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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Is Your Home Making You ILL? - Why Something Seemingly Harmless Could Be Damaging Your Health!

There could be something lurking in your home that is actually making you ill - and you wouldn't even know about it. It can lurk anywhere - including: Bathrooms and kitchens, especially under sinks - particularly leaky ones. Behind or under appliances that hide slow plumbing leaks (refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, etc.) Roof leaks, around windows where condensation collects, high humidity areas of your home, and even fabrics and carpets - through leaks or through bad/cheap cleaning, caused by over wetting.

We are of course talking about mould, and in this article we are going to focus on bad cleaning. You may have experienced this before? Had someone round, you found their website and saw their cheap prices - or you perhaps responded to a cheap leaflet through your door? It can happen to all of us.

But lets first find out what this mould can do to you, it's not just harmless black spots that's for sure. It can cause:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headache, anxiety, depression, memory loss, and visual disturbances
  • Immune system disturbances and fatigue
  • GI problems
  • Shortness of breath

Fungi grow by releasing reproductive cells (spores) into the air, just as plants reproduce by spreading seeds. The airborne spores are invisible to the naked eye, which is a major reason mold is such a problem. It is not uncommon to find hundreds or even thousands of mold spores per cubic foot of indoor air. Spores are extremely small (1-100 microns) - 20 million spores would fit on a postage stamp.

Spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, such as dryness, that do not support normal mould growth. In fact, many spores can lie dormant for decades until favorable conditions allow them to spring back to life.

Mould is a type of fungus, as are mushrooms and yeast. There are between 100,000 and 400,000 types of fungi (estimates vary), and of these, scientists have identified more than 1,000 types of mold growing inside houses across America for instance. Moulds are classified into three groups according to human responses:

Allergenic Moulds: These don't usually produce life-threatening effects and are most problematic if you are allergic or asthmatic. The challenge is in figuring out what you are sensitive to. Children are particularly susceptible to mould allergies.

Pathogenic Moulds: These produce some sort of infection, which is of particular concern if your immune system is suppressed. They can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an acute response resembling bacterial pneumonia. An example is Aspergillus fumigatus, which can grow in the lungs of immune-compromised individuals.

Toxigenic Moulds (aka "toxic moulds"): These dangerous moulds produce mycotoxins, which can have serious health effects on almost anyone. Possible reactions include immunosuppression and cancer. Mycotoxins are chemical toxins present within or on the surface of the mould spore, which you then unwittingly inhale, ingest, or touch. An example of this is aflatoxin, one of the most potent carcinogens known to mankind. Aflatoxin grows on peanuts and grains, and on some other foods.

Some mould compounds are volatile and released directly into the air, known as microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs). Fragments of the cell walls of moulds (glucans) can also be inhaled and cause inflammatory respiratory reactions, including a flu-like illness called Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (ODTS).

According to mycotoxin expert Dr. Harriet Ammann, exposure to indoor moulds can damage the systems of your body in the following ways:


So having damp in your home really is not good for you. If you have had a bad experience with a cleaner - using cheap, weak equipment, thus leaving your carpets too wet - often for days on end, then next time make sure that they really do have the most powerful cleaning system available (regardless of them saying so on their websites - it's just sales talk). This way you should never get a serious mould problem - possibly giving you health issues again. If the equipment is NOT the most powerful, then it simply cannot extract as much moisture possible, a simple fact. 

For a breakdown on what equipment that you should know about i.e. what machine types are bad and what are good - check this quick guide out.

Author: Kevin Loomes

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

WHOOPS! Will YOUR Carpet Shrink?

It's an interesting question. The last thing you need is an expensive carpet shrinking after it has been cleaned - thus rendering it, well possibly useless! You may want a carpet cleaned for health reasons, the visual aspect - or even after decorating a room?, and why not - it's a sensible thing to do, but disasters can happen! On a professional level we have seen many shrunken carpets, and we usually hear that they cannot contact the cleaning company who carried out the cleaning, which isn't good. So to avoid the stress, anger and worry of this phenomena we need to know why this is all happening.

What carpets can shrink?

There are general 2 types of carpet that can shrink: Axminsters & Wiltons. An genuine axminster carpet will have a wool face fibre (the bit that you walk on) and a jute backing yarn (the woven bit on the back) that interweaves with the wool fibre. It's pretty hard to shrink an Axminster but when the jute becomes wet through poor cleaning, then the backing could shrink.

The wiltons that can shrink are what we call Belgian Wiltons because traditionally a lot of these are made of a polypropylene face fibre - with a jute backing, just like the axminster (this is opposed to a good quality wilton which is made of wool). But because the polypropylene cannot hold on to hardly any moisture, it goes straight to the bottom of the pile into the backing, and shrinks the carpet. To check if you have a belgian wilton, peel back your carpet, and see if the pattern is duplicated and visible on the back - the same as the face pile. It's not a 100% check because you may not have a polypropylene pile fibre - but if you do have this, get the cleaning company to double check prior to cleaning.

Why Do They Shrink?

The main reason why they shrink is down to poor cleaning. What I mean is, it's either underpowered equipment or just bad technique. If the cleaning machine is cheap (and thus small) it cannot extract enough water out of the carpet, which means the carpet may then shrink. Bad technique could just be down to cleaners applying too much pre-spray cleaning agents, and too much water in the rinsing action. The physical action of why the carpet shrinks is the jute backing (I call it backing but it is the base to which the face fibres weave on to) when wet, essentially swell up and expand, thus needing more space and causing stress on the structure. It's this action that causes the shrinkage.

How Can You Avoid Them Shrinking?

Well if you have a belgian wilton then it could still be cleaned - but it needs to be done properly and safely. But there lies the problem, how do you know how to get it done - without it shrinking? By choosing a cleaning company that has extensive training on these issues is a good indicator of reliability, but one who also uses the most powerful machinery possible will usually ensure your carpet is safe. Don't forget, if a good, highly professional cleaning company are ever in doubt about shrinking a carpet, they will check first to see if it is cleanable. If there is suspicion that it will indeed shrink, then it should either be left, or a low moisture clean undertaken.

Author: Kevin Loomes

Friday, 7 November 2014

It Doesn't Just Affect Men! Has Your Carpet Got Bald Patches?

Have you ever noticed any bald patches on your carpet - or somebody else's? like the picture above, areas of missing fibres. Have you ever wondered why the fibres are missing? Or noticed little bits of what look like shreds of wood or paper near the bald patches?

Well it's not your carpet disintegrating! It's actually an infestation of carpet moth / carpet beetle. Don't worry, your not a dirty person, far from it, and can it happen to well, anyone.

Why Do They Like Carpets?

Well, it's not just carpets, it can be clothes and curtains too and they are attracted to natural fibres i.e. Wool and silk. The moths/beetles have the ability to digest keratin protein in these natural fibres, so if you have a silk or pure wool carpet, or a wool rich carpet, then you certainly could become victim to them. They also like areas that hold some moisture within the natural fibre - even sweat and dirt (in clothes etc) as they feed off this too. But in carpets they enjoy dark corners and spaces under units etc. The adults lay eggs in these areas and when the larvae hatch in to adults themselves - this is when they leave behind there larvae casings on the carpet.

Larvae casings left behind on the carpet

How Can You deal With Them?

If you have a case of moth/beetle infestation, then there is help at hand. By using a professional carpet cleaning company quickly, then it is not a major issue at all. First of all a thorough vacuum of all areas will get rid of them, but also a good dose of a safe, natural agent can be used effectively to help eradicate them. Failing that then an insecticide can also be used, to guarantee that they will be eliminated altogether. You will obviously be wondering about what to do about the bald areas on the carpet, and this could be repaired so long as you have an off cut of the same carpet available - but only if its in similar condition in terms of wear and colour.

How Can You Prevent Them?

A good way to prevent them from setting up snuggly home in your carpet is to essentially employ the services of the biggest spider you can find - no I'm joking!! The best way of course is to vacuum regularly - not just the main areas, but in corners and under units where they have legs. It can be a pain, but using your crevice tool on your vacuum all around the edges will really keep them at bay.

Author: Kevin Loomes

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

They Don't Just Carry Guns, They Carry Tools Too!

Here are 7 questions you need to ask, to
weed out cowboys from entering your home.

We have all heard the expression 'cowboy traders' and it's probably one of our worst nightmares - allowing someone in to your home that you thought you could trust, to carry out a good job and they then proceed to rip you off.

It's something we hope that doesn't ever happen to us - and we like to think that we are switched on and be able to spot these cowboys and stop them in their tracks.

But what if you can't spot them - and risk them coming in to your home?

Well before they even get near your home, you need to ask them 7 easy questions to determine whether they are genuine professionals or 'after a quick buck' cowboys. So, here are the things you need to ask:

1). Have you been professionally trained?
I know it sounds a bit daft right - training for just a bit of carpet cleaning? I mean you can hire a carpet cleaning machine - with no training, so it can't be that important right? Unfortunately this is very WRONG. You see, it is very very technical indeed and not as easy as you think.

Let me ask you a couple of questions: What is the ideal ph value that a carpet should be left in? What is 'off gassing', what is the construction process of nylon or bonded flocks? Ok, your not going to know the answers but it is these and HUNDREDS of others that we ask ourselves every day when carrying out our tasks. It's this critical knowledge of chemistry, manufacturing and cleaning that parts a proper professional to a chancer and a guesser. Even after 30yrs, a professional still learns something new every day.

2). Are you certified by any trade associations?
A trade association like the National Carpet Cleaners Association is a governing body that has specific training and industry news that really any professional should be part of. There are even in depth industry exams just to pass. Also part of the criteria are having the correct insurance, and all members must carry out industry standard processes and run an ethical ship.

3). Do you use the most powerful cleaning systems available?
This is a contentious issue, as most companies will say that 'their' system is the best, so it's bound to get confusing. It is an industry fact, that if the most powerful system is used that it will clean a carpet much better and leave it much drier. But how do you know what 'the most powerful system' really is? It's quite easy.

You see, the most powerful systems are NOT what is plugged in to your home's electric socket (despite what the company says). The most powerful ones are either run on petrol, diesel or LPG. They generate much more suction, pressure and heat than any electrical machine - this is a 100% fact. We call it a 'mobile cleaning plant' because it is independent and even contains the waste tanks so nothing is poured down your sink or toilet - filling it with grit particles.

4). Do you offer a full money back guarantee?
If they don't offer this - then run a mile! It means they want to take your money and run. Any genuine professional will say to you - 'we can pre clean an area for you and if you don't think there is any difference, then we will not charge you a penny and walk away. If you are happy then we will carry on'. But even if the job is completed and there is a clear issue, and you are not happy for whatever reason, then they should refund all your money. Real professionals only want to please people and have clients who recommend their services.

5). Do you have proper insurance?
If the cleaning company say nothing - then they haven't got any! It costs money of course, but is critical in not only covering them - but also you. You see, if there is no cover, and an issue arises - what are they going to do? Yes, they are going to run like the wind, and leave you with a big bill. THIS IS WHY IT'S IMPORTANT.

BUT, even if the cleaning company say 'yes' to having insurance - have they got the right one? You would be surprised to hear that there are a large amount of cleaning companies who DO NOT have the right insurance. They may say that they have 'liability insurance', well guess what? That's not going to cover you. Yes it will cover your home - but it will not cover your furnishings that the cleaning company are 'cleaning'.

This type of cover is called 'Treatments Risk' insurance. This is what covers you. Unfortunately, for the cleaning companies that actually do have insurance and think this is enough are completely oblivious to the huge risk that they are taking. These companies are usually domestic cleaning companies - who 'add on' a service of 'carpet cleaning' etc to their list of services - without even realising that they have no cover. This usually goes hand in hand with no training too - but we have already mentioned this above!

6). Is your price fixed, with no hidden extras?
Some companies are quite unethical (what's new right). What can happen a lot is a system called 'Bait and Switch' an illegal practice indeed. First they advertise an incredibly cheap price (let's say £10 a room), to bait you in to ringing them. You ask 'is that all I am going to pay' and they say yes of course. What happens next is quite shocking, but when they get to your home they 'demonstrate' a so called clean, then demonstrate another clean (slightly different processes) which is much better. BUT if you want the better clean then you are pressurised in to going for the MUCH more expensive clean. Terrible isn't it? But it goes on EVERY day in the UK. Here is a Watchdog special on this very subject...more

A genuine company will give you a fixed price promise guarantee - that means you will be given written/printed clear costs - and no pressure selling to a different service. You would normally recieve the best possible service without underhand practices.

7). Do you carry out free surveys?
Not all companies like to visit prior to cleaning, but guessing isn't in the remit of a professional outfit. Not only is it good to see what we are actually cleaning, but also to go over any issues or concerns you may have. This would always be a free service and it really is of great benefit to both parties. If they won't visit or want to charge, then you have to ask why. Do you really want them in your home if you feel uneasy about them?

If after having asked your cleaning company these simple questions - and they do not respond positively to ALL of them, then you need to ask yourself - who really are these people?

Is it worth the risk? Don't forget, if after getting a problem through hiring a 'cowboy' and you try to contact them to sort the issue - they will traditionally ignore your calls and never return.

So the moral of the story is, you don't have to be sucked in by the gift of the gab, persueded by slick sales and consequently taken for a ride. It's easy to weed them out - just try the 7 questions above - and see if they can answer any of them - or dismiss them as irrelevant!

Author: Kevin Loomes

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Why Applying Plain Water to Your Suite - Could Ruin it Forever!

Yes it’s true, water – plain old drinking water could ruin your upholstered chairs, sofas, armchairs and settee’s – permanently. Not only water but steam from very hot water too.

So lets look at them independently and explain why it could cost you thousands of pounds by making such a common mistake.

Plain Water:

Well there is a fabric at the moment - that from my own personal experience, is one of the most common and popular materials currently on the market because of various factors, but I’ll leave that for another article. Anyway, this fabric is called Viscose (otherwise known as Rayon). It is a manmade fibre – but using natural materials i.e. wood pulp which is structurally similar to cotton, and almost pure cellulose. It’s been around for many many years.

But just by looking round the furniture shops, you will see viscose sofas absolutely everywhere, it is usually a high sheen pile fabric that looks gorgeous and feels beautiful. You can see why people love the fabric, in particular females!

Anyway, here is the danger: When water (or anything water based like drinks, wet hands etc) come into contact with it – the fibres swell fat and then stay that way when dry. Because these fibres stay fat they reflect light MASSIVELY compared to the unaffected fibres. So you can see the wet patch from a fair distance and you cannot do anything about it (it is always going to be lighter and often looks like a different colour!). You now have a permanent patch that cannot be cleaned away and will look this way until such time the rest of the fabric has been marked in the same way, or heavily soiled to disguise it.

Viscose fibres (in pile form) can weaken by 40% when wet so you cannot routinely clean it with water – and so it is also vital that no-one eats or drinks anywhere near this fabric. Please note, that this is no fault of the fabric – there is no fabric that says you can routinely spill anything on it (eating and drinking in particular) and clean it without causing damage. Sofas and chairs etc should just be sat on only (like all items)! The retailers or manufacturers are not responsible for anyone’s eating and drinking habits unfortunately! We have seen viscose items still looking beautiful after many years, and by having them regularly dry cleaned can keep them looking good. [dry cleaning will not remove water based stains i.e. from drinks/foods etc].

So, do you have a viscose piece of furniture?

Plain Water (via steam cleaner):

Have you seen those adverts for steam cleaners lately? They can be good items to clean with (not professionally of course!) to lightly maintain a floor etc, but some of these machines have upholstery attachments to ‘clean upholstery’. Well unfortunately steam on it’s own will not clean upholstery – all you will be doing is making it very hot or removing slight amounts of soil if using an absorbant pad that is attached.

So where is the danger in this you say? Well there is no danger on some fabrics – but on others there definitely are! If you have a synthetic fabric then the chances are that you will completely ruin your sofas etc by this method. You see synthetic yarns have a melting point – which actually isn’t that high. By going over your suite with a steamer could actually melt the fibre tips and distort them permanently! We have seen this on 4 occasions recently where people have attempted to ‘clean’ their suite ‘the cheap way’  by using one of these steam cleaners, and then proceeding to ruin it forever - with the imprints of the steamer attachment all over it! This melting cannot be reversed or cleaned away!

So, do you have a synthetic sofa or chair?

So is there a moral to this story? Well yes there is – by trying to save money by attempting to do these things yourself, will probably cost you much much more instead.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Urine Contamination - Can It Really Be Dealt With?

We have all seen it at some point in our lives - and even smelt it if it's that bad. Of course we are talking about pet and human urine being deposited on carpets or upholstery. Obviously it is always an accident, usually through perhaps old age or from some illness - or just plain old having a weak bladder and being left for too long.

Some pet owners believe that their cherished pet (and they are cherished - we adored our dog when he was alive) can never do any wrong - and understandably but unfortunately some pets can do a small tiddle now and again somewhere in the house - and usually the lounge. Because there is not always an odour it's difficult to tell. Some pet/human urine can smell really strong where others do not.

Anyway, having your carpet or upholstery 'scanned' to determine whether they are infected or not is quite a simple process and takes away the guess work. If it is caught early the damage can usually be limited or completely removed - I'm sure you have all seen the yellowing effect near toilets that have carpets? It's too late for those areas because the colour has been damaged - but do you have other areas that have started to suddenly smell a bit?

In extreme cases your carpet may need to be lifted, as urine (like any liquid) can travel down and penetrate the underlay - or even the floor boards!

In the photo above you will see that the urine patches have been highlighted by our special UV urine rated detection amplifiers because the salts found in urine become fluorescent. The patches are in fact usually INVISIBLE to the human eye - but not to us! We can deal with these issues and make your furnishings healthily clean - bacteria and virus free.

So if you have a pet or an elderly relative, and suspect that the carpets or upholstery are harboring urine deposits, why not get the professionals in to sort the areas concerned - and the odours associated with them?

Author: Kevin Loomes

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Wool Carpets - Beware!


Why It's Necessary to Have Them Cared For - and Not Damaged By In-proper Cleaning!

There's nothing more luxurious than wool carpets (or wool rich i.e. 80% wool / 20% Nylon), they are cosy, warm, excellent sound proofers and don't suffer from static like synthetic carpets. They traditionally last longer too.

But what happens when - even after you have spent a LOT of money on these expensive carpets, that you seek the services of an ill equipped or ill educated cleaning company (or individual) who possibly has no morals too?

Why is this an issue I hear you say.

Well I'm going to be truthfull here, very truthfull - I may even upset a few people, but I'm afraid it just has to be said. You see some cleaners need to make an impact on the visual result of cleaning carpets - and so opt for a high PH cleaning product. This strips soil faster, but carries a very high risk of:

1. Chemically burning the fibre due to the maximum PH (14) - you can't see the damage, but rest assured it will be.
2. Taking colour out of wool fibres

The cleaning company/individual more than likely isn't going to be concerned about your fibres - so long as it looks 'cleaner'. The other reason why they use these damaging high PH cleaning solutions is because invariably they will be using weak cleaning machines - that simply cannot extract the soils properly. This is why they have to be seen to get some sort of 'result' by high PH soil strippers.

So, is it worth the risk?

Well, that's your choice - I cannot tell you what to do, but I do hope common sense prevails. With CleanPro, we are certified Woolsafe Fibre Care Specialists and Woolsafe Service Providers. This ensures that you receive a service that is designed to CARE for your wool carpets and not damage them. To become Woolsafe approved requires intensive training that demands a very high examination pass rate to become certified. Subjects like: manufacturing, dyeing methods, cleaning, chemicals, production aswell as a host of other wools related subjects are all important in knowing how to care for wool. More information here

Author: Kevin Loomes

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Pay Once - Pay Twice?

And Why You May Well Have Regrets

So what on earth am I talking about - what does this pay once, pay twice mean? Well it's an expression commonly used when someone tries to cut corners. Let me explain.

We all want a great deal right? - yes! But sometimes actively seeking out the cheapest quotation for a service that we believe will be the exactly the same as a more expensive option, can (and usually does) lead to all sorts of issues. In this industry it's actually quite common for someone to hire a cheap clean, because seeing the word 'carpet cleaning' convinces them that no matter where they go - it must be the same service wherever they go. Of course this is ridiculous but some people are convinced of this.

What happens is that after the customer/client has been very disappointed with the service (because they have gone for the cheapest option), they fall in to despair and then seek out a 'proper' professional company to re-clean the carpets (or upholstery etc) to a standard  they thought they were going to get originally!

So you can see, that after paying for a cheap clean, they then have to pay AGAIN for it to be done properly/correctly. This is where the term 'Pay Once, Pay Twice' comes in because this is exactly what has just happened. So by trying to cut corners on cost, has actually cost MORE than if they went to a proper company in the first place.

It's a tough lesson to learn, but there is always an expression that overrides all expressions and that is 'You Get What You Pay For'. So don't waste more money that you need to - get it done right in the first place!

Author: Kevin Loomes

Friday, 14 June 2013

Has Your Cleaning Company - Got You Covered?

Why incorrect Insurance Could Well Cost YOU Thousands!

Insurance - it sounds boring right? Yes it does a bit, but we all know that the word insurance is an important one, and one that should never be ignored in the cleaning industry.

Think of this scenario: Someone comes to your house and cleans your carpets or furniture and the job seems ok, but then suddenly you notice a tear in the fabric of the sofa - or the carpet has started to shrink, pulling off the gripper at the same time. DISASTER! Well yes, it could happen (less so with a highly trained competent person), and so you get in touch with the cleaning company who caused it. By the way - you may not get a reply from some individuals - but that's another story about cowboys that we will cover another time.

So, great the chap comes back (although lets face it you could do without all the upheaval of this altogether right?). So he takes a look and says "yes there is an issue and I will arrange it with my insurance company - as I do have Liability insurance".

Uh Oh...

Maybe a week later you manage to get hold of the person - who sheepishly explains that his insurance company won't pay out for this sort of claim. WHAT! That's right, it won't because nearly all liability insurance scheme's will only cover the property for damage caused and NOT, I repeat NOT the items being cleaned.

So what do you do now?

Well you could hope that the cleaning company are honest and that they will pay to replace your items - out of their own pockets - but this is a long shot. Does a cleaner who works on his own - or someone who is on a tight budget price wise have that sort of money lying around? Definitely Not! So you could now be left with a Massive BILL because who else is going to get it sorted? Think this doesn't happen? - I'm afraid it does. It amazes me how many companies and individuals, that actually either have insufficient insurance - or NONE AT ALL!

So what should you do to give you piece of mind?

It's easy so don't worry. First of all get the person to visit to give a quotation - or if this isn't possible then get them to do it before cleaning. This way you can assess other aspects of their business (like equipment, training, client feedback etc) i.e. whether they have the credentials to carry out a competent, structured, professional cleaning schedule. Then simply ask to see their insurance policy.

They must what we call a 'double insurance' policy, or one that combines extra cover. What I mean is, the policy must have:

Liability Cover AND Treatments Risk cover. It's ONLY the treatments risk cover that protects your items if they get damaged through cleaning.

Remember, cleaning companies or individuals are legally liable to cover you - and if they only have Liability insurance MOST Liability policies EXCLUDE these cleaning related claims.

You have been warned.


Author: Kevin Loomes

Monday, 8 April 2013

What is Anti Stain Protector? & Does it Work?

Scotchgard, Stainguard, Teflon, Guardsman - there are many brands of 'protector' in the professional market place, but what do they actually do - and how do they work?

Well first of all, ALL protectors are designed to adhere to the fibre - whether it's on a carpet or upholstery and are essentially a sort of soft coating. It is manufactured this way deliberately because if it was a hard coating (and more resilient) then it would dramatically alter the texture and make it feel hard - a bit like varnish I guess! So it HAS to remain soft but the only downside is that it won't last forever and will slowly lose it's effectiveness over time.

BUT, that doesn't mean it won't give great protection - it just means people need to realise that it isn't a hard finish and then stop everything possible thrown at it!

So how does it work? Well the protector molecules bond to the fibre surface and once fully dried and cured can stop lots of different liquids from permanently staining a carpet. This gives you time to blot it up before it goes any further [scroll down on this page to see a video here]

Will it stop every liquid from penetrating the carpet? The truth is no it won't. Now that's not because the technician hasn't applied it correctly - or used the wrong product. It just means that the protector can only do so much (remember it's not a hard coating).

Will all liquids 'bead up' and sit on the surface? Again, no. Some liquids will, others won't as it depends on the temperature of the liquid, the content of the liquid & the fibre make up. Remember there are some instances when even if a protector is applied correctly it won't bead up - especially if it's a synthetic yarn in a woven construction for instance.

Is there anything else you should know about it? Yes, there is one thing that may be of interest and that is that the actual wear to the fibre is reduced because you are essentially wearing the coating of the protector - before you actually wear the fibre itself. So this does mean that it will help against premature wear of the carpet.

Is it expensive? Well for a good product to work, it's like anything in life - you get what you pay for I guess. So beware of very cheap 'quotes' that say that they will apply a protector for what seems a fantastically low price. They could actually be spraying water down instead of protector, and you would never even know about it!

Author: Kevin Loomes

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Dark Patches in Front of Sofas - Is It Damage....or Dirt?

You may be sitting there one day and looking at your carpet, and notice that in front of your sofa or armchair on the carpet - that the foot area looks well, downright grubby - and wouldn't it be nice if it wasn't there! Maybe a good clean will get rid of it you think - or will it?

Surely a clean will return it to new again?
Well,...possibly. What do you mean I hear you say! Well it's not as simple as that - for a number of reasons. Usually if its quite bad then it's usually down to people wearing outdoor shoes - in the house, treading all over the carpets. I can hear your brain saying "But we all wipe our shoes when we come in - so what on earth do you mean?" And that's fair enough, so let me explain.

You see even when wiping your shoes on a mat, this doesn't remove ALL the soil particles. It may remove the bulk but not the tiny particles, even minute particles caught inbetween the tread of the sole. When you walk over a carpet - or sit in the same area, its the shoes rubbing against the carpet fibres - wearing them away. It's almost like sandpaper. The tiny particles act as an abrasive, and they grind against the carpet fibre surface causing damage.

But why is it darker there than the rest of the carpet?
Well lets take a different look on it - and then you should understand. Imagine a carpet fibre.....when manufactured they are cylindrical, round and smooth on the surface - reflecting lots of light bouncing off this smooth finish. When this surface is abraded it reflects light a lot less and subsequently looks duller. Imagine a sheet of new pvc plastic, it's hard, smooth and really shiny when reflected in the light. If you get a piece of sandpaper and rub the plastic - what happens? It goes all dull and consequently darker. This is exactly the same as a carpet fibre when shoes coarsely rub against it.

Doesn't that make sense? Of course it does. Now mix in some soil from shoes and it becomes quite unsightly. Cleaning may well indeed improve the appearance but it is possible that the area could be permanently damaged. To make matters worse even slippers can cause issues too! If they are black soled, the constant rubbing of the sole can penetrate the fibres leaving them darker in appearance. If you think about it and look at your slipper soles right now - if they are black and maybe smooth and shiny? Where has the sole thickness and tread gone - if you've only worn them indoors? That's right - in to your carpet! It's not rocket science.

One last thing...
Heavy soiling created by shoes can make the same area become victim of 'inground soil' too. OK - what's this? Well essentially it's the constant bombardment of soil in one place (not just shoes but hands, draught/venting marks, most used seats on suites/sofas etc etc), and it isn't always possible to remove it. It's true, and let me give you a similar scenario. If you have a white shirt, and you start to notice that the top of the collar edge and the cuff edges are showing black soil/grubbiness - and you have just taken it out of the washing machine (even at 90 degrees!) - you put this down to the fact that the machine just cannot lift any more out, as it's just not possible. Well it's exactly the same with fibres and fabrics. So it's not ineffective cleaning - it's simply issues with that particular carpet [if it was ineffective cleaning then everyone would be complaining to their washing machine manufacturer!!].

So try to look after your carpet by removing outdoor shoes and obtaining light coloured soled slippers. With these 2 actions alone the carpet will last much longer - and cleaning will have a better chance of making it look fabulous afterwards.

Author: Kevin Loomes

Sunday, 24 March 2013

What On Earth is 'Agitation'? & Why Should it NEVER Be Missed?

And why every company should be doing it.

Its a simple process, an action of loosening soil to make it easier to remove from where it's attached to. It's not complicated, but it can and and does get missed - even though it's critically important.

Allow me to explain. If your washing your hands, you first apply a cleaning agent, and then you 'agitate' your hands together and then you rinse under water making them lovely and clean. If your washing your car, you put the sponge in to the bucket containing a cleaning product, and then you 'agitate' the paintwork - and rinse off with water to get a great shiny finish . If your washing your hair, you apply a shampoo and 'agitate' with your fingers prior to rinsing off and leaving it squeeky clean. I think you get the picture. Fundamentally they all require agitation to get the desired result.

So if we didn't agitate what we clean - and just applied the product and merely rinsed off - what would happen to your hands, your car or your hair? Well not a lot really, it really wouldn't look any different.

So logic says that ANY cleaning being undertaken, whether it's something as simple as above - or even cleaning a floor for example, tells you that you cannot miss this critical process otherwise there wouldn't be any proper cleaning being carried out. This is just a simple fact but one I hope you can now easily understand why it's such an important aspect to the whole cleaning service. It's simple isn't it? Yes it's really that simple!

So Why Should Every Company 'Do It' & How Does It Relate To Professional Cleaning?
Well first of all it is irrelevant whether a professional company carry it out or not - it's still the same principal. So if a company chooses to miss this aspect of the cleaning process, then they really are missing out on giving a thorough 'proper' clean. Whether it's carpets, upholstery, leather, rugs or hard floors, only by agitating will the item be really clean - prior to the rinsing action of the fibres or hard surface.

You know it makes logical sense, so if a company decides to miss out on this (i.e. carpet cleaning for example) - just ask them why, and see what they say. Maybe they charged a really low price and subsequently haven't got time to do it? It's quite a common scenario unfortunately, as something has to 'give' the lower the price goes.

So how does a company actually 'agitate'? Well it's the use of a separate machine that does the work - prior to the main machine rinsing it all out. This can be by different types of equipment, using brushes or pads for example, but essentially it massages the area deep down and loosens the soil, in conjunction with a suitable cleaning agent (and suitable equipment).

So, if you haven't yet experienced proper cleaning - then make sure your furnishings are agitated!

Author: Kevin Loomes

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Hidden Dangers of DIY Carpet cleaning!

And why you could be very disappointed indeed

There's something special about having fresh, clean carpets. It makes you feel better and gives your guests a great welcome. Cleaning them yourself may have been an idea you may have thought about before - afterall there are lots of adverts saying how you can hire 'professional' machines and the results look really good. Great! You may think, I'll get them done at the weekend and save money too!

So off you go to the DIY store and hire a machine with detergents, and you get them in the back of the car and get home ready for action! After a whole day of slogging away, filling up, emptying etc - will you be impressed with the results?

The honest answer is more than likely not. But why do you say? It's quite simple be prepared for a little education based on facts, and ignore it at your peril.

A small machine from a hire store has to be small for a reason. If it's too big you won't be able to lift it - or fit it in to your car. Now being so small (and light) means that there is a limit on power - hhmm you may think, surely a carpet cleaning machine is a carpet cleaning machine. Yes, but there are MASSIVE differences between different types - and ALL giving different results.

Basically the bigger the machine the heavier it gets - due to much bigger internal motors and pumps for example, meaning it will have more power, allowing much better results to be had. Lets take this further. As the power increases even more (and again, along with the weight and size of the machine) the better it will perform in the worst conditions. There will be more VACUUM, more HEAT and more water PRESSURE leaving carpets  much cleaner, brighter and dryer.

So you really have to try and ignore the suggestively 'amazing' sales videos and literature that are associated with these machines and realise that it is essentially impossible to achieve the same result as a genuine professional machine (hire machines are certainly not professional by the way). But you have to understand that they want to sell the 'hiring' of these machines for a reason - it makes them money (hey they are a business afterall). So yes they will have great 'images' etc - merely offering visual representations (as opposed to actual genuine cleaning photos).

If you think about this situation logically - if it were true (i.e. they do the same job as any other machine) then companies (certainly in our case), wouldn't buy machines costing many thousands of pounds - no-one would want to waste that sort of money right? - ABSOLUTELY! But they don't do the same - nowhere near, which is why some companies invest heavily to give the ultimate cleaning experience to their clients (note: not all companies/individuals do).

So What Are The Hidden Dangers?
Well they certainly are present that's for sure, and we occasionally SEE the result - and rectify issues commonly experienced with them. I will list them - and if you have used one before you may notice one of them - or even all of them.

1)   Poor results - due to lack of power from the machines
2)   Damp carpets for days - causing smells
3)   Mould build up - due to incorrect cleaning attempts
4)   Delaminated carpets - caused by overwetting
5)   Browning discolouration - caused by overwetting
6)   Shrinkage - caused by excessive moisture
7)   Rapid re-soiling - caused by high residue content of detergent left behind

The actual dangers are mould spores being breathed in which can cause health issues, and physically damaged carpets - which may have to be removed & replaced. THIS IS NOT A SCARE TACTIC. These are genuine problems that arise because of these machines. We had a client contact us recently who experienced the exact same problem and explained to me that it was a waste of time BUYING one of these machines as it now sits in her cupboard (and she will not use it any more). And yes, we visited her to clean her carpets properly.

So, the idea of saving a few pounds now.......well could it actually cost you more financially? Yes it could indeed, and you have been warned.

Author: Kevin Loomes

Monday, 18 March 2013

Why Baby Wipes Can Ruin Your Leather!

And why they aren't as safe as you think

Baby wipes - they're great aren't they! They clean your baby's skin effectively and safely, and they smell good too. And lets not forget that they are convenient, I mean when your in a hurry they are really ideal to clean up a mess.

But why are they bad for my leather I hear you say? I mean if I can clean my baby with them - then surely they are safe to use on anything else right? Unfortunately its not right at all.

Baby wipes are pieces of material soaked in cleaning chemicals to keep them moist, and have been designed soley for skin and nothing else. There are detergents amongst a host of other things to enable cleaning quickly. They can also contain:

Cetearyl Alcohol
Benzyl Alcohol
Various acids
Sodium Hydroxide
Potassium Sorbate
Sodium Benzoate
Sodium Citrate
Sodium Hydroxide

It is this combination, and more importantly the alcohol content that will cause the damage on leather items. You see alcohol is a sprit - a solvent if you like and this can damage a lot of things - and even though they are in small quantities, over time they can break down the lacquer finish that currently protects the leather pigment (the colour).

So by breaking this surface down your leather then becomes prone to attack from above. When your lacquer wears down, soil, sweat, food, drink, jean dye etc can all then enter the pigment and render it ruined - which will then need re-colouring and re-lacquering. If your lacquer is really worn down cleaning will not make any difference at this point - and can even make it worse, as you could remove the colour pigment (as you have no lacquer to protect it).

Always use specific leather cleaning agents - designed for the job in hand. Remember, cleaning kits purchased from a retailer when you purchased your leather - are soley designed to MAINTAIN the [clean] leather. This means that you should use them from new - and regularly, to keep light soil away.This way they always remain clean! They are not designed to clean deep down soils and contaminants that have built up over time.

So those safe, quick cleaning wipes that you may have relied on - could now cost you hundreds of pounds in repair bills.

Author: Kevin Loomes

Friday, 15 March 2013

Why Hard Flooring is Worse for Allergies!

And why carpets actually protect you more...

First of all, let me explain a clear industry FACT - hard floors ARE actually worse for your allergies (oh yes they are!) and today we are talking about dust mites which affect thousands  if not millions of asthmatics in the UK alone.

How can allergies be worse you might say? Well despite an overwhelming amount of websites and even TV programmes explaining that carpets are worse...and to get rid of them and replace them with hard floors - it is actually unfounded and factually incorrect. But once the ball starts rolling - well, it all goes round and round and is essentially unstoppable. It only takes one misconception that is said by a celebrity on TV or from an old wives tale, and before long it's everywhere - so it must be true right? Well actually no it isn't.

So how does an allergen react with a human? Well with the dustmite it is in most cases the faeces that causes the reaction and not the actual mite itself. The faeces (and the mite) is so small it cannot be seen with the human eye and can only be seen with a microscope. Because they are so small (and light) they become airborne very very easily, and enter what we call 'the breathing zone'.

Let's think about it logically
A carpet that is kept clean and vacuumed regularly has fibres that 'traps' these allergen particles - ready for them to be safely vacuumed away (best by using a hepa filtration vacuum cleaner) and not allowing them in to the breathing zone where they can do the damage.

On a hard floor a mite simply gets blown all over the place - easily done by simply walking about and opening doors. The gentle gusts easily flick them up in to the breathing zone and thus affecting the person with the allergy. Now don't get me wrong, if a carpet is left to hold lots of dust through lack of maintenance then the 'filter' doesn't work properly and dustmites can make your allergies worse. But the same can be said if a hard floor isn't maintained - but the allergic reaction from the hard floor would be so much worse.

Doesn't that sound like common sense?
Of course it does, because it's correct and now you've read it you are possibly nodding your head in agreement as it is pretty much obvious. To back this up there have been studies to prove it beyond doubt - but for some reason there seems to be a lack of confirmation in the UK, perhaps being swayed by the massive misconception that overwhelms and sways industry trends? Despite this apparent uninterest, conclusive evidence is certainly available HERE with an even more in depth study HERE, you can then make your own mind up! There is also a great website HERE with more information.

So how can you ensure that your carpet is working correctly like a 'filter' to 'trap' these particles?
Well it's very simple really. Regular vacuuming is the key to removing particles and dust build up - before the carpet 'filter' becomes full. The best vacuum to use is one that has a rotating brush bar to get to the base of the pile, as opposed to a slotted plastic slot on the end of a tub vacuum cleaner. Getting them professionally cleaned also keeps them healthily clean and prolongs the life too, aswell as improving the appearance.

So before you rip up your carpets in the belief that hard floors will improve your allergies - think again, as they could actually make them worse than they were before.

Author: Kevin Loomes

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Carpet Yellowing Under Rugs or Furniture

'Phenolic Yellowing' - What on earth is that?

Its certainly an unusual name, and an unusual phenomena - but it happens quite a lot with carpets and/or rugs. But what is it? If you have suffered from this (or simply noticed it), and wondered what it was, then I will do my best to explain it as it should hopefully shed some light on it.

How is it noticed?
First of all it shouldn't be confused with the original carpet colour simply being retained under a rug (which of course does happen a lot) as the yellowing can happen on any colour of carpet. Lets presume you have a light grey carpet, and you lift the rug up - and discover some yellowing - this would be a classic case of phenolic yellowing.

Why does it happen?
The primary reason is due to what we professionals call 'off Gassing'. Essentially (in the case of the carpet) butylhydroxyltoluene (BHT) is used as a preservative either within the carpet, especially the latex on tufted carpets, and also some underlay. When a rug is placed on such a carpet it seals in the area like a lid 'trapping' air and causing the carpet to simply not 'breathe'. It's this trapping that contains the chemical that would normally float in to the atmosphere and so subsequently reacts and discolours the carpet fibres.

If the carpet was not a tufted pile (or a carpet not containing BHT) and there is still yellowing under a rug, then you may need to look at the rug in this case as the primary cause. It will probably be more than likely a secondary backed latex glued back (often has a smooth textured backing that has no resemblance to the pile of the rug), and this could be the reason why it's caused, due to BHT in the backing compound. It's basically the same as the carpet scenario above - but in reverse. The 'off gassing' is trying to escape from the rug, but is being trapped by the carpet - causing....yellowing.

Can it be cleaned away?
Essentially no. It's permanant.

Technical Definition:
Phenolic yellowing is caused due to the presence of phenolic compounds on the textile material, reacting with the oxides of nitrogen in an alkaline medium. The phenomenon of phenolic yellowing is associated with the storage of finished textile material, packed in polyethylene/aromatic polymer material or cardboard cartons.
Aromatic amines (PPD-Para Phenylene Di-Amine) and phenolic compounds (BHT-Butylated Hydroxyl Toluene) are increasingly used as anti-oxidants and stabilizers in organic polymer packaging materials, lubricants and foam. These and the phenolic derivative from the lignin in cardboard form the yellowing precursors.

Author: Kevin Loomes

Monday, 11 March 2013

Dangers of 'Stain Removal' and 'Carpet Cleaning' Products

And why it can ruin your carpets or upholstery!

You have dropped something on your carpet (or upholstery), and your instinct tells you to grab something to try and remove it as quickly as possible. So your first thought is probably to wipe it up, and then maybe to use a cleaning product that may be wholey innapropriate - even when it may say that it is a carpet cleaning or stain removal product!

Unbeknown to you that magic cleaner that you bought that's hopefully going to save your carpet - could contain something very harsh that could actually ruin it - with NO possibility of returning it back to how it should. WHAT! I hear you say! There are 2 major issues with these supermarket available products - we see these nearly every day, and the worse thing is you are probably completely unaware of their destructive nature. I mean they are brands on TV - so  they must be ok right? I'm afraid not, and they are:

1). Colour loss
Due to the harsh nature of the cleaning product, it could be quite quick in fading the colour. We all know that when you remove colour from something - it won't look the same again, unless you return the colour. Well this is essentially impossible and the expensive carpet or upholstery item is now affected by PERMANENT colour loss and basically ruined. Do not make the common mistake of presuming that you have merely made a 'clean patch', it could well indeed be the colour that's vanished!

2). Dirt attracting residues
Most of these cleaners are detergent based, and usually quite foamy. Because you are not removing this from the carpet or upholstery item (you can't unless you rinse it out with a machine), then it will simply make the area go darker and darker over time as the dust sticks to it. Think about it for a minute, imagine washing your hair - but not rinsing it out afterwards. Yes its exactly the same i.e. Soapy and sticky!

Ruined Carpet or Upholstery?
After you have attempted to remove the stain (and been unsuccessful), you may now be considering calling a professional in the hope that they can now 'sort it out'. But now we have a major problem - by applying said products can unfortunately cause what we professionals call 'setting the stain'. This means that the stain structure has been altered by the wrong chemical ingredient applied to it. Yes, the cleaning product used may well be a household name - but they certainly are not 'professional' products. So now the professional you called has a very very difficult stain to try and remove - and the truth is it may not be able to be removed - not because he is incompetent but because it has been 'set' and changed chemically.

The moral of the story is - if the value of a carpet or upholstered item is of great importance to you - it would certainly be more cost effective to call out a professional cleaning company in the first place - who may have complete success in removing it, and without ruining the carpet or upholstery - saving you money in replacement costs.

Can a small bottle of 'carpet cleaning' or 'stain remover' product costing a few pounds - potentially cost you thousands of pounds? Yes it can, so be warned.

Author: Kevin Loomes

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Draught Marks (a.k.a. Filtration Soiling) on carpets

What is draught marking?

Draught marking appears on carpets as dark soiled areas or spots around the edges of rooms or under doorways. In extreme cases it is found across the middle of a room in the configuration of the floorboards.

It is also known as filtration soiling, fogging or dust marks. The cause is always the same. Contaminated air blows through or across the carpet and the carpet acts as a filter, removing the dirt from the air. The resultant draught marking is both unsightly and a problem to remove.

The contaminated air gets to the carpet through:-

  • Gaps under the skirting board creating black lines
  • Gaps between the floorboards allowing dust travelling upwards
  • Holes in the carpet caused by nails or carpet fitting tools
  • Gaps under doors where the air concentration is high
  • Gaps under the bottom of curtains, usually creating wavy lines (where the curves of the curtains hover above the carpet)
  • Air vents close to the carpeted floor allowing dust travel through it

The best method of preventing draught marking ruining the look of your new carpets is to specify a draught proof installation. This prevents the movement of air through the carpet and may involve the following steps before the carpet is installed:-

Laying sheets of hardboard on top of the existing floorboards
Taping all the hardboard joints to prevent leaks of air
Laying paper on top of the hardboard to add extra draught proofing
Using flexible mastic to seal the gap between the skirting board and the floor.

If these measures are carried out before the carpet and underlay are installed then it is unlikely that very much draught marking will occur .

Draught marking could possibly be removed by cleaning (depending on how fresh it is), but not cured. The microscopic airborne soiling is tenaciously oil bonded to the carpet fibres. The degree of success in the removal of the soil depends on the nature of the soil (pollution) and the length of time that it has been present. At CleanPro we have researched and tested many ways of removing draught marking and we are confident that we can remove the majority of this soiling if it is fresh, but only make an impact on older draught marking by removing only some of it (basically the longer it is in the carpet, the more difficult it is to remove). However a draught marking problem cannot be cured by cleaning alone as the soiling will return if the contaminated air is allowed to continue to flow through or across the carpet! [we will not use harsh high ph cleaning agents in a desperate attempt to try to remove all of this soiling - as this action alone will probably remove colour from the actual carpet fibres, thus leaving us in a situation where we would be asked to replace the carpet!].

Remember, intense black marks created over time make it extremely difficult to remove and sometimes impossible. We refer to this as 'inground soil'.

There is one other similar mark to be worried about..
This is the black lines that go around all the edges of some carpets in rooms and even on stairs. Now this could indeed be venting marks (as per above) from a gap between the carpet and the skirting board, but usually this is not the case. It's normally down to the fact that most people use an upright vacuum cleaner and when using it, it's virtually impossible to get right up to the edge of the carpet because the vacuum cleaner has a plastic casing that normally bumps into the skirting. The brush underneath cannot therefore reach the last 4mm or 5mm and so this never gets sucked up. What happens then after a while is that this eventually goes blacker and blacker until it becomes really noticeable. At this point it is probably too late to remove it all as it is 'inground'. It isn't something a professional cleaning company can normally take care of either, due to tooling and the possibility of damaging the paintwork and even the edging of the carpet itself. The lesson here is to use a crevice tool on the vacuum EVERY time you use it - to prevent this from happening in the first place.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Pile Reversal (shading).

What is Permanent Pile Reversal shading?

Permanent Pile Reversal Shading is a phenomenon that can appear in any cut pile carpet. Its occurrence is random and its causes are largely unexplained. It is also commonly referred to as watermarking, pooling or puddling. A cut pile carpet that has ‘shaded' will show areas lighter or darker than the surrounding carpet pile. This variation is caused by the reflection of light from pile tufts which come to lay in different directions.

Visually, Permanent Pile Reversal Shading is not unlike the brushed appearance of other cut pile fabrics such as suede, velour and velvet, although the appearance change in a carpet that has ‘shaded' will be permanent.

As Permanent Pile Reversal Shading will have some impact on the appearance of a carpet, consumers should consider the possibility that it may occur when buying a cut pile carpet.

SHADING - common usage terms and common misunderstandings
The general term ‘shading' is sometimes incorrectly used to describe a number of carpet characteristics that are not related to Permanent Pile Reversal Shading. The following outlines common usage terms and explains which terms are, and which terms are not, Permanent Pile Reversal Shading.

Watermarking, pooling and puddling are terms used to describe irregular areas of light or dark in the carpet that may resemble water spillage marks. These effects are permanent and referred to as Permanent Pile Reversal Shading. The appearance change is permanent - it will not go.

Footmarking is seen as small localised marks on the carpet pile that are typically caused by dragging or scuffing associated with normal foot traffic. The appearance change caused by footmarking is temporary and can be reversed by vacuuming or brushing of the pile fibres in the normal direction of pile lay. Footmarking is a characteristic of most cut pile carpets and is not related to Permanent Pile Reversal Shading.

Tracking describes the flattening or crushing of the carpet pile in areas that receive more concentrated foot traffic than adjacent areas. Tracking can appear in carpets of any construction and will depend on traffic patterns and the wear characteristics of the particular carpet that has been installed. Tracking is not related to Permanent Pile Reversal Shading.

What is known about Permanent Pile Reversal Shading?

Despite extensive research and development of methods and techniques to minimize the occurrence of shading, the characteristic is not predictable. However, the consensus of expert opinion about Permanent Pile Reversal Shading is that:

It can occur in any cut pile carpet (or rug) including hand knotted, tufted, woven, bonded, knitted or hand-made carpets and rugs.

It can occur in carpets made from all carpet fibres and blends of different fibres (e.g. nylon, wool, acrylic, polyester, polypropylene and their blends).

Its occurrence will not lead to premature wear of the carpet and it will have no effect on the durability of the carpet.

Where does Permanent Pile Reversal Shading Occur?

Although research from around the world is inconclusive, location factors are thought to be linked to the incidence of Permanent Pile Reversal Shading. Trials have shown that an installed carpet, showing no sign of Permanent Pile Reversal Shading, can develop the phenomenon when re-laid in a shading prone location. However, it has not been possible to isolate the specific factors responsible although floor temperature, humidity, air currents, static electricity and earth rays have all been investigated as possible causes.