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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.