Green Cleaning

September 14, 2013

Seldom in the cleaning industry will you find a topic that stirs more differing opinions than that of “Green Cleaning”. What is it, does it really get carpet clean, and why is it more expensive? The questions go on and on, so I will try and attack a few of them here from a practical point of view.

Many industry professionals feel that any environmental benefits of green cleaning are negated by the facts that the cleaning supplies are still made in factories that burn electricity, are shipped in plastic bottles, delivered by large fossil fuel burning trucks, and ultimately used in your home by a guy using electricity and a machine that runs off gas.

All these things are true, and to tell you the truth I have no idea if the benefits of green cleaning outweigh the negatives. It would also not surprise me to learn that nobody else does either. Whichever argument you want to support is up to you, but today I want to talk about how it makes your homes environment a more appealing place to live.

Have you ever walked into a hotel room and although the room looks clean there is that overwhelming smell of cleaning chemicals in the air; or how about that annoying smell of glass cleaner that lurks in the air when you’re cleaning the inside of your car? These are the types of issues that Green Cleaning can very successfully make go away. I clean in homes every day, some not so dirty, and some extremely dirty and it is a very rare occasion that  I can’t get the carpet  or upholstery perfectly clean with green products that have no harsh chemical or perfume smell of any kind. All of the green products I use also leave no undesirable residues behind in your carpet. For the record there are residues that are perfectly OK to leave and cause no undesirable effects. More about those in a future post though.

The whole question of which chemicals can be considered green and which ones can’t is a tricky one right off the bat. Remember I’m a professional carpet cleaner not a chemist or a guy who actually makes soap. That said I’ll do my best to share with you what my research has taught me.

Other than the Federal Governments Leeds Program, which can be quite vague, there is no real binding standard for what qualifies as green. So just because a bottle of soap has a certified green seal on it doesn’t necessarily mean it is any safer than one that doesn’t. In many cases manufacturers can put a “Green” or “Organic” stamp on just about anything without breaking any laws.  Fortunately though, I have found all the certified green soaps I have gotten from the major makers of carpet cleaning supplies to be perfectly legitimate.

Most of the major makers of carpet cleaning supplies now offer certified green cleaning supplies. They don’t contain any VOC’s, perfumes, solvents, or other chemicals that many customers find offensive. They clean just fine, do not have objectionable odors, do not aggravate allergies, and leave carpet safe for children and pets to crawl on. Personally, I think these are all huge pluses when it comes to the indoor air quality of my home.

Finally, consumers should be wary of clever marketing schemes designed around scare tactics. Companies use words like: toxic, dangerous, chemical, or unsafe, when describing carpet soap. In the same commercial they will use words like: all natural, organic, environmentally friendly, or certified green. These terms are carefully used to provoke a reaction from you. Remember, words like “toxic” should be used when referring to things like: nuclear waste, raw sewage, poison gas etc Carpet cleaning soap though? Maybe not so much. On the same note, as Dr. Dean Edell used to say “hurricanes and rattlesnakes are all natural, but that doesn’t mean they are good for you.”

The bottom line is, consumers need to ask enough questions until they are satisfied that they have  found a reliable professional. Do this and your home will be a clean, healthy place.

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Kirby Sentria

January 31, 2013

vacuum referral art ready for blog

Make:

Kirby

Model:

Sentria

Upright:

x

Canister:

Weight:

23lbs

Cord length:

25’

Available at:

kirby.com

Sentria

Uses:

Residential: yes     Commercial: yes     Heavy Duty: yes

It’s probably been 15 years or more since I last used a Kirby vacuum cleaner so I was really interested to see what has changed in their machines. The first thing I noticed about the Sentria was that it is a machine that screams, I’m big, I’m tough, and I’m rough enough to take anything you can throw at me. At 23 pounds of practically indestructible metal construction I expected it to be very cumbersome and hard to push around. Well, thanks to a feature called TechDrive power assist that was not the case.  TechDrive power assist,  is sort of a self-propel system that comes standard. It is activated by a foot switch and when engaged it makes the Sentria considerably easier to push around than when not engaged.

Without a doubt Kirby has given this vacuum all the suction power you will ever need. You can actually see it lifting the carpet as you vacuum, which creates better air flow, thus allowing for a more thorough job. I used it on quite a few different carpet styles including commercial, and in wide open areas I really liked the way the Sentria performed. When I had to maneuver around furniture though, the machines bulk did become an issue. Vacuuming around desk legs, chairs, tables, and the like was quite a bit more difficult than with some lighter weight machines.

If you have ever read my reviews before you know I place high marks on how well the attachments on any vacuum cleaner work. On the Sentria I found the attachments to work far better than on most other vacuum cleaners. The downside here was hooking them up. I like to be able to just plug the attachment hose into the machine, maybe flip a switch, and go. With the Kirby it was not quite so easy. You have to go through 4 steps (none of which are hard) that took me probably 60- 90 seconds. So if you only have to do it once, no big deal. If however you are like me and use your machine multiple times a day, and hook up the attachments frequently each time, this gets to be an issue.

There are a whole bunch of other features to the Sentria that I didn’t use so I can’t comment on but they included: hardwood floor cleaner, blower (like in leaf), carpet shampooer, ability to fill up things like air mattresses. One feature I did try was using it to vacuum stairs. The handle comes off and the cleaning head becomes the perfect size for stairs. Again it was a simple process to remove the handle but it did take a minute or so to do.

So, as far as how well the Kirby Sentria picked the dirt up from the carpet, and the fact that it will pretty much never wear out I give it very high marks. On the issue of ease of use though, I’m not quite so impressed. If you only use your vacuum cleaner maybe every couple of weeks, you may find the inconveniences not worth worrying about; but if you use it daily,and ease of use is an important factor, I would recommend trying the Sentria out for a few days before purchasing it.


Riccar SupraLite

February 3, 2012

Make:

Riccar

Model:

Supralite 1A

Upright:

x

Canister:

Weight:

8 lbs.

Cord length:

30’

Available at:

Danny’s Vacuum Shop

1 Padre Pkwy.

Rohnert Park Ca. 94928

707-584-0225

 Uses:

 Residential: yes   Commercial: yes   Heavy Duty:no

 

 Summary:

Anyone who hates lugging a heavy vacuum cleaner out of the closet and then fighting to push it across the carpet might want to take a good look at the Riccar, SupraLite models. At only eight pounds these machines are very easy to carry and push, but boy do they pack a punch.

When it comes to lightweight vacuum cleaners there are many makes and models to choose from in today’s market. The SupraLite 1A is the most basic model in the series and works great for basic carpet vacuuming. The 5.5 amp motor gives plenty of power to pick up every type of household debris that you may throw in its way.  I’ve used almost every vacuum you can imagine and the amount of air this machine moves and the suction power it has is really impressive. Sand, pet hair, dust, etc. were no problem, and even though it does not have an edge brush I got the dust right up to the wall with no problem. Now that said, if you are vacuuming behind a dresser or bed where the dust is really built up along the wall, you will have to hook up a vacuum with an edge tool.

Being the most basic model the 1A does not have all the fancy features of the more expensive models, but I found nothing that took away the machines performance. The rubber handle grip was comfortable and easy to hold and the 30’ cord allowed me a pretty good cleaning radius. It laid all the way down flat so going under furniture was easy, and the bag is one of the biggest vacuum bags on the market. I found the big bag to be important because with the power of this cleaner a normal size bag would be constantly filling up. There is no HEPA or other fancy filters on this machine, but if you use the genuine Riccar bags it should give you all the filtration you need. The power switch is on the base so you have to turn it on with your foot rather than flipping a switch on the handle (I didn’t find this at all inconvenient). There is a headlight that worked fine but I didn’t notice it to be anything out of the ordinary.

Like most lightweight vacuums the SupraLite1A does not come with attachments. Riccar does make a small (about the size of a shoe box) machine though, that is the perfect compliment for uses where attachments are needed.

One warning though before you buy this machine. Most of the carpet I used it on it worked just fine. There are some carpet styles though that it was all but impossible to push it over. The suction is so good that the carpet gets sucked up into the brush bar and you can’t push it. So if you have one, bring a piece of your carpet to the store, or make sure they have a return policy.  The only other real drawback of the 1A was that it is pretty loud. You won’t be able to talk over it or hear the telephone or doorbell. Depending how sensitive you are you may even want to consider ear plugs.

All in all I’m a huge fan of this American made machine for all your residential or commercial needs. I actually own one and have cleaned tens of thousands of square feet with it and it has never let me down yet.

 

Golden  Gate Carpet Cleaning

643 Martin Ave.

Rohnert Park Ca. 94928

707-588-8779

 


Recurring Spots

December 30, 2011

Few things in the carpet cleaning industry are as frustrating as those dreaded recurring spots. As cleaners we show up at your house, do what we think is a picture perfect cleaning job, only to have you call us back in a few days informing us that those pesky coffee, ink, wine, grease, etc spots are back. This is not a terribly frequent problem for the experienced technician, but it does happen and returning to solve the problem is what can really separate the true pro from the mere tyro.

As a professional who is concerned with his quality of work, and his reputation I seldom complain about these call backs (well, at least not out loud), but instead appreciate the chance to return and correctly finish what I started. It’s not always the fault of the cleaner and there are a number of reasons why those spots in your carpet can return:

  • The spot was not fully removed.
  • The spot was removed but the spotting agent used to remove it was not fully rinsed out.
  • The spot soaked beyond the surface into the carpet backing or pad and gradually wicked back up (almost always the case with pet stains).

These are a few of the most common causes and the first two are easily dealt with and only take a few minutes to correct.  In the third case though, once things soak down beyond the carpet surface they can be difficult to deal with. If the spot is small enough there are special tools that may remove it, but often the problem can’t be solved unless the carpet is pulled up, cleaned from the back, and new pad is installed. This creates a lot of extra work and expense and most of the time is not a viable option.

One thing that I have learned over the years is that knowledge often comes from experience. If the cleaning technician or whoever may have come to your house first, takes the time to carefully look at problem areas and then asks a few questions, they will often know right then if these are spots that are likely to return, and can then discuss the possible results. Now, he’s a professional who’s correctly telling you what to expect rather than a guy having to apologize for a lousy job. Big difference!

As the homeowner there are also a few steps you can take to help prevent undesirable cleaning results. We’ve talked about recurring spots but now let’s talk about its close cousin, resoiling. Resoiling would be a post cleaning substance that has been left on the carpet. Sometimes this is also the fault of the cleaner but not always. If the cleaner did not properly rinse the carpet, the soapy residue thats left behind can quickly attract more dirt. In just a few days it will look like the carpet was never cleaned.

What often also happens in the case of resoiling is not the fault of the cleaning company. Most professional cleaners will suggest that you stay off the carpet until it is dry. We can suggest this, but remember, we can’t tell you what to do in your house. If people don’t take the suggestion of the cleaner and proceed to walk around on the wet carpet, by the time it’s dry, it won’t look clean any longer. The wet carpet actually does a really good job of cleaning off the bottom of your shoes. Add to that any accidental food or drink spills and, well you get the picture.

So there you have a few reasons as to why those unwanted spots have a sneaky way of showing up again. In any case, if you are working with a reputable cleaning company, your phone call should always be welcomed, and a return visit should be done in a timely and courteous manner.

Thanks for reading and next time I will try to tackle the difficult question of what is “green cleaning”.

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


Vacuum Review: Roomba

October 17, 2011

 

Make:

iRobot

Model:

Roomba 530

Upright:

Canister:

Weight:

12lbs

Cord length:

none

Available at:

Irobot.com

Or

Department Stores

 

Uses:

 Residential:x      Commercial:      Heavy Duty:

 

 Summary:

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.

Nylon

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.

Wool

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

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.