95% of maintenance of your carpet is vacuuming. If you vacuum enough with a properly maintained vacuum your carpet will never show dirt! You may still get spots from spills or things tracked in from your shoes but dirt won't show. A properly maintained vacuum means new brushes and belt at least once a year. After one year your vacuum looses 50% of its ability to remove dirt. It will still pick up what's on the surface. It is recommended that carpet should be vacuumed 8 passes per week. You can get away with less passes with a more powerful vacuum but most vacuume's don't qualify. Many times I have shown customers that I can remove dirt from filthy carpet with my vacuum alone. If your carpet looks dirty try vacuuming the dirty area for 30 minutes. You will be surprised how clean your carpet will get. If it doesn't, you need new brushes. You can never vacuum too much. If you love your carpet vacuum, vacuum, vacuum!
The obvious answer is as clean as you can get it. That mean different things to each customer. When I quote a job I try to imagine what it will take to restore it back to as new as possible. It often takes more work that I thought. As a customer, you have decide if you want a fixed price or do you want it as good as it can get. As a cleaner I look at the condition of the carpet and home to decide if it is worth the effort and cost. Customers often say do the best you can. To some that means they are willing to pay for your best work possible, to others it means they're not too picky and don't go too far with the effort. The carpet cleaner can not tell by looking at a carpet how much work it will be to restore it. So a carpet cleaning quote is for cleaning a job by how many square feet you have or some by how many rooms. That does not take into account how much more work it will take to make it perfect. So you have to decide if you want your carpet cleaned or you want clean. I generally assume when I go into a beautiful well maintained house that they want perfection but occasionally I will find one that only wanted the cheapest price, not cleanest carpet.
Spots and stains are worked on before cleaning but often need additional attention after the cleaning. Black filtration dirt at the baseboard is another issue that is not removed with normal cleaning. It is a time consuming process to remove. Many customers assume this will be removed with normal cleaning.
Whenever you had your carpet cleaned and it didn't come out that well don't assume that is as good as it can get. Even extremely dirty carpet can be cleaned. With the host cleaning system, carpet can be cleaned several times until it looks perfect (except for the damage the dirt does to capet when walked on for months.) Using steam cleaning to clean extremely dirty carpet pushes most of the dirt deep into the backing. The dirt the wicks up to the surface within the next month making the carpet look like it did before the cleaning. Unfortunately the consumer often thinks that they are responsible for the soil. I've heard people that had steam cleaning tell me why clean the carpet when we trash it in only a month. What they don't know is that the dirt is their old dirt wicking back up the month after cleaning. People generally wait until their carpet looks dirty before cleaning. The best thing for the carpet is semi annual or annual maintenance cleaning. This will allow your carpet to last until you get tired of it.
You carpet is a mess and you want to revive it; where do you start? If you search “carpet cleaning,” you will find a variety of different options in carpet cleaning, 13 to be exact. The one that is found most commonly is steam cleaning. Steam cleaning is the most popular, because it is the least expensive, however I have found in my experience it is also the least effective. For many in the carpet cleaning business, it seems logical to choose the method most people are using, however, I decided to choose what I know to be the best for your carpet and home.
Originally, carpet cleaning consisted of shampooing with soap and water and then extracted with hot water. Steam cleaning was invented as the result of the original shampooing process. It was the step in which the soap was rinsed out of the carpet. In time, this evolved to steam cleaning – eliminating the shampoo and using extra hot water to remove the dirt and oil from carpet. The problem is steam is water and oil do not mix. As a result, steam cleaning removes as little as 5% of the dirt in carpet and a maximum of 20% of the dirt if soap is used. The problem with hot water extraction (steam cleaning) hot water is pushed into the carpet, pushing 80% of the dirt deep into the carpet backing. Some of the water is removed, but not all, leaving a lot of the dirt left behind under the surface. After the carpet dries and over the following month, the dirt will wick back up to the surface. It may seem that you have re-soiled your newly cleaned carpet, but it is the underlying dirt resurfacing.
I’ve worked with and seen the results of many different methods over my 30 years of being in business, and if at any point I thought there was one better than Host, I would use it. Yet in all my years, I have found Host Dry Cleaning to be the most effective cleaning method for carpeting. Host has been tested and proven to remove between 70 and 93 % of the dirt in carpet.
Host is a cleaning compound made of tiny sponge particles that are dampened with a “super-cleaner”. The compound is spread over carpet and scrubbed in with a rotating-brush machine. The cleaner in host is non-soap based, which means it will not leave a residue that will attract dirt. Host Dry Cleaning Solution also uses citrus solvent and alcohol to safely remove oil from your carpet. This is important because oil produced by your skin is transferred onto the carpet; the oily fibers can attract dirt and cause your carpet fibers to stick together showing a matted appearance. Host also contains natural and safe disinfectants that help kill bacteria. This is important because bacteria levels tend to be high in carpet if it is not properly maintained. While many people wait a year or more between carpet cleanings, it’s advised to have oil, dirt, and bacteria removed from your carpet at a minimum of 2 times per year. Imagine how dirty your hard surface floors would look if you only cleaned them once a year! Host may appear to be pricey when compared to steam cleaning, however, the Host Cleaning method helps maintain the longevity of carpet and the overall health of your home far better than any other cleaning method currently on the market.
Often times you will find an array of inexpensive spot cleaners in the store, and I often get asked, “which one should I use.” I can't say which one's not to use, however, i can say which ingredient to avoid, which is the ingredient most commonly found in inexpensive spot treatments, soap. Soap-based solutions solve the problem of the spot, meanwhile they create another problem, residue. Imagine not getting all of the shampoo out of your hair, or never cleaning glass door in a shower. That soapy residue has a similar effect on your carpet, acting as a sticky surface that attracts dirt. It seems as though the spot magically reappeared, but it is really dirt trapped in the soap remains of your last attempt at removing a spot. I’ve tried dozens of spot removers over the years, but there is only one soap-free one that I have found better than all the rest, Perky. It’s only marketed to professional carpet cleaners, but in 25 years I have not been able to find one I like nearly as much. It is gentle enough to use on all carpets and fabrics, without the need to rinse out a soapy residue. Better yet, it’s natural and safe for humans and pets. A demonstration I attended when first introduced to Perky, the demonstrator drank the solution to prove it was safe and gentle; that’s one way to show dedication! So next time you get a spot, if it is liquid, the very first thing you should do is grab a rag and soak up as much of the fluid as you can without rubbing, then use a non-soap based spot treatment to scrub the remaining residue. If you want to give Perky a try, I am able to sell bottles of it to customers upon request and would love to hear you love it as much as I do.
Let me first point out that OxiClean is peroxide… Peroxide is bleach. It is a stain remover, not a spot remover. Don’t use it on just spots or on colored carpeting. Only use it on stains, on very light or white carpeting, or in areas that won’t matter if all the color is bleached out. Best way to use it on a very small part of the stain and let it set for several hours. If you find the spot has lightened and the carpet has not, then success! You can continue using the solution. Traditionally if it doesn’t work it would make sense to use a stronger mix, however the problem is peroxide continues to work for several hours, so it’s important to take it in small steps to ensure you don’t have what I call a reverse stain (bleached out spot). Professionally when I use peroxide, I control the length of time the peroxide is active using either and alkaline solution or heat. By stopping the peroxide from actively working I can lighten a stain before it can lighten the carpeting, giving me greater control. I’ve experimented and used this method to a science, using great care to ensure the best results. I have not experimented this on household products and I do not recommend mixing chemicals on carpeting in experimentation. So yes, you can use OxiClean products on your carpeting if it is very light carpeting or if you test it in a small, inconspicuous spot first. However, I don’t recommend over using the product as it risks causing irreversible damage that needs to be professionally patched in order to remedy.
OxiClean is a registered trademark of Church & Dwight Co., Inc. Information is not warranted or endorsed by Church & Dwight Co., Inc. or Dan The Carpetman Inc.
First it’s important to know how a vacuum works… A vacuum needs to not only remove what you see on the surface, but also work deeper into the pile to pull up the dirt and debris that work into the carpet’s pile between vacuuming. The most important feature on a vacuum is the brushes. When new and working properly, the brushes separate the pile and allows the vacuum’s suction to remove soil and foreign matter from the carpet. After several months of use the brushes begin to wear and lose their ability to remove deep soil.
The second most important feature is suction; the higher the suction, the faster the soil is removed. A powerful vacuum does the work for you. Industry experts recommend vacuuming your carpet and area rugs 8 passes a week; this can be done in one day or spread out over days. The more you vacuum, the longer your carpet will last. I’ve had customers who believed that too much vacuuming is bad for your carpet, but actually it is the opposite.
So what make a great vacuum? First the brushes, they should be replaceable. Sometimes there is a metal base (agitator) where the brushes are replaceable. Solid wood or plastic brush rolls can be replaced entirely but usually have to be special ordered by a vacuum dealer. Brushes should be changed at least once a year to keep it at peak efficiently. The more efficient your vacuum is, the less work you need to do. The best and most powerful vacuum I’ve found is the Riccar 8955. I’ve used the Riccar for many years and it makes my job much easier. It saves me about 3 times the work with how powerful and efficient it is, saving me lots of time and energy.
Which are the worst vacuums? Most of the vacuums you see on television are lower in quality, made for short term or light use. When comparing my commercial Riccar vacuum to a Dyson or Orek, the first major difference I notice is the brushes. The brushes are typically a poor design and can often do more damage than good.
I’ve done carpet inspections where it was discovered that the vacuum damaged the carpet beyond repair. The mills have warned inspectors to be aware of the vacuum brush damage problem. Customers are shocked to find out their expensive new vacuums are not what they expected. I suspect this to be because you are paying for the advertising, not the research and development that makes a great vacuum.
Good vacuums are exclusively sold at specialty vacuum shops. Preferred vacuums often time cannot be found online or in department stores; the manufactures restrict sales of their best machines to vacuum only stores. However, some ‘vac-shops’ also sell the heavily advertised, poor performing vacuums along side the high quality vacuums. This is to provide the unknowing customers what they want and make the sale. The best way to find a quality vacuum, ask a reliable, knowledgeable carpet cleaner what they use. In addition to Riccar, I’ve been please with the quality of vacuums manufactured by Panasonic and Sharp.
I’ve been asked then why do brands such as Dyson receive great review ratings? I believe it is because consumers have not experienced anything better to compare it to. From my experience, when customers purchase a Riccar they are surprised at how much better it cleans than their previous vacuum, but even better, how the much better the quality is overall.
Great Carpet Installation Versus Poor Quality Installation
It is important to keep in mind that carpet installation is a difficult and physical job; to do the job right, it takes time and can be costly. The lowest price comes at the sacrifice of quality by cutting corners in order to maintain the bottom line. Cutting corners means hiring less expensive labor that is often times less experienced, less training, or uses poor quality material. Time is money; less expensive laborers often make their money from quantity of installations performed, therefor installations are performed more quickly and with less attention to detail. As a result, I find installations that are rushed and skip important steps.
Good installs will follow this step-by-step process…
First step is to prepare the floor. Sweep the floor and vacuum the edges.
Second is securing tack strips around the perimeter of the room. The wood tack strips should be 3/8 of an inch from the baseboard, not closer, not farther. Then, a separate strip of tackless should be used around door trim. Three separate pieces should be used on each side of a doorway if the doorstop goes to the floor. Every small piece of tackles needs at least 2 nails to secure it to the floor. Only 1 nail would allow the tackles to move. Tackles should be reinforced with roofing nails or masonry nails on concrete. This reinforcement allows the installer to stretch the carpet tight enough so that the carpet will not need to be re-stretched after installation.
Third, the edge of the carpet should be sealed with a seam sealer on any carpet but especially loop pile carpet like Berbers and looped commercial carpet. Have you ever seen carpet in businesses where the seams have unraveled? This is an example of what happens to carpet when the seams aren't sealed.
You should ask questions such as, “what is the width of seam tape used? The best installers use 6-inch wide seaming tape on all seams that are located in the center of rooms. The wide tape hides the appearance of seams when properly stretched.
Carpet needs to be power stretched in the length and width of every room. All hallways, closets and stair landings also need to be power stretched if you don’t want them to loosen later. A power stretcher is a tool with a wide stretcher head on one end with a long pole that spans across the entire room and a rubber heal at the opposite wall. This pulls the carpet not only taught but stretched before securing it to the tack strips so it won’t have room to move, loosen, or become wavy. Carpet can not be over stretched! If you were to pull up a properly stretched carpet it would be short of the wall. Stretching a carpet is similar to those Chinese finger handcuffs we played with as kids. When we stuck our fingers into the tube, the harder we tried to pull them out, the more it locked in. The primary carpet backing works the same way, the tighter the carpet is stretched, the tighter the backing locks the yarns in.
As a certified carpet inspector, I find only 5% of the jobs I inspect are installed properly. Cutting cost by skipping steps or using poor quality material will reduce the longevity of your carpet and begin to loosen, bubble, unravel, and split at seams. Often times paying more up front for a quality carpet installer that will take the time to do the best job possible, means you will be paying less later on for repair or installation of new carpet.
Carpet can be manufactured today from several materials including wool, nylon, olefin & polyester. Wool is natural, soft, absorbent, resilient and durable. It is extremely resistant to wear but is very susceptible to staining. It cleans very well but easily shrinks from water. Dyes on wool carpets tend to bleed when cleaned with soap or hot water.
Nylon is the best carpet fiber on the market today. It is soft, resilient and durable. Grades of nylon in quality carpets are resistant to staining and it is easily cleaned. The best nylon is BCF or Bulk Continuous Filament. Non BCF carpet is made from staple yarn. Staple is made up of small strands of fiber spun together like wool is. When you vacuum a new carpet and get a lot of fuzz in your vacuum bag, its staple yarn. BCF nylon never sheds and looks newer and lasts longer. A fun fact: NYLON is comprised of the initials of the 2 cities where the DuPont teams developed the fiber, NY for New York, and LON for London.
Olefin fiber is made from polypropylene plastic. It is an oily fiber that has the tendency to attract oil to it. It soils faster than any other carpet fiber. It is one of the hardest carpet materials to clean. Another drawback to olefin is tendency to become dingy. When light colored olefin get dirty and you walk on the dirt (even with bare feet) you grind the dirt into fibers. After the carpet is cleaned the path that was dirty still looks dingy. This is because of the damage done to the fibers reflect light differently that the rest of the carpet. Olefin is more susceptible to becoming dingy because the stiffer fiber doesn’t move out of the way of dirt. Its stiffness makes it scratch easier.
All synthetic fibers can be scratched by soil. The best way to avoid this is to clean the carpet before it looks dirty. You may ask why in the world would I clean carpet when it's not dirty. Carpet can hold I lot of dirt before it is visible. Once you see dirt in carpet it is too late. You have already started to damage the fiber by walking on it. You should maintain your carpet as you would your car. You wouldn't wait to change your car's oil until you have engine problems, too late. My customers who regularly schedule cleaning of their carpet, keep their carpet looking new indefinitely. Carpet doesn't wear out, it uglies out!
I strongly advise customers to avoid polyester fiber, and I firmly believe it should never be used in carpet. It is the poorest performing and least expensive material used in carpet. Polyester cleans easier than olefin but not nearly as well as nylon. The problem with polyester is its appearance level drops fairly quickly, especially if it is a low-density style. It resiliency is very poor and it tends to matt in traffic areas, especially where traffic flow turns. Furniture legs leave permanent indents in the fibers. Areas under chairs like in dining rooms develop multiple indents that can grow to 6 to 8 inch matted areas. Matting on polyester is not correctable by vacuuming or cleaning. Polyester carpet often times has the appearance of 10 year-old carpeting after only 6 months. In my career as a certified carpet inspector, I’ve inspected many polyester installations. It is common in my experience that I would come across consumers that were very upset with their purchase because shortly after installation, the appearance level had dropped significantly due to the poor durability. Whenever you find a great price on carpet, check to make sure it is not polyester. There is a new polyester on the market. They keep trying to reinvent polyester because of it's bad reputation. This new material uses corn added the the polyester. It has several names. This new material has a feel very much like nylon. The only improvement is in it's feel. The drawback is in it's cleanability. It is advertised as the most cleanable carpet ever made, when in fact it is the least cleanable carpet. It will clean but with extreme effort. The cost to get this carpet clean could cost many time the price of other carpet.
If you've ever met me, you know I am passionate about my profession. I believe all great craftsman should be passionate about their craft. In addition, I enjoy sharing my wealth of knowledge on the subject, educating homeowners on the good and bad, do's and do-nots of carpet cleaning and installation and how to maintain this plush, warm, and comfortable flooring in their home.