local professional carpet cleaning company should carry a disinfectant.   Once I had access to my cleaning equipment, my choice was a product called “Microban Disinfectant Spray Plus”.   Microban Disinfectant Spray Plus is a water-based bactericide, fungicide, deodorant, and antimicrobial all in one unique formulation. One application kills allergy- and disease-causing germs, fungi, mold, and mildew. It kills odor-causing bacteria, including gram negative bacteria — the bacteria encountered in sewage backups and toilet overflow situations.

After the day was over we did use our hot water extraction carpet cleaning system to finish off the job.   If you encounter a pet emergency in the Hazleton PA or surrounding areas I “highly recommend” the Hazleton Veterinary Hospital located at 1094 N.Church Street in Hazle Township.   If your troubles require the services of a “professional carpet cleaner”, Services Etcetera Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning is located just down the road at 1620 N.Church Street, Suite #3.  We offer a full line of products and services to assist in sanitizing and removing pet stains and odors.   Call us at (570)459-0429 or request a free online estimate.

 

Cheap and Easy Holiday Carpet Spot Cleaning “Do’s and Don’ts”

Technician spot cleaning carpet spotWhether you are preparing for holiday guests or cleaning up after them, you can eliminate permanent carpet damage and or a costly bill from your local carpet cleaner by being prepared and tending to those little accidents promptly.  With the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays quickly approaching, it seems that with each passing year, there is more and more to prepare.   More places at the table to set, more deadlines to meet and more things to forget or just subconsciously put off until the last minute.   Now is a perfect time to make sure you have your carpet spot and spill cleaning response items close at hand.

Believe it or not you are probably almost very close to being prepared right now, you just need to get organized and informed on carpet cleaning basics.   Many of the following household items can be used to quickly clean up common domestic mishaps. Clear white vinegar can be used for carpet spot cleaning

  • White absorbent towels
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Vinegar
  • Ammonia
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Spray bottle

Some of the spills and spots on your carpet during the holiday season are likely to be protein in nature.    Proteins can be found in milk, eggs, baby formula, coffee and other similar food items.    Other unsightly marks on your rugs or carpet might be oily.   Some bathroom and cosmetic products contain oils, someone’s shoes might track in tar or cooking oil might splash off the stove.   Holiday guests and visitors may bring a pet that has an accident causing pet urine odors.   Having the items mentioned above in one easy to reach location will save the day.

Each type of spot and stain on a rug is unique and needs to be treated different than others.   However a few basic principals apply.

  •  Blot, don’t rub.   Rubbing permanently distorts the carpet pile.
  • Use a dull edge such as a spoon for scraping dry material.
  • Spray or blot, don’t pour spot cleaning solutions.   Pouring may damage the carpet backing.
  • Always pretest cleaning solutions.   Test for adverse reactions first in an inconspicuous location.
  • Check your warranty information.   Carpet warranties usually give spot cleaning guidelines.

For a short demonstration on “carpet spot cleaning basics” watch our 2 minute video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyZR8fhipK8.

Protein soils can be treated using 2 tablespoons of clear white vinegar, a dash of dish soap and 6 ounces of water.    

Oil based spots can be cleaned using denatured alcohol.   However some spots may contain both oil and water based compounds and may require the use of dish detergent too.   Watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ianN1VKReUc.

Pet urine stains and odors can be counteracted with a half and half mixture of vinegar and water.   Check out other specific and informative “DIY carpet cleaning tips” by Services Etcetera Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning of Hazleton PA. 

Again, getting a few simple household items ready and in one location now can save time, aggravation and money on a rug cleaning service call in the future.   I highly suggest viewing some of the aforementioned videos for more specific instructions concerning different types of spills and spots on your rug.

5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner

Carpet cleaning pre spray being mixed for commercial applicationWhen your pet has an accident on the carpet or someone has a spill it can be stressful enough, but choosing a “professional carpet cleaner” that best fits your needs can be more taxing.   There are a few factors that should be considered when making your final decision.   Having cleaned carpets in the Mountaintop PA, Berwick PA and Hazleton PA areas for 24 years, I highly recommend the following 5 steps for choosing a Professional Carpet Cleaning Company should be taken into consideration.     

  1. Narrowing Down the Field – first consult your warranty documents whether it’s upholstery or carpets.   The information provided by the manufacturer not only includes specific instructions for approved cleaning methods but most warranties now specify the certifications your cleaning company should possess.   Not following these guidelines may void your warranty.
  2. Look for an “IICRC” or “The Clean Trust” certified firm – when doing your research.   Companies like Services Etcetera Professional Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning and bearing these certifications are required to update their training regularly, adhere to a code of ethics and are usually the carpet mill’s preferred choice to handle warranty claims.
  3. Ask your Prospects – where they are located and if they are a franchise or chain operation.   Shopping locally, within 20-30 miles, will provide you more accurate references and better your chances at finding someone who wants a relationship rather than just another sale.   Remember, the handsome and knowledgeable serviceman in the TV commercial is not the person showing up at your door.
  4. Ask about a Guarantee – a reputable business either offers one with conditions or they won’t offer one at all.   Beware of the guy who promises the world because there is no magic wand and a true professional will usually under promise and try exceed your expectations.
  5. Word of Mouth Referrals – are an excellent source of information, ask a relative, friend or colleague.   Ask the company you call to provide the references; maybe they have a customer who had a situation similar to yours.   Having worked in the cleaning industry for over 23 years I maintain a file of report cards, pictures and other testimonials from my customers.

   After making your choice it’s a good idea to address your expectation up front to avoid any misunderstandings.   But the five questions you should be asking before you hire a carpet and upholstery cleaner are what does my warranty say, what certifications do they have, are they local, is there a guarantee and do they have references?

What you need to know about the Cleanup of Tear Gas

With the increased illegal drug dealing and crime activity here in Northeast Pennsylvania, especially in Hazleton PA, landlords and property managers are being subjected to damage and clean up from tear gas used by the Police and other law enforcement agencies.   This noxious substance can continue to cause problems even after months of its deployment without proper clean up.

One problem with teargas is that it doesn’t go away and will continue to off gas and cause respiratory issues and nasal, eye and mouth irritation.   There are several different types of tear gas currently used in the United States with each having its own characteristics and methods for cleaning.   The most common types of tear gas are CN, CS and CR.

These products irritate mucous membranes and are not a single product.   They are comprised of multiple compounds and cause coughing, pain, tearing eyes, sneezing and temporary blindness.   It’s important to know which type you are dealing with as “CN” is more toxic, requiring additional precautions.    Proper cleaning of CN should include the use of carbon filters for odor absorption, adequate ventilation and maintaining a room temperature of about 100 degrees (F).

When dealing with the “CS” type the rooms need to be kept cool to avoid spreading the gas.   CS is usually yellow in color, a fine powder, combined with a propylene glycol-based liquid and dispersed into the air.   A thorough vacuuming with proper ventilation and filtration needs to be performed.

“CR” gas is a possible carcinogen but considered less toxic if ingested or absorbed through the skin.   More powerful than the CS kind, CR is used less widely.

Other things to consider when you encounter this type of situation are the use of Personal Protective Equipment such as respirators, protective clothing and skin creams.   Sealing off and or cleaning of the HVAC system is a good idea too.

When cleaning and deodorizing the fabrics, area rugs, furniture and carpet, call Services Etcetera Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning for a free assessment at www.procleaner.biz.    Serving Berwick PA, Hazleton PA, Mountaintop PA, the Pocono Mountains and surrounding areas, we are an IICRC certified firm in “Odor Control” with Journeyman Textile Cleaners on staff.

With the increased illegal drug dealing and crime activity here in Northeast Pennsylvania, especially in Hazleton PA, landlords and property managers are being subjected to damage and clean up from tear gas used by the Police and other law enforcement agencies.   This noxious substance can continue to cause problems even after months of its deployment without proper clean up.

One problem with teargas is that it doesn’t go away and will continue to off gas and cause respiratory issues and nasal, eye and mouth irritation.   There are several different types of tear gas currently used in the United States with each having its own characteristics and methods for cleaning.   The most common types of tear gas are CN, CS and CR.

These products irritate mucous membranes and are not a single product.   They are comprised of multiple compounds and cause coughing, pain, tearing eyes, sneezing and temporary blindness.   It’s important to know which type you are dealing with as “CN” is more toxic, requiring additional precautions.    Proper cleaning of CN should include the use of carbon filters for odor absorption, adequate ventilation and maintaining a room temperature of about 100 degrees (F).

When dealing with the “CS” type the rooms need to be kept cool to avoid spreading the gas.   CS is usually yellow in color, a fine powder, combined with a propylene glycol-based liquid and dispersed into the air.   A thorough vacuuming with proper ventilation and filtration needs to be performed.

“CR” gas is a possible carcinogen but considered less toxic if ingested or absorbed through the skin.   More powerful than the CS kind, CR is used less widely.

Other things to consider when you encounter this type of situation are the use of Personal Protective Equipment such as respirators, protective clothing and skin creams.   Sealing off and or cleaning of the HVAC system is a good idea too.

When cleaning and deodorizing the fabrics, area rugs, furniture and carpet, call Services Etcetera Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning for a free assessment at www.procleaner.biz.    Serving Berwick PA, Hazleton PA, Mountaintop PA, the Pocono Mountains and surrounding areas, we are an IICRC certified firm in “Odor Control” with Journeyman Textile Cleaners on staff.