I worked with Grayson Smith all through the 70's as he started Grayson Smith Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning. I left Memphis to pursue opportunities and returned to Memphis in 2006 to join Grayson as his partner.
When people ask me what is the best thing to do to take care of their carpets (or rugs), I tell them frequent vacuuming. Based on a Proctor and Gamble Company analysis of carpet soiling in the US, about 79% of dirt in a carpet is dry particulate. The composition of this dirt is about 55% from “Tracked-In” gritty particles (like sand and fine dirt), 12% from animal fiber from people, pets and fabrics and another 12% from fibers, indoor plants, and tracked in organic material.
Because most of this dirt is brought in from outside of the home, you should vacuum at least a minimum of 2 times per week.
You have an accident on your carpet and want to get it up. I do not recommend using something you buy from the store. These products tend to leave a residue that will attract dirt. Also, if it does not remove the spot, it could actually set the stain so a professional cannot get it out.
I recommend using white vinegar and water. Mix around 1/3 white vinegar to 2/3 water in a spritz bottle. then spritz the spot and blot it up with a white rag. Here is a link to a video that will show this process. Spot cleaning video
Whenever you buy new furniture, carpets or rugs or you have just had them cleaned and they look great, you might want to consider putting fabric protection on them. Especially if there is a high probability of spills occurring. For example, if you have young children or teenagers, have grandchildren who visit regularly, have pets (especially new pets or very old pets) or you like to entertain, consider protecting your upholstery, rugs and carpets.
The reason fabric protectors are beneficial is that for spills, the liquid will bead up on the material allowing you time to address the spill before it soaks into the material. This repellent characteristic also keeps dirt from sticking to the fibers which improves vacuuming. The end result is that it helps the upholstery, carpets or rugs last longer. Plus, if you are not able to get to the spill in time to remove it, removal is made easier for a professional to clean.
Fabric protectors have progressed to a point where they can protect against both oil and water based stains. But be careful, there are many different fabric protectors out there and some work very well and some do not work at all. Also, make sure you hire a company that knows what they are doing to apply the fabric protection. For example, applying scotchgard protection to a sisal rug is not advisable. Sisal rugs do not like water and Scotchgard uses water as the application medium. The result could be a discolored sisal rug. This is not to scare you away from using fabric protectors but to advise you to use a reputable company to protect your belongings.
Have you ever noticed a grayish or dark line along the walls on your carpets? You probably do not want to know this, but it is not a defect in your carpet. It is called soil filtration and is a concentration of dirt that has collected on the carpet fibers
Soil Filtration is caused by positive and negative pressure within a room. What happens is, when pressure change occurs within a room from either the effect of warm air rising or your air conditioner or heater pumping air into a room, air tries to flow either in or out of the room. In the places with the dark lines, air is flowing in or out underneath the walls and the carpet along the wall edges serve as a filter. The carpet collects the dirt that is in the air and as a result the dark lines are created.
Have you ever noticed a grayish or dark line underneath the door of a room?Once again, soil filtration. It is quite common for dirt and dust to accumulate under doors when they are shut. The supply air vent blowing air into the room creates positive pressure in the closed room. The air in the room will want to leave the room through the easiest paths. With the door shut, the undercut of the door is generally the largest and easiest hole for the air to escape. Therefore, as the air passes between the door undercut and the carpeting, the carpet will act like an air filter and grab the dirt that is in the air. The result (like described above) is a dark line appearing just under the door. The best way to prevent doorway dirt filtration is to leave the door cracked so air escapes along the edges and not under the door.
Because soil filtration is a concentration of dirt particles that has occurred over time, cleaning it is extremely tough and will return after cleaning unless you can stop the air flow in these areas.
Cleaning Upholstery takes a level of expertise way beyond the typical carpet cleaner. This is due to the type of dirt involved, the different shapes of furniture and the different fabrics used.
Upholstery dirt is primarily people and pet issues. People shed dead skin cells, hair and hair dander along with sweat and body oils through exposed skin. Cosmetics, hair sprays and other beauty items get on upholstery. Plus, children and parties increase the likelihood of spills. If you have animals, their hair, body oils and dander are probably getting on your furniture. Over time, all these tend to accumulate into the fabric.
Furniture designs and styles contribute different degrees of difficulty to clean. An easy working surface is a flat one. However, furniture has many corners and edges which make the application of cleaning solutions and the removal of the associated dirt very difficult. Skill and experience are required to effectively clean these areas.
Upholstery also uses many different types of fabrics than carpet or rugs ranging from natural materials like silk to synthetics like nylon. Having a cleaner who knows what they are doing is extremely important. For example, many companies will not clean silk because of the potential for splotching or streaking to occur. Also, if not properly cleaned, white furniture, especially cottons and wools, can turn brown.
Typically, people clean their furniture to look better. However, if it is something you plan on keeping, periodic cleaning to remove the impacted dirt is advised. It is like your clothes, even though they may not look dirty, you wash them to remove the dirt and soil from use.
A carpet purchase is a substantial investment and I am sure you would like to get the best return on that investment. Based on my experience in the carpet care business, unless you have rental properties, I would not recommend getting cheap carpet. My advice for a homeowner would be a decision between a good mid-grade carpet and a high quality carpet. However, to make the proper decision, it is good to look at and evaluate your life situation.
There are two big considerations with the first being the ability to vacuum regularly and frequently. Vacuuming is very important to remove the dry particulate dirt. This dirt, if not removed through vacuuming, can act like sand paper on the carpet fibers and degrade the carpet. The result, a high grade carpet will ugly out before its time if you are not able to vacuum regularly and frequently. This also means that you will have to replace the carpet sooner than later. If this is the case, a more cost effective solution might be a mid-grade carpet. However, if you are able to maintain the carpet through regular vacuuming, a high grade carpet with a high fiber content could save you money because it will last much longer.
The other consideration is the chance for accidents from both pets and people. If there are small children, young pets that are not house trained or old pets who are prone to accidents, you might want to consider a mid-grade carpet until the children grow up. There is nothing worse than buying a nice high quality carpet and having a permanent stain occur.
In conclusion, if you are able to regularly vacuum and respond to any accidents quickly, a high quality carpet with a high fiber content should be a good investment. It will last longer than a mid-grade carpet and in most cases be a cost savings over a lesser grade carpet. However, if your life style does not allow the conditions above, you might consider a mid-grade carpet.
Vacuuming your carpets and or rugs is extremely important but to do it effectively, you need need to take care of your vacuum. So, to help out, here are some of the biggest vacuum cleaning goofs.
Not changing the bags. When your bag or bin (for bagless vacuums) is 1/2 full, suction power is reduced by at least 50%. This means you need more strokes over an area to clean it and it is making the motor work harder. It is best to change the bag or empty the bin when 1/3 to 1/2 full.
Using the brush on bare floors. A powered brush is critical for deep-cleaning carpets. But the revolving bristles can scatter debris while scratching the finish on hardwood and the plastic wear layer on laminate floors. Most of the newer vacuums let you switch off the brush when needed. If your vacuum cleaner is not able to switch off the beater bar, it would be good to get a vacuum for bare floors that does not have a beater bar.
Vacuuming hard, sharp objects. Nails, screws, coins and even paper clips can rip bags and damage the machine. Either pick them up or sweep them up with a broom before vacuuming.
Sucking up water or wet messes. Had a flood? Avoid the risk of electrocution by leaving your upright or canister in the closet. Use a wet-dry vacuum with a ground-fault interrupter for standing water or even damp debris.
Tossing it when it loses suction. Full bags aren’t the only reason a vacuum’s suction can suffer. Check the hose to see if it is clogged. If the hose is clear, check the filters found on bagged and bagless vacs. Also, if the brush roll barely turns, check it and the drive belt for tangled string or hair.
Assuming the motor has blown. Many models have a thermal switch that cuts current to the motor if it begins to overheat. If your vacuum shuts off during use, check for a full bag or bin or a dirty filter. The switch should reset itself, though some models have a reset button for that purpose.
The requirements for excellent cleaning in the cleaning industry are as follows. The company needs to spend the time required to do the job correctly and they need to use top quality products and equipment. Their technicians must have the knowledge to identify types of carpet or upholstery material and should have the knowledge to know the limitations and requirements to clean each type correctly. And, the technicians should have the experience needed to insure the carpet or upholstery does not get damaged during cleaning.
With that said, not all cleaning companies follow those guidelines. Remember – All businesses are “For Profit”! So, when companies use low prices to get your business, realize that they are going to cut corners to make a profit. As a result, they will reduce the quality of proper cleaning through one or all of the following.
1) They allocate less time for the job, which forces the cleaning crew to rush and not properly clean your fabrics.
2) They use inexpensive cleaning chemicals to reduce the cost which prevents optimum cleaning results.
3) They use inexperienced, under paid labor who may not know how to properly deal with fabrics or challenges. This inexperience becomes a real problem when there are stains or the fabrics are non-traditional. If they are not addressed correctly, the stains will remain and might become permanent. Also, if the technicians do not understand the type of carpet or upholstery encountered, actual damage can occur.
The morale of the story is “The cheaper the price, the more a company reduces the cost to perform the job”, which affects the quality of cleaning. The Grayson Smith Company always allows enough time to do the job right. We use the safest and best products. Plus, the owners actually do the work, experts with a vested interest in making sure the best possible cleaning is provided.
Ever wondered why your carpet looks dull and extra dirty at the entrance to doors and why dull looking paths appear on your carpet. The answer is that the carpet is actually wearing away and is called a wear pattern. What creates this? People tend to drag their feet when they walk which creates wear. Especially at doorways where carpet and a hard surface meet. This is because the carpet is typically higher than the hard surface. Not only do we drag our feet a little more here but the carpet is also cleaning the dirt from our feet that accumulated on the hard surface.
The reason wear patterns appear through rooms is that we tend to go the same way through a room. The walking and the dragging of our feet create the resulting wear. This becomes very apparent in rooms with lots of activities such as dens. Another factor that contributes to premature wear is dirt in your carpet. When we walk, the dirt grinds against the sides of the carpet fibers like sand paper and weakens the fibers. The result, at these high use areas, is that the carpet fibers get physically worn away and create a dull appearance. Also, because the fibers are frayed, they will absorb dirt, spills and such easier than the non-worn fibers.
We live in our homes and carpet wear is natural. However, there are things that can be done to help reduce the affect. The biggest and best thing you can do is vacuum regularly. More than 70% of dirt in your carpet is dry particulate which vacuuming can remove. You can also look at buying higher grades of carpet which have a higher fiber count (more material per square inch just like “thread count” in linen). This can actually be a cost savings in the long run if you properly maintain the carpets. They will maintain their appearance and last longer than a lesser grade carpet. Also, avoid textured carpets in high use areas. While they look beautiful new, the textured carpets have high and low spots. The high spots will wear away quicker because there is less material to support them. The result is that traffic patterns stand out sooner. Finally, non-slip walk off mats at entrances to carpets help by capturing dirt before it hits the carpet. This will help reduce the doorway wear described above.
If you have ever purchased or rented a residential carpet cleaning machine, this article is for you. This equipment can be of a benefit for interim spot cleaning between professional cleanings. However, if you are not careful, the Do-It-Yourself machines can do more harm to your carpets than good.
If the machine’s directions have you adding a shampoo to your water tank, we suggest not using it. The shampoo residue left on your carpets acts as a big magnet pulling dirt from the bottom of your shoes. The result is you will have clean shoes and even dirtier carpets. Straight water is a good cleaning agent and should be used without any shampoo. However, if you feel you need the shampoo, after shampooing, fill your machine up with water and try and rinse the shampoo out. Also, be aware that the suction on these machines are not very strong and will probably not get all the shampoo out of the carpet.
Over wetting of carpets is another potential problem. Therefore, go sparingly with the water and use the vacuum portion multiple times to remove as much of the liquid as possible. The problems resulting from over wetting the carpet can be subfloor damage (especially if it is hardwood). Also, carpet pads can prematurely fail due to getting wet and the carpet itself can be damaged and fail prematurely due to over wetting. The impact of over wetting does not show up immediately. It becomes apparent at a later time by reducing the life of the carpets or seeing the damage to the sub floor when you replace the carpets. Also, if it takes more than 24 hours for the carpet to dry, then the possibility for mold and/or mildew to begin greatly increases.