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.

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!

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.

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?

A Properly Maintained Vacuum is an Essential part of Carpet Cleaning

upright vacuumThere’s more to vacuuming your carpet than turning on the power switch and making a few simple passes.   Performing a regular inspection of your vacuum’s belts, filters, brush roller and bag or canister is very important part of proper carpet cleaning procedures.   All components of a vacuum cleaner must work in harmony in order to achieve optimal results.

  • Did you know a vacuum bag that is just 10% full may result in upwards of a 50% reduction in your vacuum’s efficiency?   A vacuum working harder to remove less soil causes a diminished life span of the vacuum itself.   Dry soil and grit left behind translates into more than just dirty carpet.   Particulate soil trapped down in your carpet yarns act like sandpaper, abrading and grinding away, reducing the life of the carpet and giving them that dingy trafficked appearance.   Consult your manufacturer’s manual or user guide for information on when to change the bag or empty the canister.
  • Bristles, brush rolls, agitators or beat bars on your vacuum do a large amount of the cleaning work and require periodic cleaning.   They gently lift the pile and kick up the stubborn particles of soil and other contaminants, allowing them to enter the vacuum’s air stream.  Worn bristles or brushes reduce the amount of debris removed causing soils to remain in the carpet.   Over time rollers and bristles become embedded with soil, hair lint, fuzz, carpet fibers and other nasty foreign materials.   If not cleaned regularly they can create a drag on the vacuum’s motor causing an early demise.   Dirty bristles can also cause built up soils to leave dirty streaks or black marks on the face of a carpet.
  • Vacuum belts are an important part of a vacuum cleaner because they help rotate the brush roller or beater bar.   With every use vacuum belts stretch from normal heat generated by the motor and can easily break.    Jammed or frozen rotating parts will also cause belts to melt, stretch and snap.   The heat created by friction can damage carpet fibers and also cause permanent unsightly black marks on the carpet face.   Ultimately a broken vacuum belt will result in very little soil from being sucked up.
  • Proper maintenance and replacement of  vacuum cleaners’ filters is essential to proper suction and airflow.    Filters trap and prevent the very fine dust particles not collected in the bag or canister from being blown back out into the air.   Some filters also protect the vacuum’s motor.   Blocked filters need to be washed or cleaned in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.   Blocked filters will cause reduced suction and a strain on the motor resulting in early replacement.

A quick check of these basic components before each vacuuming takes just a minute or two.   Residents in the Hazleton PA area can visit Johns Sweeper and Appliance for vacuum replacement parts and accessories.   Customers of Services Etcetera Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning can request a free vacuum inspection with every carpet cleaning.   Visit www.procleaner.biz or call (570)459-0429 for a free carpet cleaning estimate or to schedule an appointment.

Fleas – How to Safely and Effectively Remove them from your Home and Carpet

Picture of a fleaBefore calling an exterminator and paying extreme bills, there are some simple yet effective ways to remove fleas from your pets, home and carpet.   It is important to note that while chemical use and “Green Cleaning” may be a concern, “Natural” remedies can be HAZARDOUS to your pets or small children too.   Whatever methods you choose be conscious of any changes in your family’s behavior and always read labeling information thoroughly.

With the winter months approaching, many Northeast Pennsylvania residents like me will be trying to squeeze in the last few days of nice weather.   Walking the dog, jumping in the leaves, cleaning up yard debris around the home and other outdoor activities may potentially expose you to fleas and other insects.   It is important to have a 3 step action plan:

    1. Treatment and care of pets
    2. Daily vacuuming and housekeeping
    3. A long term plan for treating carpets, rugs and fabrics
  • Ensuring that your pet is not acting as a carrier is the first step in achieving a flea free environment.   Eliminate the source by treating pets for existing fleas and from further contamination.   Purchase a flea comb from your local pet store and groom your pets regularly, especially before they come inside.   Make sure your pet has a flea dip, flea collar, topical treatment or other long term deterrent.   Ask your veterinarian about adding brewer’s yeast to your pet’s food, it causes an unpleasant odor causing fleas to migrate.   Be careful of home remedies made from Eucalyptus, tea tree oils and lemon as they can have serious health effects on your cat or dog.   Nausea, vomiting, lethargy, general weakness and digestive problems may all be indicative of a bad reaction.
  • Removing and killing live fleas, larva and eggs in carpets and fabrics is a daily essential.   Wash any blankets, bedding or linens that may have contacted your pet in hot water and detergent.   Thoroughly vacuum all carpeting, area rugs and upholstered furniture in your home.   Use a strong, bag type vacuum without a worn beater bar.   After vacuuming promptly remove and seal the vacuum bag inside a plastic bag and then discard outside.   Take care to vacuum hard to reach areas as fleas prefer cooler areas not in direct sunlight.   Consider hiring a professional carpet cleaning company that offers hot water extraction also known as steam cleaning.   An IICRC certified carpet cleaner can effectively reach deep down into the base of the carpet yarns removing much more than a typical vacuum.    Remaining vigilant about daily vacuuming of carpet and fabrics is important.  
  • You will not be able to get every last flea the first time around, so besides daily vacuuming you need to have a long term plan.   Even if you manage to kill or remove every remaining flea you still need to combat the eggs and larva waiting to mature.   Products known as insect growth regulators (IGR) disrupt the reproductive cycle of insects and are usually harmless to mammals.    Products containing Nylar such as Bio Spot from “PETCO” or other products found by visiting http://www.domyownpestcontrol.com are effective long term treatments.   Some alternative remedies involve sprinkling diatomaceous earth (DE) or salt directly onto your carpets.   Keep in mind you should wear a respirator when using (DE).   A mixture of borax and water in your home carpet cleaning machine will drown fleas while the borax attaches to the carpet and prevents others from maturing.

In closing it is important to remember that removing fleas from you home will take time and some effort.   Regardless of using a home concoction or a store bought product, always keep an eye out for adverse reactions and follow all packaging and labeling information.   Pest control products only go so far.   Good housekeeping practices and keeping your pet free from fleas should also be a part of any flea control program.

How to Properly Clean and Care for Velvet Upholstery

Velvet upholstered chairThe term “Velvet” refers to a smooth, woven tufted fabric which is traditionally made from Silk.   Other fibers such as cotton, wool, rayon, polyester and nylon can also used.   Constructed using special looms, the local carpet cleaner offering furniture and upholstery cleaning may not fully understand “how to clean Velvet Upholstery”.

Always consult any tags or instructions that have come with your furniture, they may contain special codes such as “X”, “W”, “S” or “S/W”.    This information corresponds to the recommended cleaning method, i.e., vacuum only, wet, dry or both wet/dry.

For routine cleaning and care Velvet should be gently brushed in the direction of the nap, lifting the pile with a fine bristle upholstery brush, vacuumed and then dusted with a soft cloth to remove any remaining fuzz.   Brushing the face at 90 degree angles and finishing in the direction of the nap should remove distortions and restore some of the appeal. Upholstery brush used for grooming fine upholstery and fabric

Velvet is susceptible to crushing and pile distortion so pay careful attention especially when vacuuming.   Swirling air from vacuuming rarely causes a permanent distortion on the sides of upholstery cleaning tools, but care should be taken to test a small area first.

When cleaning fresh spills, try to shake off most of the liquid if possible.   Avoid “crushing” the area by using a white towel to absorb the spot rather than blotting.   Spots, spills and stains that have been absorbed or allowed to dry require a more thorough inspection of the problem.   You can try mixing a few drops of mild detergent in a bowl of water and brush the foam on the area with a dry white cloth.  You can also try a dry cleaning solution and gently dab the spot with a towel and always follow the directions provided.

I highly suggest that velvet fabrics made from natural fibers be cleaned by a professional upholstery cleaning company.   An IICRC certified cleaning technician should carry a full complement of brushes, groomers, towels, sponges, cleaning solutions and equipment.   Residents of Northeast PA with questions about caring for fine furnishings can contact Services Etcetera Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning, an IICRC Certified Textile Cleaning Firm based in Hazleton.