Rob McLeod served in the Canadian Military for over twenty years, has been married to his lovely wife Marilyn since 1987 and is the author of "The Dollar Club"

Cleaning Office Chairs

One of the many services we provide is the cleaning of upholstery, hence the name EKO Carpet and Upholstery Care.  Unfortunately it seems that most people only consider the furniture in their homes when they think of having upholstery cleaned, and they forget about the furniture in their place of work.

We recently cleaned a set of office chairs that had never been cleaned before, and after we were finished one of the employees came up to us and mentioned that before we came the only time they got a clean chair was when the company purchased a new one for them and that had been quite a few years before.

Think about that for a minute.  Think about your office, whether it’s at one of the big offices downtown, a government office, a home office or even a warehouse, when was the last time you used a clean, chair to work in all day?  When your customers come into the reception area and sit on the sofa or chair, when was the last time it was cleaned?  Many reception areas have leather or faux leather upholstery and someone will occasionally wipe it clean, but what about the fabric ones?  It’s our experience that no one cleans them.


Office chairs should be cleaned semi-annually, or at least annually.  They are used almost every day, people eat at their desks, and drink all kinds of beverages at their desks, and trust me an awful lot of that gets on the chair, things like soup, pizza sauce, coffee, etc.  They use their chairs wearing business clothes, work clothes, or even athletic clothes.  Not only do your clothes often carry dirt and chemicals from outside the workplace like nicotine or sweat but they often carry pet hair and pet dander from home. At the office you get dandruff from you or your co-workers, hair, ink, glue, gum, the list goes on and on.

The other cleaning company we own, the Cleaning Command, does janitorial work, and one of the many things people want is from our staff is to sanitize all the touch points in the work space.  Desk tops, door handles Keyboards, or the myriad of other places and other surfaces that people touch every day.  People think about health and want a clean working environment, but don’t often think about the one item in the office that is used constantly.

When your finished reading this, have a look at your office chair, if it’s not fabric, chances are you’ve wiped it down once in a while, but if it is fabric I’d be willing to say you haven’t had it professionally cleaned in a long, long time.

Thanks for listening.

R and M

Summer cleaning.

Last week I talked about getting ready for summer and booking professional services you need for the summer.  Booking services like the roofer, the house painter, and the carpet cleaner well in advance so despite a busy summer you can be sure to have those projects completed.  Now, when there is no pressure to get the job done in a couple of days, is the right time to research and select the right company for the job, this is true as much about the carpet cleaner as it is about the roofer.

Of course it all depends on whether or not you think you need the service in the first place.  So let me qualify something from last week.  First of all professional carpet cleaners, unlike the roofer or the house painter can work all year round.  If so why have your carpets cleaned in the spring or summer when there are so many other things to get done?  While we in the carpet cleaning profession actively seek out customers in the winter months we find that many people want their carpets cleaned in the spring to remove that last vestige of winter from their homes.



Cleaning the walls, the windows and all the hard surface floors in your home will make everything look and feel bright and fresh.  But a dirty carpet will not only become that much more obvious but can also leave a lingering odor.  During the winter months pet accidents, spills, sand and salt can combine to make your carpet look dingy and smelly.  If there is a smoker in the house, your carpet will trap a great deal of the cigarette smoke and odor and you can’t always eliminate that odor by simply opening the windows.

That grey shadowy trail or traffic lane in front of your favorite chair or the sofa will look even darker and more obvious in the bright summer sunshine, especially on your nice white front room carpet.

Everyone runs around in running shoes and flip flops in the summer and taking them off before running into the house is not always a high priority, especially for the kids.  Let’s not forget about bare feet.  Inside and outside the house dirty bare feet pick up and deposit a lot of dirt and grime, and who has the time to wash them off every time you need to run into the house?

Having your carpets professionally cleaned before the summer starts will help make all the spring cleaning you did worthwhile.  Let’s not forget that carpet manufacturers recommend having your carpets professionally cleaned every 12 to 18 months.   Maintaining your investment, and having your carpets looking and smelling fresh, clean and healthy is always a good thing.

Thanks for listening.


Getting ready for Summer!!

Well folks, the New Year is upon us and I think it’s time to start thinking about summer.  A little early you say?  The snow is still on the ground, and the current warm weather will no doubt be replaced by more snow and cold, you say?  Well you are probably right, winter hasn’t let go yet, the snow and cold isn’t going anywhere soon and spring is just wishful thinking at this point in time.  So like I said, now is the perfect time to start thinking about summer.


My daughter is getting married in July this year.  There are a thousand little items to get finished before the big day.  Things like finishing all the little half done renovations around the house.  You know, little things that are easy to put off until later, things like painting and installing the baseboards that have been sitting out in the garage for six months, replacing the kitchen tap, etc., etc.  Everything around the house has to be done before the end of June as that’s when our family will descend upon Edmonton stay with us until after the wedding.  That’s just the house, we have all the other parts of the wedding to help co-ordinate, we still have to put in the garden and do a million other things. It’s only January so I have lots of time, right?  Well actually I do, but only if I plan it all out properly.

I don’t know about you, but for me life tends to get in the way a lot, and I found out a long time ago, if I set definite goals, and schedule their completion properly I don’t end up having everything happen at once.  Not only that but if you have to rush through getting things done, they tend to get done poorly.  That’s why I schedule things to be done by a certain date, or on a certain date.  I need my fence re-painted, so it has already been scheduled for May.  I would do the same for professional carpet cleaning, if I needed to.

One of the things that can creep up on you is having your carpets cleaned professionally.  You walk on them every day and tend to miss the obvious.  You know they need professional cleaning, but you tend to forget about them until the last minute, and then it’s a mad scramble to find a professional carpet cleaner that has the time to come and clean before the big day. 

We recommend that you book far in advance if you need carpets cleaned.  One or two months or more advanced booking is not a problem for us, and you know you have a professional booked.  It also gives you time to ask the questions you should ask, to ensure we or anyone else is the right fit for you.  Remember, not all companies are created equal, you need to find one that will fix your problems, not increase them.

So remember, it’s not a bad idea to book the painter, or the plumber a couple of months in advance to ensure you can get them, and it’s not a bad idea to book your professional carpet cleaning several months in advance either.


Thanks for listening.


Let’s all have a green Christmas

Ok, so regardless of all the white stuff outside and the way, way below normal temperatures that seem to be going along with it, I want to focus on having a Green Christmas.

 No I don’t mean going to Hawaii or Mexico for Christmas, although that’s not a bad idea, I mean we should all look at doing the best we can to make this holiday season as environmentally friendly as possible.

 To that end here are some tips and links to help you enjoy the Christmas Season and help keep it green.



Get light strands that are wired in parallel, these have separate circuitry so that if one bulb goes the rest will keep shining and all you have to do is replace one bulb.  If you buy a strand with series wiring then when one bulb goes they all go out and we all know how much fun it is to find the one that went out.  Instead of finding it we just go out and buy another strand and throw the old one out, adding to the landfill. 

** Remember, the smaller the bulb the lower the wattage, and the lower the wattage the less energy used and less heat produced.

We all know by now that LED lights are better than incandescent ones, they use way less electricity, don’t burn out or break, last longer and save you money and energy.  Also you can reduce the size of your holiday light display to help reduce the amount of energy used.

Make your own decorations.  I don’t know about you but my decoration making skills are not the best, my wife has the upper hand it that competition.  Still making your own decorations from reusable materials is a fun way to bring festive cheer into your home and to help keep the landfills a bit smaller.  Check out google or YouTube for ideas and hints. 

**Remember if every home in the United States reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 28,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around planet Earth.

 NY 2009 028





Recycle. That’s as simple as I can make it!  Recycle.  There are an amazing amount of things you can recycle.  You can use alternatives to wrapping paper, like newspaper, (I use the coloured comics), old wrapping paper or even linen.  Old electronics, T.V’s, laptops, and electronic toys that have been supplanted by this year’s new electronics can be recycled.  All of it, no matter how small, can be recycled.   Paper, cardboard, and plastic can all be reused or recycled.  Even your Christmas trees can be recycled, and of course artificial ones can be used year after year.


Here are some of the Links I found that will help you have a green Christmas



Thanks for listening

Choosing a carpet cleaner in Edmonton.

I’ve talked about this many times before but with the Christmas season coming up its time to remind our readers that picking the right professional Carpet Cleaner is important.  For us the phones usually start to ring off the hook in December.  People start getting ready for the holidays and suddenly those distant relatives take you up on the offer to visit during Christmas, or you realize that you’ve done everything for that big party this weekend but forgot to get the carpets cleaned.  In a panic, with only a few days to go you need to find a professional carpet cleaner. 






Some people start phoning one company after the next until they find someone who can get to their carpets in time for the big event, and they are so happy they forget to ask a few basic questions.  While most of the carpet cleaners in Edmonton are professionals who will do a good job, there are those out there who will not, and even worse there are ones who for whatever reason just don’t show up.  Even if you are in a time crunch, remember to ask questions.  The wrong company will only make the problem worse instead of better.


To help you find a qualified, reliable service provider, we’ve outlined 15 key questions to ask (and get answered) before you hire a carpet cleaning company.


Qualifications & Experience


·         How long have you been in business?

·         Are your employees insured and/or bonded?

·         Is your work guaranteed in writing?

·         Can you provide references and contact information for recent satisfied customers?


Services & Pricing


·         What is included in your typical cleaning package?

·         Do you provide a firm written estimate?

·         Does the stated price include everything or will there be additional fees?

·         Does the stated price include pre-treatment for high traffic areas? Pet stains? Other stains and spills?

·         Does the stated price include a final treatment to protect against stains and re-soiling?

·         Do you move the furniture? Do you charge extra or is it included in the stated price?


Cleaning Methods


·         What type of cleaning method do you use?

·         Is your equipment truck mounted or portable?

·         Are your cleaning products approved by the CRI?

·         Do you vacuum before you begin cleaning?

·         How long will it take to complete the entire job?

·         How long must we wait before we walk on the carpet and move furniture back into place?


If you or someone in your household has allergies or chemical sensitivities, ask specific questions about the chemical compounds and fragrances present in the cleaning solutions. You may think of additional questions or find you don’t need to ask all of them, but this list will get you started.


Thanks for listening.


Helping your carpets last longer

During this time of economic uncertainty in the province, and with Christmas close at hand, many people are re-thinking their spending habits.  The old car will have to last another year, vacation plans may have to be changed, and putting in that new hardwood floor may have to wait another year or two.  I can’t do much about the cost of living or the cost of gas, and I am never going to be accused of acting like a mechanic, so don’t ask me to help you keep that old car running.  But I can tell you how to maintain your carpets, area rugs, and furniture, and help keep them looking good and staying clean for a lot longer.

Number one, the most important thing you can do for your carpets, is vacuum on a regular basis.

We recommend vacuuming your carpet at least once a week to remove all of the dirt, dust and debris.  That can be time consuming and with all the chores, appointments, hockey games etc. you don’t always have the time for a weekly cleaning.  Whether you clean once or twice a week or once every two weeks, your best tool is a good, dependable vacuum cleaner.  Most professional carpet cleaners use equipment that is much stronger than conventional vacuum cleaners, and they cost quite a bit of money.  However there are a number of brands on the market that work very well and you should take a little time to ensure you find one that you are happy with, one that works well and is within your price range.  I personally recommend purchasing either a Miele, or a Dyson vacuum.  Both are high quality, well made and dependable and replacement bags and filters are easy to find.   No matter which machine you choose, ensure that it has a HEPA filter.  A HEPA filter will help remove much smaller dust, pollen etc. than a regular filter, the better the filter the better the clean.  Not all filters are created equal, so if allergies or other breathing problems are an issue, look for a filter that removes the smallest particles possible.



One area many people neglect is the stairs.  Do not forget the stairs.  Stairs get worn out more than any other area of carpet in the home.  Each person may take a different route to navigate through a room, but we will all step in the same place on stairs.  Simply vacuuming the stairs every time you do the carpet will help keep them clean and looking better.  The same is true for upholstery, vacuuming will help keep it looking better and help prevent wear and tear on the fabrics. 


Constant upkeep of the carpet by vacuuming regularly will help maintain the health of the carpet, help keep the environment in the home healthier, and will keep the carpet looking better longer.  As well there is the added bonus of not having to call a professional carpet cleaner in as often.


Get a spot machine.

A spot machine will help clean up spills and accidents.  Head out to one of the major box stores and see what they have in stock.  Talk to the staff and get their recommendations, most of the machines out there do basically the same function, so do your research and find the one you like.  You do not need one that can clean carpets, iron your shirts and wash your car.  You just need one that will do the small jobs around the house when you require it.  en you have a spill or an accident, fill the spot machine with whatever cleaner you use.  As soaps and oils will stay in your carpet and collect dirt, I always recommend that you find a cleaner that is all natural, and contains no soaps or oils.  There are dozens of products out there and most stores now offer a line or two of green natural cleaners.  Spray the spot and suck up as much of the liquid or substance as possible and use a clean white towel or cloth to blot up the stain as you work.  Blot from the outside into the center to prevent the spill from being pushed further into the carpet.  DO NOT step on or push down on the center of the stain.  The spot machine should help you pick up most of the stain, and help remove some of the smell associated with chemical or pet stains.  The spot machine will also help clean up spills and accidents on upholstery, mattresses and car seats.  It has a great many applications around the house and is extremely useful in a variety of situations.

Another added bonus to using the spot machine is that most of the spots will be barely noticeable and when you have a professional carpet cleaner come to clean, they will not have to spend their time and your money cleaning stains, as most should come out with little or no trouble.

Along with doing these two things ensure you have your carpets professionally cleaned at least once a year.  With our green all natural products EKO will ensure that not only are your carpets looking and smelling good, but that they help create a healthy environment for your family and pets.







Thanks for listening.

7 Tips for Christmas Carpet Cleaning

Every year just before Christmas and/or New Year’s we always get a number of customers calling and trying to book a cleaning job right away.  If we can’t get it done today, can we come tomorrow first thing in the morning, because it’s Friday and they are having friends/family/the boss/ coming over for dinner Saturday night.  Or they decided to host a New Year’s Eve party and they have been super busy and they just realized that the carpet looks dirty and it needs a professional cleaning.  When we tell them we’re booked up and can’t help them they start phoning all the carpet cleaners in the city hoping they can find one that is available.  When that doesn’t work they head out to the supermarket trying to find a DIY rental cleaner.



While most of the carpet cleaners in the Edmonton area are professionals, even the very best can sometimes cause problems if you are on a schedule and you get a cleaning done at the wrong time.  Imagine still having wet carpet when the whole family plus pets comes trooping in for Christmas dinner.  Try and plan your carpet cleaning well in advance of that Christmas or New Year’s get together.  Most professional carpet cleaners are very busy this time of year and if you’re planning a big party make sure you do more than plan to have the carpets cleaned, book the appointment early.


Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are having carpets cleaned, stains removed or furniture cleaned any time of the year, but especially at Christmas time.


*When you call a professional carpet cleaner, know what it is you need.  Are you looking to have the entire house cleaned or just a room or two?  Do you need stain removal or furniture cleaned?  It’s hard to add extra things onto the appointment once the technician gets there.  We are so busy this time of year everything is scheduled pretty tightly. Know exactly what you need done and book accordingly.


*Think about cleaning your furniture, especially during the Christmas season when everyone is visiting.  Does your sofa need to be cleaned, freshened up or the dog/cat hair removed?  There is nothing worse than leaving someone’s home with your pants and top covered in pet hair, especially if you are allergic.


*Is the product they use green and environmentally friendly?  Is it odor free, and hypo-allergenic?  Do they use harsh chemicals and soaps?  If the dog/cat hair doesn’t set off an allergic reaction in your guests the chemicals and soaps left in the carpet just might.


*How long will it take to dry?  Drying times are very important, especially if you are working on a tight deadline.  A wet carpet or damp furniture will certainly cause problems if you have a houseful of guests.  They might be able to come and clean the same day as the party, but you will end up with a huge mess if the carpets are not dry by the time everyone arrives.


*Do they have insurance?  With all the small breakable things that come out of storage and the clutter that ensues at Christmas, it’s not hard to have an accident once in a while.  Bad enough if you have that snow angel ornament broken, but what happens if they break your new fifty-two inch TV.  Ask and make sure they are insured.

NY 2009 026

*Do they try and sell you things you don’t want once they get in the house?  At EKO we don’t sell any cleaning products, so the price we quote is the price you pay.  Some company’s badger you into spending much more than you bargained for, wanting to sell more products and services than you need or want.  This practice is bad enough during the rest of the year, but at Christmas time with most of us spending lots during the season, it can be even worse.

Another question to ask is if they have any hidden fees, disposal fees, mileage costs etc.  Know what they charge before you hire.


*Do they guarantee their work?  Whether it’s a last minutes appointment or one that was scheduled weeks before, know what your carpet cleaner will do for you if there is a problem after the work has been done.


These tips are just common sense and most people ask these types of questions as a matter of course.  But if you’re busy running around planning a Christmas party, buying gifts, cooking or any of the myriad of  tasks that the Holidays place in our way, you can sometimes forget, so use this as a reminder of what you need from your carpet cleaner.


We hope you have a very Merry Christmas.


Thanks for listening.


Pets = Allergies

Do you find that you, or members of your family always seem to have the sniffles, always seem to be fighting a cold?  Do you think you might have allergies?  Is it a problem seasonally or does it happen all the time?  Do you have pets?

I am a former member of the Canadian Military and as such my family and I have lived all across this country and in parts of Europe. Because my wife has a number of seasonal allergies and because of our moving around, it took us years to figure out that not only was she allergic to outside sources, trees, mold, flowers etc. but also to our dogs.   We have always had dogs in the house and it wasn’t until our children came along that we started to notice, they had the sniffles constantly, just like mom.  Although I am not allergic, it turns out that not only is my wife allergic, but so are both of our children.  Being dog people and not wanting to be without a dog around the house we found non-shedding, hypoallergenic dogs.

My wife studied the various breeds and found two that we could have around the house.  The breeds she settled on were Havanese (they have hair not fur) and Bichon frise (they don’t shed).  Since then we have had one or both of those breeds in our house and both her and the kids have not had problems with their allergies.  I say that because while they still suffer from allergy symptoms, they take allergy medication, and we all tend to blame something other than the dogs for any problems.





However studies suggest hypoallergenic cats and dogs can cause just as many symptoms as the regular kind, says James Seltzer, MD, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. That’s because skin and saliva proteins, not just hair, trigger allergy symptoms.  Allergens (particularly saliva proteins) can latch on to the hair, so less shedding in general, rather than the length of the hair, should be considered.  The same is true for cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, etc.

To help combat some of the allergen’s, ensure you vacuum on a regular basis, the more hair and dander you remove the better your family will feel.  Put filters in your heating vents as well as replacing your furnace filter regularly.  Have your carpets and upholstery professionally cleaned annually, or even semi-annually if required.  Purchase a spot machine from one of the big box stores and keep it handy for any of those pet accidents that will happen.  Make sure you find an all-natural cleaner to use in the machine.  There are lots of places around town where you can buy them.


To help with allergies there are several breeds that are better than others.  For allergy sufferers, it pays to take some time to research and look at every option before getting a pet.  We believe in going to your local rescue society to look for a dog or for information, they are all more than willing to help you find the right animal for you and your family.  Remember there is nothing worse than getting a pet, bringing them home and then having to give them away.  Do your research first, then go and find the right pet for you.

The internet has a great deal of information, the SPCA is a great source of information and there are numerous qualified, upstanding breeders out there who are more than willing to help in your decision.   Even though they have accidents, chew your stuff, bark and do any number of annoying things, dogs and cats should be a part of every family.

Here are links to some helpful information.,,20307349,00.html



Thanks for listening.


3 Rules for Internet cures and fixes.

A few days ago, sitting in a coffee shop, I overheard two women talking about getting stains out of a dress.  One woman mentioned that she had gone on-line and found out how to concoct a homemade stain remover, which she then used on the dress.  Instead of removing the stain, the stain remover actually made it worse and she had to throw out the dress.  She went on to tell her friend that she always checked the internet for everything, and often used the tips and tricks she found on line so she couldn’t understand what went wrong this time. 

Listening to them chat, I started to think about how often we get phone calls here in the office from people asking for a little advice.  They have a small problem, a stain or a mess on their carpets or upholstery, and they want to fix it themselves.  It’s usually a small problem and they don’t want to pay for us to come out and clean it for them, they just want a suggestion or a tip or two to make the problem go away.   Most times we know exactly what the problem is, know the best product for fixing the problem and send them on their way armed with enough information to alleviate the problem.  Sometime however, we can’t help and then I will often refer people to the internet to look for a solution.  When I tell people to look on the internet for a solution, I caution them not to accept everything they read as gospel.  They should follow these simple rules to make sure that they actually find the right solution to their problem, rather than make that problem even worse.

 Stain removal techniques - Lemon and salt bag 2


1.  YouTube.

YouTube is the best medium for addressing your problems, whether it’s a cleaning problem, a computer problem, or anything else, someone has posted a solution to your problem on YouTube.  It is very easy to find a video showing you step by step how to do whatever you need to do.  I always recommend YouTube as the first step in finding a solution.

2.  Find more than one solution.

If you are using YouTube, always try and find two or more video’s that show how to fix the same problem.  The video you find may have been made in Europe or Asia, or even in parts of the US where the products they are using cannot be found or have a different name than we use here.  Watching more than one video will help you decide on what way to go.

3.  Don’t trust the recipe.

When you get the ingredients and start using the recipe for making that stain remover or odor remover, don’t automatically assume that it will work in your situation.  The woman in the coffee shop should have tried her homemade stain remover on a piece of fabric identical to her dress.  If it worked on that then she could try it on the dress.   Use the corner of a closet, or under the bottom of a chair to test your new cleaning concoction.  That way if it doesn’t work you haven’t wrecked anything out in the open where everyone can see it.

There are a million tips and techniques you can find on the internet.  Most of them work, and are often easy to make, easy to use, green, and safe.  Just be sure that you use the information cautiously.  Once you find the right formula, go for it. 


Thanks for listening.


Getting the house clean after renovations

It seems that in the last few years house prices in Edmonton have gone through the roof.  With high house prices, and inexpensive rental units few and far between many people are turning to renovations as an affordable means of upgrading their home. Exterior renovations, especially in a place like Edmonton are usually done in the summer time, although some work can be done in the colder months.  Michael at Nord-Alta says that they do sometimes replace exterior windows and doors in the wintertime.  When it comes to interior renovations, because of our extreme winters, many are scheduled and completed in the winter months.   This means that there is often a lot of work going on in an enclosed area.  Once all the renovations are complete and all the tradesmen have left, a few problems remain for the homeowner to deal with.


Apartment Living Room

Apartment Living Room

No matter how scrupulous the contractor has been in cleaning up after their work, it seems there are always a few issues that need to be resolved by the homeowner.  Newly painted walls still have that new paint smell, sawdust, and other particulate matter can get into the most inaccessible of places, onto furniture, the carpet and more.  Pets often take exception to strangers in the house and will often mark their territory in protest.  With half the house being worked on, the other half of the house gets a harder than normal workout.  Not to mention there is always that workshop, newly remodeled smell you get in the house when renovations are complete.


Whether you hire a contractor or are a DIY kinda person here are some tips to help get rid of that smell and ensure that the house is clean here are a few hints and tips.


  • When planning the project with the contractor ask them to use low or no VOC paints and other products to reduce the smell and make the work more environmentally friendly.


  • Before the work begins, take the time to cover up or remove objects that might end up covered in dust, sawdust or face the possibility of getting stained.


  • Replace your furnace filter before the work starts, and then again after it is completed.


  • Install filters in each of your floor vents to help the furnace filter keep the dust out. Filters can be purchase at any of the main self help stores.


  • Use a swiffer duster to wipe down the walls, especially the newly painted ones.


  • Roll up and store,any area rugs you have or send them out to be cleaned .



Once all that has been done, after all the last minute touch ups are completed, then it’s time for the carpet cleaners, even in the winter months, to come in and clean both your carpets and your upholstery.   With quick drying solutions like ours at EKO, cleaning in the winter months is not a problem.  You asked your renovator for low or no VOC products whenever possible and you should be able to expect the same from your carpet cleaning professional.  Not only should you have the carpets and any stain removal done, the upholstery should be done as well.  If you follow these tips when having interior renovations done and once the carpets and furniture are cleaned, the house will be fresh, clean and ready to enjoy.


Thanks for listening.