Search This Blog

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