Posts

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. 

We Love Generation Z

What does generation Z want from the businesses they choose?

 Generation Z – those born after 1995 – are growing into the position of most-sought-after consumers, with $44 billion dollars in buying power already. So what does this new generation want from the businesses they choose?

Internet Presence

GenZ has grown up in an online society; their first means of discovering something new is seeing it online, in an ad, on social media, in a blog. They are used to being able to click away to something that better meets their requirements quickly, so businesses need to grab their attention in 8 seconds or less. This is not about a short attention span as much as it is that they have had to learn to filter enormous amounts of information. Once their attention is caught, they can be incredibly focused. Your company internet presence needs to have high-value information to avoid being filtered out.

GenZ is used to ordering and paying for things online. They want to have a variety of ways to pay for services and goods available right on your website, and they expect that process to be seamless and efficient.

Good Value

GenZ is very careful with money. Even at their young age, they are saving, planning for retirement, and carefully choosing what they spend their money. They grew up in a recession, and have seen their parents and families struggle with money. They expect good quality and high value, and they have strongly negative reactions if something breaks or goes wrong. They avoid debt and try to keep risks low.

They avoid debt and try to keep risks low. They do research before making purchases. They look at online reviews, they check with friends, they ask about companies and products on social media. They expect good quality, high value, and have strongly negative reactions if something breaks or goes wrong.

Customized Products and Service

GenZ seeks individuality and being able to make something “theirs”, so they look for the ability to customize or personalize what they get. They want to have options from which to choose and to have the feeling that what they are getting was specialized just for them.

They want interactivity and responsiveness from their businesses. They expect a business to be loyal to them, as the customer; if they don’t sense that, they won’t have loyalty to the business and will move on. As the first generation that has grown up connected, they are well aware there are always other options if they are unhappy.

Speed

GenZ is used to quick gratification – remember the ‘one click away to something better’ mindset? They expect things to be delivered quickly and promptly. They are very impatient with lateness or delays.

They put a very high value on being able to find what they want quickly and easily. If one business’ website is difficult to navigate, slow to load, or has a complicated checkout process, they’ll just go to a different one.

GenZ has many things in common with the generation that grew up in the Great Depression, but with a highly individualistic, high-tech twist. Businesses need to be able to meet the unique needs of the up and coming generation of customers.

 

8 Reasons to choose Alpine Specialty Cleaning

There are more than 8 reasons to use Alpine Specialty Cleaning, but below, we have put together 8 reasons for you to consider Alpine. When choosing any cleaning service, you should consider these variables.

  1. Certified through NADCA, IICRC, and ARCSI.
  2. A continuous A rating from Angie’s List Super Service Awards since 2005.
  3. An A+ Rating with the BBB.
  4. More 5-Star Reviews on Google and Customer Lobby than any other service company.
  5. A local family owned company with experience since 1969.
  6. The only company to offer a private concierge specialist.
  7. Committed to a safe environment by using safe, non-toxic natural cleaning products in homes and workplaces.
  8. Committed to supporting their local community and charities.

Alpine Specialty Cleaning has a sincere commitment to their clients and their community. With all these reasons to use them, why would you consider anyone else? There are plenty of cleaning services out there but most are not certified and recommended by so many.

When you aren’t sure what areas to tackle first, consider Alpine Specialty Cleaning’s private concierge specialist. Their knowledge will help you conquer your clutter and get the job done. Do it all at once or do it a little at a time. Their specialist will design a cleaning plan that fits your needs and your budget.

To view a live feed of customer testimonials, click here. There is nothing better than hearing what real customers have to say about a company.

There is no better time than now to pick up your phone and call Alpine today for a one on one conversation about your cleaning needs.

Do It Yourself Home Cleaning Tips

Looking for a safe eco-friendly way to clean your home and save some money while doing it? On this article, we’ll be sharing six of the best cleaning tips for the home that will help you clean smarter not harder. These tips will help you have a clean toxin-free home while keeping money in your pocket. These are items that you can find in your kitchen and can be used to efficiently clean your home.

Vinegar

One of the best things to have in your home at all time is Vinegar. This is the most versatile product in the market. This is something that should be in the pantry at all times and it’s inexpensive. You can use vinegar to naturally disinfect surfaces, clean toilets, floors, clean coffee pots, steam clean the microwave, & even restore used paint brushes!

Arm & Hammer

A great way to go green is by switching out your laundry detergent for Arm & Hammer’s washing soda. Like all their products it is Phosphate and fragrance free which is a huge plus! Not only will this help you clean more eco friendly it will help you save money. This is another miracle product that you can also use to clean sinks, bathtubs, grout, and even stainless steel. Yes, I said stainless steel!

Micro Fiber rags

These are great for wiping down surfaces! And the best part about them is that they are reusable. No more unnecessary money on paper towels. Some places even carry rags that are resistant to bacteria. All you have to do to reuse them is to get them into the washer.

Air flow

You always want to keep a good flow of air coming and going throughout your house. Poor air quality leads to dust build up and toxins in the air.

Make your own cleaners

A really good way to make your house cleaning more eco-friendly is to make your own cleaners with everyday things find in your kitchen! Products like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, dish soap, and washing soda will give you great cleaners such as:

Multi-surface cleaner: Empty spray bottle with a 1:1 ratio of water and apple cider vinegar then add a couple drops of pure lemon juice.

Window cleaner: Empty spray bottle filled with water, 1 drop of dish soap (I use Ajax), & 1 tbsp. Of apple cider vinegar.

Floor cleaner: One and a half gallons of water in a bucket, half a cup of vinegar, lavender essential oil.

A lot of eco-friendly moms use these three cleaners all the time, but you can make any cleaner you wish. You could also add essential oils for different scents and smells.

Laundry sponges

We love sharing this tip with people, we think it’s so cool. And it saves you a ton of money on dryer sheets. Buy a pack of four sponges, soak them in halfway in warm water (You want an index card container for this) and a half of a cup of any fabric softener and boom you’re good to go. No seriously, that’s all there is to it! Every time you need a “dryer sheet” grab a sponge out of the water, squeeze it out really good and throw it in the dyer.

What Are the Most Common Health Concerns Caused By Dirty Ductwork?

Indoor air pollution isn’t just what the outside air brings into the home through open doors and windows. The air inside your home or office includes the daily, monthly, and even annual build-up of dirt, airborne bacteria, and broken down debris from every facet of activity within a given building. Indoor air pollution tends to build up in air ducts, on air filters, and all throughout a ventilation system, which is why it’s so critical to regularly clean your air ducts and replace or clean air filters as necessary.

What respiratory problems and other health concerns can be caused by a dirty ventilation system?

  • Allergies: One of the clearest effect of dirty air duct or air filters is an increase in allergies. Dust and mold spores can build up and spread throughout the entirety of a building, and these hazard can increase give it a greater number of people pet and exposure to the elements outside.
  • Respiratory Infections: Viruses and bacteria can easily spread throughout the air even without direct person to person or hand-to-hand contact. Once these germs enter the ventilation system, they can easily grow and spread due to the dark, warm, and generally undisturbed environment. Mold often likes to grow directly on air filters, especially in damp environment near leaks or moist air. This buildup can lead to it penetrating the air filter or being recycled into the air, making respiratory infections are more common and harder to remove the root cause of.
  • Sinus Infections: Even if indoor air pollution is more dirt and debris than it is viruses and bacteria, the buildup of motes and obstructions in the air will come into contact with your nasal passages every time you breathe. This dirt and debris can inflame your sinuses which can lead to an infection even with the most benign of air particles. Having indoor air pollution of any sort can always increase complications with sensitive sinuses.

Whether you’re sensitive to allergies and sinus infections or simply want to breathe clean air in your home or office, regular cleaning of your air filters and ductwork is essential. Please contact us if you have any questions about the best way to make sure that your air is clean or want to learn more about our air duct cleaning process.

A Healthier Life: The Use of Plant Based Cleaners in the Home

Plant based cleaners are becoming increasingly popular for house cleaning, and for good reason! Whether you’ve transitioned your home to a green-clean home or not, it’s worth knowing that not all plant-based cleaners were created equally. In fact, some still contain harsh and irritating chemicals like alcohol and fake fragrances.

 

At  Alpine Specialty Cleaning  we use Better Life cleaning products, and we’d like to show you why that’s important and what it means for you.

 

Environmental pollution

Green cleaners for house cleaning are safer for the environment as less toxic chemicals end up in landfills, soil, and drinking water for animals. However, even some green cleaners are not biodegradable, safe for marine life, or safe for wildlife – which almost defeats the purpose of green products. Better Life is not only biodegradable and safe for wild and marine life; it’s also packaged using recycled materials that are manufactured using mainly solar power.

 

Dyes, fragrances, and additives

Many green cleaners still use additives that are found in traditional cleaners such as alcohol, dyes, artificial fragrances, sulfates, or other chemicals that may not only be damaging to your respiratory system but are also toxic. This could be dangerous for you, your family, pets, and wildlife. Better Life does not contain any of the ingredients above and is non-toxic for everyone in (and out) of your home.

 

Animal testing

Some green products still test on animals, which is counterintuitive to how one usually thinks of green products. Better Life never tests on animals – so you can rest assured that no animals were harmed for the sake of a clean house.

 

Safer for you and your family

Not only are the Better Life products that we use safe for the environment, animals, and the Earth – they’re also safe for you and your family.

 

Want to find out more about our process? Get in touch with Alpine Specialty Cleaning today to see how we can make your home a healthier, cleaner, and greener place to be.

 

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.

Germiest spots in the kitchen

Signs of spring are showing up in the Pacific Northwest and it has us thinking about some pic girl surgical maskspring cleaning. Thrive Market recently posted a blog piece on how filthy the average refrigerator is and it is worth a quick read (click here). They pointed out that the produce drawer is incredibly germ-laden (as in worse than a toilet seat) and that those germs can get into your food. Their article got us thinking about additional kitchen germ hot spots that are often missed and we have listed them here along with some cleaning suggestions. Be sure to remember these spots in your spring cleaning routine, and once you see how easy they are, keep them up year round to keep the germ count down in the kitchen.

Light switches– one of the dirtiest places in the home because of frequent use. At least once a week, wipe them down with a paper towel sprayed in household cleaner or rubbing alcohol.   In addition, stove knobs, cupboard and drawer handles and microwave buttons would benefit from a quick wipe down.

Kitchen Sink- a real hotspot in the kitchen full of germs from meal prep, hand and produce washing, rinsing chicken, etc. The sink should be cleaned nightly with a green household cleaner and don’t forget the faucet, handle and sprayer. If some scouring is necessary, baking soda works well.

Sponges and Dishcloths– these hold a ton of germs and should be frequently washed or replaced. Microwaving wet sponges and dishcloths on high for 30 seconds kills most bacteria. Dish scrubbing brushes also require daily cleaning and can be run through the dishwasher. Dishtowels also hold a large number of germs, especially if they are being used to dry hands. Dishtowels should be changed frequently and household members should be encouraged to dry their hands on paper towels instead.

Countertops- these hold quite a few germs, especially when you consider how many miscellaneous items are placed on them (grocery bags, food, dirty backpacks and handbags, etc. Click here to see how dirty your handbags and backpacks really are!). Additionally, if counters are being wiped down with a dirty dishcloth or rag, they can be really nasty. Be sure to clean regularly with a green household cleaner and always with a clean rag or paper towels.

 Garbage Can- even if you use a bag in your can, meat juices, food, etc. can build up. Weekly, take the garbage can outside and hose it down. Fill partially with vinegar and water and scrub it down. Allow it to soak for 20-30 minutes to disinfect. Rinse and allow to dry completely before bringing it back inside.

 Cutting Boards- experts usually agree that meats, seafood and poultry should be cut on a separate cutting board from produce to avoid cross contamination. Clean cutting boards with hot soapy water and let air dry completely. Plastic boards can usually go through the dishwasher.

 Blender gasket– any appliances that should be disassembled to be properly cleaned can harbor germs if they aren’t cleaned correctly. If your blender is dishwasher safe, put the blender, blade and gasket in the dishwasher after each use.   Otherwise use hot soapy water on the disassembled items and dry completely before reassembling and using. For those that use a Vitamix, cleaning instructions are available here.

Reusable Grocery Bags- these carry loads of germs! USA Today reported on a study that found 99% of reusable bags had bacteria, about half with coliform bacteria and some with E. coli indicating fecal contamination. The report also mentioned that a Norovirus outbreak amongst a soccer team in Oregon was traced to a reusable shopping bag. It is recommended that reusable bags go through the washing machine at least weekly.

 Can Opener- these can carry germs from our hands and from the various foods in which they come into contact. If appropriate, run through the dishwasher after each use. If washing be hand, pay special attention to the blade and be sure to use hot soapy water. Dry thoroughly.

 Food storage containers– these should be thoroughly cleaned after each use to avoid mold and yeast. Wash in the dishwasher, or if washing by hand, pay careful attention to the grooves in the lid and the seal.

Salt and Pepper Shakers- these can harbor bacteria and viruses, including the common cold, and should be frequently wiped down with a green household cleaner or rubbing alcohol.

Fridge Ice and Water Dispenser- these have been found to hold some nasty germs. For regular day-to-day cleaning, wipe down the buttons and housing with rubbing alcohol or household cleaner. For a deeper clean that is recommended monthly, ehow.com offers instructions to clean the germs out of the tubing here.

Knife block- these hold a number of germs that are transferred from knives and dirty hands. Monthly, remove all of the knives and turn the block upside down to shake out debris. The block can be washed in hot soapy water. Also, diluted hydrogen peroxide can be used to sanitize the block. Ensure that the cleaning solution is in contact with the knife slots for one minute, then rinse thoroughly and dry upside down. Ensure that knives are clean and completely dry before being placed in the block.

Pet Food Bowls- these should be washed daily in the dishwasher, or by hand in very hot soapy water. They can be disinfected weekly by soaking in vinegar. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry.

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.