How different types of carpet effect cleanability

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.

Olefin/Berber

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 $$$

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.

Nylon

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.

Polyester

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!

Does your pet keep peeing on the carpet in the same place?

 

 

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. 

waterclaw

Water claw tool, flushing out the carpet

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.

 

 

Why do my carpets have wrinkles?

Carpet wrinkles everywhere!

As carpet cleaners in Fredericksburg Virginia, naturally we see a lot of carpet. One of the most common things we come across is wall to wall carpet that have unsightly wrinkles in them, not only does this look terrible but it can be a trip hazard as well. Leaving these wrinkles in the carpet for extended lengths of time can cause permanent damage to the carpet, including uneven wear or delamination (when the carpet backing and the secondary backing separate from each other) once the carpet becomes delamaninated the wrinkled area will most likely still be slightly visible , even after the carpets are stretched tightly.

Carpet wrinkle

Wrinkle in a closet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why does the carpet get wrinkles?

So you buy new carpet and after the installation you stand back and marvel at how much better it makes your home look, you can’t help but to ask yourself why you didn’t do it sooner. You’re so happy you cheerfully write the check and even throw in a tip for the young man because he did such a great job. Now after a couple of years pass, you start to notice wrinkles appearing and ask yourself why? Some folks think maybe it was from the guy who cleaned the carpets last, but that is not the case at all. The carpet begins to move at pivot points, like at the top of the stairs where people turn to go down a hall, or in traffic lanes. Dragging heavy furniture over the carpet can also cause loosely installed carpet to move.

Over 90% of carpet is not installed to the manufactures specifications, unbelievable right? I really don’t understand why this industry is like this, but why should a good paying customer have to pay again in two years to have the carpets re-installed again properly, makes no sense, but i can almost guarantee the reason is money.

The retail carpet industry is very competitive, every carpet salesman is trying to convince potential customers why they should buy carpet from them. The lower price just always wins, especially when selling to builders and property managers. The faster they can get the carpet installed the faster they can get to the next unsuspecting customer. The installers just throw the carpet down and use a knee kicker to push it over the tack strip and tuck it under the base molding, it is impossible to achieve the manufacturers recommendations regarding installation, using a knee kicker.  The proper way to get carpet as tight as it should be is to use a power stretcher. This tool has long steel tubes that run across the room to push off the opposite wall using leverage to pull the carpet very tight. Using this tool is more time consuming than using a knee kicker, so installers don’t use them. It’s not even an option you could request, could you imagine a salesman saying “I can put new carpet in your house for this great price, but if you want it done right  it will cost a lot more”

The power stretcher is the proper tool for installing carpet properly.

The power stretcher is the proper tool for installing carpet the right way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What can be done to get the wrinkles out?

As much as the industry standard makes me angry, I shouldn’t complain as it brings us a lot of  business re-installing carpets the correct way…using a power stretcher. You would be amazed at how much excess carpet we cut off around the perimeter of a room after power stretching, quite often a good inch or even two. If a customer has a hole or burn mark in the carpet they want repaired but don’t have any spare carpet, quite often I can stretch the carpet enough to get a donor piece out of the edge, cool…right!

If carpet cleaning is also being done at the same time we recommend to do the stretching first and then the cleaning.

 

 

 

Drying carpet

How long will my carpet take to dry?

As a carpet cleaner here in Fredericksburg Virginia I hear this question all the time. In fact it is probably the the most frequently asked question we get. Our customers love to have their carpet cleaned for many reasons including appearance or they may want to prolong the life of their carpet, allergies to dust and pet dander also rank up there in the top reason we get called out. But some people are just too nervous about calling us because they had a bad experiencing from a previous carpet cleaner.   I hear it way too often “the last company we had out left our carpet soaking wet for days” OMG are you serious? Folks… this is not the way it should be. A true professional should be able to get your carpet to dry fast.

How long will my carpet take to dry?

There is no short answer or exact time as to how long carpets will take to dry. There are many factors that play a roll in this, such as the type of carpet, how soiled they are, the humidity inside the home, is the heat or AC running? does the customer have ceiling fans? But I can say this for sure it should be measured in hours not days. We often see that the rooms we started in first are dry to the touch before we even leave. We tell our customers that the carpet should dry in about 3-6 hours, but it is always a good practice to wait overnight before putting heavy furniture, area rugs or plastic desk chair mats back, you don’t want to trap any residual moisture under these items.

What will happen if my carpets are wet too long?

Carpet that is left wet for more than a day or two will start to smell, longer than that, it could need to be treated as a water damage restoration job. Carpet can’t stay wet for longer than 72 hours or mold will start to grow, at that point the padding will need to be replaced and the carpet will need to be treated with a microbial agent.  Another problem that can occur is wicking, if the carpet dries slowly the chance for stains to reappear or browning to occur increase significantly.

What causes over wetting?

The main reason for carpets being left too wet is operator inexperience. It takes practice to get everything perfect…the right amount of pre-spray, the right temperature and pressure to have the equipment set at, doing dry strokes and utilizing fans also play a big roll. I remember my first day well… got my brand new truck mounted carpet cleaning machine went home and told my wife I was going to get our carpets unbelievably clean, well…water squishing up between the toes the day after did not over impress her. I got it dry and re-cleaned with the proper settings and Voila! great looking and great smelling clean carpet.

Other reasons that carpet will stay wet too long has to do with the equipment. Carpet cleaning machines need to be in proper working condition to ensure the carpet will dry fast. The water coming out of the carpet cleaning wand needs to be ripping hot, the hotter the water the faster it will dry. The vacuum needs to be running at peak performance with no vacuum leaks. The Jets on the wand need to be the proper size, and the pressure regulator needs to be in proper working order. If any of these components are not working the carpets will be too wet. Do you think a shady, cash strapped carpet cleaner will tell you their equipment is not working properly?

How can I be sure the company I hire will not over wet my carpets?

There are many ways to screen a company for professionalism, and looking online for ratings and reviews is probably the best way to go. Check many outside sources such as the BBB, Google, Yelp, Yahoo to see what experiences others had. It is very important to stay away from deals that seem too good to be true, I can  guarantee that you will not have a great experience from the low ball guys.

Ask questions…how long will the carpets take to dry? Do you use a truck mount? How long has the person that will be coming to my home been cleaning carpet?

Get a referral, always a good idea to ask friends and family of their experiences with a cleaner or any other service company for that matter, this reduces the risk of being a victim of a shady bait and switch company.

Drying carpet

Getting carpet to dry quickly before the new tenants move into this rental.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iron transfer of a difficult stain

Removing stains and spots from carpet

Removing stains and spots from carpet is not always an easy task, but with the right tools and spotters most will come out. This is what separates a good cleaning company from…well… a not so good cleaning company. There are a few different reasons that I know of for sure as to why some companies don’t carry all the different spotters, and there are many. Many smaller companies struggle, trying to keep up with their equipment payments, mortgage payments ect.. so when money gets tight the first things to go are the very expensive spotters, pre-sprays and rinses. Having the right products on the truck makes all the difference. Another reason that some of the larger companies don’t utilize what’s available to them is because they don’t trust that there own technicians will use them right, putting the wrong chemical  on the wrong stain or the wrong carpet type can make matters a whole lot worse, not to mention they can be dangerous if mishandled. The last reason I will mention is just poor organization, running out of stuff and forgetting to re-order.

Now lets say you did your homework, checked reviews, and found a great carpet cleaner. Great! the hard part is done. There are so many stains and spots that we as carpet cleaners run into throughout our work days, some are very easy to remove and some are not. Many stains we just look at and know just what to do… rust, red stains, grease, oil, wax to name a few. Where we struggle is the unknown, we are in a empty rental, tenants long gone, who knows what some of those spots are, they all look the same. So, with that being said if you have a carpet cleaning scheduled always let the cleaner know what was spilled, if you know, it can be the difference of  weather or not it will come out. There are spotters and chemicals made specifically for almost every different stain and using the right one will do the trick where as using the wrong one can likely set a stain in worse or damage the carpet fibers. My carpet cleaning company here in Fredericksburg Virginia maintains an inventory of spotters for almost any situation, to give us the absolute best shot of getting everything out.

We are always well stocked with the proper spotters for each job

This picture shows a red stain being transferred to a white towel with an iron, but the trick here is a specialized 2 part red dye remover. It must be mixed at the time of use.

 

 

 

Carpet spot remover

Treating pet stains between professional cleanings

I felt inclined to write this post after a series of jobs we had this week in which it seems the pet had won the battle over its owner. As a guess I would say close to 90% of my customers have a dog or cat including myself. This year we lost 2 dogs that we loved dearly but were just very old, and as dogs and cats get old or become sick they will have accidents on the carpet. I know this, so there is no reason to be embarrassed if  you find yourself in this situation, even the most well trained dogs run into problems sooner or later.

When we get into a situation where we are dealing with an older dog or maybe even trying to train a brand new puppy it may not be feasible to call the professional out every time an accident happens. Although I love my customers and their business I understand that could get expensive for them. So I will share a few tips to try and help everyone get by in between cleanings, these tips help us and you.

One thing I hear quite often upon arriving at a job is that my customer had a spill or their pet had an accident… not surprising, it happens to us all. What does surprise me sometimes is what they spray on it. Twice this week I had customers tell me they cleaned stains in their carpets with Windex, I’m not really sure why, maybe Windex wrote a blog that told them it was a good idea or maybe that’s all they had. But in both cases it did not work, or they thought it worked until the stain re-appeared a couple of days later. There are many products around the home that can be helpful for removing stains such as vinegar and water solutions, baking soda, borax, dish soap, peroxide and so on. For pet urine there are some decent over the counter products in the big box pet stores such as Natures Miracle or Folex. The one product carpet cleaners cringe when they hear it is resolve, carpet cleaners around the globe agree that this product can really set in a stain.

 

Now here’s my biggest tip,  no matter what home remedy you find on the internet or what spotter you buy in the store, without extraction you are leaving behind whatever you are trying to clean out as well as the sticky residue from the cleaning agent you are using. This is why spots “wick” back or re-soil from soap residue. Having said all that, I am a big fan of the Bissell home spotters for quick little clean-ups, but I am not a fan of the larger home carpet cleaners because they are just not powerful enough to do large areas without leaving behind dirt and chemicals, causing rapid re-soiling. The little machines are great for concentrating on small clean-up’s but there are a few things to know…when it comes to using any cleaning agents, more is not better. Rinsing well in a necessity but even more important is getting your spot to dry as fast as possible by doing many, many extra dry strokes and putting a fan on it. The spot bot by Bissell has a rotaing brush that you just put over the spot and let it run for a minute, I much prefer the hand held wand on that machine over the rotating brushes, I have seen many circles left in peoples carpet from those.  The Bissells do run about $100 to $150 for the spot machine but is well worth having one in the house, or if you already have a wet/dry shop vac that would work too,  just remember to take out the paper filter first, and you will need a spray bottle of clean rinse water if using the shop vac.

I confess, even having  a 26 horsepower truck mounted cleaning machine in my driveway I still use the spot bot to clean up little spots between cleanings. Oh…I almost forgot, after using your spotter machine it is most important to clean them very well or they will smell real bad next time you go to use it.

I gave this advice to one of my customers last year and when I went out to clean her carpets yesterday she thanked me soooo much for telling her about the spot bot. She has four dogs and this kept her carpets in a much better shape throughout the year.

I hope these tips get you through until your annual cleaning!  Rinse those spots, don’t just spray with Windex and leave.

-Pete & Re-Pete

spotter and stain remover

Pet odor and stain remover

small spotter ideal for quick cleanups between professional cleanings

Why hire a professional carpet cleaner?

Eliminate the need to rent a machine

This is probably the biggest reason to hire a professional rather than go at it yourself. When you add up the cost of the carpet cleaning machine, the cost of the cleaning chemicals and the additional tools you may need to do stairs or upholstery you are not saving all that much and the rental or homeowner cleaners are no where near as powerful as professional carpet cleaning systems.

Different types of carpet

There are many different types of carpet on the market, nylon, berber, wool and so on. Professionals have the skills and knowledge to determine what type of carpet you have and what type of cleaning agents will work best without damaging the carpet.

Sanitizing

A true professional will  be using powerful truck mounted equipment capable of producing extreme heat, the heat that is needed to kill germs, dust mites and other contaminates found deep in the carpet pile.

Difficult spots and stains

There are many different types of stains, some can be very challenging such as urine, red dyes found in kool-aid. These types of specialty spotters are just not available to the public.

The physical aspect

Carpet cleaning is very strenuous work, just lugging the machine to and from the store is enough to cause back pain and the actual cleaning is even harder work.

Inferior cleaning 

The portable equipment available for sale or rent is with out a doubt leaving dirt and soil behind. The vacuum motors in this type of equipment are no comparison to the what the pros use. Not only is dirt being left behind but usually too much water and cleaning agents are left behind as well. Over wetting can cause mold, mildew and odors. Leaving chemicals behind will cause faster re soiling from sticky residue.

Leases and security deposits

Most leases state that the carpets must be cleaned by a professional carpet cleaner, and they will ask for a receipt to prove it. They know that a professional job is far superior to the  do it your self jobs.

 

 

Professional Carpet Cleaner

How carpet cleaning companies compare

Carpet Cleaner Specialties

Like any industry, carpet cleaners come in many different levels of service and specialties.     Some companies focus on just carpet cleaning while others may have strong specialties such as water damage restoration, fine rug cleaning, tile & grout cleaning, hardwood floor cleaning, furniture and upholstery and so forth. It is always a good idea to seek out the company that focuses on the specialty that you may be looking for to ensure the best possible out come.For example, my company has a strong focus on carpet cleaning but we are also the leader in tile & grout cleaning, and shower re-grouts in Fredericksburg, Stafford and Spotsylvania Virginia, however, we would not touch a water damage or hardwood floor job because we just are not properly set up for that.

Not all carpet cleaners are created equal

Like all industries, carpet cleaners come in a wide variety. Some are big national companies, some may have a few trucks, some are 1 truck owner operators, some are scammers and then there are the ones working out of their trunk with a rug doctor. All these different scenarios have good points and bad points.

Lets take a closer look at each of these different scenarios and see how they differ.

1. The big national franchises such as Stanley Steamer, Chemdry, Coit – the services and pricing these companies offer can vary greatly from place to place. The high advertising budgets will increase the cost as well as pressured up sells. They also have a higher rate of employee turnover making this option a gamble…it can be a great experience or a horrible one. On the up side, these larger multi-truck operations are usually prepared to provide same day service.

2. The local medium sized business – These companies are generally a good bet, they are not so big that they cannot keep a handle on their customer service, they often have a few trucks for quick service and they usually invest in good training for their techs. On the down side they do have some overhead such as shops, training and employee benefits making it a little more expensive, but you get what you pay for!

3. The Owner Operator – This is the category my company falls under, and is great choice for many reasons. Not many techs from larger companies will care enough to provide the level of service that the owner of a company will. Many owner operators use superior truck mounted equipment and have far more cleaning experience than most techs just in it for the paycheck. Their overhead is generally lower making it affordable as well. The downside is they do become busy in the height of the season, and with only one truck it can be difficult to get an emergency appointment. The owner operator is the best option for the planners looking for the best of both worlds….quality & price.

4. The lowball hack – This is one to watch out for. Often they use inferior equipment that is no better than what anyone can rent in a grocery store, they most likely are uninsured and untrained, they cut corners in the products they use (if they use any) Be very wary of companies with unusually low prices, unlettered trucks, no websites or reviews, advertise with flyers on  utility poles ect… Most of the people who use these guys are renters who don’t care, they just want any receipt they can turn into their landlord upon move out.

5. Scam companies – This is the one that bothers me the most! These are the companies that have no intention of cleaning your carpet for the advertised price. It is called bait and switch, they advertise cleaning at truly unbelievable low prices and then change them once in your home, for sometimes huge amounts. These folks are high pressure and often prey on the elderly…. in my book, they belong in jail! This bait and switch news clip will make you sick!

It is always a good idea check out a companies online reputation before you hire them, make sure they have many good ratings not just one or two.

 

professional carpet cleaning can remove allergens

How do I relieve those allergies symptoms?

Virginia Allergies…. carpet cleaning is one of the most important things you can do to remove these allergens from your home.

professional carpet cleaning can help relieve allergiesWhen I moved to  Fredericksburg Virginia in 1994 the second thing I noticed was that my allergies were much more severe. The first thing I noticed, was that the pizza & bagel quality was going to be an issue for me.  As much as I’d rather to write about food, my favorite pastime, I will move on to what I know best…Carpet Cleaning and Tile & Grout Cleaning!

Many people suffer from allergies of all kinds… pet dander, shellfish, pollen, peanuts, phosphates ect… you name it, and someone is allergic to it. Thankfully the allergies I suffer from, and most others do too, can be controlled with some effort. I’m talking about the pollen, dander and dust! I sneezed just writing that. Removing these contaminates from the home is the best defense we have, but getting rid of the pets is not an option for most, defiantly not me. Here are some tips that can help reduce the suffering.

  1. Close the windows – I know, I know, the nice breeze blowing the spring air through the house that has been closed up all winter. But the pollen is coming into your house too, and settling right down on your floors and furniture.
  2. Find an allergy pill that works – there are many great products on the market today that control allergies with little side effects. Zyrtec works for me, but not my wife, find out what’s best for you, and take it daily.
  3. Vacuum, Vacuum, and then Vacuum some more – A good hepa filter vacuum will really help catch the allergens, if your vacuum is just blowing the fine stuff out the back, what good is it? you need a hepa if you have allergies! *note: as stated in another blog, your carpets will last years longer with lots of regular vacuuming.
  4. Vacuum – yeah, I know. Really! you should vacuum the furniture, the mattresses, and yes! even behind the fridge ( a good idea to get those refridge coils too, while your back there.)
  5. Change the air filters – make sure you keep those furnace filters changed, we do ours every 3 months with the higher merv rating. Tip, make sure your filter is installed in the right airflow direction, and use a sharpie to mark the date on the filter.
  6. Dryer vent – It’s very important to make sure your dryer vent is free of lint, for more reasons to clean the dryer vent, visit our dryer vent blog. If the dryer vent is not fully secured to the back of the dryer excess dust can leak out, a lot of dust!
  7. Professional Carpet Cleaning – You knew it was coming! That’s right, a really good deep professional carpet cleaning can free your carpets of all that dander, pollen, dead skin, pet hair and pet oils among other things. Also consider having your furniture, and mattresses cleaned.

Phosphate Allergies

I have had customers contact me for carpet cleaning, who are allergic to phosphates. Phosphates are found in many cleaning agents such as laundry soap and the carpet cleaning pre-sprays the carpet cleaners use. If you are allergic to phosphates ( and you most likely know this) there is good news… there are special cleaners available to us carpet cleaners that do not contain phosphates.

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