Ways to Stay Ahead of Your Home’s Indoor Allergens

woman with kleenex dealing with indoor allergiesIndoor allergies. You don’t want people avoiding your home because a simple visit makes them sneeze (and wheeze and deal with a runny nose and…). You certainly don’t want to live in a home that brings out your worst allergy symptoms. The good news is you don’t have to (and you can make sure that your guests don’t experience indoor allergy symptoms in your house either) if you follow these tips that keep you ahead of the allergens that invade your home.

Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.

Whether you have carpet or hard floor, a regular vacuuming can remove the allergens from your home especially if you have the right vacuum cleaner. Choose a vacuum with a HEPA filter or a double bag to ensure that you can contain the allergens (other tips for choosing the right vacuum here). If you experience any symptoms while vacuuming, try wearing a mask so you can rid your home of allergens without having an allergy attack.

Deep clean your carpets.

To completely remove allergens, take the next step. Schedule a professional carpet cleaning to remove all the allergens that could get trapped deep in the carpet fibers. A professional carpet cleaning not only removes visible stains but also gets the allergens that trigger your allergies.

Have your ducts cleaned.

When the temperatures drop, we spend more and more time indoors. As we sit in our home, indoor allergens like dust mites, pet dander, and mold circulate in the air around us every time the furnace or air conditioner runs. To get the indoor allergies out of your air and your home, schedule a professional duct cleaning that can remove the allergens from your vents.

Get a better furnace filter.

Allergens enter your home on your clothes every day (including pet dander, which has been found even in pet-free homes). Furnace filters are your next line of defense; furnace filters catch allergens that circulate through your HVAC system every day—if you use a furnace filter with a strong Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). Filters with a high Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV) do not allow finer particles to pass, effectively removing allergens from the air. Be careful about buying a filter with a high MERV though; filters with high MERVs (the max is 16) can put too much pressure on your furnace fan and possibly damage your furnace. If you are considering a filter with a high MERV, make sure to consult a HVAC technician to make adjustments that can accommodate a high MERV filter.

Monitor your home’s humidity.

An excessive air moisture level in your home can breed mold, mildew, and dust mites. Keep an eye on your home’s humidity level with a monitor. If the moisture level is high, use dehumidifiers to keep the humidity level below 50 percent—and keep indoor allergens at bay.

Thanksgiving Home Cleaning: Where to Start So You’re Ready for Guests

Thanksgiving table place setting after a full Thanksgiving cleanYour guests are coming! Before you know it, it’ll be Thanksgiving and all your friends and family are going to converge on your home. The clock is ticking! Use these tips to get your cleaning started so your home is ready BEFORE your guests walk in the door.

Start at the top.

If you don’t want to keep cleaning and re-cleaning, start your Thanksgiving cleaning by looking up. Dust off fans and the tops of cabinets. Wipe off the top of your appliances and vacuum out any spider webs that are hanging out on your ceiling or in corners. Clear out any bugs from the light fixtures or globes and wash them down so your holiday is bright.

Clean off the counters.

A lit bit of work now can save you a lot of work later. Start by cleaning off your counters—every counter—in your kitchens and bathrooms. Clear away any items you don’t need and wipe down every counter in your kitchen and bathroom now, so you don’t have to later.

Clear out the clutter.

If you have anything you’ve been meaning to get out of your house, now is the time to do it. Donate items you don’t need or haven’t used to local charities. Clean out those items now so you can clean under them, vacuum, and mop as you get ready for Thanksgiving.

Schedule a carpet cleaning.

Don’t try to clean up all your carpet stains at the last minute—as in, when your guests are walking through the door. Instead, schedule a deep carpet clean that removes all the stains well in advance and leaves your carpet looking great.

Make a list and stick to it.

So you don’t have to do a last minute frantic cleaning, take our Thanksgiving checklist and break it into daily checklists. Try to tackle a few tasks every day, such as cleaning out your microwave and oven one day and dusting your cabinets another day. And to make your guests as happy with your Thanksgiving meal as your clean home, prepare as many dishes in advance as you can. As with cleaning, advance work makes for a happy (or at least stress-free) Thanksgiving celebration.

Ways to Keep Your Carpet Looking Great

bedroom with new carpet and fresh home decor ideasKeeping your carpets looking great isn’t a great mystery of the universe, but it is an effort worth taking on. After all, your carpets take all the foot (and paw) traffic you throw at it—and it’s entirely possible to keep them in tip-top shape with some easy care steps.

Don’t wait to tackle those stains.

Unfortunately, soda spills, pet accidents, and the occasional muddy footprint are a part of carpet ownership. When these accidental spills happen, don’t wait to start mopping up the spill. Note the catch: mopping, not scrubbing. Too much elbow grease can damage your carpet fibers, so make sure to mop up the spill fluid first. Use a quality carpet cleaner that won’t void the warranty (you can find a manufacturer-approved cleaner at your local flooring store).

Deep clean your carpets.

Carpet fibers can trap dirt and allergens over time. For the good of your carpet and allergies, schedule a professional carpet cleaning biannually. As tempting as it might be to rent a cleaner from a local hardware store, be wary of those dime store cleaners. Those carpet cleaners get used repeatedly, recycling the dirt and allergens that are picked up at every home. A professional carpet cleaner can remove stains and keep your carpet looking great.

Be strategic about your rugs.

If you want to keep your carpets clean and spot-free, stop the dirt before it gets in the door. Place mats and rugs by all the doors, in hallways, and areas where people enter your home. Train your pets to stop at the doors, and stay so you can clean their paws before they track in mud and dirt.

Vacuum with a GOOD vacuum cleaner.

A good vacuuming is a key part of keeping your carpet in top shape, but vacuuming can damage your carpet if you use the wrong machine. Vacuum cleaners that are too powerful can damage your carpet fibers and void the carpet warranty. Use these tips so you choose the right vacuum cleaners for your carpet (and your allergies).

Be selective.

One of the easiest ways to keep your carpet in top notch condition is to select the right carpeting for the room. Certain carpets are made for different conditions, such as for homes with pets or high-traffic areas. Use these tips to choose the right carpet for high-traffic areas and ask the experts at your local flooring store for carpets that have held up well in other local homes.

Can my carpet be saved?

damaged carpet with ripsStains, rips, tears, flooding…a million things can damage carpeting. Before you write off your carpet, find out if your carpet can be saved and repaired.

Stains

Pet accidents, spilled drinks, nail polish spills…our carpet cleaner even removed spilled paint from an area rug. There are cases where stains can be removed from carpet (like they never happened!), especially if the stain is professionally cleaned soon after the carpet is stained. Time is of the essence; make sure you contact a professional cleaner soon after the spill happens.

When the spill does occur, don’t scrub the stain. Instead, sop up the cause of the stain (i.e. pet urine, drink, etc.). If there is a lot of moisture, use a wet/dry vac to clean up the fluid. Blot as you clean up the stain. Don’t scrub, which can damage the carpet fibers (and you are trying to save the carpet). Be careful about the stain remover you use on the carpet; some carpet cleaners can discolor carpet fibers. Test the carpet cleaner in a corner or under a piece of furniture to make sure the cleaner won’t damage the carpet. You can also ask your local carpet store for recommendation for a “safe” and effective carpet cleaner that won’t void your warranty.

Rips

carpet remnants available for sale at a discounted priceHave a ripped or torn carpet? There is hope. If you have a remnant of your carpet, it can be used to repair and replace the damaged carpet. Your carpet store may be able to get more carpet for the fix as well (and repair the carpet as well-just contact them about your carpet repair).

If the damage is near a threshold and you can’t get a piece for replacement, a local carpet repair store may be able to make it look like the damage never happened (and for a fraction of the cost of new carpet!). When a piece of replacement carpet isn’t available and you want to stay on budget, the carpet can be replaced with a remnant. A remnant is carpet that is left on a roll sold for a discounted price. Because there is only a limited amount, remnants work best in smaller rooms or in a single room (find out by measuring your room and asking how much is available on the remnant).

Flooded

There are a lot of thoughts that run through your head when your home is flooded. “What can I save?” is inevitably one of them. The good news is that your carpet may be one of the items you can salvage from the mess. Call in the experts to pump the water out (from your basement and your carpeting) and use dehumidifiers to dry out the carpet (after the water is pumped out). Usually, a flooded carpet can be used again—unless there is sewage in the flooded water.

Fall Cleaning & Home Maintenance Checklist

Couple raking up lawn autumn leavesThe trees are starting to change color, apple orchards are opening, kids are heading back to school. As much as we all want to deny that the next season is on its way (winter!), it’s also the right time to tackle fall cleaning and home maintenance BEFORE the snow flies. We’ve compiled a full checklist of fall cleaning and home maintenance checklist that you can use to get your cleaning started—and finished—before the first snow flake falls.

Exterior

___Pressure wash siding.

___Clean sidewalks.

___Inspect roof.

___Clean gutters.

___Pressure wash deck.

___Wash windows.

___Clean air conditioner (and prune branches around the conditioner).

Every room

___Remove spider webs.

___Schedule a duct cleaning.

___Clean air return covers.

___Dust and wash light fixtures.

___Clean windows.

___Wipe and vacuum the tracks, screens, and interior parts of windows.

___Dust trim and crown moldings.

___Schedule a professional carpets clean.

___Clean blinds and curtains.

___Shake out all rugs.

___Have your area rugs professionally cleaned.

___Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Kitchen

___Clean the top of cabinets.

___Wash the top & front of your refrigerator.

___Clean shelves in your refrigerator.

___Clean and vacuum behind the refrigerator.

___Wipe down your vent hood and clean any screens.

___Clean the backsplash.

___Wash your kitchen walls.

___Wipe down exterior of appliances.

___Wipe down and vacuum behind your stove.

___Deep clean your oven.

___Mop the floors.

___Clean grout (if you have tile floors).

Bathroom

___Clean light fixtures and bathroom fans.

___Scrub tile grout around shower and on floor.

___Wash the walls.

___Deep clean bathroom floors.

___Clean behind toilet.

Bedroom

___Wash all bed linens.

___Flip mattress.

___Dust bed frame and all furniture.

___Vacuum behind furniture.

___Schedule carpet cleaning.

___Mop hardwood floors (tips on how here).

Floor Cleaning Tips that Ready Your Home for Sale

living room carpetHome sellers, it’s no secret that your home needs to be cleaner than ever when you’re trying to sell. Also not surprising is that those potential home buyers touring your home start their scan under their feet: your floors. What they see is up to you: your floors can be a sign of how well you take of your home OR a red flag that leads your potential buyers to make a low-ball offer. That’s why you need to take these floor cleaning tips to heart as you ready your home (especially your floors!) for sale.

Get any old stains (and smells) out of carpet.

A carpet full of old stains and odors can be one of the biggest reasons a potential buyer puts in a lower offer. After all, if a carpet is full of stains it needs to be replaced, right? Not necessarily. If your carpet has old stains, you still may be able to get those stains and residual odors out (use our carpet stain guide to help). As a last resort, a professional carpet cleaner may be able to tackle stains you can’t, as well as get odors out that can detract potential buyers.

Be careful about floor cleaners.

When cleaning your floors, be cautious. Test any cleaners you use in any unused area to make sure the cleaner doesn’t discolor the carpet.

Deep clean your floors.

Don’t stop with carpet stains. Deep clean every floor in your home (or schedule a deep cleaning) to make them look the best for future showings. After the deep clean, place rugs by all your exterior doors to catch any grit, dirt, or water potential buyers may track in (or ask them to leave their shoes by the door).

Repair any issues.

If your home’s flooring has any issues, now is the time to repair them. Contact local flooring experts to repair any cracks, squeaks, or damage so your home looks ready to move in.

Don’t leave standing water on floors.

As you prep your home for market, make sure you don’t leave standing waters on your floors when you clean. Puddles can damage wood and laminate floors, and a very wet carpet can cause odors—all of which can be huge detractors to potential home buyers.

Carpet stains: Tips that Get Every Kind of Stain Out

woman holding tea cup and tablet while sitting on the carpet at home just before spilling on carpetPet accidents. Wine spills. Splashed beer. Dropped fruit juice. Dropped coffee. Nail polish. Our carpet cleaner once had to respond to a desperate homeowner who spilled paint on her brand new area rug. There are a lot of “oops!” that can lead to a carpet stain, and a few key tips that can make that stain a distant memory.

Test FIRST

Don’t assume that a cleaner made with household ingredients or a common cleaner from the store is going to take out the spot without damaging your carpet. Always find a spot in a closet or under a major piece of furniture where you can test the cleaning solution to make sure it doesn’t discolor or damage the carpet.

Don’t wait

Time is of the essence when it comes to carpet stains. Don’t wait to go after the stain. As soon as you see there is a spot on the floor, organize your cleaners and rag and go after that nasty stain.

Remove the cause

Before you spray any cleaner, wipe up any fluid (pet urine, beer, fruit juice, etc.). Absorb the fluid from the carpet with a paper towel or rag. If there is a lot of moisture, use a wet/dry vac to clean up the fluid.

Be careful what cleaner you use

Any cleaner—even a household solution—can damage your carpet and have another unforeseen impact: void the warranty. When your carpet is new(er), use an approved cleaner specified by your carpet manufacturer (if you don’t know what cleaners are approved, contact your local flooring store).

Blot, don’t scrub

As tempting as it might be to scrub as hard as possible, don’t use too much elbow grease to clean the stain. Scrubbing can damage the carpet fibers; instead, apply the cleaner and blot at the stain until the carpet is clean. If the source of the stain is pet urine, spray the stain with a mixture of two tablespoons of white vinegar and one quart of water to eliminate the odor.

Use a deep clean if all else doesn’t work

If you still can’t get the stain out, contact a carpet cleaner with professional equipment and expertise that can take care of the carpet stain. A professional deep cleaning service may be able to take care of the problem, so don’t hesitate to call them as soon as you can after your “oops!” occurred.

Back-to-School Organization Tips: Make this School Year the Best Ever

back to school home projectsOur social media newsfeeds are filling up with pictures of back-to-schoolers with big smiles and backpacks. Behind the cameras are the parents, and you can almost see their ear-to-ear grins as their kids head back for their (hopefully) great first days of school.

The truth is that every good school day starts with a little behind-the-scene effort: a clean and organized home. Here’s how to get your home organized and cleaned for a smooth-running school year that’ll keep the smiles on every member of your family’s faces.

Mudroom

Your mudroom is the first line of defense, so concentrate your cleaning and organization in this key room. Deep clean your floors and place mats in key locations to keep the dirt and grime off your floors. Set up an area for everyone to take off their shoes (your inside floors are going to thank you!) and an area for backpacks, jackets, sports and winter gear. Use hooks, shelves, and benches.

Kitchen

While a kitchen may not be an obvious part of the school day, it is the site of many lunch-packing. Clean down your school lunch prep area, and reorganize your cabinets and pantry so you have adequate storage and easy access to your kids’ favorite school lunch items. Clean your floors (use these floor cleaning tips) or schedule a floor cleaning to make sure your kitchen is ready for many delicious school lunch preps.

Bedrooms

While your kids’ rooms may not always be clean, that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to make sure it is clean and organized for the school year. Have the carpets cleaned so the room is clean from the ground up (and allergen-free for a healthy year). If your kids do have allergies, consider having the ducts cleaned so to minimize allergens circulated throughout your home. Organize the closet and remove any clothes that don’t fit (it’ll help so they don’t have to change and change their clothes again).

Bathroom

Make sure your bathroom is clean and ready for many smooth morning routines. Organize the drawers and make sure that items your kid use in the morning are easy-to-access. If your kids change in the bathroom, make sure there is an area where they can lay out their clothes for a quick out-the-door every morning.

Homework area

Get your kids ready for many nights of homework. Make sure the area your kids work at is well-stocked, organized, and cleaned. Clean the floors, surface, and chair so your kids can focus—and, hopefully, can tackle their homework distraction-free (and even with a smile?).

All Your Questions about Carpet Answered

living room carpetCarpet may not be the most complex part of your home, but it is a big investment and a key part of your décor. That’s why we’ve put together a list of common questions we hear about carpet and the answers you need to choose the right one and keep it looking right.

How can I extend the life of my carpet?

Take proactive steps to keep the dirt out. Place mats by every exterior door to catch any dirt or gravel that could get tracked in. Train your pets to stop at the door so you can clean off their paws. Ask your family and any guests to take off their shoes before they come in—and give them a nice area to do so.

Vacuum regularly. A regular vacuum is a simple maintenance step that can keep your carpet looking like new.

Don’t scrub too hard. Using too much elbow grease cleaning up a stain can damage carpet fibers and do permanent damage to your carpet. Instead of hard scrubbing, blot the carpet and gently scrub in circles to get the stain out.

Schedule a regular carpet cleaning. A professional carpet clean removes stains, allergens, and keeps your carpet looking great. The amount of carpet cleanings depends on the carpet; if you don’t want to void the warranty, talk to your carpet installer about the number of cleanings needed in case there is a problem. The number of carpet cleanings can also depend on the traffic; a high-traffic area may need more cleanings than a low-traffic area.

How can I save money on new carpet?

carpet remnants for sale at a discountCarpet remnants. Carpet remnants are the remaining part of a carpet roll, usually sold for a discounted roll. Depending on the roll, you may be limited with the amount available for purchase but carpet remnants are ideal for one room or a smaller room (i.e. office, small bedroom, etc.)

Sales. Watch for sales on carpet at your local carpet retailer, but make sure the store offers quality products and installation.

Carpet pad savings. A quality carpet pad is worth its weight in gold, so don’t skimp and purchase a cheaper pad. However, if the carpet pad under your last carpet is still in good shape, you may be able to use it again and save on a new carpet pad.

Can my carpet pad be reused?

Maybe, but only if the carpet pad is high quality and newer. If your carpet pad is older and in bad shape, you may not be able to reuse it. A quality carpet pad usually lasts longer, but at some point all carpet pads break down and cannot be reused. In addition, remember that you cannot remove any odors from your carpet pads so they may need to be removed for a fresh new pad.

What should I look for when buying carpet for my high traffic room?

If your carpet is in a high-traffic area, there is a definite list of ‘musts’ that go with your purchase. Buying the wrong carpet is a costly mistake; the wrong carpet needs to be replaced prematurely because of stains, wearing, and damage.

Durable

A heavy traffic room is susceptible to everything: muddy foot and paw prints, food spills, and all the other damage that comes with frequent foot and paw traffic. To keep your carpets looking new, ask about carpets with durability options, such as waterproof or stain resistant carpets. Every carpet has different features; there are carpets with waterproof pads that keep spills from seeping through, air freshening technology that cleans the air, and stain resistant fibers that make clean-up easy.

Color

Darker-colored or variegated carpets can often hide stains that come from frequent paw and foot traffic. For a room with frequent foot and paw traffic, a darker-colored carpet can hide stains and wear from a busy household.

Easy to clean

Long-term foresight is what keeps your carpet looking great. Choose a carpet that is easy-to-clean and maintain over the life of the carpet; regular vacuuming and carpet cleaning are the key to the lifespan and aesthetics of your carpet. If the kind of carpet won’t make that maintenance easy, ask the experts to recommend a carpet that is easy to clean as long as you own it.

What kind of vacuum works best?

Buying a new vacuum may not seem like a life-altering purchase, but purchasing the wrong vacuum cleaner can have serious consequences for you and your floor. Buying the wrong vacuum cleaner can damage your floors (i.e. carpet fiber damage, laminate or vinyl scratches, etc.) and void your warranty.

To avoid having any warranty issues, use our list of flooring manufacturers’ websites to find out what they recommend. Make sure you schedule a professional floor cleaning to keep up with maintenance.

Beyond warranty, also consider the logistics of your home. If you have stairs, you may want to invest in two vacuum cleaners or purchase a lightweight model. For larger homes, look at vacuum cleaners with a battery pack so you don’t have to deal with having to plug and unplug cords.

If you or a family member has a respiratory condition or allergies, add allergy-friendly to your list of considerations. Look for a vacuum with a HEPA filter so dust is not released into the air. Bagless vacuum cleaners offer cleaning without the hassle of a bag, while vacuum cleaners with bags allow for easy disposal (depending on the vacuum model) that won’t trigger your allergy or respiratory issues.  In addition, do your research to determine whether the filters are replaceable or reusable; if the filters are replaceable, you need to buy additional filters which add to the overall cost of the machine.

Can carpets be recycled?

Yes! As an added bonus, it’s easy to do if you live in Dodge or Jefferson County in Wisconsin. Just stop in at our Watertown store and ask us where to take your old carpets or contact us for more information.

Pet Owners: Keep Your Carpets Looking New

boys with dog on carpet choosing right pet-friendly floorIt IS possible to have pets and nice carpeting in the same house. (Really!) We’re not going to lie to you, though: it can feel like a losing battle with your cat or dog—unless you take these tips to heart.

Start at the door.

It’s the first line of defense against dirt, mud, gravel, and water: install hard floors (i.e. tile, laminate, vinyl) and mats by all your doors. Train your dog or cat to “pawse” before they come in so you can clean off their paws.

Keep their nails away from your carpet.

It’s a natural instinct for our feline friends that can do a lot of damage to our carpet: the urge to scratch. Buy a scratching pad to deter your cat or kitten from using your carpets to satisfy their instinct. Encourage them to use it with cat nip and some gentle prodding. You can also clip their nails to prevent damage or purchase nail guards which keep your carpet and their sharp nails a safe distance away from each other.

Dogs aren’t immune to this problem either; long nails can be damaging to their health and your carpet. Make sure you regularly trim their nails or take them to local groomer to keep their nails low and your carpet damage-free.

Restrict their access to your carpets.

If you have a puppy or dog that loooooves to chew or is still in the middle of house training, you can also consider keeping them off your carpets when you are not around (and monitor them closely when you are). Use crate training or pet gates to keep your canine away from your carpet until they can be trusted on your carpet.

Research your carpet cleaning products.

Unfortunately, it’s inevitable that your favorite furry friend is going to leave their mark on your carpet (they’ve already left their mark on your heart, right?). Your natural urge is to grab the cheapest can of spot remover to do the job. Resist the urge! Instead, talk to the experts about a carpet cleaner that doesn’t void your warranty or affect your pet’s health when they relax on your carpeting. When you find the perfect cleaner, don’t scrub the spot. Too much elbow grease can actually damage the fiber in your carpet. Instead, don’t soak the carpet with cleaner and scrub in gentle circles so the stain is a distant memory.

Carpet clean regularly.

A bi-annual or annual carpet deep clean can do wonders for how your carpet looks. It can also help you avoid any warranty issues and remove allergens and any residual odors (such as the smell of urine that could make your pet a repeat offender). Schedule a professional carpet clean, which can give your carpet a deep clean that’ll make your guests wonder if your pet still lives there.