Washington Post article that featured us
Recently we were contacted by columnist Jeanne Huber from the Washington Post in reference to filter soil. Jeanne told me that readers send in questions and pictures of problems they have in and around the house. Most recently a lady sent in a photo of her white carpet that had ugly black stains around the base molding, under doors, and at the edges of the stair treads. Filter soil is more common than one might think. As a busy carpet cleaner here in Fredericksburg Virginia we see a lot of it.
Unfortunately these black lines don’t come out with the standard carpet pre-spray and hot water extraction that many carpet cleaners use. There are techniques, chemicals and special detail tools that carpet cleaners can use. In most cases this eyesore can be brought to an acceptable level. We can usually achieve an 80% improvement or better. There are some homes that are too far gone to fix. Replacement with a darker colored carpet is recommended for these. Houses that have very severe cases where the black has made it’s way further into the rooms and around items that have sat on the floor for a long time. Items such as big desks, box springs with no bed frame, or boxes stored on the floor in closets.
What is filtration soil and what causes it?
The simple answer to this question is pollution within the home. The carpet actually acts as a filter, trapping very fine particles that circulate through the home. These microscopic oily particles are most commonly the bi product of anything that burns, such as candles, fireplaces, furnaces, stoves, etc. These polutants are then circulated throughout the home by the homes heating and cooling system. When carpet is installed there is padding under it, except at the last couple of inches along the wall where the tack strip gets installed to hold the carpet in place. This allows air to flow down the wall cavities and pulled through the carpet edges to make it’s way back to the air return. If you have ever taken a light switch cover off for a painting project you can place your hand close and actually feel the air flowing through the wall cavity.
What can be done about filtration soil?
Unfortunately filtration soil can be very difficult to both prevent and remove once it has set in. Here are some things you can do to help.
- When choosing carpet consider a darker color as white and other lighter colors will show this gray/gray filter soil more.
- Cut back on the candle burning and fireplace usage.
- Keep up with the furnace filters, we do ours quarterly and set a reminder. Unfortunately, the filters with the higher MERV ratings that are capable of catching the finer particles are not recommended by hvac manufacturers as they can put too much strain on the system.
- Keep doors to unoccupied rooms open. When the bedroom doors are kept closed the air return in the hall will suck the air out of the room from under the door, leaving a black line.
- Frequent vacuuming, utilizing the crevice tool along the edges.
- When possible, keep items off of the floor such as cardboard boxes, and other flat items. Box springs should always be on a bed frame, never directly on the floor.
- Annual professional carpet cleaning.
Help from a professional carpet cleaner
Once filtration soil sets in the only hope will be a professional carpet cleaning company that is experienced in filter soil removal. They will have the right products and tools to get the job done. Because soil filtration removal is a difficult and time consuming process it comes with a price tag. Many folks aren’t willing to go for the cost, especially knowing that it will likely return. Many carpet cleaners will often tell customers that it simply will not come out and it is permanently stained. This is because it is such a hassle. It is always worse behind furniture that never sees a vacuum. So all the furniture needs to be moved, cleaned under and replaced to their original place with furniture blocks. Most of the filter soil jobs we do are for people that need to sell their house and just don’t want to replace the carpet.
We first got into the carpet cleaning business back in 2006. Quickly we realized that we needed to ask every caller if they noticed any black lines. Under doors or around the perimeter of rooms. Nothing is worse than showing up to a carpet cleaning job and realizing there is a filter soil issue. We then have to explain to the customer, whom will likely have thought it was just dust and you’re trying to pull the ol bait and switch. So educating folks on this subject before arrival is key!
Do all homes have filter soil?
Not every home has these filter soil issues. Some have it in just some rooms or along some walls, but not every wall. Some have it along every wall. I have been trying to take note over the years to find patterns such as age of home? interior wall or exterior wall? but I have not really pinned it to any of the above, it just seems some walls are more air tight than others.
Hey folks! thanks for stopping by our jobs post, here I will post pictures and videos of jobs we have done around Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania and King George Virginia.
To seal or not to seal?
Should I use a grout sealer? Should I add Scotch Guard to my carpets after cleaning? This is the question we get on almost every tile and carpet cleaning job we do. The answer is, it depends. Some grouts will benefit from a sealer more than others. Some carpet will benefit from protectors more than others. The reason for both are very similar even though the textiles are very different.
It really has to do with the absorbency of the textile. Sanded grout is much more porous than unsanded grout and should be sealed unless the grout was mixed with a grout additive. Grout additives are basically sealers built in to the grout. This helps it resist staining along with other benefits which include better bonding as well as better color uniformity. These additives are produced by many different manufactures and can be found in tile shops and home centers everywhere.
We at Pristine Tile & Carpet Cleaning use grout additives in all of our grout mixes as we feel it delivers the best end results for our customers. If your unsure if your grout was installed with a additive, you can still apply a sealer. It won’t hurt it, it just won’t absorb into the grout as well and could be a waste of money. The piece of mind knowing it’s protected outweighs the possibility of permanent staining of unprotected grout.
Unsanded grout is is le
ss porous than sanded grout and will absorb less of the sealer. Epoxy grout is by far the least absorbent of the grouts and is not very common in the residential market. Carpet is the same as grout in the sense that different fiber types absorb more that others. For instance an olefin berber carpet will not absorb as much as nylon carpet. Some of the higher end carpets such as Stainmaster come with a protection from the factory and should be reapplied periodically.
How often do I need to seal?
Quality grout sealers can last many years, some claim 15 or 20 years. This really depends on the type of sealer and the traffic in your home as well as your cleaning habits. We strongly advise not to use harsh chemicals such as bleach or acids to clean. They will damage the grout as well as the sealer and even remove color. Always use neutral cleaners that do not leave residue that can cause rapid re-soiling.
Myth of sealers
Okay here is the big let down, sorry folks. Grout sealers and Scotchguard protector will not keep your floors or carpet from getting dirty! Foot traffic, dirty mop water, pets and children coming in and out will eventually take their toll and you will have to clean it. The good news is that the sealers will provide a protective barrier to prevent permanent staining and make cleaning easier. The trick to keep your grout or carpet from becoming permanently stained is to clean up the spill as soon as possible.
Pro Cleaning Tips
Wow it’s been a little while since our last post so I’ll try and make it a good one! Lots of great cleaning tips here.
Being a busy professional carpet cleaner in Fredericksburg Va we see the insides of many homes. A lot of our customers do a great job of maintaining their homes, but I won’t lie… some do not for one reason or another. Some homes we go in are like museums and are so clean we sometimes wonder what we are there for, and others well…OMG do they not see it? do they not care? or do they feel they are too far behind and don’t know where to start? The worst we see are usually rentals, some folks like to rent and clean once a year when their lease is up and they have to, and sometimes they don’t even do it then…just walk away and let the property management deal with it.
Lets face it, nobody likes to spend there whole weekend cleaning and quite honestly they should not do that. I am going to share some tips on how my wife and I take care of our own home, and hopefully it inspires you to get on a program that makes you feel better about your cleaning habits.
Get a good vacuum!
First and foremost I recommend getting a quality vacuum cleaner with an upgraded attachment package. Having the right tools for any job is critical. We have a Riccar that we got just before the last good independent vacuum guy closed up in Fredericksburg. There is a quality vacuum shop by Potomac Mills that still carries the Kirby’s, Royal’s, Riccar’s, ect… worth the trip.
Having the right tools makes the job a little more bearable, one thing I noticed out in the field is that very few people vacuum their stairs regularly, probably because they don’t have the right attachments to make it easier on the back.
Break it up into manageable pieces
The next tip is to not do it all in one day. We have a big house and it would take at least a whole day if not a couple of days to do a top to bottom cleaning. So we attack it by levels, it only took me an hour to do my whole finished basement. That included doing the full bathroom, and using all my attachments to get along the base molding and the crevices of each stair tread. I still had the whole day left to do fun stuff. This particular day was Labor Day and we went out on the boat and enjoyed the beautiful Potomac River. You could also choose to do a little on the weekdays after work. It is also a good idea to vacuum under the furniture from time to time. Now that would take a long time to do all at once so just do a couple of pieces each week and keep rotating throughout the year.
Now we move into the bathroom, first thing is to vacuum real good. You will need to use the attachments in there too because hair will hide under the shoe molding. It will come out to frustrate you when you start to mop. My favorite bathroom cleaners is Bon Ami and Armstrong floor cleaner. Nothing comes close to the Norwex water only microfiber cloths for streak free glass cleaning. I actually put an ounce of the Armstrong right in the sink and use a sponge to wipe down everything, then clean my way out with the mop right from the sink. The rubber Norwex toilet bowl cleaner is the best for cleaning toilets and never get nasty like other bowl brushes. Where can you get these Norwex products you ask? The one and only…Leona Vangee
The last thing I would like to touch on is organization and breaking the cycle of clean. Before you can start a good cleaning regiment your home needs to be free of clutter. Lets face it you can’t effectively wipe down a counter top or dust the top of a dresser if it is completely covered in junk mail and other useless household clutter. There is nothing quite like having your home totally organized and knowing exactly where every single thing is at all times. This alone is a huge time saver. Before I got organized I spent half my life looking for things that I could not find so I went out and bought another. No more people! get organized!!! Handle the mail every single day…right in the recycle bin. You don’t need it, handle all your bills electronically. Get with everyone you do business and choose paperless!
Breaking the cycle of soil
Now to the last topic…breaking the cycle. This means cleaning the outside of your home and unfinished areas of the basement and garage. Preventing soil from entering your clean home in the first place is important. Every week after I cut my grass I grab my leaf blower and take five minutes to blow off the driveway, walkways, patios, decks and garage. Some may call me a nut, but occasionally I even use my Shopvac to vacuum the unfinished areas in the basement. Doing all of this as well as keeping good doormats at all entrances will greatly reduce dust and allergens from entering the home.
Having some rules in the home such as no shoes, or food stays in the kitchen will go a long way in extending the life of your carpet and floors. Owning a small Bissell soptter machine is a must have for small accidents and spills, but be sure to have a professional carpet cleaner out annually for a good deep clean.
Ok, so you just had Pristine Tile & Carpet Cleaning out to professionally clean your tile & grout or perhaps you opted for the full shower re-grout and restoration, either way, the first question we ALWAYS get asked is what should I use to clean it and keep it looking good? or how long will my new grout or caulk last? At this point our customer usually opens the closet to show me what they have been using and let me tell you, it’s not good! Most of those chemicals that line the grocery store shelves are not good for your home or your health.
Just because a label says “tub and tile cleaner” or “carpet cleaner” does not mean it is good, many have bleach or other harsh chemicals. The manufactures could care less if you are damaging your grout or your health, they want your money, period. Then our customers say “but Pete nothing but bleach will get it clean” although it may seem to clean well, it is only temporary. Bleach or other acidic products are slowly etching, and opening the pores of the grout making it more porous and therefore will grow mold and mildew faster and faster with each cleaning, and ultimately leave you with damaged shallow grout lines or separated caulk, resulting in leaks.
The problem with chemicals in the home doesn’t end with the just the tile & grout cleaners, it is the glass cleaners, carpet cleaners, furniture polish, kitchen cleaners, hardwood floor cleaners, and the list goes on and on, there is just nothing good about these cleaners folks. So what should you use? is the question of the day. Well I am going to introduce you to a company that is making a big impact on how people are cleaning their homes…Norwex!
A couple of years ago I had the honor of meeting one of the greatest people I’ll ever know! Leona Vangee, who is a Norwex team coordinator.
Leona attended the 6:3 networking group in Fredericksburg which I am currently the president of. When she started talking about her products which include micro fiber cloths that can clean glass with no streaks using only water, I was like yeah right ok, whatever. After several demonstrations, I said okay, now you have my attention. My tight butt finally broke down and bought some cloths, and they are AWESOME! But it doesn’t stop there, Norwex has a whole line of cleaning products that are safe to use, good for the environment, and clean effectively. Most importantly they will not damage the textiles in your home that you paid dearly for. They have a variety of great products including dusting mits, toilet bowl brushes (that don’t get nasty), floor care systems, flexible pole dusters and so much more.
So lets go back to your new freshly installed grout and caulk in that shower. When we install grout we mix it with an acrylic additive that helps it to bond to the tile, it also add strength as well as stain resistance and water resistance, eliminating the need for a sealer. We also professionally prepare the corners and edges for the best possible adhesion of the new caulk. These techniques along with proper cleaning will greatly extend the life of your grout and caulk. So what is proper cleaning? It’s gentle cleaning agents, gentle cleaning cloths, and a gentle cleaning hand. If you scrub the caulk hard enough it will separate from the wall tile or tub, water will seep behind, turn black, then need to be replaced. Yes, believe it or not, there is such a thing as over cleaning and people that obsess about trying to keep their shower looking brand new are often the ones with problems.
I’m proud to endorse Norwex products, it’s what we are using in our home for everyday cleaning. If you would like to know more about Norwex, how to purchase, or even host a gathering to share these awesome products with your friends then you must contact Leona, she is the one that can really show you how to clean properly!
We often get calls for tubs and shower leaks, most of the time the leak starts slow and is undetected, until some visible damage has occurred. One of the most common spots for damage to occur is outside the tub or shower in the corners. The main reason this happens is the caulk around the tub splits, cracks or separates from the tub and tile allowing water to get behind the caulk. Bathtubs and fiberglass shower pans have a one inch lip that runs all the way around it that the tile hangs over and covers. So the water channels along that lip behind the caulk, behind the tile, and behind the shower door frames, unseen. People often think their damage outside the shower is caused by careless family members not be careful with shower curtains and such, not usually the case.
Inspecting your showers and tubs on a regular basis will greatly reduce the chance of structural damage. If you see any cracked, loose or missing grout and or caulk, take care of it asap. If left unattended the sub-floor under the tub will rot, becoming soft and allowing the tub to move when someone stands in it. If this happens, it will be difficult to maintain a caulk bead around the tub that won’t crack. At that point, the tub would have to be removed and the sub floor repaired, this can be quite expensive.
The key to getting a good, long lasting seal is the preparation. All the old damaged caulk and grout must be removed, dried and properly cleaned. Making sure the cracks and crevices are dry is super important, the new caulk will not adhere or set up correctly if there is any moisture present. This is the number one reason for failed caulk jobs. We use toilet paper to find, and wick out moisture in hard to reach spots, shop vacs can be used if there is a substantial amount of water trapped.
Then a heat gun is carefully used to further dry the area. Some custom shower floors that have a hand made shower pan with tile & grout can take a very long time to dry out enough to re-grout. We have had some that took a month, with a dehumidifier in the shower before we had acceptable numbers on our moisture meter. Once all the necessary preparation is done we install a mold and mildew resistant silicone caulk.
It is very important to use mild cleaners to gently clean the surfaces, harsh chemicals such as bleach and abrasive cleaning sponges or scrub brushes are a sure fire way to damage your grout and caulk. People that tend to be obsessive about cleaning, can be doing more harm than good. Yes, you can overclean!
Unsurpassed Power of the El Diablo Truck Mounted Carpet Cleaning Machine
Introducing the El Diablo truck mounted carpet cleaning machine!
As with any business, levels of service, knowledge, and equipment can vary greatly. At Pristine Tile & Carpet Cleaning we take great pride in making sure we deliver the best we can in all aspects of our business. That’s why we choose the Master Blend El Diablo truck mounted cleaning system. Tile and grout cleaning is a large portion of our business so we needed a cleaning system that could deliver the heat, vacuum and pressure needed to clean hard surfaces such as tile and concrete yet also adjustable to clean very delicate items such as upholstery and carpet. The El Diablo fits that bill. We did not just go out and buy any old equipment, we did countless hours of research on the internet forums and talked to many other owners and concluded that this is the right machine for us. Now after using it for just a few jobs I’m even more confident we made the right choice, the heat and suction it produces makes easy work of even the dirtiest carpets, and they dry remarkably fast.
The El Diablo is equipped with a diesel fired burner that delivers just the right amount of heat we need on demand, without wasting any water or fuel. Heat exchanger truckmounts can’t control temperature like the diesel fired units can,. When it gets too hot the burner shuts off, if it needs more heat it comes on, simple as that. The Vacuum is powered by a Roots 45 blower, the best in the industry providing extreme vacuum even on very long hose runs. The cleaning solution is pumped by a 3000 psi 3cp Cat pump, again Master Blend used the best pump in the industry.
This El diablo machine is mounted in a Chevy Express 2500, and is complete with a 75 gallon waste tank as well as a 100 gallon fresh water tank. Having fresh water on board is new to us as our other truck does not have this. Having the van and water on board will make cleaning apartments and towne homes much easier as parking is tough and water is not easy to find. The downside to the van as compared to the trailer that we are used to is room, the trailer has plenty of space and we are able to stand up inside of it as well.
Having a second cleaning rig on the road is definitely a step in the right direction, we always felt bad when we couldn’t be in two places at once. Having to tell long time customers or property managers that we could not get to them on their desired day was always downer. We can now get to most cleaning jobs in a day or two, or even the same day now that we have two very experienced carpet cleaners and two of the best cleaning machines in Fredericksburg Virginia.
All carpet is not created equal
There are many factors that determine how well a carpet will clean up, such as the type of fiber the carpet is made of, the age of the carpet, cleaning habits of the carpet owner, what types of soil are in the carpet, what methods of professional cleaning was done in the past, and the list goes on. The purpose of this article is to discuss how different carpet types clean up differently and what types of carpet you may want to select for your home based on your lifestyle. Not only does the carpet itself play a role but the quality of the pad can really make a huge difference in how carpet wears over it’s life.
Polypropylene Olefin is quite often used to make loop pile carpet also known as Berber, it does hold up very well in high traffic areas, and cleans fairly well. Berber is not the best choice if you have pets as the loops can get snagged by a dogs nail and run the entire length of the room. It is also famous for for pet stains to wick back after a cleaning.
Wool is a very durable and cleanable fiber but is not very common due to the cost, wool can also be damaged if not cleaned correctly. Possibly a good choice for those with upscale homes and deep pockets.
At this point nylon is the number one most common fiber found in carpet, however that may not be the case for long. Nylon is used in cut pile carpet and found in a wide range of quality from the cheapest builders grade at $5 a yard up to $40 or more per yard for very dense stain protected versions. The cheap stuff actually cleans very well, but shows wear over time in traffic lanes and the stairs. The builder grade nylon is a great choice for rental units when expensive carpet just does not make sense, it is also used by builders because it is cheap and will look good the first year during their warranty period which is all they’re concerned with. If you’re a home owner planing on staying in your home and want a carpet that will last a long time, going with a good quality nylon carpet such as Dupont Stainmaster with upgraded padding will be the best choice. As a carpet cleaners in Fredericksburg Virginia, nylon is our favorite fiber to clean because it looks good, cleans well, and there is little risk involved with cleaning it. Out of all the carpet fibers nylon is the best choice in most cases in my honest opinion.
Ok, now here is the bad news. Polyester is the whole reason I decided to write this post, it is the worst we see as far as cleaning ability and wear goes, and unfortunately it is the fastest growing fiber in production, soon to take over nylon and olefin. Shaw industries, the leading manufacturers of carpet recently attended a big carpet cleaning expo in Las Vegas, when they were asked if the quality of carpet in general was going up or down, he responded that it was unfortunately going down, and polyester was being increasingly manufactured because of costs. This scares me as a carpet cleaner because we’ve seen first hand how the traffic lanes look terribly worn and shaded in as little as a year or two, and it does not respond well to cleaning. We suggest to avoid this material and hopefully it will send them a message once word gets out, that we don’t want it!
Why, why, why do they keep peeing on my carpet?
Ahhhh cats and dogs….my favorite topic. We love our pets to death but lets face it, they can cause problems around the house from time to time. One of the most common things we hear while out in the field cleaning carpets is “my cat(or dog) always marks in the same place, I’ve tried everything but the smell always comes back” Pets urinate on the carpet for many reasons, if there is a large spot or puddle, that usually means the animal had to go but couldn’t or didn’t want to go outside. Maybe mom and dad got stuck in traffic or maybe a bad storm kept Fido from wanting to go out. Puppies need to be house broken, this is the second biggest reason we get to suck pee pee from the carpet. Another very common reason is “marking” pets like to mark their territory and the things they think belong to them too, and unlike us they think it smells great! Our pets also grow old and become incontinent and don’t even know they are leaking.
Dogs and cats can also mark due to behavioral issues, they could be mad at you because you left them, something changed with your schedule or perhaps you introduced a new animal to the home. Cat pee can be some of the worst, most difficult odor to remove, and I can almost guarantee it’s on more than just the carpet. My black light has shown on many instances where cats have backed up to a wall and sprayed the wall and base boards as well. Another thing I would like to point out is that dogs and cats that never ever pee on the carpet might do so if brought to a friends or relatives for a visit. We hear this all the time, people go on vacation and bring the dog to a friend and next thing you know the friend has a house full of pee pee spots, and gets upset that their good friend would bring an untrained dog to them. The case can also be reversed, you go on vacation and have your friend stay at your home to watch the pets but when you get back from your cruise you find out that your friend did not do their job very well, or did they and your dog is letting you know leaving this person here with them for a whole week is unacceptable.
What can be done once the damage has been done?
Well the first obvious thing is to try and find out why the pets are making your life miserable. I am no pet psychologist, but I do know some believe it or not, so if it’s a behavior problem maybe look into that. If you have a cat box, it is super super important to clean it out daily. If a cats box is not clean they will use the carpet, I know this for a fact from my own experience. If vacationing consider boarding your pet, my vet offers these services, and then I know they are well taken care of. If you pet is peeing due to bladder or health reason be sure to visit the vet as they do have medications that can help. You must work hard to train your dog to go outside, this is a given. Cleaning the carpet well is a very important step to help stop the markings in the same spot, but how?
Cleaning the carpet of all urine and odor contamination, using the water claw flash extractor.
First the pet urine location needs to be identified, this can be done with a black light, many of my customers can usually bring me right to the trouble areas. When pet urine gets down into the pad and sub floor it needs to be fully removed with specialized tools and enzymes, saturation of the effected area and dwell time is most effective. Then full extraction of the area using a subsurface tool such as the water claw will remove the urine salts and the odors they produce. Most good carpet cleaners will offer these services as an added treatment and cost, but it is unlikely that the “fly by night $79 whole house hack” will give you the results you want.
Most moderate pet issues can be reversed, however we have seen our share of carpet that we have recommended replacement as the only surefire fix. These very severe cases also have to have the sub floors sealed before new carpet goes down.
Pristine Tile & Carpet Cleaning
632 Forbes St
Fredericksburg, Va 22405