Blogs & News

Using the Tools of the Trade

This time of year people start to clean, fix-up, re-new, and generally start to get the house, yard or business cleaned and fixed up for the summer.

Every day on TV, we are subjected to a dozen commercials telling us about this type of paint that’s easy to use, that great tool you need to buy to finish you project or some other amazing product you can use to complete you own project.  You just buy whatever it is they are selling and start doing whatever it is you want to do.  Right?

Unfortunately it’s not that easy or simple.  Remember the old adage “the right tool for the right job.”  Well as trite and cliché as that sounds, it is true.  Ever used a Nail Gun?  They are a great way to complete a job in a fast and easy manner, if you do it right.  You can also put a 2” nail over the top of your neighbours house, (I know this first hand), or if you are not careful one of those nails can go into your hand.  If you get the wrong nail gun for the wrong job you may end up redoing the job or getting someone else to do it.

A power washer is a useful tool if used properly.  It’s great for cleaning the driveway, or your ATV, but use it the wrong way and you could actually peel the paint off the fence or you wife’s car rather than just the dirt.  I won’t get into the chain saw or power shovel, but I think you get the idea.

When it comes to cleaning carpets and upholstery, the same thing is true.  Using the wrong tool or using the right tool the wrong way, can very quickly become an expensive headache.

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You not only need the right tool, but you need to know how to use it before you start the job.   You can rent a Rug Doctor or other carpet cleaning machine, read the instructions and still not do it right.

The some carpet cleaning solutions can leave a myriad of chemicals in your carpet, something your family will walk on or breathe in for weeks or months to come.  If you use the wrong cleaner for the fibers you could bleach them or discolour the carpet permanently.

Too much water on the floor will leave the carpet wet for days.  In this warm weather if a carpet is wet for days it can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, two things you definitely do not need in your home.  Too much water can also damage your subfloor and your baseboards.

These are just a couple of the ways using a rug cleaning machine yourself can go wrong.  We recommend that rather than doing it yourself you call a professional carpet cleaner and have your carpets and upholstery professionally cleaned at least once a year.  Professionals know the right tools for the job, and they know how to use those tools the right way to get your carpets looking and smelling fresh and clean.

 

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Thanks for listening.

 

4 Tips for cleaning your Area Rug

Many of the new homes built these days have hard surface floors in the main living areas.  Tile, hardwood, and laminate have become the flooring choice of most developers and builders.  They do look good; they wear well and clean up easily in most cases.  Even though hard surfaces have become a staple in most new homes, many new home buyers still like the idea of have soft warm carpeted areas in the family living areas.   To this end many home owners cover some of the hard surface floor with area and oriental rugs, helping add warmth and colour to a room.  Usually they are in high traffic areas or underneath tables and chairs, places like the dining room table.  Life happens and dirt, stains, and traffic areas show up in stark contrast to the rich colours and vibrant patterns that adorn many area rugs.  

Here are 4 tips to help keep your area and oriental rugs clean and fresh and help you enjoy them in the house for a long time.

Area Rug

#1,  Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum.   I can’t stress this enough.  Like any carpeted area in you home, your area rug should be vacuumed at least once a week.  No matter how thick the pile, ensure you use the “beater bar” attachment (the spinning power head) and go over your rug weekly.

Area Rug

#2.  At least once a month flip your area rug over and vacuum the underside.  You will only do this if the rug has no backing on it.  Remember to sweep the hard surface floor underneath the area rug before you put it back in place, because if there is no backing on the rug dirt, sand and other grit will fall through the weave onto the floor.  Walking on the rug will grind those hard particles into the floor.  I have seen the hardwood floors underneath area carpets scratched so badly that the floor had to be resurfaced.

Area Rug

#3.  At least once a year take your area rug outside, hang if off the fence and beat it to get out the dirt and debris that your vacuum cannot remove.  This is especially important if the rug has a backing on it as the dirt and grit can accumulate and harm the fibres and the backing if they are not removed.  Most area rugs these days are made from very durable fibres and can take a good shaking or beating.  Oriental rugs are a little more fragile than area rugs but they will still survive an annual shaking or beating.

Area Rug

#4.    Have your area rugs cleaned professionally at least once a year.  You should ask the cleaning service you choose how they clean the rugs.  They should be vacuuming and then cleaning both sides of the rug.  While weekly vacuuming will keep the rug dirt free, professional cleaning will help reduce allergens, remove dirt and debris, remove most stains, both pet and man made, and help maintain the life of the carpet.  It will also help bring back those vibrant colours and patterns.

If you follow these four simple steps you oriental and area rugs will continue to look and feel clean and fresh all year round.

Thanks for listening

owners

 

 

Vehicles need some TLC too!

In keeping with the beautiful weather out there, its supposed to go to 17 Celsius today, I think we should keep talking about spring cleaning.  This time however I don’t want to talk about the house or the yard, I want to talk about that other love in every man’s life; his vehicle.

 Even though we usually take the car through the carwash a couple of times each winter, rarely do we clean up the interior in any meaningful way.  Summer is on the way and rolling down the windows to get rid of the smell of your hockey equipment that has been sitting in the backseat all winter is not the way to go.

I have always recommended that every household own a spot machine.  it can be used to clean up spills on carpet, upholstery and mattresses inside the house, but it is especially good at cleaning up the interior of your vehicle, be it car, truck, or RV.

For your car or truck it’s pretty basic.  Remove the floor mats, spray them with a hose to clean most of the sand and debris out of them and then use the spot machine to clean up the stains and heavily soiled spots.  Vacuum everything fabric in the car, including the roof if needed and then use the spot machine to go over all the fabric, seats, door panels etc.  Break the cleaning up into sections, and as you finish each section, wipe it down with a white towel.  This will not only help dry the interior faster, but will remove any dirty solution that you may have missed with the spot machine.  Of course when using the spot machine ensure you are using an all-natural cleaner, Home Depot, Canadian Tire or other stores carry natural cleaners.  Once it’s finished leave the car in the garage and open the doors to let it dry.  If you don’t have a garage, don’t leave the doors open, crack the windows about half way and leave it sitting in the sun.  If you leave the doors open you risk having dust and dirt blown into the car and wrecking your cleaning job.

For your RV or Trailer we recommend that you have it professionally cleaned at the end of the season, that way come spring time you only have to freshen it up.  The spot machine is just a little bit too small for cleaning everything in the RV, especially one of the bigger motorhomes, for small trailers it should be fine.   When you head out on your road trip make sure you take the spot machine with you.  It might not be able to get all the s’mores out of your seat cushion, but it will help with that early morning coffee or late night beer stain.

Remember that having a professional cleaner detail your car or truck or clean the carpets, mattresses and seats in your trailer or motorhome is a good thing to have done at least once a year.  After that, with a spot machine you can help keep it clean and smelling good for the rest of the year.

 

Thanks for listening.

owners

6 Keys to Identifying a Quality Carpet Cleaner.

Sounds good doesn’t it? 6 “keys” to identifying a quality carpet cleaner.  Really, all I’m talking about here is common sense.  The headline sounds good, but really these tips are things that you should be thinking about every time you look for any service company not just a carpet cleaner.

1.What type of cleaner do you use?   A professional carpet cleaning company should not only be able to tell you what products they use, but why.  We like this one because, this one is better than that one because.  If they don’t know what product they use or they don’t know why they use it, maybe you should take the time to call someone else.

  1. Do you have liability insurance? Not the normal type of question to ask someone, but it is one that should be asked of every service company coming into your home or office. Do you have liability insurance, will you be able to cover any damages that might occur by accident in my home. If I knock over your big screen TV, or smash the glass in your antique china cabinet, do I have the insurance to cover the replacement cost?  If it is a real concern for you, ask for proof of insurance.  If they don’t know or won’t say, make that phone call to another cleaner.
  2. Do you have Workers Compensation Coverage? Are your employee’s covered if they have an accident or hurt themselves while they are working in my home or office? The rules and laws on compensation and who is at fault are changing constantly, you don’t want to get caught up in a battle over compensation just because you needed your carpets cleaned. If you need to ask them for proof of coverage, they should be able to produce it without any problem.
  3. Do you guarantee your work? Let’s face it, this one is a no brainer. If they aren’t willing to, or can’t guarantee their work, do you really want them to come in and do the work?  They might be less expensive than the next guy, but if they aren’t willing to guarantee their work, you are wasting your money.  Always ask for a guarantee and accept nothing less.
  4. Do they have a price guarantee? Now admittedly its hard to give a firm price over the phone, and even I won’t guarantee that the price I quote is the final price. What I will do is explain how we price, what those prices are and guarantee that the customer will not see a different price than the one quoted.  If we quote a price and its wrong we eat the difference, once quoted that price is guaranteed.
  5. Is your staff trained and experienced? Everyone wants experienced, trained professionals to be the ones cleaning their carpets, carpet is a big investment and you don’t want it ruined by someone who doesn’t know what they are doing. It doesn’t hurt to ask for a seasoned professional, or knowledgeable technician, and it is definitely within your rights to request that an experienced technician be the one to clean your carpets.

These are some of the questions you should ask your carpet cleaner or any service company you are thinking of paying your hard earned money to work for you. It’s your house or office, and it’s your money make sure you are getting what you paid for.

 

Thanks for listening.

owners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Cleaning Again.

Last week I talked about getting your furnace vents and ducts cleaned for spring. Now that you have that out of the way the next thing to look at inside the house are three things that are usually cleaned by professional carpet cleaners once a year, if that.

Let’s start with mattress. Most people never get their mattresses professionally cleaned, even though they may have had that mattress for a great many years.  All sorts of things get on a mattress, sweat, urine, make-up, tea, coffee, and a host of other things.  Then there are the dust mites.  They are microscopic bugs that feed on dead skin cells and then poop out the residue into the mattress and pillow.   They can cause breathing problems and for people with allergies they can be a real problem.  Most of the mattresses in the home will be pillow top mattresses, and cannot be flipped over like mom used to do to let you sleep on the cleaner side.   We recommend that you have your mattress cleaned at least once a year, and the spring time, when you are getting the rest of the house in order is probably the best time to do it.

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It’s also a good time to wash all those stuffed animals that the kids have laying all over their bedroom. They also get covered in all sorts of dirt and stains and a good cleaning at least once a month is a good thing.

Let’s move on to your furniture next. Upholstery tends to something that most people forget about or feel that a good vacuuming is all they need, to help it stay clean and in good shape for the next year.  They don’t want to spend the money on a professional cleaning even though the furniture is one of the most expensive purchases in the home.  Most furniture should be vacuumed at least once a week or more depending on the use it gets.  Like carpet or your mattress, furniture gets all kinds of things dropped, spilled and ground into the fabric, and then there is the pet hair, and dander to think about as well.  Furniture should be cleaned at least once a year if the whole family is using it, eating on it, bouncing on it, etc.  This is especially true if family members suffer from allergies or if you have pets.  If it’s used occasionally or doesn’t get a lot of wear and tear then longer periods between cleaning is OK, as long as you continue to vacuum it on a regular basis.  We are not just talking about the sofa and loveseat, your kitchen chairs, ottoman, office chair, granny’s rocking chair, any upholstery in the house should get a good thorough cleaning annually.

Last and definitely not least is the carpets and area rugs in the home. We recommend that your carpets be professionally cleaned at least once a year.  You can clean them yourselves but a professional has the means, training and experience to clean them properly.  As always whether you or a professional cleans them, ensure that a natural, environmentally friendly cleaner is used.  Carpet cleaning solutions made with soap, oil or other chemicals can stay in your carpet after the cleaning is finished.  Kind of defeats the purpose of cleaning it if chemicals are left in it don’t you think?

Remember, it doesn’t matter how many windows and walls you clean this spring, if your carpets and upholstery are left dirty, you aren’t really getting the clean healthy home environment you are looking for.

Stain removal techniques - Lemon and salt bag

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for listening.

R and M

Spring Cleaning

OK guys, I guess I won’t put too much of a jinx on things if I start talking about Spring Cleaning. This winter has been very good from a weather stand point and even though spring is officially a week or so away, when I look outside its’s pretty obvious that spring is actually here.

With spring’s arrival, people myself included, start looking forward to doing all those activities they couldn’t or wouldn’t do inside and outside the house. Things like planning what to put where in the garden, what junk is headed out the door or into the garage sale pile, and of course all those little and not so little cleaning tasks that are traditionally lumped together to be called spring cleaning.

If we were in Houston, or Phoenix we might not have to worry about it, but with six months of winter up here in Edmonton, spring cleaning is the surest sign that warm weather is here to stay.

So let’s talk a little bit about some of the things you should be thinking about and cleaning this spring. As you know, especially if you have allergies or breathing problems, spring is the time when allergy season hits us hard.  In our house I can tell when spring is here just by the increase in Kleenex tissue, and allergy medication purchases.  One of the biggest areas that could use a spring cleaning is the carpets in your house, but before you call a professional carpet cleaner in to clean it you might want a couple of other items clean as well.

Start with your furnace. If you haven’t had it done in the last five years get your ducts cleaned.  You will also want to change your furnace filter and get a new clean filter in there for spring.  Make sure you constantly change your furnace filter.  Three or four times each year at the least.

After that have a look at your cold air return and all you floor vents. We have always recommended that you put filters in each of your vents to help purify the air in your home.  Yes you are going to open windows and doors in the warmer weather, but anything you can do to help clean the air in your home you should try and do.   Most box stores, Rona, Lowes, and Home Depot, etc. carry filters that will fit your vents, or if you wish you can substitute dryer sheets for filters.  Bounce sheets fit nicely in most floor vents.

 

The furnace and the ducts and the filters are a good first step for spring cleaning.   Next week we’ll talk about cleaning all the furniture, mattresses and carpets in your home.

 

Enjoy the warm weather.

 

Thanks for listening.

DIY Upholstery Cleaning Do’s & Don’ts

OK, even though we recommend you hire a professional cleaner to look after your upholstery, you’ve decided to clean your sofa and loveseat yourself.   Well if you’ve read any of my Blogs in the last few years you’ll know I strongly recommend every household have two things to help keep the carpets and upholstery clean.

The first thing every home needs is a good vacuum, one with good suction and equipped with a HEPA filter, like a Dyson and Miele.

The second thing every home needs is a good spot machine. There are lots of different machines out there, find one that has attachments to help you clean in various parts of the house and has good suction.  You don’t need to spend a great deal of money on a spot machine, you don’t need a Lamborghini when a Chev will do.

Aside from helping you keep the house clean on a day to day basis, these are the two main tools all you DIY types are going to need to clean your furniture and upholstery.

There are a couple of other things you need before you start cleaning your upholstery. The first, a good all natural cleaner can be purchased at almost any big box store.  The second is a generous supply of white towels or rags for cleaning.  You should avoid coloured cloth because you could accidentally transfer the dye from your cloth onto your furniture.

The third is an oscillating fan. Have a fan handy to help you dry the fabric quickly.  You can get away without it, but the quicker the fabric dries the better.

The fourth thing you may require is a lint brush, especially if you have pets. I recommend a reusable lint roller, rather than the type with sheets of sticky paper.  Reusable lint rollers work great and a quick wash has them ready to go again, with paper rollers you can run out of sticky sheets at the wrong time and you end up throwing away a lot of paper which of course end up in the garbage.  If we are going to be green and environmentally responsible, it’s the little things like that we need to be aware of.   Reusable is not only environmentally friendly, it saves money as well.

 

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If you don’t have carpet in your house or in the room where you are cleaning the furniture, invest in some drop cloths. The last thing you want to do is wreck your floor by getting it wet.

OK, so now you are ready to get at that piece of upholstery and get it clean.

Next week I will walk you through rolling up your sleeves and getting that piece of upholstery cleaned.   One thing we want everyone to remember is that no matter how much you like to Do It Yourself, having your upholstery professionally cleaned on a regular basis, will help keep it lasting a long, long time.

 

Thanks for listening.

owners

Warning! How not to use a DIY Carpet Cleaner. (continued)

OK so whether you are a Number two, the DIY (Do It Yourself) kind or the Number Three type, the save money and do it yourself. You have decided to rent a rug cleaner and do the carpet yourself.

Last week we talked about making sure you have the means of getting the machine home. It sounds silly but lots of people struggle getting the machine into their home, and the machines are not all that big.

This week we’ll cover a couple of the main items you should be aware of when doing the cleaning yourself.

When you talk to the store clerk from the store renting you the machine, unless it is a carpet cleaning or tool rental store there is a better than even chance that they know less about the machine than you do. Ensure that you get a legible instruction manual and if you have any questions call a professional carpet cleaner.  If you call EKO Carpet and Upholstery Care we are more than willing to help answer any questions about the machine or the cleaning process.  There are a lot of professional cleaners in Edmonton and most of them will bend over backwards to help you out and answer questions for free.

When you buy the cleaning solution for your rental machine find one that isn’t made from soap or oils, soaps and oils tend to stay in your carpet and help re-soil the carpet quickly. Many big box stores carry natural cleaners and the rental store should have a selection as well.  My advice is to find one that has no odor.  The fewer odors your cleaner has the fresher and better smelling your home will be when you’re finished.

When using the machine to clean your carpets do not, and this is critical, DO NOT over wet your carpet. If you saturate the carpet, the first and the least harmful thing that will happen is that the carpet can take two or three days to dry.  One of the worst things that can happen is that you may ruin the sub- floor or the baseboards.  Most baseboards are made from pressboard and if they get too wet they will swell and separate.IMG_0047

Also please remember, more cleaning solution does not equal cleaner carpets. In fact the opposite is true because most people do not rinse the carpet enough to remove the cleaning solution.

Rinse the carpet thoroughly, all carpet cleaning machines have a vacuum for pulling up the dirty water after cleaning. Regardless of the type of machine, ensure you go over the area you cleaned with clear warm water to rinse out the remaining cleaner.  Rinse twice for every time you cleaned.  Again don’t saturate the carpet when you are rinsing, take your time and go slowly over the carpet with just the vacuum running.  Don’t hurry, let the vacuum pull up as much moister as possible before you call it a day.

Once you have completed the job, aim a fan onto the carpet to help it dry. If you are doing the cleaning in warm weather open the windows, if you are doing it in colder weather you may want to keep some of the humidity produced by the cleaning in the house.  If you do want to keep some of the humidity make sure you regulate it with a de humidifier or by choosing only a couple of windows to open.   Too much humidity can ice up windows in the winter, which takes a long time and a lot of heat to remove, and it can saturate the walls with water.  Nothing more unsightly than large water streaks running down your walls two months after you’ve cleaned the carpets.

Well there are a few other things to know but for now this is a good start. Whether you are a DIY person or just looking to save a few bucks, these suggestions will help you get through cleaning the carpets yourself.  If you do have any questions or need help with doing the job yourself call us at EKO Carpet and Upholstery Care and we’ll walk you through it.

 

Next week we’ll talk about DIY Upholstery cleaning

owners

Thanks for listening.

Warning! How not to use a DIY Carpet Cleaner.

There are three types of people out there when it comes to carpet cleaning. 

The First type are people who get on the phone and hire a professional carpet cleaner to do the work. These people need or want the work done but don’t want to do it themselves.  They are willing to pay a professional carpet cleaner to come in and do the work.

The second type is the Do It Yourself kind.  The DIY guy likes to get his or her hands dirty.  They love to tackle a problem and fix it themselves.  These are the kind of people that own every tool in the book, including a carpet cleaning machine and relish the idea of getting that carpet cleaned their way.

The third type is the guy that’s trying to save some money by doing it all him or herself.  These are the people who think by renting a machine, and doing it themselves they will save lots of money.

Today and next week I want to talk to all the Number Threes out there.  Number One is the guy I like the best and when he calls to have his carpet professionally cleaned, he’s not only getting all our years of experience  and knowledge, he’s also getting our guarantee. 

The second type, the DIY guys are going to clean the carpet themselves no matter what!  So for you guys I say go for it and if you have any questions call me, I’d be happy to offer tips and advice.  But number three that’s the guy that can go either way, he can get it done and done well, save a little money and earn bragging rights.  He can also be the guy that ruins his carpet, wrecks the underlay or subfloor, spends more money than he would have by hiring a professional carpet cleaner, and often has to call us anyway to fix the problem he just created.

So for Number Three here are a couple of things you should know before you rent a carpet cleaning machine, and a couple of things you need to do to ensure that you not only clean your carpets properly, but will help keep you from wrecking it and other things in the house if you do it wrong.  Number Two’s you pay attention as well, just because you like doing it yourself doesn’t mean you know how.

Let’s start with picking up the cleaning machine.  Does it fit in your car?  Can you lift it into the trunk or the back seat?  If not, don’t rent a van, that kind of defeats the cost saving part of the do it yourself idea, call a friend with a bigger car or a van.  The machines aren’t that big, but they are bulky in some instances and can be hard to lift.  Make sure you have help if you think it will be hard to transport.  Remember, if you drop it on the driveway and break it, you will have to pay for it, and they are not cheap to replace.  Make sure you can get the machine to and from the rental store.  Sounds silly to say it, but you’d be surprised how many people can’t pick up the machine because their car is too small, or they can’t lift the machine.

 

Next week we’ll talk about using the machine in the home or office and what to look for…

Thanks for listening

owners

 

 

 

 

Removing the winter-time smells from your home.

Don’t let this short bout of warm weather in January fool you, the winters in Edmonton can be long and cold, and often going from October to April seems to last a lifetime. Aside from all the other problems that can arise from the cold weather there is one that is often overlooked and can go relatively unnoticed by homeowners for long periods of time.  When you finally notice this particular problem it has often become hard to fix.

In the cold weather we tend to keep our doors and windows shut for most of if not all of the winter. The problem with that is all those smells generated in the house start to make our home smell.  Often we aren’t even aware of the smell, we become nose blind to the odors that permeate the house.  Cooking smells, pet smells, that hockey equipment left in the duffel bag in the spare room for a week.  There are a thousand different contributors to the smells, and most of the time it happens so subtly that you aren’t even aware there is a problem, but anyone entering your house will notice it right away.  Whether they are friends over for a drink, family coming to stay for a few days, prospective clients to your home based business, or even buyers when you list your house for sale.  People notice harsh odors right away, as soon as they open the door the smell hits them.

Having your carpets professionally cleaned goes a long way to helping combat odor in your home, especially if your carpet cleaner, like EKO, is using an odor free cleaner. Unfortunately for us most people don’t want their carpets cleaned weekly, so there are a number of ways for you to help reduce the odors in your home.  Most of these are simple, easy to do, yet most people fail to even think about this problem, and fewer still do anything about it.

First of all, pick a day to air out the house, maybe on a week day when everyone is gone to school or work, maybe, like my wife on Saturday when we do our weekly cleaning. Pick whatever time works for you and open windows on every floor to air out the house.  Be sure to open more than one window as you need to allow the air to flow through the building. Make sure that you turn you furnace down as you don’t want to be wasting heat.  You only need the windows open for an hour or so, but make sure you do it regularly.

Don’t use cleaners with harsh chemicals, use something that is odor free. When EKO Carpet and Upholstery Care professionally cleans your carpets we use a product that is odor free.  You should be thinking the same thing for all your cleaning products.  Many of the big box stores carry natural cleaning products, so finding one that’s right for your home won’t be too hard.

Miele vacuumBuy a good vacuum. Many odors are caused by things we leave behind.  This is especially true of pets.  Pet dander and hair, can not only cause allergies, but left alone can eventually make the room smelly.  A good vacuum, I personally like Miele or Dyson, will pick up most of the dander and hair, help you breathe easier and keep the pet smell in check.  Remember, whatever model of vacuum you get, ensure it has a HEPA filter.

I don’t recommend that you try to mask smells, but if you think you should one of the best ways is to put a dryer sheet in the hot air vents in your floor. Use either a scented sheet or add a dab of liquid air freshener to the sheet.  This will help push the air freshener throughout the house.

These are pretty simple, common sense ideas but often people don’t think of doing anything more than hooking up an air freshener to the wall socket and calling it a day.

Take a little time to clean up the odors in your home and being nose blind won’t mean a thing.

Thanks for listening.

owners