It can be a very scary thing! No, not a spider in your bed or a snake in your garden… but hiring a carpet cleaning company or furniture cleaning company (or any service company for your home, in fact).
But you have to do it, so you investigate companies you might hire. It’s not an easy assignment, although looking at online reviews does help. Check out Angie’s List, Yelp and Google Reviews for information, among other sources. Most people are honest (most!) about what they say in reviews.
That being said, it’s just a start. You have to really do your homework, because you are inviting strangers into your home. You want to trust you have chosen the best carpet cleaning company in your city.
And once you have chosen a quality company, keep using them! Yes, there are cheaper companies out there, but quality is important.
How can you do your homework and your own investigation?
1. Ask your friends and workmates. Nothing is better than a good referral. And when you call the cleaning company, let them know how you got their number. It kind of puts them on their best behavior, knowing they are working for a referral and all companies know that good work means MORE referrals.
2. Check out their social media pages. See what they say, especially about their customers. You want to see pictures of their work, and how proud they are to be the best.
3. If you can, look at their trucks when you see them driving around. Are they neat and clean, or in need of attention? Cleaning companies should be clean themselves.
4. When calling a potential company, ask if they have pictures of the tech they will be sending. Some companies have their entire staff on their website, which can give you peace of mind (or send you away quickly!)
5. And when making that phone call to inquire of their services, pay attention to how they answer the phone and treat you while discussing potential services in your home. That matters, too.
6. Don’t be afraid to “just say no” if a company arrives and you are uncomfortable. Most companies are top notch and you shouldn’t have a problem, but there are a few out there, such as the “bait-and-switch” carpet cleaners, who sell you a cheap price but want much more when it comes time to clean.
This article was written by Jeff Cross, executive editor of Cleanfax magazine and creator of Totally Booked University. Nationally recognized cleaning and restoration trainer.
Does it pay to restore fluorochemical carpet protector?
by: Steve Marsh
Where did this homeowner misconception come from? I have heard this statement numerous times from consumers who had used reputable carpet cleaning companies.
Each time I requested clarification, I received a similar story. “When I purchased the carpet, it was able to go two years before needing to be cleaned. Once cleaned, the carpet looked dirty within one year instead of two years.”
The customer drew a seemingly logical conclusion: The professional cleaner was causing the premature need for cleaning.
Unfortunately, these homeowners came to the wrong conclusion because they were missing a key piece of information: New carpet is treated with manufacturer-applied, soil-resistant carpet protector, which enables the carpet to go much longer between cleanings. After two years, the protector in the daily use areas has significantly worn off. These areas then perform as if they have not been treated with protector, accumulating soil much faster.
The professional cleaning company did not cause the problem, but they could have prevented it. If the cleaner had instead restored the protector, the carpet would have gone much longer before the apparent (visual) need for cleaning.
Soil-resistant protector keeps the carpet looking cleaner between professional cleanings. Mills apply it to their carpet to enhance the consumer vacuuming and spot cleaning processes.
Unfortunately, protector is a coating that is applied to flexible fibers. Over time, as the carpet fibers are flexed when walked upon, the manufacturer-applied protector wears off.
The good news is that professional cleaners are able to reapply this protector and significantly restore soil resistance to the fibers.
Cleaner doubt in carpet protector
Cleaning professionals also carry a great deal of misunderstanding and doubt as to whether restoring protector is really worthwhile. I have often been told by cleaners that they tested it and found it does not work.
When asked to clarify, they describe their testing procedure as something like this: They went to a retail store to obtain a carpet sample and applied protector to one half of the piece. After abusing the carpet sample as a walk-off mat for a year, they found no noticeable difference between the treated and untreated sides. They reasonably conclude that adding protector makes no difference.
I do appreciate these cleaners’ desire to confirm the effectiveness of a product they might sell to their customers. Unfortunately, there is a flaw in their testing procedure.
The carpet sample they used had been mill-treated with carpet protector. What the test proved was that applying protector to already-protected carpet does not improve the performance. If they had used a cleaned but well-used sample of carpet on which the protector had worn off, they would have seen a dramatic difference.
Consumers desire to have their carpet restored to a “like-new” condition. A cleaner who does not properly restore the carpet protector will not fulfill customer expectations.
Professional cleaners are responsible for understanding why protector was originally applied to carpet and why it should be restored. Certification cleaning classes cover this subject thoroughly.
Confusing stain resistance with soil resistance
The advent of Stain Master™ carpet, along with all of the other brands that introduced acid-dye blockers to their products, has generated confusion about the difference between stain-resistance and soil resistance.
Stain-resistance is created when the mills add acid-dye blockers to help protect nylon carpet from being stained by products containing food coloring. This stain-resistant protection essentially fills in the unused microscopic dye-sites on carpet fibers. The result is the dye in accidentally spilled products now has nowhere to attach to the carpet fibers, thus the carpet has become stain-resistant. This is not a coating on the fiber. This resistance does not wear off from normal foot traffic. It can be removed by improper cleaning products, though. As long as the carpet is cleaned properly, the manufacturers do not feel that this resistance will have any significant loss due to normal use.
On the other hand, soil-resistance from products such as Teflon™ and Scotchgard™ are a type of coating that can be worn off carpet due to normal foot traffic. These products are designed to enhance the resistance of dry soil, water and oil. Even carpet fibers that are difficult to stain, such as olefin and polyester, benefit from the additional protection than can be provided by these soil-resistant products.
As was demonstrated by the carpet cleaner’s test mentioned previously, applying protector to already-protected fiber does not increase its performance. It is, therefore, not a good consumer value to apply protector to rarely used carpet on an annual basis. It is a good value to restore protector annually to daily-use areas.
A professional needs to work with the consumer to determine where and when the protector should be restored.
Protector powerfully enhances carpet performance. This is why manufacturers apply it to new carpet.
For the same reason, professional cleaners should be promoting appropriate reapplication at the time of cleaning. If your goal is to restore the carpet to a “like-new” condition, you can make that happen only by properly reapplying the protector.
This article was written by Steve Marsh and appeared in the January 2016 issue of CleanFax Magazine.
|Adapted from an article by the Carpet and Rug Institute
Vacuuming is very important for regular carpet maintenance. But to keep it looking and performing its best, the Carpet and Rug Institute recommends professionally deep cleaning your carpet every 12 to 18 months. (Be sure to check your carpet warranty for particular requirements.)
The CRI strongly recommends having your carpeting professionally cleaned by a Seal of Approval-certified service provider. These companies use SOA-approved equipment and solutions in order to assure their customers their carpet is being cleaned with the best products. It is also the best way to keep your warranty valid, as many carpet manufacturers recommend Seal of Approval products in their carpet warranties.
Ask the Right Questions:
- “How long have you been in business?” The answer can speak volumes about a company’s reputation and experience. A quick Google search for customer reviews can also tell you a lot about the company.
- “How is your pricing structured?” Pricing should be based on the area cleaned, not by the number of rooms. Make sure to measure your area before you get on the phone. Room sizes vary, so be careful of any company that quotes price by the room.
- “How much will it cost?” When you’re on the phone, get an estimate that you’re comfortable with – before the cleaner comes to your house.
- Do you move the furniture or should I have it moved before you arrive? If you move the furniture, do you charge extra?
When They Arrive:
Here are a few considerations for when the cleaners arrive.
- Be sure to point out any problem areas, spots or pet stains that need special attention.
- All major U.S. carpet manufacturers highly recommend the use of SOA products in their residential warranties.
- Many warranties also require you to check with the carpet manufacturer before allowing additional treatments, such as re-applying stain treatments or anti-static treatments.
- Finally, wait for the carpet to dry completely before walking on it or moving the furniture back into the room. If you replace the furniture too quickly, rust or stains from paint or finishes could mar the carpet permanently.
|An article by the American Latex Allergy Association|
The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), the industry trade association, is committed to educating people about carpet and to dispel untruths and myths.
“The suggestion that carpet causes indoor air quality problems is a significant issue for the carpet industry to address,” said Werner Braun, president of CRI. “Through research, CRI offers information that is valuable to medical professionals and to anyone living with carpet.”
The following myths have been identified as the top ten most persistent misconceptions, according to Mr. Braun.
Myth No. 1: “There are health risks associated with carpet.”
Truth: An extensive toxicological assessment of components of carpet concluded that the chemicals in carpet pose no health risks of public concern.
Reference: In 1994, Environ Corporation of Arlington, Virginia, prepared a study, Safety Assessment of Components of and Emissions from Carpets. The conclusion was: “For the chemicals identified as being present in, but not emitted from carpet, there is no reason to believe that they present any health risk of public concern. For chemicals identified as being from carpet, no cancer risk of public health concern is predicted for any chemical individually, or when the predicted upper limit on risk is added for all potential carcinogens. Similarly, no non-carcinogenic effects of public health concern would be anticipated.”
Myth No. 2: “Mold and mildew can grow in carpet.”
Truth: Mold and mildew exist ONLY where there is excess moisture and dirt coupled with poor cleaning and maintenance habits. Mold growth can occur on any surface–from windowpanes to carpet–that is not properly maintained and when moisture is extreme. Eliminating sources of excessive moisture, such as water leaks, and controlling humidity greatly offset the potential for mold to grow.
Reference: In a study conducted by HOST/Racine Industries, six Florida schools were checked for indoor air problems triggered by high humidity and reduced ventilation. Dust-lined, moldy ducts and plumbing leaks onto ceiling tiles allowed mold to grow and released millions of spores into the air. The research supported that mold and mildew are not associated with a particular surface, such as carpet.
Myth No. 3: “Carpet is a cause of the asthma and allergy increase.”
Truth: Comparison data from Sweden supports that there is no link between carpet usage and the incidence of asthma or allergies. CRI is not aware of any published scientific research demonstrating a link between carpet and asthma or allergies.
Reference: A study, based on historical figures for ten years, was reported by scientists at the Swedish Institute of Fibre and Polymer Research. They found that while the use of carpet in Sweden had steadily decreased since 1975, the occurrences of allergic reactions in the general population had increased.
Myth No. 4: “Carpet is a sink for allergy-causing substances.”
Truth: This is true as stated. The critical point, however, is often missed. Carpet holds allergen-causing substances tightly and, as a result, keeps allergens from becoming airborne, minimizing the level of allergens in the breathing zone. This translates to lower exposure potential. The allergens held by carpet’s filter-like effect may be removed by vacuuming, refreshing the filter-like properties of the carpet to allow more material to be removed from the air. Vacuuming mattresses, carpet, and upholstery once or twice a week removed allergens, including dust mite feces–a known source of allergen. It is important to use the proper type of vacuum to minimize re-suspending allergens.
Reference: In Carpet and Airborne Allergens, A Literature Review, Dr. Alan Luedtke refers to the results of a study aimed at determining the effect of routine vacuuming cleaning that indicate frequent vacuum cleaning over a short time significantly reduces house dust and mite allergen levels in carpets.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies indicate the effectiveness of carpet in reducing airborne particles. This data indicates that soil in carpet is significantly reduced following cleaning. Visit CRI’s web site to learn about the Green Label Vacuum Cleaner IAQ Testing Program that approves vacuum cleaner models that are most effective in soil removal and dust containment, while keeping carpet looking good.
Myth No. 5: “Carpet is a source of indoor quality (IAQ) problems.”
Truth: As noted previously, an extensive toxicological assessment of components of, and emissions from, carpet concluded that the chemicals in carpet “present no health risks of public health concern.” Further, allergens in carpet may be removed by vacuuming. Vacuum cleaner machines bearing the CRI IAQ Green Label meet scientifically established standards for soil removal and dust containment and help maintain good carpet appearance.
Reference: EPA/RTI Total Building Cleaning Effectiveness Study states, “Organized cleaning contributes to reduction of particle VOCs and biological pollutants 50%+.” Contact the CRI to request both the Carpet and Your Indoor Environment and Clearing the Air in Your Home: A Guide to Safely Minimizing Allergens brochures. Also referenced is the previously mentioned 1994 report from the Environ Corporation, Safety Assessment of Components of and Emissions from Carpets.
Myth No. 6: “Carpet is more expensive and harder to maintain than hard-floor surfaces.”
Truth: Properly maintained carpet only needs vacuuming once or twice weekly and periodic extraction cleaning. The sweeping, mopping, stripping, waxing, and buffing that hard surface floors demand are more laborious and costly.
Reference: A Building Office Managers Association (BOMA) study found hard-surface floors require two-and-a-half times more annual cleaning than carpet. Consumers may request CRI’s brochures “Carpet, the Educated Choice for Schools,” “Carpet Maintenance for School Facilities,” and “Use Life Cost Analysis for Commercial Facilities” to learn about the life-cycle cost analysis and the value carpet delivers through warmth, comfort, safety, and acoustics in the classroom and at home.
Myth No. 7: “Carpet is environmentally non-sustainable.”
Truth: CRI member companies, representing over 90 percent of the industry’s manufacturers, have an excellent track record over the last dozen years of decreasing wastes produced and energy consumed, improving the industry’s sustainability.Reference: The Carpet and Rug Institute’s Sustainability Report, 2001 details the industry’s environmental efforts.
Myth No. 8: “Carpet is a major emitter of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).”
Truth: Most new interior furnishings and building materials emit VOCs for a period of time. Emissions from new carpet are among the lowest of any household’s indoor furnishings, and most VOCs dissipate within 24 hours-even faster with good ventilation.
Reference: To further minimize other IAQ concerns, specify low-emitting products, including CRI Green Label carpet, cushion, and adhesive, when selecting household products and furnishings.
Myth No. 9: “Formaldehyde is used in the production of new carpet.”
Truth: Formaldehyde is not used in the carpet manufacturing process. It is not emitted from new carpet.
Reference: An article published in 1989 in the American Textile Chemist and Colorists Journal stated that research conducted by the School of Textile Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, under Dr. Wayne Tincher and other researchers dispelled this widely held myth. In addition, the CRI Indoor Air Quality Testing Programs specifically monitor for formaldehyde emission from new carpet, carpet cushion, and installation adhesives as part of the industry’s assurance to the public of the absence of this chemical in these products.
Myth No. 10: “Latex in carpet produces allergic reactions.”
Truth: The latex that holds the fibers and backing together in broadloom carpet is synthetic. Synthetic latex is not associated with the allergic reactions of natural latex, which are caused by the proteins found in natural latex.
Reference: Carpet is made primarily of the same innocuous materials found in clothing and other everyday fabrics, including polyester and nylon.
Contact the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) at (800) 882 8846 or visit the web site at www.carpet-rug.org for extensive information about carpet and rugs.
SOURCE: Carpet and Rug Institute
|An article by the IICRC|
Steam cleaning carpet is becoming a leading alternative to the traditional shampoo method. As indicated by the EPA, the typical person can be found inside of their home or office space at least 90 percent of their time. Therefore it is imperative that harmful pollutants are removed regularly. While there are numerous techniques to utilize when removing dirt and allergens, they don’t always leave the same results. There are many benefits to the flooring and the occupants when hot water and steam are employed.
With as many as one hundred times more pollutants found indoors compared to outside, flooring fibers must be cleaned often. The usual vacuuming and spot cleaning is a necessary step in prolonging the life of the carpet, but such methods can only remove debris at the surface. Performing a deeper treatment approach will remove the dirt, pet hair, dust mites, and other debris that commonly work their way down further or are dug into the fibers themselves. While everyone tracks these unwanted contaminants indoors, kids and pets can greatly increase the volume of incoming pollutants. Over time a build-up of dust and grime can occur, so it is important to remove this build-up to preserve the flooring’s appearance and protect the health of those within the space.
Shampoo treatments have been utilized for many years. The process produces a substantial volume of foam in order to break up the dirt and other unwanted particles that have become stuck to the fiber strands over time. The lubricating texture of the shampoo minimizes any damage to the fibers that can occur from the equipment’s large brushes. This method is rather quick and can be successful when small stains and high traffic areas need to be addressed.
On the other hand, steam cleaning carpet utilizes equipment that shoots hot water into the fibers to remove the debris build-up. This heated application helps to reduce any bacteria, germs, mites and other toxins that are present. The level of moisture applied can be easily controlled depending upon the surface that is worked upon in order to not damage the underlying material. The excess water along with the dislodged dirt is then eliminated utilizing the suction component of the equipment. The depth with which this method treats not only reduces harmful allergens, it will greatly improve the overall appearance and lifespan of the carpeting as well. Unlike the yellowing that can result from many brighteners, there is little chance of discoloration when hot water and steam are employed. This technique typically dries rather quickly, whereas the nature of some water-based shampoo necessitates longer drying time. Re-soiling is minimized as well when the steamed material is thoroughly dried prior to use.
The chemicals often utilized to brighten up all surfaces can negatively impact people and pets, especially those with allergies and other sensitivities. A key benefit to steam cleaning carpet is the minimization of chemicals present during the process. In addition, there is less chance of harmful residues contaminating the indoor environment. The air can remain healthy and clean for those within the space.
While such methods can be carried out by the home owner, a certified technician trained and experienced in such practices and with powerful professional equipment can produce better results.