Urine, Vomit, and Bodily Fluids

Whether its pets, children, or you, bodily fluids do end up on carpets. These can be very problematic as they happen to be very good at staining for many reasons that I won’t get into. Suffice it to say that they can permanently discolor a carpet. However, almost all can be treated the same way.

The Solution: Have you ever heard the old saying “The solution to pollution is dilution”? Whether or not it’s true for the environment, it is true for carpets and we’ll get to that in a moment. Also, it is important to get to these spills FAST. The longer these spills sit the more likely it is that a stain will set.

Step 1) You need to wick up as much of the “spill” as possible with a crummy old towel. Try not to rub the offending spill in while you’re doing this. You want to blot. Put this towel in the wash machine to clean afterward.

Step 2) Dampen another towel significantly with cold water. Use the water in the towel to wick up more of the spill while diluting it and continue doing this until the spill begins to fade. Don’t create a deluge that would be the equivalent to dumping buckets on your floor.

*Warning: Water can damage natural carpet fibers so this step is ONLY for Nylon or other petroleum based carpets (95% of the carpets on the market); NOT for Silk, Cotton, or Wool! Natural fibers will likely need a professional. 

Step 3) Fold the damp towel you have been using so that a clean side is facing out and apply a small amount of Dawn Dish Soap (the greatest, non-professional, carpet detergent on the market) to the clean side of the damp towel. Then, with a back and forth motion clean the spot. Get as much of the soap residue out as possible. Do NOT use any specialty carpet cleaning chemicals. It is my experience that the majority of these, if not used properly, can set stains or leave bleach spots on carpet. Dawn Dish Soap won’t, just be sure to rinse out as much as possible.

Step 4) Place a dry towel on the damp carpet and stand on it to wick out as much of the water as possible, not just from the carpet, but likely the pad below. Drying the carpet as thoroughly as possible is important. If the spot still remains, you will need to call a professional. 

For answers to any questions on this or to schedule a carpet cleaning in Reno, Sparks,Carson City, or Incline Village, give Sterling Carpet Care a call at (775) 525-4109 or visit our Contact Us page. Also, remember that we can clean upholstery, tile, and automotive.

Graying of Carpet in Hallways, and Any Traffic Lane

I'd like to discuss frustrating issues that some of you may have with your carpets and some handy tips that I think may help deal with them. First up: Traffic Lanes

It isn’t just soiling or staining that makes carpets begin to discolor. Wear, especially repeated wear in certain areas, can begin to damage the fibers which make up your carpet. Repeated wear is especially bad in areas that are natural choke points in your home, such as hallways and stairs, as well as places that just see a lot of use, such as in front of chairs and couches. These areas begin to develop gray looking patches which can't come out even with a professional cleaning.

When you walk on your carpet you are crushing down the fibers under your feet. As this is happening, the fibers are rubbing against one another but more specifically against anything which may also be present (e.g. grit, sand, dust, etc). These coarse materials can chip away or scratch the carpet fibers, which eventually makes the light which refracts off the carpet change. Imagine a brand new steel frying pan.  Now, scour one side with steel wool. Will both sides appear the same? No, likely not. One side will appear shiny and new, while the other side will appear dull and worn. The steel is the same and both sides are equally clean, but the way the light bounces off each side has changed, thus changing the pan’s appearance. It is the same with carpet, only it can happen slowly. This is why your carpet can be clean as a whistle, but still appear gray in traffic lanes.

The Solution: Vacuuming. Yes, vacuuming can remove a lot of the course materials that will expedite this process. Simply getting into a quick vacuuming routine can add years to your carpet’s life span. You don’t have to get every square inch in every room, but vacuuming the high traffic areas will make a huge difference.  Unfortunately, once this wear occurs there is no way to undo the damage. For this reason, it’s best to try and stay in front of it. Regular carpet cleanings by a professional can help with this.

For answers to any questions on this or to schedule a carpet cleaning in Reno, Sparks,Carson City, or Incline Village, give Sterling Carpet Care a call at (775) 525-4109 or visit our Contact Us page. Also, remember that we can clean upholstery, tile, and automotive.

What is the BEST cleaner to use on your carpets?

...other than the fine gentleman at Sterling Carpet Care, of course.

Stores carry a wide variety of household cleaners for a myriad of needs. It isn't surprising that carpet cleaning chemicals are featured prominently among them. This is why I felt it important to distinguish the best one. First though, we need to be clear on terminology. 

Okay, lets start with the basics. When you are getting your carpet/rug/upholstery cleaned, what you're getting is solid matter extraction (e.g. dirt, dust, food residue, etc.) and maybe some in the "other" category (e.g. makeup, oil, grease,  biological, etc.). Most spots on carpets are due to the presence of some other item that isn't carpet. This is called "soiling" (that will be important to remember). These spots can be removed with the right combination of soaps, heat, water, agitation, and extraction. Yes, even most makeup can come out if the carpet cleaner knows what they're doing.

Stains are entirely different. A stain is caused when a substance alters the color of the material itself. Imagine a clean blue shirt. Now, roll that shirt in the mud. Will it come clean? Yeah, most likely given the right cleaning agents and amount of washing, the shirt will come clean. Of course you knew that because the only issue with the shirt was the presence of dirt, which can be removed leaving the shirt clean and perfect. Alright, now spill bleach on the clean shirt. Will the bleach stain come out? No, and that is because the bleach has caused a change in the shirt's dye. No amount of washing will get that shirt back to the original blue color. The shirt has been ruined and now must be turned into a rag (sigh).

Now that we know the difference between soiled and stained, let's talk about what the best "cleaner" is. None of the top carpet cleaning chemicals are the best. Yes, you read that correctly. Not one of the carpet cleaning chemicals you will find on any store shelf in America is the best at cleaning a soiled carpet. The reason for this is because they aren't meant for cleaning soiled carpets. They are meant for "stain removal", which as we discussed is an entirely different thing. 

Typically, I will go to homes where the owner has been attempting to spot clean small messes of soiling on the carpet using some brand of carpet "stain" remover (Resolve is the most popular).  Unfortunately, the diligence of these home owners is rewarded with catastrophe when the cleaning agent leaves a highly visible bleach spot in the middle of their carpet/rug/chair.  What they didn't understand was that the spot they were attempting to clean was not a stain; it was soiling. Now the carpet has bleach spots all over it and no amount of cleaning will change that.

So, in answer to the question: What is the BEST "cleaner" to use on your carpets? The answer is, in my opinion, a very small amount of Dawn Dish Soap on one side of a damp towel. If you then flip the towel over and just use the non-soapy side to remove any lingering residue, then dry the area using a second towel, you will be able to clean just about any carpet out there. I want to stress that Resolve and other chemicals are solely for stains, and have a high likelihood of causing bleach spots, so use those ONLY as a last resort and NEVER to simply remove soiling. When a stain occurs, bleaching may be one of your only options. However, it is then followed with a rigorous amount of color-match dying which is best left to the professionals and can get very pricey. 

For answers to any questions on this or to schedule a carpet cleaning in Reno, Sparks,Carson City, or Incline Village, give Sterling Carpet Care a call at (775) 525-4109 or visit our Contact Us page. Also, remember that we can clean upholstery, tile, and automotive.

 

Q&A

I recently filled out a questionnaire on my a business. Then I thought, "Hey, this would be good to include on my website!" So here is the Q&A for all you fine folks.

Q: Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?

A: Value. Not only do you get MORE with my service (pre-vacuuming, pre-treatment, rinse agent, and deodorizer) for the same cost that most companies charge for just showing up, you also get experience. I was working in a truck for my father's business when I was 14 years old and put myself through college by working at Stanley Steamer. I have as much experience as most of the older guys and at half the age.

Q:What do you like most about your job?

A: I am my own boss. I worked for a long time being at my boss' beck and call, now I can get time off whenever I need it and can stand on the reputation that I build myself. I may have hours 7 days a week, but I will never miss a school play or recital ever again.

Q:What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?

A: "Will this come out?" The answer is usually "maybe". Honestly, there are some spots that are harder than others, and some materials that are harder to clean than others. Most stains I can either lighten or remove entirely. However, the red Cool-Aid that you spilled and then tried to get out with some non-professional spray cleaner and a Rug Doctor? Yeah, that is most likely set unfortunately...but I'll take a run at it.

Q: If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?

A: There are a lot of bait-and-switch companies out there. They will low bid a job just to get in the door, then let you know just before they start that the price doesn't cover soap or moving any furniture. Before I started my business, I was stunned when I saw this practice and was so appalled that I decided to be extremely upfront with what is offered as a standard clean with my service. There is ZERO bait-and-switch with this company and we stick to quotes, period.

Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

A: Be sure you look at reviews and ask what they provide before they get there. Some cleaners can be sneaky with add-on charges based on...well, anything they can make up. Even some of the top rated companies are guilty of this. A cleaner who has positive reviews across several outlets is likely a good bet, but again be sure you know what they will do and charge for before they get there.

Q: Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.

A: Obviously I do a lot of carpets, but I also do furniture, rugs, tile, and car interiors. I recently even cleaned the interior of a private airplane!

Q: If you have a complicated pricing system for your service, please give all the details here.

A: Pricing depends on two things, 1) the total area that needs to be cleaned, and 2) how long it will take to clean it. The more time/cleaning agents/furniture moving that must be done, the more the cost goes up. However, I will say that my rates are generally lower than most others out there AND you get better quality and experience. Just look at my excellent reviews on Yelp, Google+, and Facebook!

Q: What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?

A: You can get a good price on an add-on (like furniture, rug, additional room, etc.) once I'm there, instead of a call back. That isn't to say you should spring a whole set of furniture or giant area of the house on me, but you can get better rates if you get it all done in one visit rather than several separate ones. So, take a look around and think "Do I want that old recliner cleaned too?"

Q: What are you currently working on improving?

A: I am a small and very new business and am competing with some big national chains, as well as a lot of smaller companies who have little experience and a willingness to promise the moon for work. With this in mind I am trying to reach out and let people know who I am, and how terrific and affordable my service really is. I am trying to illustrate real "Before and After" pictures, not those copied from Google (yes, some local companies actually do this). I want to build a brand people can really trust and look forward to seeing.

Q: What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?

A: A reputable company will have insurance as well as the ability to take all major credit cards. Be sure to ask before they show up.

For answers to any questions on this or to schedule a carpet cleaning in Reno, Sparks,Carson City, or Incline Village, give Sterling Carpet Care a call at (775) 525-4109 or visit our Contact Uspage. Also, remember that we can clean upholstery, tile, and automotive.

Timelines of Success Interview

I was recently interviewed by Bill Conrad for his series on local personalities, politicians, and entrepreneurs. We sat down and discussed who I am, why I started my business, and some of my favorites. Feel free to watch the interview at the Timelines of Success site, or you can also find it on itunes. On a personal note, I am thinner than I appear on the video (sigh).

From archaeologist to entrepreneur, Mark strives to provide expert carpet cleaning services to the Reno, Sparks, and Carson City areas. Please explore the site for the Blog and Gallery of "Before and Afters"
For full details see TimelinesofSuccess.com and NewMediaGold.com

Rug Doctor vs. Truck Mount

Ok, I understand that I am going to come off as biased here, but I'm going to try and approach this subject as objectively as possible. For those who aren't familiar, Rug Doctors are a rental carpet cleaning machine that anyone can find at most big box stores. Now, I know what you're thinking, "You, the small business owner, are simply going to badmouth the product that allows the average person to clean their carpets like a pro for a fraction of the cost. How utterly transparent." To be honest, I have mixed feelings on the product.

First, let's just talk about stats. Rug Doctors use an electric vacuum that has a suction power of around 80cfm (Cubic Feet of air per Minute), assuming that the rental unit you are using hasn't developed any hose cracks or seal leaks. Your standard truck mount moves around  175cfm to over 350cfm. What does this mean? Imagine soaking a sponge with water. Now, try and suck the water out with a straw. Ok, now how much water do you think you would get out with a wet/dry shopvac? The shopvac has far more power and while the sponge may not be completely dry by the end of our little experiment, it will be way closer with the shopvac. This is one of the biggest issues with Rug Doctors or any other plug-in cleaner. They simply don't have the suction power to extract the water and chemicals that they put down. This is why it can take days, yes days, for a carpet to dry after using a Rug Doctor or similar machine. Oh, and all the dirt, water, and chemicals...they stay in your carpet, which is why many carpets feel "crunchy" afterward. Now, that isn't to say that there aren't plug-in cleaners that can do a great job, but they are thousands of dollars and wouldn't be relative to the size of a vacuum cleaner, think a small Zamboni. 

Let's look at heat. To properly clean a carpet, or really most anything, heat is essential. Heat helps excite the molecules which loosens bonds and makes it easier to separate dirt/grease from whatever you are attempting to clean. You wouldn't wash your dishes with cold water, it simply wouldn't work as well. The water a Rug Doctor uses is generally only as hot as you can get from your tap, around 120°, not bad.  The standard truck mount machine can heat water to 220° and above. Yes, above boiling! Not only does this mean that the job can get done faster, it also means that more dirt and grease can be extracted. A truck-mount also has the ability to adjust the temperature up or down, as some materials respond poorly to heat (another reason why a professional may be preferable). While we are on the subject of water, I am also going to address the pressure at which it is applied. Water pressure helps blast soils away from what it is adhered to, or "agitate". Rug Doctor can spray at 125-150 PSI. A truck mount, on the lowest setting, will use pressure at around 300psi, but is capable of 1000psi (this highest setting is really only for tile, though). So, not only is the truck mount using more water, but it is also getting more of it out. 

Now you're probably asking yourself, "Why did you say you had 'mixed feelings' about Rug Doctors and other plug-ins when you so clearly believe them to be inferior?" I love the idea of a unit that someone can personally use to clean like a pro, unfortunately the technology simply isn't there yet. The reason I have mixed feelings is, 1) These units can work on glue down, pad-less carpets. Like those you may find in an office building. Truly they can. That however doesn't mean that they can take the place of a regular professional cleaning maybe once or twice a year. And 2) Well, they get me business. Sure some people will be satisfied with the result of a Rug Doctor, but there are many who aren't. I get calls from people who want me to "fix" their carpet after a failed rental attempt. Usually the carpets look darker (due to the heavy amounts of water and chemicals left in them) and can be "tiger striped". These issues are always easy to remedy...with the right tools.

For anyone interested I will leave this 50 second video that was taken by another professional which I think illustrates my point rather clearly. This is pretty standard too. 

For answers to any questions on this or to schedule a carpet cleaning in Reno, Sparks,Carson City, or Incline Village, give Sterling Carpet Care a call at (775) 525-4109 or visit our Contact Us page. Also, remember that we can clean upholstery, tile, and automotive...something Rug Doctors can't.

  

Hello Reno!

It is a new year and I am happy to say that the business is finally all the way up and running. At the end of last year we had a good start and learned a lot about our brand new equipment, web site building, and marketing...ugh, marketing, and we even managed to get some serious fans. Thanks to everyone who had recommended our service and was generous enough to give us reviews on Yelp and Google. It was much appreciated. 

Looking forward, I hope to be including more information on specials, a new section for "Before and Afters", perhaps a customer review area, and maybe even expanding this blog a bit with Pro Tips and other media. Keep a look out. Thanks for visiting and we hope to hear from you soon!

For answers to any questions on this or to schedule a carpet cleaning in Reno, Sparks,Carson City, or Incline Village, give Sterling Carpet Care a call at (775) 525-4109 or visit our Contact Us page. Also, remember that we can clean upholstery, tile, and automotive.