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.

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.

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.

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.

The Worst Advice we’ve ever heard about Carpet Cleaning

Clean carpet in rollsBeing an IICRC certified carpet cleaning firm and celebrating 24 years in business this month, we have heard a few old wives tales that are common misconceptions circulating throughout our industry.   Among all the many myths about carpet are concerns over proper cleaning, especially expecting the carpet to soil more quickly after having it professionally cleaned.   That is the Worst Advice we’ve ever heard and we call it rapid re-soiling.
From time to time we encounter a customer who has put off cleaning their carpets for many years, believing that after cleaning their floor covering it will become soiled more quickly.   This is very far from the truth and when properly cleaned, rinsed and maintained, there is no evidence to support this belief.    I can’t stress enough, the importance of the word “properly”.  

Some of the factors contributing to Rapid Re-soiling are:

  • Dry soil removal prior to wet cleaningvacuuming all particulate soil prior to wet cleaning is a very important step.    Remaining dry soils in the carpet can wick back up to the tips of the carpet yarns as they dry.   Thus we have the appearance that the carpet became dirty again after a few hours.
  • Type of cleaning solution used oil and water do not mix.   Using the wrong solutions can leave behind oily soils which may not become visible until a few days later.   The oils attract and trap dry soil passing over the carpet fibers and result in a dingy appearance after a short period of time.   Some high Ph cleaners and silicone based protectors can actually cause a condition known as “yellowing”.
  • Failure to rinserinse agents are employed to neutralize the remaining soapy residue some cleaning agents can leave behind.   Soap residue attracts and collects dirt from the bottom of shoes resulting in clean shoes and a dirty floor.    
  • Drying timedrying time may vary with environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity and air flow.   However it is essential to extract as much moisture from the carpet as possible.   Extended drying times contribute to wicking and can leave carpet looking filthy after they dry.

There are other conditions which can result in a rapidly re-soiling carpet however these are the most common.   Do your homework before hiring a carpet cleaner.   Read the manufacturer’s warranty for important and helpful information.   Also read the ”5 Questions to ask before hiring a Carpet Cleaner”.

 

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.

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.

My Upholstered Furniture has Fuzzy Balls known as “Pilling”, can this be Cleaned?

Pilling on fabric upholsteryFuzzy looking balls that appear on the surface of fabric upholstery are a condition known as “pilling”.   Pilling can happen to the most expensive fabric as well as the cheapest.   Usually pilling cannot be cleaned away but may be the result of improper cleaning along with other factors.   Have no fear though, there is a way to fix the problem and spruce up the appearance of your furniture.

Most mass produced fabrics and textiles are woven on mechanical looms where individual yarns are intertwined horizontally and vertically.  One set of yarns are called the “Weft” and one set are called the “Warp”.   Normally the weft yarns are a set of threads running a pattern through the warp yarns.   Pilling usually occurs when tightly strung warp yarns snap and twist into knots.    Breakage of these yarns may not be noticeable except for the pilling but certain weaves may reveal inconsistencies.  

Barber's electric shearsAlthough carpet and upholstery cleaners may not be able to clean these little “pills” away, a true professional can easily remove them using an electric barber’s shears.   When attempting this procedure it is important to always first pre-test in an inconspicuous location.   Simply shave across the surface of the problem area moving slowly and checking that more damage is not being created.   There are some “DIY” pill removers for clothing and furniture on the market; however they may not be readily available or aggressive enough to tackle the job.   A fresh and clean set of electric trimmers can efficiently and effectively be used while reducing damage from pulling and snagging.

Again, pilling is usually not correct by cleaning or washing.   I highly advise that you DO NOT remove cushion covers and place them in a washing machine as some other methods suggest.   Seat cushions may shrink and distort.   When washed separate the cushions might not match or may look cleaner than the other components of the furniture.

When deciding which fabric is the best choice for your home or office in Northeast Pennsylvania, consult the experts at Fierros Fine Furniture of Hazleton, www.http://fierrofurniturestore.com.      When considering hiring a “Certified IICRC Upholstery Cleaner”, request a free estimate by email from Services Etcetera Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning.