Posts

Carpet Care Basics

Most homeowners think they’re caring for their carpets adequately if they’re hiring a professional carpet cleaner periodically and vacuuming now and again, but many don’t know that a few simple steps could help their carpets last longer.

 

“Whether it’s the wrong carpet spotter or forgetting to vacuum often enough, there are a number of steps homeowners can take to make their carpets last longer between pro cleanings,” says Eric Moe, owner of Alpine Specialty Cleaning, a family-run business that has been cleaning carpets around Seattle since 1969 and which specializes in chemical-free cleaning processes.

 

These days, when Alpine Specialty Cleaning comes to clean a home’s carpets it uses a rare chemical-free de-ionized water system from a high-suction truck to draw out impurities from carpets. But working on a carpet that has been well maintained always helps lay the foundation and maximize the results of a good professional clean.

 

Here’s a look at how to keep your carpet in good shape.

 

Use a high-quality vacuum

 

If you’ve got wall-to-wall carpet in one or more rooms of your home, you need to play a role in keeping it shipshape between professional cleanings. To do that, you’ll need a high-quality vacuum with maximum suction, preferably at least 245 AW (air watts). There are several other suction measures to know when vacuum shopping, so familiarize yourself with them and look for the higher end of the spectrum when shopping.

 

Vacuum high-traffic areas daily

 

If you’ve got carpet, you’ll need to vacuum at least weekly. But for high traffic areas – front door entries, halls leading to kitchens, family rooms – you’ll need to vacuum daily to keep your carpet from marinating in future stains and damage and to maintain fibers’ pluck and firmness.

 

Use pads beneath area rugs

 

Many homeowners use accent area rugs atop wall-to-wall carpeting. But those who choose to do so should place rug pads beneath these carpets to prevent two common problems – dye transfer, and carpet-surface erosion. Unpadded area rugs can seep dye into surfaces beneath them, and their scratchy backing can act like sandpaper and erode the wall-to-wall carpet’s pile.

 

Rearrange furniture periodically and doctor divots

 

Carpet wear and tear is often directly related to furniture positioning. Sofas and chairs in permanent locations create natural foot-traffic patterns and dirt patterns (where snacks and drinks spill, where toddlers or pets romp), and the furniture legs planted on carpet surfaces can eventually damage carpets if not moved (even a few inches) periodically. If your carpet has divots, place ice cubes in a plastic baggy and rest the baggy inside the divot. The cold from the ice will force carpet fibers to swell, restoring their resiliency and the carpet’s surface.

 

Use a proper stain spotter

 

“If you use a harsh store-bought stain spotter, it will remove the carpet’s stain resistance, allowing more stains to soak into the fibers,” Moe says. The principle is similar to overwashing hair so that it’s stripped of natural oils, and thus becomes oilier more easily. Once applied and allowed to sit, stain spotter should be thoroughly removed. Alpine offers free stain-spotting solution to its clients for between-cleaning spotting, as well as tips on how to remove common carpet stains using household remedies and products.

 

Know when it’s time to replace carpet

 

If your carpet is old and damaged, there are certain signs that cleaning alone won’t restore the carpet to its old luster – and only replacement will do. If the carpet’s pile is worn down or has “bald spots,” if the carpet is heavily soiled, or if it has begun to delaminate or separate from its backing (so it’s no longer stretched tight to the floor beneath it), it’s time to replace rather than clean the carpet.

 

Got new carpet? Get in a cleaning routine.

 

If you’ve moved into a home with new carpet or are replacing old carpet with new, that’s the perfect time to get into an established cleaning routine. How often should you clean carpets? Moe says that most homeowners need professional carpet cleaning at least annually – every six months if pets, crawling babies or toddlers, or allergies or respiratory sensitivities are present. Another tip for new carpet: Make sure to use blinds or curtains so constant direct sunlight doesn’t fade or change carpet colors.

 

Alpine Specialty Cleaning was founded in the Seattle area in 1969 by Maurice Moe. Eric Moe and his wife, Bobbie, continue the “Tradition of Quality” and “5 Star Experience” that Alpine has been known for over the years.

5 signs it’s time to clean carpets and ducts

Seattle-area residents are known for living “green” lifestyles, striving to use cleaning products that leave a minimal environmental footprint and that don’t worsen allergies or medical conditions. But even the most diligent homeowners don’t always know how to recognize signs that a home needs serious duct or carpet cleaning rather than the usual once-over with off-the-shelf cleaning products.

“Many people in this region have pets and allergies, and more homeowners here are investing in air conditioning systems as summers heat up, which increases the risk of mold,” says Eric Moe, owner of Alpine Specialty Cleaning, a family-run business that has been cleaning homes around Seattle since 1969. “Without proper cleaning, these homes run the risk of accumulating and recirculating dirty air in ducts and developing unhealthy carpet conditions.”

As more homeowners use their forced-air heating system for heat in winter and to fan air in summer – or to circulate cooled air from an air conditioning unit – these ducts are in service all four seasons, Moe notes.

 

Is it time for a deep cleaning? Here are five signs.

 

  • Your home was built energy-efficient. Energy-efficient homes are sealed tighter than most homes, meaning air recirculates more frequently than in traditional-built homes. This makes duct cleaning more important, as a tightly sealed home with pets, kids or lots of wall-to-wall carpet may accumulate dust, mold or smells faster than in a home where outside air can leak inside more easily.

 

  • Carpets have black lines around their edges, matted fibers or numerous visible stains. If your carpet has black lines around its perimeter or where the carpet hits doorways, that means dirt is infiltrating through gaps in walls, beneath doors, or due to broken screens. Matted fiber may result from soil buildup. Heavy stains need treating for removal.

 

  • Dust has accumulated. If you clean and dust regularly but dust persists, it may be living in ducts and carpets that need a thorough cleaning. Additionally, if you need to frequently change furnace air filters because of dust or other accumulation, that may be a sign your ducts are dirty.

 

  • You’ve got allergies or respiratory health issues. If you’ve got asthma or other respiratory health conditions, or if you’re allergic to common substances like pollen, pet hair or other airborne particles, keeping carpets and ducts professionally cleaned can reduce exposure to irritants at home.

 

 

  • It smells! Smells may be a sign of mold, moisture problems, or soaked-in stains that need professional cleaning.

 

How often should you clean carpets? Moe says that most homeowners need professional carpet cleaning at least annually _ as often as every 6 months if pets, crawling babies or toddlers, or allergies or respiratory sensitivities are present.

Ducts typically need thorough cleaning every two to three years, but again, a more frequent cleaning may be necessary if pet hair or the above factors are present in the house. Moe encourages those in the market for a duct cleaner to carefully vet the outfit they hire, making sure that like Alpine Specialty Cleaning the company is certified by NADCA, a duct-cleaning association that holds member companies to rigorous standards.

“Most people clean their ducts first, then turn to their carpets,” he says. “September is typically our busiest month, as people prepare for fall when heating systems are turned on and rain begins. But you can clean carpets and ducts any time of year – they’re year-round systems, especially ducts which carry air for both heat, fans, and air conditioning.”

 

Alpine Specialty Cleaning was founded in the Seattle area in 1969 by Maurice Moe. Eric Moe and his wife, Bobbie, continue the “Tradition of Quality” and “5 Star Experience” that Alpine has been known for over the years. 

The Dangers of Residual Animal Urine in Carpets

 

 

If you have ever had a puppy, then you understand that housebreaking can certainly take some time and work. Unfortunately, animals can and will have accidents on floors from time to time, but it is essential that you clean the urine from your carpets immediately in order to avoid some potentially serious effects on your health. Below, you can discover some of the potential damage that animal urine in carpets can cause.

#1 – The Ammonia Odor

The most noticeable effect of animal urine in carpets is the strong smell of ammonia. Although all urine contains some amount of ammonia, it is especially concentrated in cat urine. What’s more, once a pet urinates on the carpet, if it is not cleaned thoroughly – and immediately – the water in the urine evaporates, leaving behind even more concentrated ammonia. This can have a tremendous negative effect on people who have COPD, asthma, or emphysema, and it may even cause allergies.

#2 – The Growth of Bacteria and Other Microorganisms

Most of the bacteria that grows in old pet stains is not particularly dangerous to anyone who has a healthy immune system, but it can become quite bothersome. In otherwise healthy people, the bacteria and microorganisms found in old urine stains may cause sinusitis, watery eyes, allergies, and inflammation of the airways. However, in people who have compromised immune systems, such as very young children, the elderly, or people with immune systems weakened by illness or medication, these bacteria can cause significant health issues.

#3 – The Potential for Dangerous Mold

Although one or two accidents that are cleaned up quickly and efficiently are often not a reason for concern, repeated pet stains or urine that is not immediately and thoroughly cleaned can soak through your carpet into the padding below. The components of the urine attract moisture, and over time, several varieties of mold can begin to grow underneath your carpet. Some of these mold varieties, like penicillium, can cause respiratory symptoms, and a few, such as aspergillus, can cause long-term lung conditions with prolonged exposure.

#4 – The Expense of Replacing a Rotting Subfloor

Finally, it is important to consider the financial expense that animal urine can create. Your carpet padding likely sits directly on your subfloor, which is generally made of wood. Over time, the urine soaks through your carpet and the padding below, and into the subfloor. With repeated pet accidents, the wood becomes more and more saturated and may even begin to rot. As such, it may be necessary to completely remove your carpeting and replace sections of your subfloor in order to combat structural damage to your floors.

Although pets are an important part of millions of lives, cleaning up after them is a responsibility that should never be neglected. Over time, animal urine can cause allergy-like symptoms, strong odors, mold growth, and even structural damage to your home. Aside from immediately cleaning up after your pet, it is important to contact http://www.alpineclean.com at least twice per year to not only clean your carpets, but also evaluate your risks.

Are your shoes making your family sick?

 

We have all heard about the benefits of removing our shoes before entering our homes and perhaps some of you are ahead here because you already implement this strategy. For the rest of us, however, it seems a tedious prospect especially considering how frequently the members of our busy households are coming and going. Perhaps on occasion we even roll our eyes at the ever-vigilant friend that insists everyone remove their shoes before entering. However, if you knew that by taking off your shoes every time you enter you were reducing your home’s bacterial and toxic load significantly, would you consider it?

It turns out that besides the soles of our shoes being inherently gross (because, well, they are shoes), they carry all manner of disgusting stuff. For starters, think of the places your shoes have been throughout the day. Perhaps to the doctor’s or dentist’s office? Maybe to the hospital to visit a friend? Did you use a public restroom or take your dog for a walk? Maybe just through a parking lot on the way to the grocery store? Though the areas you have been throughout the day appear clean, there are countless germs in all of these spaces, to say nothing of bird droppings, dog waste, herbicides, fertilizers, fuel and pesticides, that the soles of our shoes pick up. Researchers at the University of Arizona conducted a study and found on average 421,000 different bacteria on shoes. Specifically, coliform bacteria (from feces) was found on 96% of shoes and E coli on 27%. Some of the bacteria found in the study are responsible for urinary tract and respiratory infections and unfortunately all of these bacteria and toxins transfer to our home’s flooring surfaces. As if this isn’t bad enough, Men’s Health says that carpet already contains about 200,000 bacteria per square inch making it much dirtier than your average toilet seat.

While many of us vacuum our homes frequently, vacuums simply aren’t able to reach the bottom of the carpet where the bacteria can thrive and even feed on the human skin cells, pollen, pet dander, food and dirt from daily living. Every time the kids sit and play or anyone walks on the surface of the carpet, the bacteria (including colonies of E. coli, salmonella and staphylococcus) is disrupted and brought closer to the surface. (Maybe a good time to rethink the 5-second rule?)

What can be done about this biohazard brewing in our homes? Besides leaving those shoes at the door, get your carpets steam cleaned. The University of Arizona researchers found that steam cleaning removes the various types of bacteria described above. (If you are interested in getting those shoes clean, too, they found that washing them in detergent worked.) Men’s Health recommends hiring a company at least once per year to do a deep steam cleaning, though others recommend greater frequency especially if allergies and respiratory disorders are an issue. (It should also be noted that some carpet companies will not honor your warranty unless professional cleaners are hired every 12-18 months, so be sure to check those warranties.)

As you prepare to have those carpets steam cleaned, be sure to hire a company that does not utilize harsh soaps or carbonated chemicals, which can introduce additional toxins to your home. Environmentally savvy companies, like Alpine Specialty Cleaning, use truck-mounted steam cleaners with 100% natural detergents, like BioKleen, providing a safe, non-toxic environment for your family and pets. And don’t limit yourself to just carpet since bacteria can flourish in hard surfaces including tile and grout.

Lastly, what to do about having friends remove their shoes when visiting your newly cleaned home? According to a variety of articles and websites, the leading suggestions are to mention in the invite that shoes aren’t worn in the home so guests can plan accordingly. A few others suggest providing slippers or socks to make guests comfortable.