Press Release: Esteemed Service Award!

Chem-Dry by Whalen Services Earns Esteemed 2013 Angie’s List Super Service Award

Award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service

Carpet Upholstery Cleaning Service Award

 Chem-Dry by Whalen Services has earned the service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award, reflecting an exemplary year of service provided to members of the consumer review service in 2013.

“We are very proud to have been awarded the Angie’s List 2013 Super Service Awards for carpet cleaning and upholstery cleaning.  Our office staff and cleaning technicians always strive to provide excellent customer service and to exceed our customers’ expectations. We offer excellent cleaning at a fair and competitive price.”

“Only about 5 percent of the companies Chem-Dry by Whalen Services competes with in Barnstable are able to earn our Super Service Award,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “It’s a mark of consistently great customer service.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2013 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade; the company must be in good standing with Angie’s List, have a fully complete profile, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in areas ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality. Members can find the 2013 Super Service Award logo next to company names in search results on AngiesList.com.

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Angie’s List helps consumers have happy transactions with local service professionals in more than 720 categories of service, ranging from home improvement to healthcare. More than 2 million paid households use Angie’s List to gain access to local ratings, exclusive discounts, the Angie’s List Magazine and the Angie’s List complaint resolution service.

What to Expect from a Great Professional Cleaner

It all starts with a phone call. You’ve decided that the carpets need refreshing, and after reading that article on how soft fabrics can be breeding grounds for bacteria, the upholstery definitely needs cleaning too. However you find the company, whether it be on the internet, a recommendation, or if you’re still using the good ole phone book, something grabs your interest to initiate the call.

Upholstery (2)Expect a great greeting! All successful businesses know that nailing first impressions is key. You should feel comfortable with asking any questions you have about their process and company. The customer service staff should be friendly and knowledgeable. For instance: most solutions should be tested on fabrics before cleaning if they have never been used before. In this case, the staff should offer to schedule a test prior to the cleaning for the protection of your furniture.

The cleaning. The test passed fine and it’s cleaning day. A company with efficient scheduling probably would have called you at least the day before to confirm. What should you expect now? Punctuality. Their arrival should be at the scheduled time or you should at least receive a phone call if they are running late or early. It certainly helps if you leave them with all telephone numbers that you may be reached on that day.

Upon arrival, the technician should start with a pre-inspection. This is where you can review what you would like to have done, address any areas of concern, and where they may be able to evaluate any other service suggestions. They may notice that you have a dog and offer you a free back light evaluation to see if there’s any hidden pet stains. They may ask if any residents have allergies or respiratory issues and offer an anti-allergen treatment. Sharing the knowledge of their options to offer you the most effective cleaning for your situation is the difference between quality service and just getting it done.

Once the details are all worked out, carpet cleaning may start with a pre-vacuum and pre-treatment of spots and heavily soiled areas. Attention to detail says a lot. If there is only one technician, small furniture pieces that can safely be moved by one may be arranged away from the cleaning area. A thorough deep cleaning should commence with special care to the surrounding items and areas. If furniture is going to be reset on cleaned carpeting, they should take precautions to protect the furniture from direct contact with wet areas. Upholstery should be cleaned, handled with care, and arranged in the best way to promote drying.

After the cleaning is completed you should expect to be able to do a post-cleaning walk through to insure your satisfaction and give you an opportunity to address any concerns or interest other services. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and hold them to reasonable expectations. They may not be able to work magic with the cleaning, but they should always do their best. The order of operations may differ between companies, but they should all be friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive to your specific needs.

Keeping a clean, healthy home during the holidays

Deck the halls and fire up the oven! Holiday season is upon us. It’s time for gatherings, finger foods, beverages, decorating, and laughs. It’s also time for spills, drops, tracks, and less time to clean them all up! Tis’ not the season for much stressing over messes and stains. Here are a few tips for a cleaner stress-free holiday season:

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  • The welcome mat does more than just welcome. Put area rugs down in high traffic areas to protect your wall to wall carpeting and hard floors. If soiled or spilled upon, you can pick up the area carpet, bring it to be cleaned, or clean it yourself and hang it to dry. Cleaning your wall to wall is not as quick, and hard wood is still exposed to the additional soil and debris tracked in by company. Protect busier areas from all of the extra traffic this season and place a few area carpets down, primarily at entrances and busy hallways.
  • The best policy: No Shoes! Hands down, the best way to avoid wearing in traffic areas is to ask guests and family to remove their shoes at the door. Less soil will be tracked into and throughout your home. It’s another way to say “come on in, stay a while, and relax” in a maintainable, clean and healthy environment.
  • Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum. Break it out before and after each gathering. Vacuuming daily is ideal, but for those of us thinking this is highly impractical for the holiday season, do it at least before and after guests. It’s one extra step to do it both times, but it’s definitely worth it to the life of your carpets.
  • Emergency! Emergencies get your immediate, fast attention. Gently blot spills and splatters as soon as you are aware of them. The best results we’ve seen to remove spots starts with a spray of Chem-Dry’s carbonated spot remover and blotting with a cloth towel. No spot remover? Dab the cloth in lukewarm water, but not too much because it can cause the stain to sink deeper. If you’d like a can of spot remover, stop by our office between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and pick one up! Take caution with which spot removers you do trust on your carpets because some can actually set the stain rather than help remove it.

Last but not least: have fun! Don’t stress too much about any one thing. Stressing along with the holiday rush opens opportunity for more accidents. Select simple guidelines to follow, prepare as much as you can in advance, and don’t forget to stop and smell the holiday swag. We wish you the happiest – healthiest holiday season.

Winter’s Toll on the Health of Your Home

winter_health_homeIt’s almost time to break out the winter weather shoes. Some are stylish, some are rugged, but all good winter weather shoes have a heavier tread on the bottom compared to off-season shoes. These treads and deep groves make foot travel safer and easier, but are also perfect for collecting soil and debris. With freezing temperatures and snow, salt and extra sand is added to the mix of fiber damaging substances collected in these great treads.  With cleanliness and health in mind, winter months may require a little more effort to maintain interior spaces.

First off, what is soil exactly? Soil is unwanted substances that lodge themselves within fibers, carried into spaces with traffic.  Typically, analysis on general soil samples show that it is comprised of abrasive particles, dander, and vegetable fiber. Add in oily or sticky substances and you’ve added a binder, allowing the soil to glue itself to fibers.

Keeping a building clean and healthy during the winter months all starts within the first 5-6ft of the entry way. This is where most of the damaging soil accumulates. Lay down a matting system that will be resistant enough to the soil that it will be easier to clean than carpet, but heavy enough that it will keep the soil from spreading past that point. You’ll want to cover the first 10 feet around the entry way (five feet on either side of the door).

Next, make sure you have your carpets sprayed with a protective coating after each cleaning. This is actually suggested as a year round maintenance item to keep your carpets looking their best and staying their healthiest. Original factory protectors eventually wear off or are cleaned off.  We have a lot more detail on why this is so important in our article How can I keep my carpets, area rugs, and upholstery looking their best.

Make more time to put extra effort into keeping the exterior travel routes clear. Sweep, rake, or blow outside walkways more often. Depending on how much traffic you experience, think about adding exterior matting or grates to collect more soil before the door mat.

Last but not least, have your carpets cleaned and vacuum often. Clean them a little more frequently than you do in the other seasons. Not only do you have the extra soil from winter shoes, there’s also holidays, decorating, and more time spent indoors to track it all around. By adding mats, keeping the exterior walkways to entrances clean, and making sure your carpet is protected, you’ll have a healthier cozy winter.

 

 

What You Need to Know About Your Tile

Tile is an artistic way to add texture and design to your home or business. Considering size and color, the options are as nearly endless as paint color. There are both natural stone and man-made tile selections to choose from. The type of tile you choose defines the proper method of cleaning and care. It is very important to know if the tile has a coating, if it is acid sensitive, and if it is porous.

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The most common man-made tiles are ceramic and porcelain. Ceramic is fired clay with a colored or painted surface. Porcelain, which is fired at a higher temperature than ceramic, has color throughout making any scratches or damage less noticeable. These options are usually not acid sensitive and non-porous.

Saltillo and terracotta are some of the oldest tiles made by man, but some processes have been adjusted today with new technology to produce them in higher quantity. They both have a very high absorbency and often come with a coating that will need to be removed in order to clean them. Coatings sit on the top of tile opposed to sealers that are absorbed.

Other man-made tile options include paver brick, quarry tile, and engineered stone. Unglazed ceramic material is used in paver brick and quarry tile. These are great for exterior paving. Engineered stone is man-made using natural stones bound in a resin or other binder.  Because of the natural stone in them, you must be very careful as to what you use when cleaning. Some natural stones are acid sensitive.

Which natural stones are acid sensitive? Limestone, travertine, and marble. Natural stone has timeless beauty, but to retain it these must be cleaned with an alkaline or neutral pH cleaner. Acid resistant natural stones include granite, slate, and sandstone.

All tile and stone should always be tested to determine if there is a coating, if the material is acid sensitive, and if it is porous. This is why it is highly recommended to have your tile and stone professionally cared for.  Tile and grout technicians have the resources, knowledge, and experience to determine the best products and processes for all of your tile. Professionals will also seal most tiles after cleaning, protecting them and the grout from future damage, bacteria, and staining.

How You Know it’s Time to Call for Professional Carpet Cleaning

Many customers who use are services take advantage of our service reminders and special customer discounts on regular cleaning. They get on a routine schedule and never have to worry about going too long between cleanings. Their rugs last longer, stay cleaner, and their homes are healthier. If you aren’t on a routine cleaning schedule, here are a few questions you can answer to determine if it’s time to schedule your professional cleaning or not.

Professional Carpet Cleaning (3)


When was the last time your carpets were cleaned?

If you can’t remember ever having them cleaned, I’d say it’s about time. If you think it has been at least over a year, now would be a good time to call and schedule. Keep in mind that some companies may be booking one to two weeks out, so plan accordingly.


Have your allergies been acting up lately?

Whether it is seasonal allergies, dust mite allergies, or just a sensitivity to dust, a good deep cleaning could make you feel much better. Dust, dirt, and allergens are attracted to your carpets and upholstery fibers. Although you may not be able to see it, a simple walk down the hallway could be kicking up these irritating particles, dispersing them into the air and directly exposing yourself to them. Chem-Dry even offers a special cleaning package with additional allergen relief.


How do your carpets look?

If you have an area that is usually covered by a piece of furniture or even an area rug, move it and take a peek at the color difference. If you see one, call for a cleaning and brighten the room back up. Keep in mind that sometimes areas that get a decent amount of sun exposure can also discolor. The sun has been known to only tan your skin but bleach your textiles. Unfortunately, a cleaning won’t restore the color after it’s been bleached, but a good cleaning can certainly give you peace of mind.  Check traffic areas for spots or stubborn soiling.  If they are looking a little dull, clean them now before they become permanent. Dirt and sand that collects in traffic areas will wear down these spots, making the soiling more permanent as the fibers are damaged.

Hopefully these questions have helped you decipher if it is time to schedule that professional carpet cleaning.  If its time, make sure to research your options and go with a company you’ll feel comfortable with. There are many green options out there today if you are concerned with the products used, or if you have pets and children. Cape Cod, MA locals are invited to call Chem-Dry by Whalen Services and we will be more than happy to discuss your options with you.

Spot Removal Steps

Your Guide to Spot Removal

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  • Respond immediately! The faster you respond to removing a spill, the less probability it has of becoming a permanent stain. If your carpet has a protector on it, applied either after a cleaning or fresh from the factory, you have an extra cushion of stain resistance. With protector, you have a great chance that the spill will come out if you are quick to take action.
  • Rather than scrub the area, blot it! Use plain white paper towels or a white, dry cloth to absorb the stain out of the area. Work from the outside of the spill moving inward to avoid spreading it. Scrubbing may distort the pile and might even work the spill in.
  • Use a rounded spoon to gently scrape up substances that are more than just liquid and vacuum anything solid.
  • Make sure you have tested your spot remover before attacking a stain. To test it, apply a small amount in an inconspicuous area. Check it in 24 hours for any change or damage. Also, you may want to check with your professional carpet and upholstery cleaner before using any products. Some solutions can actually set the stain rather than remove it.
  • To use your spot remover: Use a small amount and gently work it in with your dry white cloth or plain paper towel. Continue to apply and blot until you no longer see evidence of the spill on your towel or cloth. This may require repeating these steps several times, so please be patient.
  • Clean up the solution. Now that the spill is gone, rinse the area with cold water and blot it with a dry cloth. If the solution is not entirely removed, this area may attract dirt and soil quickly.
  • Dry it out. Make sure the area is completely dry. If you can, put a fan directing airflow toward the spot. Also understand that now that you have cleaned the area, the protection barrier has probably also been removed. Even factory applied protector is eventually worn away or cleaned off. Protection should be applied after every cleaning.

Clean your vacuum!

The very best thing you can do for your carpet is to vacuum it regularly. When using your vacuum often, you may eventually find that it isn’t performing at its top capability. A little maintenance can go a long way to keeping it functioning at its best. You may also save hundreds on repair costs or replacement.  Here are a few guidelines on how to clean your vacuum.

Vacuum

Have you checked the vacuum bag recently? Even though the bag may be less than half full, it might be time to change it. The more debris in the bag, the harder your vacuum has to work to get the air to pass through it. Some bags have “full” lines, or you can check it with a quick squeeze. If it’s about half full it’s time for a new one. Make sure you have the correct size and type of mag for your model vacuum. To find which size you need, contact the manufacturer. Many brands have easy online search tools.

If your vacuum doesn’t require a bag, there are other steps for you to take. Make sure to empty the bagless canister often if not after each use. Gently tap the canister to try and release any held debris. If you have an air compressor handy, you should blow out the air diffuser holes inside the canister. Try and make sure no small grits of sand or dirt are still stuck in the corners.

Now it’s time to clean out the beater bar which also known as the brush roll. This is the head of the vacuum that makes contact with the carpet. Each model vacuum is different, but some have a cover around the bar that is held in by screws. After the cover is off, be careful removing the roll as there should be belt around it that’s responsible for turning the roll. Once free of its housing, clear the roll with a seam ripper or scissors. Make sure to get all of the tightly wound debris. If you can unscrew the sides of the roll, gently remove any debris from the bearings. You may need to either lubricate or replace these bearings if you find they are worn.

Before putting the beater bar back in, check the belt you found around it before you removed it from the housing. You’re looking for any cracks, loss of tension, alignment, and wear. Vacuum belts should actually be replaced about once a year if not more. When replacing, it should slide right off the pulley or drive shaft. While these areas are exposed, clean up any caked on dirt with a rag and make sure the air passage ways are clean. Slide the new belt back on the pulley or drive shaft, reinstall the beater bar, check the alignment of the new belt, and screw the cover back on.

Proper airflow is key to a vacuum’s performance. Filers in and around your vacuum will keep the unit from blowing the super fine particles back into your home. Check your owner’s manual for the locations of your vacuum’s filters. Plastic filters and usually be rinsed off. Paper or fabric filters should be replaced when found full or very dirty.

Last but not least, make sure the wand and hose are clear. Gently thread a broom stick or wire hanger through the hose. If you find a clog, be sure not to pack it in. Try to remove the clog in bits until it loosens enough to clear it out entirely. Be careful when clearing the hose not to poke a hole in it.

Voila! Your vacuum is now fresh, clean, and ready for all the use it’s going to get keeping your carpets at their best. Removing dirt, sand, and debris from the carpet fibers is a major factor in avoiding those dark traffic areas. Try to do this about every 6 months or at the very least don’t exceed a year. Pat yourself on the back for the money you saved on a trip to the appliance maintenance facility. Happy cleaning!

Traffic areas and your carpeting

After having your carpets cleaned, have you ever noticed areas that look as if a stain still remains? Perhaps they didn’t clean up as well as you hoped. It may not be that the cleaner didn’t do a great job, or that the product is not very effective, but that the area that remains dark is not simply soiled; it’s a traffic area. The fibers in that spot have been permanently damaged by carpet sanding. Just like a cloudy piece of Plexiglas that has been weathered and scratched, light is not being reflected the same off the carpet fibers, making the area appear dirty. This happens when debris and soil settles between the carpet fibers and grinds them down with each step they endure. There may not be much you can do about it now, but you can learn how to prevent it from worsening, happening in other areas, and prevent it on new carpeting.

My first suggestion in preventing these traffic areas is to make sure you vacuum regularly. Although you may not see very much sand or soil, it is still easily tracked in and settles right into the carpet pile. The less soil you allow to remain in the carpet, the easier it is for your vacuum to be more effective in removing it. Focus most on the areas that you walk through or enter in each room, along with the areas you may sit the most. Without the buildup, your steps won’t have much to grind against your carpet fibers. It also never hurts to enforce the old “no shoes in the house” rule, especially if the main gathering areas are carpeted.

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Along with regular vacuuming you should be having your carpets routinely cleaned with a non-detergent based solution. Cleaning the carpets will get most of the soil that your vacuum just can’t touch. Not only will your carpets last longer, but your home will be healthier. More than just dirt, sand, and soil settle into carpet fibers. Cleaning also reduces allergens like pollen, dust, and dust mites. I suggest a non-detergent based cleaning solution because soaps and detergents may remain on the fibers after being “cleaned”. They can actually attract more dirt, leaving your carpets looking dirty much quicker than before.

While you’re at it, have the carpet cleaners apply a coat of protection immediately after cleaning. This will help avoid those traffic areas immensely. Imagine it as a clear shield that will take the wear from soiling before allowing it to start grinding down the carpet fibers. Protection is also fantastic defense against stains as the fine waterproof coat delays liquid from being absorbed, allowing you ample time to easily blot the spill with a rag. Even if your carpeting came with a protection already on it, the factory supplied protector is only temporary and a new one will need to be applied. Read more on this available protection HERE on a previous article.

So if you have your carpets cleaned and an area doesn’t look as clean as the rest of the carpeting, consider the placement. If it’s in a highly traveled area, or an area of great use, it’s probably a traffic lane caused by soiling that ground the carpet fibers with the help of your feet.  Vacuum and have your carpets cleaned routinely to avoid them, and apply a barrier of protection for best results.

Professional carpet cleaning vs. household carpet cleaning machines

There’s a great variety of machines available to consumers specifically for carpet and upholstery cleaning. Many house hold machines can be purchased anywhere you can find a regular vacuum. Along with the many machine options come detergent and cleaner options to use in them. If you own one of these handy cleaners, why would you have your carpets professionally cleaned?

Although machines vary in function and design, they are all mostly designed to dispense and extract liquid from the carpeting. Features range from the types of brushes they have and the speed at which they move, to the flow gauge of water and upholstery attachment options. So what’s the big difference? Efficiency and time. The household machine may spray and extract, but a truck mounted system allows for a stronger and more efficient extraction. It is always important to thoroughly remove the most amount of moisture from the carpet after getting it wet to avoid microbial growth. If a carpet is saturated, there’s concern that the water will seep into the pad below and maybe even get through to the sub-flooring. Carpets that are saturated and/or not properly extracted can be the perfect breeding ground for mold spores.

The lines that are run off a truck mounted system are specifically designed to withstand not only the suction strength, but the temperature of the water. Not all household carpet cleaning machines have a water heater to provide the hot water extraction results. Cold water cleaning may leave you to rely on the strength of the detergent or shampoo you are using.  These solutions, especially if not completely rinsed and extracted, can actually attract soil and dirt. This would cause your carpets or upholstery to be noticeably dirty even quicker. Many evolved professional systems don’t even use soaps or detergents, but rely on carbonation for best results. With that in mind, be sure to ask your professional cleaners what type of solutions they use.

Aside from the mechanical advantages of a professional carpet or upholstery cleaning, there is also the advantage of experience. Having your home serviced doesn’t just come with the cleaning, but also proper inspection and evaluation. Professionally trained technicians are educated and experienced to care for many different scenarios of textile type and soil type. They will be able to give you more insight on potential areas of concern and the best proper maintenance for what you have. They may even suggest other options for your needs such as allergen relievers or the application of a protector. (Read more about textile protection in my previous blog post)

If you do wish to purchase a household carpet cleaning machine, you should really research which options are most important to you and which you could do without. Be wary of using store bought cleaners on spills as they may sometimes set a stain rather than remove it. Be careful when using the machine itself not to saturate the carpeting and allow for extra extraction time. You might even want to run the heat, air conditioning, or dehumidifier to assist in properly drying. These machines are great to immediately extract heavy soiling or a sudden spill, but no matter how many bells and whistles it comes with, it will not provide the same results as a truck mounted professional system. You should still have an experienced professional properly examine, treat, and care for your carpets and upholstery.