Vacuum Review: Roomba

October 17, 2011





Roomba 530





Cord length:


Available at:


Department Stores



 Residential:x      Commercial:      Heavy Duty:



Since the first time I saw one of these machines about ten years ago, I’ve thought, what a great idea, the house gets vacuumed and I don’t have to do it; simply brilliant. Now, after all this time, I finally got to try one and I was not disappointed.

For those of you not familiar with the Roomba it is a small round, battery operated, robot vacuum cleaner. You turn it on; it vacuums an entire room, then finds its way back to the charger and parks itself there. It charges overnight and then it’s ready to go again. It doesn’t get much easier. So how good does it work?

As much as I liked the Roomba, it’s not ready to replace my regular upright just yet. What it will do though, is cut down on how often I have to use it. The Roomba does not have the power of my upright, but who cares; it’s a robot and I can turn it on every day. If the soil never gets ground down into the carpet, you don’t need much suction to pick it up. Also if you have hardwood or tile floors, this little machine will do wonders at picking up the dust and pet hair.

The Roomba works just like most vacuums in that it has suction, a counter rotating brush and beater brush, and a debris container. It’s programmed to work its way around the room and it does so very well. I set up a few obstacles and was very surprised when it maneuvered its way around all of them. Its entire circumference is a non marking rubber bumper that compresses when it hits a wall, furniture etc. The machine then turns and keeps on working. There is a spinning brush that sticks out from under and does a good job of getting right up to the wall. My favorite feature though is that the machine is short enough to go under the bed. Yes, it dodges the bed posts and gets up all that dust that you normally leave behind. A few people have also asked me how come it stays in one room and doesn’t fall down the stairs. Magic would be the cool answer; but in reality it comes with two battery operated virtual walls. They put out a beam (kind of like a laser pointer) that the Roomba won’t cross.

Like anything else though, there are upkeep costs and it is up to you to decide whether they are worth it or not. The batteries are NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) and will probably last six months to a year depending on
how often you run the machine. At about $70 to replace; to me it’s worth it. I like the carpets vacuumed and if I don’t have to do it, well, all the better. The brushes (especially the soft one) will also have to be replaced every six months or so in order to keep the machine working its best.

So, all in all I liked the Roomba. On a coolness scale I give it 5 out of 5 stars. On how well it picks the dirt up from the carpet I give it 2 ½ stars. If I can get away with taking out the regular vacuum every three to four weeks instead of every week, then the Roomba is for me!!

Golden Gate Carpet Cleaning

643 Martin Ave. #3Rohnert Park, Ca. 94928 – 707-588-8879
















Upholstery Cleaning

August 6, 2011

25 years ago when I purchased my first brand new carpet cleaning machine I had a minimal amount of experience in the industry, so understandably I had a lot of questions. I fired off my seemingly endless list, listened carefully to the answers, and then had the salesman take me through a hands- on demonstration of how to clean carpet. Once all my concerns were addressed I started loading all my new equipment into my van and just as I was about to close the door the guy said “don’t forget this”. He held up another tool and said “it’s your upholstery tool. It hooks up to your machine so you can clean sofas.” Cool I thought; now not only can I clean carpet but I’m also a professional upholstery cleaner.

I’d like to say that because of that afterthought I went on to a successful upholstery cleaning business. NOT HARDLY!!!! After one ruined sofa (cost me $700), some almost ruined chairs, and a whole bunch of things that didn’t come clean, I figured it was time for another list of endless questions.

Unfortunately, most other cleaners out there have about that same amount of experience and knowledge when it comes to upholstery.

When it comes to fine fabric cleaning, thorough knowledge of fibers, fabrics, and everything related is not only helpful, but also crucial. This knowledge allows the true pro to qualify the work, and choose the safest, most effective cleaning method.

Fabrics are produced using many types of fiber and construction with different dyes, finishes, and coatings. For these reasons you cannot expect to safely clean every fiber type using only one specific cleaning technique. Today’s professionals must look well beyond the “wet cleaning” or dry cleaning” methods stamped on the furniture’s sewn on labels.

Today’s furniture comes in many different materials and styles and each one has definite do’s and don’ts when it comes to cleaning. Although microfiber and rayon velvet look similar, the difference in cleaning is huge. A properly trained professional needs to know how to identify the fiber, the weave (velvet, chenille, jacquard, etc.).  There are many published standards on how to effectively clean the plethora of textiles out there, and each of them has its own nuisances, but the basics to them all are all the same. The keys are:

  1. Fiber Characteristics: A pro better know how to identify what he’s cleaning.
  2. Yarn Construction: Know what causes problems.
  3. Fabric Construction: Understand different weaves (velvet, satin, jacquard, etc).
  4. Designs: Are they surface designs or woven in?
  5. Finishes and Coatings: Often on the back of the material as well and can easily be damaged.
  6. Dyes: Some are stable, some will easily bleed together.
  7. Trim: Arm covers, wood trim, welting, cushion foam, etc.

So, as you can see there is much more to cleaning your upholstery than just buying a tool and a machine. When considering a professional make sure to ask questions and check his credentials. If the answers you get are not satisfactory or sound at all made up, call somebody else.

Thanks for reading, next time we’ll talk stain protectors.

Carpet Types

June 26, 2011

When buying new carpet most consumers have a hard time trying to figure out the difference between all the different fibers, and which one would be best for them. There are many different fibers available on the market today, but for this article I am going to stick with the most common types found at your local carpet stores. There are also many different variations of certain fibers and again I will try to keep this as non- technical as possible.

The majority of carpet today is made of one of four materials: wool, nylon, polypropylene (Olefin), or polyester.


First discovered in 1938 by DuPont chemists, it is the most commonly used fiber in carpet today. Rated as one of the longest wearing fibers, it is also very cleanable, stain resistant, resists abrasion, moth proof, and non-allergenic. All of these pluses make for a very durable carpet. Nylon comes in two types, type 6, and type 6.6. Some retailers will swear 6.6 is better, but many studies have been done by chemical engineers and they find little overall performance difference between the two.

The leading brand names in nylon that you have probably heard of are; Invista (formerly DuPont) and Mohawk (formerly Solutia Wear Dated). Invista makes Stainmaster, and Mohawk makes Wear Dated. Both Invista and Mohawk have done a great job making their products stain and wear resistant; but buyers beware. Like anything else there are different qualities of each, and the better the quality the better the carpet. In Stainmaster there is Extra Body II, then Tactesse, then Luxerell Stainmaster as their top of the line.   A good salesperson will be able to show you examples of each which is why I always recommend a reputable retailer over a “big box” store.

When buying nylon carpet I personally recommend looking at the newer “soft nylons”. The manufactures did a pretty good job in making the fiber very soft in order to try to duplicate the feel of wool. They cost a little more but the quality is definitely better and most people are very happy with the choice.  Names to look for in soft nylon are Tactesse and Luxerell by Invista, DuraSoft by Mohawk, or Anso Caress by Shaw.  Here again is where you will need the help of a knowledgeable salesperson.

I clean more nylon than any other fiber type and with proper care it will  look and feel great for many years.


If you want the most luxurious feel and look possible wool carpet is still your best choice. It comes in pretty much every style and color, commercial or residential, with the best wools coming from New Zealand.

Appearance aside wool has many other advantages including:

  • Natural flame resistance (very important in commercial settings where smoking is permitted).
  • When the proper color is chosen for the environment it is excellent at hiding soil.
  • Wool is a very strong, yet still flexible and resilient so it springs back well.

Wool will stain much easier than synthetics so if you tend to spill a lot of coffee and red wine, or if you like to wear your boots in the house, and only vacuum on special occasions, then wool may not be for you.

Wool is not hard to maintain but when it comes time to clean it, I cannot emphasize enough, the importance of choosing a well trained, experienced carpet cleaner. With a little bit of care your carpet will always say; luxury and style live here.

Still my personal favorite.



Polyester first entered the carpet industry in the 1960’s. Although it was a fairly durable fiber there were many other problems with it. So much so that many retailers stopped selling it and we really didn’t see much of it for quite a few years. Now jump forward to the mid 1990’s and we had the birth of the “new polyester”. The new polyester fiber is called PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate), and it is definitely not the polyester of old.  It is stronger, more abrasion resistant, and is very resistant to staining. I have cleaned it in many homes and very seldom come across a spot or stain that I can’t get out.

The fiber is partially made from recycled plastic containers, and this is what they’re talking about when people say their carpet was made from 7up bottles. Recycling does not affect the PET’s performance so it can be recycled over and over again.

When considering Polyester carpet you will also hear about a material called PTT. Although it is similar to PET, PTT is actually not considered polyester. It has been sold under various names, but currently it is called Triexta. It is a very soft fabric that kind of combines all the best qualities of nylon and polyester. If your carpet gets a lot of heavy use from kids, parties, pets, spills, etc. this may be a material you want to consider. Keep in mind though that since this is still a reasonably new fiber it will probably go through a few changes so you need a carpet professional who really stays on top of those changes. Again look for a reputable retailer.

Olefin (Polypropylene)

Anyone who knows me has heard me say that, just because something is not expensive and often gets a bad rap, doesn’t mean it does not have a place. Olefin is the most stain resistant fiber out there and tends to wear well when used in low pile carpet. The main problem with it occurs because they have to add oil to it during the manufacturing process. This oil stays in the fiber so after it’s installed in your home it will soil and mat down faster than other materials. The fact that it easily mats down is the reason you only want it in low pile styles. It is also a very heat sensitive fiber and melts easy. Even something as simple as dragging a piece of furniture on it can generate enough heat to leave a burn, and if you smoke this is not a good choice. On the other hand, if you only need new carpet to last a few years and it is going to take some heavy abuse, then take a look at Olefin. It costs less than the other materials and it may suit your purpose just fine.

I hope this bit of information will make your shopping a little less confusing. Remember to only buy from a reputable, educated and informed carpet store and your new carpet will be a happy purchase.

Next time we’ll talk upholstery.

Vacuum Review: Dirt Devil Featherlite

June 15, 2011


Dirt Devil








Cord length:


Available at:

Danny’s Vacuum Shop

1 Padre Pkwy.

Rohnert Park Ca. 94928




Residential: x         Commercial:         Heavy Duty:



Over the course of the last few years a number of people have asked me why I never review any vacuums that cost less than $150. My answer has always been the same; “because they don’t make one that works”. As of today I’m glad to say that Dirt Devil has proven me wrong. The 12 pound Featherlite rings the register at less than half of that at a whopping $70. Now, my answer to the sub $150 vacuum is, buy two of these, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. It comes in bagged or bagless models but this review is for the model requiring a bag.

Given the price tag of the Featherlite, this is not a machine with solid metal parts, HEPA filtration, a Xenon headlight, and all the other bells and whistles made to last 30+ years. What it does have though is a 12 amp motor that provides great suction on most common household carpet. I used it on a low pile carpet, and an average cut pile carpet, with very good results on both. Make sure you buy extra bags because the way this machine picks up they fill up fast. It was very easy to push, maneuvered just fine around furniture, and is quite a bit quieter than most real light weight machines. I also liked the way it cleaned right up close to the wall, especially with the front edge. It has on-board attachments that work just fine, although I always recommend getting a 10’ – 12’ hose to use them with.

Basic, simple, and under $100 this is the perfect machine for things like: leaving upstairs, a son or daughter leaving for college, an RV, or even a small office. A very enthusiastic four out of five stars here.


















Golden Gate Carpet Cleaning

 643 Martin Ave. #3Rohnert Park, Ca. 94928 – 707-588-8879

Carpet Cleaning Methods

June 5, 2011

Being a responsible home owner, you have decided that it’s time to have your carpet cleaned. You spent a lot of money on your carpet and want the job done right. Some people say dry cleaning is best, others say steam cleaning is the way to go, then your mother says “don’t worry honey, I’ll bring over my shampooer and do it for you”.

As a long time industry veteran I can tell you that the “best method” depends on which professional you talk to. I can also tell you that his idea of the “best method” is the very method that he happens to use (surprise, surprise). In my day to day I use every common method there is, along with some not so common methods, to safely clean all types of carpet. With no particular bias, let’s talk about if there is really a “best method”.

 Steam Cleaning

Properly called Hot Water Extraction this is the granddaddy of carpet cleaning. Commonly a pre spray detergent is applied, then using either Truck mounted or portable equipment, the carpet is rinsed with high pressure hot water, and simultaneously vacuumed to remove the soap, water, and soil.

This is the method that most carpet manufactures recommend in their warranties, but be careful. When not done properly, as it often is not, it is the method most likely to damage your new carpet. There are many different machines, tools, soaps, and attachments out there, so the consumer needs to ask questions of the company. Every carpet mill has standards that must be abided by when cleaning their carpet. It’s true that most manufactures recommend Hot Water Extraction but they also are specific on what kind of detergent to use.

This is the method that I most often use and when done with quality equipment, an expert operator, the proper detergent for the job, and a proper rinse, very good results are usually the norm.


This method of carpet cleaning is becoming more and more popular in commercial carpet maintenance. The encapsulating cleaner (a liquid cleaning agent) is sprayed on and then worked into the carpet using a type of brush machine. The encapsulate then surrounds the soil particles, releases it from the carpet fiber, and crystallizes so it can’t reattach to the carpet. The encapsulated soil is then removed by normal vacuuming.

Since it’s a low moisture system, dry time is very fast. This method is designed to be used fairly frequently as part of an overall maintenance plan in commercial settings.  Often every third or fourth cleaning has to be done with Hot Water Extraction in order to thoroughly rinse the carpet.


Probably the oldest of cleaning methods, it’s also the simplest. A high foaming carpet shampoo is scrubbed into the carpet using a rotary brush machine. The dirt releases from the carpet fiber, sticks to the shampoo, and that’s that.

I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. All that dirty soap is left in the carpet, so even though the carpet looks a little better, it is very temporary. That said, this can be a quick fix when a very fast, short lasting, job is called for.

Absorbent Pad or Bonnet Cleaning

Like encapsulation cleaning this method works better on commercial carpet, but many companies are using it in residential settings. A dry-solvent or water based cleaner is sprayed onto the carpet. Then a thick pad made of cotton, rayon, or polyester is attached to a rotary machine and used to agitate the carpet. The idea is that the dirt is released from the carpet and absorbed up into the pad (just like when you use a towel and cleaner to wipe the kitchen counter).

This method is often laughed at by “we steam clean everything” firms, but I have personally cleaned many thousands of square feet of carpet this way and got great results. I only like this on low pile commercial carpet though.  

 Absorbent Compound

Usually uses some type of powder that contains detergents, solvents and some type of very low moisture. A specially designed brush machine is used to agitate the powder into the carpet where it breaks up the soil and absorbs it (by now I’m sure you are beginning to see the common theme here). Vacuuming is then used to remove the soil saturated powder or compound.

Many of the absorbent compounds on the market are considered “organic” and very safe to use. The only problem may occur if the brushes cause the carpet to fuzz up. I always test first in a closet.

Absorbent compound generally do not do a very good job of cleaning, but like previously stated they are very safe. There are some carpets out there that you can’t get wet without ruining them (sisal and rayon to name a couple). If you happen to own this type of carpet, don’t let it get visibly dirty. Absorbent compound cleaning every couple of months is the only way to go.

So there you go, carpet cleaning in a nutshell. As you can see there are different ways to clean carpet and each one has it’s place, thus the need to seek out  a qualified professional.  Finally no matter which carpet cleaning method is used vacuuming should always be the first step.

Next time we’ll talk about the different materials used to make carpet.


Avoid Uneducated, Uninformed, and Sometimes Downright Unscrupulous Carpet Cleaners!

Vacuum Review: Riccar Radiance

June 1, 2011










Cord length:


Available at:

The Sewing &Vacuum Place

1250 Mendocino Ave

Santa Rosa,CA95401



Residential: x     Commercial:x     Heavy Duty:x    


Riccar’s top of the line machine has everything you could want in a vacuum; from its looks, suction power, filtration, and durability it is top notch. I used it on every type of carpet available soiled with pet hair and outdoor debris, and there’s no doubt that this machine does a better job of removing soil from carpet than any other machine I’ve used in my 25 years of cleaning. It has a two motor system that drives the machine allowing for the superior performance.

The HEPA filtration will remove 99.97% of dust particles down to .3 microns in size, so allergy sufferers have a real friend here. There is a whole list of other noteworthy features that I won’t bore you with (they can be found on Riccar’s website) but there are a couple I’d like to mention. Radiance has a ribbed belt that will last many years and it uses a lot of metal parts instead of plastic which again lead to long lasting durability. Breaking a cheap plastic part while changing the belt will not be an issue here.

When not vacuuming carpet the power switch allows the user to turn the beater bar off and use suction only on hard surface floors. Another feature I really liked occurs when the handle is in the upright position and the beater bar automatically shuts off. I found this useful when I would stop to move a piece of furniture and consequently did not have to worry about the brush running in one place (could cause the carpet to fuzz up). On board tools and a telescoping wand make it handy for vacuuming corners and upholstery but as always I still recommend getting a 10’ – 12’ hose made up for attachment use.

All the quality and durability does come at a price though. This is a heavy machine and comes with a retail price of about $900. I read other reviews where people raved about how easy the machine was to push, but I must say that I really disagree. It’s a fairly heavy machine and I found it a bit cumbersome to push and maneuver, not to mention the chore of carrying it up and down stairs.

If you are fairly strong, don’t mind the extra effort to push it around, and want the best vacuum cleaning power out there, then this American made beauty is for you.


Golden Gate Carpet Cleaning

 643 Martin Ave. #3Rohnert Park, Ca. 94928 – 707-588-8879

Vacuum Review: Simplicity Symmetry Classic

May 29, 2011








Symmetry Classic






16 lbs.

Cord length:


Available At:

Danny’s Vacuum Shop

1 Padre Pkwy # C
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
(707) 584-0225


Residential: yes       Commercial yes        Heavy Duty no


Before I used this vacuum I was not sure that I was going to like it, but wow, was I pleasantly surprised. This is a very basic machine (I used the one with no tools), but with its quiet motor, ergonomic handle, and ease of use, I give it high marks. From pet hair to sand and everything in between this machine performed far better than many more expensive ones (even an occasional paper clip doesn’t slow it down). The front of the machine gets about as close to the wall as possible and the right side has an edge brush that also performed very well. It will lay flat to go under most furniture, but like most uprights the head is fairly tall so it probably won’t go under your bed.

The brush bar /beater bar is driven by a non ribbed rubber belt which means it has to be changed every few months. At about $1.50, and no tools required this is a small price to pay for a quality machine. It only has a foam filter filtration system so I recommend using genuine Simplicity HiFlow Hepa vacuum bags. They will give you all the filtration you need in most cases. The 24’ cord is also pretty short, but that can easily be replaced with a longer one.

The Symmetry Classic is primarily designed with residential vaccuming in mind. After using this vacuum though, I was so impressed that I bought one and put it in my carpet cleaning van. As a professional who’s always concerned with image I really like the looks of the machine. I use it multiple times every day and it always works perfectly. I keep waiting for it to break, but it’s just not happening. I did put a longer commercial cord on it, and I go through bands every few weeks, but without a doubt, this has been one of my favorite vacuums ever. I use a damp towel on it at the end of the day and it always looks great.

As with all vacuums, I use a 10’-12’ hose for the attachment tools (bought separately) because I find on-board tools with those 2’-3’ attached hoses to be useless. With the long hose you can leave the vacuum in the middle of the room, and out of the way when using the upholstery or edge tools.

With a price tag of about $300 this is not only a good machine but also a very good value. Five out of five stars here!!!





Golden Gate Carpet Cleaning

 643 Martin Ave. #3Rohnert Park, Ca. 94928 – 707-588-8879