|Vacuum - Vacuum - Vacuum
THE SINGLE BEST THING THAT YOU CAN DO FOR BOTH YOUR CARPETS AND UPHOLSTERY
IS TO VACUUM REGULARLY! Remember---carpet and upholstery soil is normally 80-95% dry soil
and 5-20% oily soil. Most of that dry stuff comes out easily with a good vacuuming. (The exact
percentages differ depending on who's writing the article, but the point is that most of the dirt---by
weight & volume is dry, "vacuumable" soil and the rest is sticky, oily soil that must be professionally
What's the best type of vacuum cleaner?
Answer: The type that gets used!!
The type of vacuum cleaner is not all that important as long as it has decent suction and a HEPA filter
and actually gets used regularly---like once a week. Also, a good HEPA filter will make the vacuum
cleaner actually clean the air as it cleans the material.
Vacuum your furniture/upholstery too!
As bad as many homeowners neglect to have their carpets cleaned, they neglect their upholstery even
more. The useful life and appearance of upholstery can be greatly extended with regular vacuuming,
and once or twice a year steam cleaning to remove the oily soil. Many consumer vacuums now feature
attachments--some motorized--designed for upholstery vacuuming. They're fairly inexpensive and well
worth the money....as long as they're actually used!
Soil Hiding Technology
Today's carpets are designed to hide soil and do so very well. Big carpet manufacturer's have poured
millions of dollars into research that has resulted in changes to the actual shape of individual carpet
fibers: The fibers are cleverly shaped to alter the way that light passes through each "filament",
keeping soil particles hidden from view.
Todays 5th generation carpets hide dirt so well it's like magic. But the dust and dirt is still there---
damaging the carpet fibers and releasing particles into the air we breathe. I read one study that
claimed that only one square foot of modern carpet can hide one pound of dirt and still look "clean"!
Have your Carpets AND Upholstery "Steam" Cleaned Professionally at least Once a Year
Not necessarily both at the same time but the point is to let neither your carpets nor upholstery get
soiled before cleaning; this partially defeats the purpose. Carpet & fabric wear is reduced, allergy
sufferers benefit, and the look & feel of carpets and fabrics stays wonderful with regular professional
cleaning. This is not a marketing tactic to get more business but the absolute truth: If the carpet or
upholstery looks dirty or oily, it is way past due for cleaning. This is akin to waiting until our bodies look
dirty & oily before deciding to take showers!
Click on the links to see what carpet manufacturers say about carpet cleaning!
Call (660)562-2107 for a FREE, no obligation quote for your home!
There is a huge amount of free advice all over the Internet about spot and stain removal. Martha
Stewart-type sites abound with good info on how to tackle almost any 'emergency' as far as spots are
concerned. Here a few important basics about spot removal that you should always know:
1. Difference between a Spot and a Stain:
A "spot" is a recent (within a few minutes) spill or 'accident' of some sort. A "stain" is a spot that has
been allowed to dry or get ground in (in the case of powdery, dry spills). The idea is to remove the
"spot" before it becomes a "stain". A stain is normally much harder to remove than a spot.
2. What NOT To Do
--Do not rub the spot with any rag, towel, sponge, brush, etc. No matter if the sponge or whatever
has cleaning solution soaked in it; rubbing the fresh spot will only make it worse. Instead blot the stain--
you may twist/rotate the towel while pressing down hard but don't rub horizontally. Before blotting, try to
spoon some up or scrape any excess with a knife, working towards the center of the spot until all of the
excess gunk has been removed.
--Do not wait until the spot has become a stain. If you are unsure as to what to do with a particular
spot, simply keep it moist with tap water by leaving a wet rag over top the spot. (this is for "wet" spills---
not for dry spills like flour, fire place ashes, copier toner, etc.) Now call your professional carpet and
upholstery cleaner. He or she will likely be good at removing nearly all spots (and, if necessary,
A spot that hasn't dried when professional help arrives is much easier to remove than one that has
dried to a stain. And if you have been a client of the cleaner's before, your fee for this 'emergency'
service will be nominal and well worth the cost, as opposed to carpet replacement or worse---having to
put up with looking at the stain every day.
3. What To Do with.....
--Dry spills like fire place ashes, copier toner, any fine powdery substance:
Hold a vacuum cleaner hand tool over top the spot without touching it and allow the suction to lift the
loose particles off the carpet. Continue doing this until nothing more will come off, then gradually lower
the vacuum attachment until it is just touching the spot. Delicately agitate the spot without rubbing the
substance into the carpet fibers until nothing more will come off of the carpet.
Now treat the dry spot as a wet spot; this often calls for professional treatment---note that "professional"
does not necessarily mean "expensive" and/or time-consuming. A quick phone call and a few bucks is
usually all that is required to return your carpet to new again.
--Paint spills: Scrape up the excess, working towards the center of the spill. Keep the paint from
drying by either placing plastic over the spill or placing wet towels over the spill. (Note that for oil-based
paints and many primers, putting plastic over the spill is the only option. But most paints are now latex,
water-based and so the wet towel trick will work.) Now go call your professional carpet cleaner. If the
paint is still wet, then he or she may be able to completely remove the paint from your carpet. This will
also help remove the panic from you.
Allergies and The House Dust Mite
Some of the dust mite info is courtesy of:
Barb Ogg, Ph.D., Extension Entomologist, Univ. of Nebraska
and H. Olkowski, 1991. "Common-sense pest control". The Taunton Press, Newton, CT.
The inventor of the microscope, Anton van Leewnhooek, reported in 1694 that mites live in dust. Now,
more than 300 years later, it's an established fact that dust mites live in dust all over the world. The
scientific name for the house dust mite, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinsu, means 'skin-eating spider'.
(It's closer to the arachnid family---spiders---than to the insect family).
Just barely too small to be seen with the naked eye (you need a low-power 10X microscope), it has
eight hairy legs, no eyes, a large mouth, and a tough outer shell, giving it a fearsome appearance.
Some Surprising Facts You Should Know
* Exposure to house dust mites in the first, crucial year of life can trigger a lifelong allergy. There is no
cure, only prevention.
* Dust mites are suspected culprits in countless cases of eczema, hay fever and other allergic ailments.
* In addition to the sneezing and respiratory problems common with most allergies, other reactions may
include headaches, fatigue, and depression.
* Dust mite related allergies are a close second to the most common allergen, which is pollen.
* Estimates are that dust mites may be a factor in 50 to 80 percent of asthmatics.
The causes and effects of allergies have long been known and can be a serious health threat. Still,
allergies seem to be on the increase. They're the unwanted response of the immune system, resulting
in inflammation of the eyes and nose (rhinitus), lungs (asthma), and skin (eczema). It's estimated that
allergies affect some 40% of the population at some time and the percentage is on the increase.
It's not mites themselves that cause allergies. It's their waste, for the most part. Their waste pellets
contain proteins from digestive juices from the mite gut, which are quite potent. Add to this their dead
bodies and shed skins (they molt several times during their 1-3 month lifetime), and you've got some
pretty nasty dust. Over time, this 'dust' adds up on upholstered furniture, carpet, and bedding.
So just what is house dust made of, anyway?
As bad as the dust mite may seem, it's not responsible for all the sneezing, sniffling and wheezing in
the average home. "Normal" house dust also contains human and animal dander (tiny skin flakes),
bacteria, plant parts, pollen, natural and synthetic fibers, food particles, fungal spores, and a hundred
Just by opening the door to enter or leave your house, dust enters. Dust is regularly brought in on
shoes and clothing, or other items we bring into the house.
But there is this other source of dust that we often don't consider: Dust is FORMED inside our homes.
For allergy sufferers, one of the biggest dust problems is the contribution that our own bodies make to
the dust problem: Dead skin flakes ("dander") are a favored food for dust mites. (Remember, their
scientific name means "skin-eating spider".) Not only are tiny pieces of dead skin cells present in our
mattresses and bedding, but also in the dust that settles on furniture and carpets.
So, dust mites don't have to scavenge for long to find food. And their potent excrement becomes part
of the dust, also. As they die, their remains are also added to this dust! (Pleasant thought, isn't it?)
Some Disgusting Facts (that you may not want to know)
* Ten percent of the weight of an unwashed, two year old feather pillow can be composed of dead
mites and their droppings. (If you own a down feather pillow, wash it in hot water and/or dry it on the
"cottons" setting twice a month!).
* Humans shed about a fifth of an ounce of tiny skin flakes per week. (This is partially why it is
important to vacuum weekly with a HEPA-filtered vacuum; dust and mites are constantly being formed).
* The dust that you always see floating in a sunbeam? Turns out much of it is actually skin flakes.
* A dust mite produces 200 times its weight in waste during its 1-3 month life, and females will lay 300
Fighting the Invisible Enemy
It's nearly impossible to completely rid your home of dust mites. But they can be kept to a minimum
and so can their threat to your family's health. How is this done?
1) Vacuum once per week all floors (carpeted or not) and your upholstered furniture. Especially
furniture that you use a lot. What's the best type of vacuum cleaner?
Answer: The type that gets used!
The type and brand of vacuum is not all that important as long as it has good suction and a HEPA filter,
and actually gets used regularly---like once a week. The HEPA filter part is important because
otherwise, dust mites and all their associated stuff (dung!) will just fly right through non-HEPA filters and
out the vacuum's exhaust---redistributed into the air you're breathing!
2) Replace any feather and down pillows with those having synthetic fillings.
3) Weekly change and wash pillowcases, sheets, and under blankets. Dust mites cannot survive
temperatures over 130 degrees F. for long, so if you can't wash in hot water, then dry on the "cottons"
4) Replace any woolen blankets with synthetic ones. (I don't know why anyone would have wool
blankets, anyway. They aren't very comfortable).
5) Have your upholstered furnishings and carpets professionally steam cleaned twice per year. Ideally,
the machinery should be capable of producing consistent chemical temperatures of at least 150
degrees F. at the carpet surface. (This means that the temperature of the water at the truck would be at
least 200 degrees F.---probably higher).
It Doesn't Have to Look Dirty to be Filthy
Most homeowners have their carpets cleaned on a haphazard schedule, waiting until the carpet starts
to look dirty. Upholstered furniture gets neglected even more. What most people don't realize is that
you spend quite a lot of time on furniture, yet it collects dander at nearly the same rate as bedding.
Imagine if you went that long between bedding washings!
If carpet or upholstery looks dirty, it is way past due for cleaning. This is no different than waiting until
our bodies look dirty before deciding to take showers!
Back to the Top