HOW DO I TAKE CARE OF MY… carpets and rugs?

Let’s talk about maintenance. Does that not seem exciting to you? It’s not, but it is extremely important. We are going to go over things that you have in your home that can easily be taken for granted, but if not properly maintained, will wear out, or worse, ugly out! In other words they become stained or do not clean up well and become a constant source of irritation. Let’s start with our favorite, carpets and rugs!

In order to properly maintain something you must know what it is. What is materials are your carpet and rug made out of? There are two basic categories: synthetic and natural fibers. Synthetics cover materials like nylon, polyester, acrylic, polypropylene (olefin), and others. Commonly used natural materials are wool, cotton, linen, jute, sisal, and silk. Most wall-to-wall carpets are synthetic, while many rugs are natural. Why does this matter? Because you maintain each category differently. If you do not know what you have and you use the wrong cleaning products on it, you can permanently change the appearance or damage them.  In order to identify the materials, check the manufacturer’s information or look at one of the corners of the rug for the tag. You would be surprised how many people do not know what their floor coverings are made of or think they know. 

The most basic and important thing you can do to maintain your floor coverings is to remove the dry soil. Vacuum them regularly with a good vacuum, one with plenty of suction and a good beater bar. TAKE YOUR TIME VACUUMING! This is not a race. Moving quickly over the surface to remove the visible soil will have little effect on the soil trapped deeper in the fabric. Go over the carpets or rugs slowly, perhaps multiple times. You are loosening and removing the soil which takes time and especially so on thicker pile. Entry rugs, which take an extra load of dry soil, can be taken outside and flipped over. Run the beater bar over the backing with as little suction as possible. This will break loose the soil and allow gravity to move it out. Then flip it right side up and vacuum it again. Removing the dry soil is the single best thing you can do to prolong the life and beauty of your floor coverings.

Removing spots as soon as they occur is also vital. This is where knowing the materials your floor coverings are made comes in. Make sure you have cleaners compatible with what you have. Natural materials require a more neutral cleaner while synthetics can handle far more aggressive cleaners. Natural fibers can also be far more susceptible to texture change through friction (rubbing too hard either with a brush or even a towel). In all cases, blot, blot, blot! 

Finally, get your floor coverings professionally cleaned on a regular basis. Think about your teeth. You brush and floss every day, but that is still not enough. You need to go to the dentist regularly for a deep clean; they remove things you are not able to. So it is with your floor coverings. Even though you do everything you are supposed to, you still need a professional to come in regularly to remove things you cannot.

Do these things and you will be a maintenance superhero!

Get Your Carpets Cleaned This Spring!

It’s been a long winter. Of course, it is always a long winter. During the cold months our windows are closed, houses are tightened up to be energy efficient, and we spend a lot of time indoors. Did your family suffer a flu outbreak? Maybe you spent a few nights on the sofa because of not being able to sleep. Did you binge watch some Netflix shows? If so, you spent a lot of time in one room then didn’t you? Let’s face it – we are either in hibernation mode or fighting hibernation mode in the winter months. The result? Carpets and upholstery that need to be cleaned!

As the weather warms and the ground thaws it makes the air smell better. As the sun gets higher in the sky we want to open our homes up and air them out. It is also an excellent idea to have your fabrics cleaned, whether carpets or upholstery. Think about this: If you were sick and spent some time in sweat pants and sweat shirts, what did you do with them when you felt better? You got them in the wash! We want to get rid of any remnant of sickness as soon as possible. But what about the sofa or chair you slept in? What about the carpet in the bedroom you were sick in? Time to clean it!

Make us a part of your spring cleaning routine. You will feel better about your home and it will actually be better. Call today!

Why do carpets wear?

Has this happened to you? You decide that your room needs some changes; furniture needs to be moved around. You begin by pulling out the recliner and it pops out at you like a red blinking light. A worn spot in front of the chair. You begrudgingly slide the chair back, grumbling as you do, realizing that rearranging the furniture will have to wait till…never. Why do wear spots appear? The answer may seem obvious but understanding the reason can help preserve your investment.

First we need to get technical. Do carpets really “wear?” Not really. Wear is what happens to the brake pads on your car. The material is literally worn away and is gone. This process is not generally the source of the dark spots on your carpets that are in your hallway or by your chairs. What is really happening is the carpet is a process referred to as abrasion. This is the damaging of the fibers not the loss of them.

Look at the picture. Do you see all the little fibers? Each one is a smooth piece of nylon. What happens when soil is introduced and not removed? What happens when feet walk over the area grinding the soil in? The fibers become damaged. They are no longer smooth but have abrasions on them – cuts, scrapes, etc. The result is twofold and both are negative.

The most obvious consequence is that the fibers no longer reflect light as they did when they were new.  Imagine taking a fine sandpaper over the paint on your car. The paint would no longer shine, not because it was dirty, but because the light is not being reflected but rather is being diffused. This is a prime reason that heavily used areas on your carpets begin to darken.

The second consequence is that your carpets soil more quickly. Why? Think of your nonstick pans in your kitchen. When they are new, nothing sticks to them…NOTHING! It’s amazing. But what happens months or years later after countless uses? The finish begins to wear and things start to stick. The same process happens with the abrasion on your carpets. Those nice smooth fibers that nothing seems to stick to when new get cuts, nicks, and scratches that begin to hold soil. This process accelerates with poor maintenance; a vicious cycle.

What can we take away from this? First, you need to live in your house. Abrasion and wear are part of life. Second, there is no set time for the process. In other words, how fast this takes place is entirely up to you! Vacuum your carpets regularly! There are no shortcuts here! Also, have your carpets professionally cleaned with hot water extraction, the type we use here at Reliable Maintenance. No other method will clean your carpets more thoroughly. Your carpet is a big investment. Take care of it!

Call today to schedule your spring cleaning!

 

End-of-Summer Checklist: Getting Your Home Ready for Fall and Winter

This blog post is from a guest contributor: Paul Denikin from the website DadknowsDIY.com. Check it out after reviewing these reminders!

When summer turns to fall, the days get shorter and to-do lists get longer. Not only will you have to clean up, take down and store your summer-only gear, but you’ll also have to work hard to get your house ready for fall and winter. Here’s a checklist of tasks to consider as you transition from the dogs days of summer to winter’s long, cold nights.

 

  • Clean your gutters.Leaves, sticks and small debris can turn into big problems if left in your gutters. Clearing out the trash will help keep your gutters safe when the winter snow and ice piles up. Gutters should be cleaned regularly, but as the leaves keep falling you may need to increase the frequency. As you examine your gutters, you might want to also consider upgrading to seamless gutters or installing gutter guards to help reduce clogging and increase safety.
  • Secure your windows. Inspect your windows for gaps where the cold winter air can seep in, making minor caulking repairs when necessary. You’ll want to know before winter settles in if sealing gaps doesn’t fix the problem, that way you have plenty of time to hire installers to bring in replacement windows before it gets too cold. Since the days are getting shorter you might also want to consider window treatments that really maximize natural lighting, as well as replacing screens, blinds and curtains where needed.
  • Seal your outdoor wood. Your decks, fences, porch furniture and other outdoor wooden items need to be protected from winter’s harsher elements. At the start of summer you probably threw on a coat with UV inhibitors to protect from fading in the sun. For the winter you’ll need to apply a sealant stain and check the deck’s overall stability. Prepare for vulnerabilities that can arise during a wet winter with freezing temperatures.
  • Inspect your siding. Take a close look for siding that’s bending, buckling or bulging, which can be a sign of bigger problems. As you close down the summer aspects of your house before to check your siding for holes. Insects might use holes to survive the winter, which can wreak havoc on your house.
  • Check your roof. Getting your roof ready for winter isn’t just about climbing up and having a look around. You’ll want to test your roof with all your senses—examining the integrity of the shingles. Look especially for curling shingles, or ones that are easily broken, or other signs that a roof replacement is on the horizon. While repairing or replacing a roof is never fun, it’s especially more difficult when it occurs in the shorter, cooler days of winter.
  • Clean and store your awnings. Before boarding up your awnings for the end of the warm season, give them a good cleaning. Be sure they have plenty of time to dry completely and air out before closing them up for the season.

 

Preparing your house for winter can be very exciting. As you box away your pool toys and barbeque equipment, you can reach for a cup of hot cocoa and get ready to relax.

 

A Few Words About Scotchgard

Have you used Scotchgard? It has been around a long time and is now featured in quite a few other products other than fabric and carpeting. It truely is a remarkable product and ,yes, it does really work! Unfortunately, our offer of Scotchgard protection is often declined anymore. Many people used to have the extra application of Scotchgard applied after their carpets were cleaned; not so much anymore. Consider a few reasons we have heard:

  1. “We are going to replace the carpet eventually.” – While this may be in the offing, when will this actually happen? Even if it happens within a year, what about the time leading up to the replacement? Clearly a person who says this cares about the appearance of their home. Why not protect what you have? Honestly, we have cleaned carpets for “the last time” multiple times! Take care of what you have; you never know what the future holds. It may be that the replacement happens further into the future than you anticipate.

  2. “The carpets are old” – This is actually a powerful incentive to have the Scotchgard treatment! As carpets age it is true that they tend to soil faster. Think of your non-stick pans. As you use them inevitably the finish wears and things start to stick more and more. If you could recoat the pan would you? Sure!. But there is no product right now to do that. But there is for carpets! The Scotchgard helps to make the carpets more resilient and renews the original protection.
  3. “We are trying to save money” – Yep, Scotchgard costs more money.; but often not as much as you might think. Maintenance on anything costs but prevents larger amounts down the road. People who protect their carpets with Scotchgard often comment how the carpet does not seem to age. It cleans up well and spots are easily removed. Although protecting your carpet costs more do you know what really costs a lot? Brand new carpet. Protect what you have!
  4. “The carpets were cheap” – Even “cheap” carpets are still expensive. And replacing them is still a pain.So, is this really a reason to let it go? Not really. Take care of inexpensive carpets and you may be pleasantly surprised how long they last and how good they look.

In summary, take another look at Scotchgard. Don’t quickly refuse the offer. If you have never tried it, do so! Either way you will not be sorry you took care of what you have.

Should I use mats and runners on my carpet?

To use mats and runners, or not to.

We all know that carpeting is going to wear. After all we are walking on it, right? It is only logical to try to slow down or even prevent all together that process. There are a number of ways to do this: vacuuming regularly, taking your shoes off before entering, changing the layout of a room to redirect traffic, etc. Another common thought is to put down a runner or mat over heavily used areas to prevent wear. Is this a good idea? Let’s consider the pros and cons.

There are definite advantages to having mats and runners. As creatures of habit, it can quickly become apparent where we are spending most of our time. Is there a worn area in front of your husband’s favorite recliner? or yours? Is there a path down the hall to the bathroom? Is there excessive wear at the most used entry? Is there heavy wear around an office desk? Putting down a mat or runner immediately stops that wear as it seals off the carpet below and allows little, if any, soil to accumulate.

In many homes there is simply no other way to redirect the flow of traffic; rearranging furniture is not an option. Mats can prevent a lot of wear in these situations as well as the wear that is created in front of recliners. Offices that have chairs that roll back and forth can benefit greatly from a plastic chair mat. The wheels on those chairs wear not only the fibers but also break down the backing of the carpet over time. This can leave the carpet rippled from delamination and heavily faded. A plastic mat improves rolling and protects the carpet from heavy wear.

Sounds like there is no down side, right? Well…

There are definite disadvantages as well to having mats and runners. Let’s start with effect on the carpets first. While mats prevent soil and wear from happening to the areas underneath, the rest of the carpet is still wearing and getting dirty. It is important to remember that carpets change over time due to air, sunlight, and a host of other factors. Carpets also need to ‘breathe’; air needs to be able to move over and through. The carpet under the mat will stay in a ‘time capsule’ and not change. Over a period of time this may create a “footprint.” This is an outline where the mat sits that is generally permanent.

Consider this as well: There are no good ways to hold a mat in place when over carpeting. Using adhesives will create more problems. Nailing it down can damage the materials and is not always possible depending on the subfloor. Rubbery backing materials like latex, may  

hold the mat or runner but can seal the carpet and cause a yellowing that cannot be removed. Plastic chair mats have built in cleats that hold it in place but they do not hold any soil; it all gets pushed to the carpet around creating a vivid ‘footprint’ that is permanent.

So, what to do? If at all possible try not to use mats and runners. Many problems can be avoided or solved with better maintenance. If you do need to use a mat, try to rotate the days you use it. One week on, one week off for instance. This allows the carpet to change with the surrounding areas. If this is not possible, a mat or runner may be better than the premature wear and damage that would be caused without it. You just have to go in with your eyes open to the consequences. Remember to clean those carpets regularly!

While there is no perfect solution, hopefully this material will help you make a more informed decision.

Meeting the Challenge of Keeping a Clean Office!

The last article dealt with the importance of keeping an clean office. The hard part is now how to do it. Saying and doing are two different things! Granted, every office is different due to what type of work goes on, and every office environment is different due to the people in it. But here is an underlying principle: MAINTENANCE IS WORTH THE MONEY IT COSTS! Everything wears out eventually, but properly maintaining it will add many years to the life and it will look better during that time With that in mind, here are just a few general tips to consider that can apply across a wide array of circumstances.

1. Who is cleaning your office?

There are basically two options: hire a cleaning service or do it ‘In House.’ Each has advantages and draw backs. A cleaning service will cost you money and a good one will cost you more. But the benefit is that is will be done regularly and systematically. A good cleaning service is worth the expense!

Having your employees clean for you can save you money and they may be in a better position to clean as they know what needs it most. The down side is that often ‘In house’ lacks the quality and thoroughness needed. So if you are going to do it, first, make sure that your employees have the right equipment (e.g. well-maintained vacuum cleaners, quality cleaners and supplies, etc,) and instructions. Then, make sure you show your appreciation for the extra work it takes.

2.  Preventive steps can mean less maintenance!

There are certain spots in the office that are always going to ‘take it on the chin’ so to speak. You can help your own cause with preventive steps.  For instance:

  • Seriously consider a mat service. Entry mats will prevent a tremendous amount of soil from coming in from outside or from the shop… if they are clean! A mat service will make sure your mats are doing their job.
  • Make sure the coffee area is over an easily cleanable area, like tile. If that is not practical, put something under it to allow easy cleanup of spills, like an entry mat or chair mat.
  • Monitor plants carefully to make sure they are not over-watered. We clean a lot of stains from this and they are not easy to get out.
  • Use chair mats large enough to cover the work area. Chair mats that are too small will leave a ‘footprint’ around the edge, a place where feet and chairs go, that will not come out. (We will cover the pros and cons of mats in general in a future article.)
  • Have a cleaning station that is well stocked and easily accessible. Most people will at least attempt to clean up a mess you make the tools available. Make sure that you have the cleaners, towels, brushes, etc. in a convenient spot.

3. Have your carpets cleaned regularly.

We are not just putting this in because we do this (okay, maybe it is).  As we have mentioned is previous articles, carpets have a subtle but noticeable effect on the space. When they are clean they reduce dust and other allergens and make the office feel brighter and happier. Having your carpets cleaned will often kickstart a new feeling of responsibility on everyone’s part in keeping the office clean.

Spot Cleaning Like A Pro!

If you have carpeting you deal with spots: food spills, dirty feet, pet accidents, etc. It is a fact of life. How do you handle spots? There are plenty of guides both technical and otherwise about spot identification and removal. But, is there more to spot cleaning like a pro? Yes. This article will deal with aspects that do not get talked about that much.

Spots on your carpets can be likened to minor injuries (cuts, bruises, scrapes, etc.) to your body. They can happen without warning, need to be handled properly, and if left, can cause bigger problems. You are no doubt a pro and handling these things on yourself and your children. One of the kids comes in with a skinned knee and *WHOOSH*, you are right to the medicine cabinet and return with bandages, ointments, pain relievers, etc. When something happens to our carpets, though, often we are stunned a bit, not knowing what to do. We reach for whatever cleaner(s) is handy, whether it is the right one or not, and begin pouring and scrubbing; we grab another random cleaner and begin squirting and rubbing until frustration takes over and we give up. Often when we are called in literally everything under the kitchen sink has been used. So…, let’s prepare and do this right.

Spot Clean like a pro
Are you ready to spot your carpets like a Pro?

1. BE PREPARED!
We all invest money in cold/flu medicine, pain relievers, bandages, ointments and many other products that we think we may need. Do the same with your carpet. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ cleaner out there. Some are good cleaners, some good deodorizers. some good spot removers. Have a variety on hand and learn how to use them. Every product will advise you to test it on your fabrics to see if it is colorfast. This is not a process that can be done properly in the heat of the moment, for instance when someone spills red wine on your light carpet. Get the cleaners and test them out long before you have to use them. Make sure they are in an easily accessible spot. If you have home carpet cleaning machines, keep them in good running order and ready to be used. Why? Because you have to…

2. GET TO IT QUICK!
The faster you get to a cut or scrape, the better it will heal. In the same way get to spots right away. Every minute counts. Usually once dry the damage is done. When wet, many things can be removed with relative ease. So don’t wait, but…

3. TAKE YOUR TIME!
When treating a cut or scrape you don’t rush so as not to hurt the person or make the injury worse. That is smart thinking! So, don’t rush when spotting your carpet. It takes time to remove things properly. Be patient and BLOT don’t scrub. Use your body weight; you can be down on your knees or put the towel down and step on it using your body weight. Repeat this over and over again until the spot is gone or not changing anymore. It takes a moment to make a spot, but a lot longer to remove it, perhaps 10-20 minutes. Carpet cleaning takes time. We cannot overemphasize this. Not only will scrubbing push the spot deeper, but it can also permanently change the look and feel of the carpet. Nothing worse that getting the spot out but still having a constant reminder of it because the carpet was damaged.

4. HAVE AT LEAST A ROUGH IDEA OF WHAT WORKS!
We know that Advil works differently that Tylenol. Neosporin works differently that Hydrogen Peroxide. A fever is different than a headache, a bruise that a cut..Spot cleaning can is similar.  Different products work differently on different carpets. Experiment and have a variety on hand. Also recognize that different carpets react differently to the same cleaner. If you have rugs made of wool or cotton, carpets made of nylon, a room of olefin berber, they will all clean differently and may need special cleaners. Be ready.

 

Hopefully these tips will help you out the next time you have the relatives over or have a dinner party, No need to stress; YOU WILL BE READY!

 

 

Understanding Pet Accidents – Part 2

Last post, Understanding Pet Accidents – Part 1,  dealt with the reasons why urine is so hard to remove. If you have not read that one, do so before you read this. It will make more sense.

Identifying a problem area due to pet accidents is not a difficult thing to do. Dealing with it can be. So what is next? Now it is time to ask some tough questions; questions you need to be honest about.

carpet cleaning pet accidents
Let us help you find solutions!

Is this a problem that can be fixed?

We are not talking about the urine here. That can be fixed. This question is focused on the pet. Can you stop the pet from having accidents? Do you want to take those steps?

As they reach the end of their lives many pets become increasingly incontinent. Some owners are willing to put up with odor in order to enjoy those last months or years. Fixing the problem could also mean restricting the areas the pet can get to. Some are not willing to do this either wanting them to have more freedom. If the problem is likely to continue aggressive deodorizing would be a waste. There are other options.

How much does this really bother you?

This question can mean a lot. We find that some accept a little odor as just part of having a pet; much as some chewed shoes or scratched furniture would be. If the problem is not a huge concern, often less aggressive measures are acceptable. If it is driving you crazy! you will probably need to go with the more aggressive type of deodorizing. It is also good to remember that the odor and the stain are different. Sometimes when we get a call about an problem area the real concern are the spots on the carpet; the odor is not even noticed. Knowing the difference can help you get the services you truly want.

How much upset in the house are you willing to put up with?

Aggressive odor removal can be disruptive to the house as carpets are disengaged, padding and tackless strips are replaced, and carpets are cleaned and treated. The odor in the house may briefly increase during this process. The enzyme deodorizers take at least a few days to work and may take several treatments.  We bring this up  because we have gotten calls on Thursday for severe problems in which relatives are coming Saturday. That is not enough time for complete removal. If you want aggressive measures be able to have the time to do it in.

What is your budget?

In a perfect world, this would not be a question, right? But realistically we must consider it.  Aggressive treatment of heavily saturated areas (disengaging carpet, replacement of pad, sealing of subfloors, cleaning and treatment of carpets, reinstallation of carpet) may be hundreds of dollars or more depending on size. We have many options that can fit your budget and your sense of smell.

Pet accidents are part of having pets, but they don’t need to be thorns in your side. After reading these posts we hope you have a better idea of what you are up against.

WE CAN HELP! Call us and let us discuss options that will fit your unique circumstances.

Understanding Pet Accidents in the Home – Part 1

“Don’t you have something to spray on this to take care of the smell?” This is a question we often hear, especially in the humid summer months. We wish it was that easy. If we had a spray like that we would have probably retired already. But, unfortunately, there is not. The good news is that we can help with this. But in order to do this one needs to understand pet accidents in the home. First, why are pet accidents so hard to remove and second, the problem with amount.

Understanding Pet Accidents

Why are pet accidents (urine) so hard to remove? When the accident first happens urine is in a liquid form and quite easy to remove; just vacuum or absorb it up, and the problem is solved. The trouble begins when it dries. Urine that dries forms urine salts, crystals that form on carpet strands. (Imagine rock candy: sugar is dissolved in hot water and strings are placed in the water during the cooling process. The sugar collects around the strings in the form of sugar crystals. This process is similar to what is happening in your carpet, but not nearly as desirable.) Bacteria begin to feed on the dried urine and cause the unpleasant smell that prompts the opening question. Why not just clean the area? The issue with this is the urine salts will not clean off with detergents and water. They must be dissolved off with other types of cleaners and deodorizers. A cleaning will remove temporarily remove the bacteria but not the urine. Immediately bacteria begin to grow again.This process of removing urine is much slower and involved than a simple cleaning for soil, grease, food, etc.

Second, the pet accidents are often complicated because a pet may start to develop a bad habit in an area we may not see. Cats, for instance, may start spraying a wall behind furniture or in a corner in a lower level. A dog may start lifting it’s leg in an out of the way place. If the bad habit begins in drier months like winter it may not be noticed. As the warmer, humid air of spring and summer come, the problem seems to suddenly appear, the moisture triggering the smell. By the time the problem is noticed many ‘deposits’ may have been made, sometimes dozens! At this point the urine has penetrated the carpet, carpet backing, and padding. The tackless strip may be affected, trim may have absorbed urine, furniture and walls may have urine dried on them. While the carpet may be the most obvious source of odor it is by no means the only one.

So the bottom line: there is no simple spray. But it can be treated! We can discuss options that may work in your situation. Part 2 will discuss some of these.