Friday, June 21, 2013

Use the Right Tools to Clean

Your carpet is one of the most visible features of your home. Carpet and rugs can be expensive to replace but, with some routine maintenance, can maintain a fresh appearance for years. The key word is “routine.” Keeping carpets clean means more than the occasional pass with the vacuum cleaner. Regular vacuuming with a well-maintained and properly-filtered vacuum cleaner can go a long way to keeping carpet looking new, in between cleanings.

Even with regular sweeping, normal traffic from children, from pets and from outdoor debris can soil carpet fibers and dull the appearance of your carpet. This is why a regular cleaning regimen with a professional carpet cleaner is important.  Your carpet may appear clean on the surface, but periodic cleaning by a certified
technician can remove what you can’t see and help your carpet retain its fresh appearance.

One easy way to keep carpets fresh-looking is, while vacuuming heavily trafficked areas, crisscross these places multiple times. Just one pass of a household vacuum is usually enough to dislodge the most superficial dirt; deep-down particles need more work. Even if the carpet looks clean, it’s not. Dirt and debris can lurk underneath the surface fibers and contribute to lingering odors.

Some carpet types are harder to clean than others, and the material of the fabric, dyes used and length of the pile all factor into this.  Since the construction and sturdiness of the fibers are also variables that affect how maintenance is performed, consider hiring a professional when the correct approach is unclear, especially for the most persistent stains and invasive odors.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Life Happens


Life happens between professional cleaning appointments, however, so there are times when you will have to clean tough stains appearing from random spills, mishaps and accidents. When a spill happens, it’s important to act quickly, but not rashly.  The first step would be to contain the stain; ensure a stain does not spread by blotting to soak up the liquid, rather than using a rubbing motion. Also, start at the edges of the spill and work towards the center. Once you’ve blotted up the excess liquid, you’re not done.

Read the labels on cleaning solutions, because not all of them are suitable for all stains. Some solutions have bleaching properties appropriate for certain colors or fibers but may damage others. A solution that may be fine on one rug may entirely ruin another. How do you know? Perform a spot-test on a leftover carpet remnant is a good way to see if discoloration will happen if you use the solution. (Of course, a professional cleaning service would render these services unnecessary, as these trained technicians know the right products and techniques for different cleaning situations.)

Some spills require different approaches. For example, red wine is a particularly difficult spot to treat and remove. Red wine, along with coffee and tea, is heavily saturated with organic compounds called “tannins.” The astringency from the tannins is what causes the dry and pucker feeling in the mouth following red wine consumption, and the modification of tannins over time plays an important role in the aging of wine. If improperly treated on the first try, a red-wine spot could become a permanent stain. Red wine may also have a reddish blue dye produced by the red grapes used to make the wine. If blotting excess liquid doesn’t yield results, a small amount of white wine may be used to restore a red wine spot. Nonetheless, a red wine stain should be examined by a professional carpet cleaning service before any extensive treatment.

Due to the presence of tannin, coffee and tea spills can also present cleaning challenges. Because they are so popular, coffee and tea drinks present frequent opportunities for spilling on carpets, area rugs and upholstery.  Never scrub coffee and tea stains; gently blot excess liquid with white absorbent towels and treat the area with cleaning products specifically designed for coffee and tea. Other product will permanently set the stain. If the stain is stubborn, consult with a professional cleaning service.

Pet stains are probably the most common household spots. There are many products on the market for treating pet stains; all pets are different with many variables (type, breed, diet, etc.), so consider your options carefully. In general, follow these steps:
First, gently remove any excess solid or liquid waste. Liquid waste should be blotted – never scrubbed! Do this using a white towel. Solid waste should be gently scooped away.
Second, allow the rest of solid waste to completely dry and then gently remove loose waste with a vacuum.
Third, treat both solid and liquid waste spots with an enzyme-based spotter designed for pet use. Do not blot up the spotter; allow it to dry.

Drying the carpet is an underestimated and often-overlooked part of the cleanup process. Wet carpet fibers and fabric can quickly pick up dirt if subjected to traffic and can result in musty odors if furniture is moved to a damp area. Give wet carpet plenty of time to dry.

Blood stains are an unusual occurrence in most homes and, fortunately, are usually small and don’t have enough volume to penetrate fibers deeply. Blood is a protein-based stain like urine and feces. If the spot is small, just let the blood dry and sit on top of the fibers for easy removal. If the blood stain does not penetrate fibers, there is a good chance the spot can be successfully treated.

Large amounts of blood, on the other hand, can sometimes be impossible to remove. If there is enough volume to fully saturate carpet and backing, professional cleaning is necessary. Only synthetic textiles like Nylon, Olefin or Polyester have the ability to partially release the proteins found in blood. Wool, Cotton and Jute can be permanently stained the instant that the blood penetrates the fiber.