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Your carpet is a significant investment, both in monetary terms and overall home image. It is important to implement a good maintenance program from the beginning. A consistent and effective carpet care program can help preserve your home’s or office’s positive image and dramatically extend the life of the carpet.

There are many important reasons we clean and maintain any object, including carpet. The incentive for an effective cleaning and maintenance program is magnified when we recognize these activities contribute to the following:

· Maintaining the value of your property and reducing the rate of depreciation.

· Contributing directly to personal security and comfort.

· Accenting aesthetics.

· Encouraging topophilia (affection for place).

· Elevating a sense of well-being, which is the essence of good health.

· Sending caring messages and image.

· Promoting human dignity.

· Managing waste and hazards and contributing to environmental protection.

· Helping to ensure sanitation – reducing adverse exposure levels.

The appearance of carpet depends upon several factors – color, pattern, density, fiber, and a viable carpet maintenance program. In order to keep carpet performing its best, designing and implementing a comprehensive maintenance plan is very important.

Check the “traffic lanes” often for slight dulling of color; this indicates a build up of soil and/or abrasion of fibers. Entrance mats or rugs and scheduled cleaning can reduce this deterioration. Areas, where large amounts of gritty soil enter the home, may become dull due to abrasion or scratching of the fiber surface, affecting the reflection of light. Frequent vacuuming with a CRI-tested vacuum helps to minimize this problem (www.carpet-rug.org).

A thoughtfully designed and implemented maintenance program performed by qualified personnel (CRI-SOA and WoolSafe® Service Providers or Clean Trust (IICRC)-Certified cleaning professionals), properly equipped and trained, is essential for optimal long-term performance of your carpet.

There is sometimes a big difference between cleaning carpet and maintaining carpet. Cleaning, very often, is the removal of apparent soil. For many carpet owners, cleaning takes place irregularly, on an “as needed” basis. Soiling, however, is a cumulative process which, if allowed to go too far, cannot easily be reversed. Maintenance, in contrast to cleaning, is a scheduled on-going process of soil removal designed to maintain carpet’s appearance at a consistent level of cleanliness and minimize fiber damage.


Vacuuming is a “chore” for most consumers. We know that there are probably a thousand other things you would rather be doing. Because of this, most don’t vacuum nearly as often or as well as they should.  That’s why the first step in our carpet or rug cleaning process is vacuuming with heavy duty commercial equipment and dusting of rugs.

Vacuuming is more than just getting the carpet or rugs cleaned for appearance sake. Vacuuming is an essential part of maintaining your carpet and rugs as well as keeping your home clean and healthy. Despite the fact that the air in your house may smell fresh and feel clean there are a plethora of teeny-tiny microscopic particles always floating around. These tend to contribute to a considerable number of breathing-related health issues and maladies. People who suffer from allergies and asthma tend to be particularly prone to these nuisances.

The good news is your carpet and rugs are good multi-taskers.  Not only do they bring an aesthetic charm to your home’s decor they also work as a filter that captures and traps these types of airborne particles. Unfortunately, your soft floor coverings don’t have any means of eliminating these particles after they’ve been captured. They must be physically removed.  Experts recommend that you vacuum your carpet  and rugs at least twice a week and more often in high traffic areas or if you have pets. Regular vacuuming not only removes the dry dirt, dander, hair and soil that is visible, it also helps eliminate all the microscopic allergens that you can’t see.  The first step of professional cleaning, that is vacuuming, is skipped by most carpet and fabric cleaning companies to save time, which lessens the effectiveness of the cleaning process.

Here are some useful guidelines to help you vacuum more effectively.

· If possible, use a HEPA-type filter or bag.  These help contain the real fine particles. Empty your bag or canister when it’s 2/3 full.

· Take your time. 80% of vacuuming effectiveness comes when pulling back, not pushing forward. Check your brush bars and belts regularly. Remove hairs and check bristles on brush bars.

· Make sure the belt is not frayed or damaged.

· Vacuum in multiple directions. This will keep your carpet and rugs from getting worn and will also help loosen dirt and soil.

· Frequent vacuuming cannot be stressed enough. Your carpet has been doing its job through collecting and capturing all the airborne particulates and dirt that find their way into your house.  Your (or a professional's) job is to remove them from your carpet and rugs and dispose of them correctly.  Your carpet and your family with appreciate it.

If you’re looking for a new vacuum, check the Carpet and Rug Institute’s list of  Seal of Approval/Green Label certified vacuums @ www.carpet-rug.org. They are tested for three criteria:  Soil removal, dust containment, and surface appearance change. 

Many of you are replacing your carpet with hard surface flooring and area rugs. Area rugs offer the most variety in floor coverings. But before you buy, you need to know just a couple more things about them - other than that they can define a space and elevate your décor. Whether you choose handmade or machine made, antique or thoroughly modern, you need to consider these questions:

Size And Shape? Area rugs are made in standard and non-standard sizes and they can be rectangular (most common), round, square, oval, octagonal or long and narrow for runners. The most common sizes are 2’x3’, 4’x6’, 5’x8’, 6’x9’, 8’x10’, 9’x12’ and up. Choosing the correct size area rug depends on the dimensions of the space you want to cover. Here are some hints on how to figure out what size rug you need.

Thinking square or rectangle? Place a piece of copy paper where each of the corners will fall in the area you wish to cover. Measure the space and adjust the “corners” as needed to make the space larger or smaller given the standard rug sizes. If you’re considering a round rug, you can run a piece of tape from the center of the space you want to cover to the outside edge. Measure it. This gives you the radius of the circle. Double it and you have the diameter.

If you choose to cover the whole room with your area rug, it is best to leave a 12-inch to 15-inch border of flooring exposed to frame your rug. Rugs in the dining room table should be large enough so that when seated at the table, the back legs of your guests’ chairs are on the rug with enough space to push back and stand up. One more thing. When you go to buy, be sure to take along a tape measure. Like textile clothing sizes, they need to be “tried-on”, or at least measured so you know what true size you are actually buying, particularly if it is a handmade rug. Many hand-knotted rugs are not perfectly square!

Color is at least as important for an area rug as how it’s made. The combination of color, design and setting (your room) all come together to create your own personal artistic statement. Area rugs don’t have to match the colors of the room precisely. Great interior design often features combinations of colors that either contrast or compliment a room’s primary color scheme. But a good rule of thumb is to stick to one primary shade and two additional colors.

Fiber is another consideration. Most hand-made rugs are made of natural fibers, with wool being the most common face fiber and cotton the most common foundation fiber. Natural fibers require a little extra care and cleaning to keep the rug looking great for years to come. If you’re in the market for a silk rug be ready to make a considerable investment. Also be aware that there are some “faux” (false,fake) silk rugs in the market place. Don’t get fooled into buying one just because the price is “too good to be true.” It probably is!

Pattern is divided into three categories in the rug industry:

· Curvilinear literally means curved lines. It refers to patterns with swirl, arc, and bows.

· Geometric refers to patterns based on simple geometric shapes such as lines, triangles, squares and rectangles.

· Pictorial, the smallest group, refers to patterns that portray people, animals, and scenes.

Style is such an ambiguous idea. It simply means a distinctive manner of expression. Over time, names get attached to the word style: Traditional. Contemporary. Classical. Art Deco. Transitional. Your distinctive style can draw on bits and pieces of all of these and more. It is a personal expression of the way you want to live your life and decorate your home or office.

Rugs styles are also based on their origin: Navajo, Persian, Chinese, Turkoman, Turkey, Caucasian, Tibetan and Indian just to name just a few. No one expects you to know all or even some of these. You need to know what you like. If you do some research on-line and find an image of an area rug you find attractive, take it to a reputable retailer. It’s another way of beginning the search.

What Now? Know and trust your rug retailer. If you are shopping for antique rugs, this is fundamentally important. All investments should be made with the help of a knowledgeable counselor. If this, not an investment, then what you have learned here will guide you to buying the best area rug in the right style for the right price.

Finally, Be Calculating! Figure the total cost of rug ownership as including rug pad and on-going maintenance. The price on the tag you’re buying is just one component of your cost. Proper rug cleaning and maintenance is a smart investment.

Walk All Over That Rug - It’s important to understand that even though a handmade rug is valuable, it’s made to be used.  Don’t keep it covered in plastic like Aunt Edna’s sitting room sofa. With usage, most hand-made rugs gain a certain patina that enhances their beauty and value. If you’re not going to enjoy it, why have it?

Vacuuming Is Good - You should vacuum or sweep your area rug as you would wall-to-wall carpeting. Watch the fringes. You don’t want to have to pull them out of the vacuum cleaner. Handmade area rugs can benefit from being turned over and vacuumed. Lift the rug up carefully and you will see all the dirt that has filtered down. Yuck!

Turn, Turn, Turn - Rotating your rug occasionally (annually) will help even wear patterns and prevent uneven fading. When rugs are exposed to the sun evenly, the colors harmonize and the rug ages nicely. If parts of the rug receive too much or too little sun, one side might fade faster than the other.

See Spot? Go! - Spot clean your area rug immediately after a spill. A water spill should be blotted and then dried with a hairdryer set on a warm temperature. Try to dry both sides of the rug if possible.  Anything else should first be blotted with paper or terry towels to absorb as much as possible, and then apply salt or baking soda to the spot for a few minutes to absorb the rest.  Once it dries, vacuum off the salt or baking soda. We also have a WoolSafe® approved spotter available free to our clients.

Professional Cleaning - It is recommended that your rugs be professionally cleaned on a regular basis.  Take your rug to a trained, professional carpet and rug care company to clean general soil, pet related issues and old or persistent stains. Please do not try to clean it yourself.  You might make it worse!

To find a professional in your area go to www.woolsafe.org/usa or www.certifiedcleaners.org .

Why is the indoor environment important to our health? Most people are aware that outdoor air pollution can damage their health but may not know that indoor air pollution can also have significant effects. EPA studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor air levels of many pollutants may be 2-5 times, and occasionally, more than 100 times higher than outdoor levels. These levels of indoor air pollutants are of particular concern because it is estimated that most people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors.

The following are ten suggestions professional cleaners can make for immediate improvement of their clients’ indoor environmental quality (IEQ):

  1. Keep Walkway and Entries Clean -  Start by keeping outside sidewalks, entry areas, porches and steps clean.  Sweep, dust, vacuum or use a leaf blower to remove soil and debris from entries to eliminate tracking into the facility. 
  2. Use Mats to Trap Soil at Entries - Outside and interior mats to trap and contain particles and moisture should be placed at each entry.  This not only extends the life of the carpet, it greatly reduces the quantity of particles that enter and build up within traffic areas, eventually becoming airborne.
  3. Clean Shoes at Entries - Studies conducted by professional engineers on carpet dust samples indicate that fine particles containing lead are reduced by cleaning or removing and leaving shoes at the entry.
  4. Purchase and Use High-Quality Vacuum Equipment - A quality, durable upright vacuum with brush agitation is a must.  Price is not as important as quality here.  Check trade or consumer magazines and expect salespersons to provide technically accurate information.  Avoid door-to-door sales tactics. Also check the Carpet and Rug Institute’s list of vacuums that have passed the Green Label Program at: www.cri-rug.com.
  5. Use High-Efficiency Vacuum Filter Bag - The use of high-efficiency (HEPA-type) double-lined vacuum filter bags that filter out 99% of particles down to one micron or less in size is highly recommended.  Avoid cheap paper filter bags that remove particles down to seven microns only.  Small particles that pass easily through paper filter bags are a major source of respiratory irritation, as well as household dust.
  6. Vacuum Frequency - Advise customers or janitorial staff to increase the frequency of vacuuming before soils sift downward and become embedded in the carpet pile. Vacuuming should be done more slowly in entry areas where most particle soils accumulate.  Traffic areas should be slowly passed over two or three times.  Periodic use of vacuum unit attachments or a canister vacuum to remove accumulated soils from entries and along baseboards is also recommended.
  7. HVAC Filters - Use quality reusable electrostatic filters for HVAC systems.  These filters have acrylic rods that vibrate and create a static electricity that charges soil particles, thereby attracting them to the filter.  Anticipate a cost of $50-100 for quality filters.  These filters should be removed and flushed free of collected soils on a monthly basis.
  8. Clean the Carpet - Professional cleaning compounds lift and suspend fine particles of soil.  Then, careful extraction using hot water flushes them from carpet fibers. Specify a cleaning technician who is trained and certified by theInstitute ofInspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (800 835-4624).
  9. Clean Other Soft Surfaces - Clean upholstery, drapery, bedding and other fabric surfaces; wash linens weekly. The objective of professional cleaning is to remove the maximum amount of soil (anything foreign to the construction of the fiber) with the least damage to the fiber. Most soil is slightly acidic. Soil falls into three classifications which may require special chemicals or procedures to remove:

                1. insoluble (particle) - sand, quartz, feldspar,limestone, gypsum, clay, and carbon

                                        -hair and dander

                                        -vegetable matter (cellulose)

                2. water soluble - sugar, starch, salt, etc.

                3. dry solvent soluble - oils, grease, etc.

  10. Control moisture and humidity - Dust mites and mold are the two most common allergens present in higher humidity climates. According to studies conducted at Wright State University, dust mite infestation will be eliminated if the relative humidity of the building, not just a particular area, is consistently maintained below 50 percent

Molds, which are classified as fungi, require humidity of 70 percent or higher and a food source of organic-based material to grow. Cooler surfaces, which may have a relative humidity near 100%, create a perfect breeding area for mold. By reducing and maintaining the relative humidity of a structure below 50 percent, both dust mite infestation and mold growth will be prevented.

            Ten steps to a cleaner, safer environment - a small investment for such a big return in indoor environmental quality.

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R. L. Seminars, LLC
WoolSafe North America
437 Alfred Ladd Road East
Franklin, TN 37064

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