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.
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.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Virginia Allergies…. carpet cleaning is one of the most important things you can do to remove these allergens from your home.
When 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
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.
Pristine Tile & Carpet Cleaning
632 Forbes St
Fredericksburg, Va 22405