Welcome to the Advanced Degree Blog. We'll use this space to provide information about our services, our business, and other items to help educate you about how best to maintain your home or business. Please feel free to explore all the articles (more exciting than a summer blockbuster!).
Our customers often ask us what they should do to maintain their wood floors between the deep cleanings we provide. As it turns out, there are a lot of decent answers to that question, and it's actually more important to know what NOT to do. Here are the top 5 mistakes people make that can actually harm their floors.
First, for the love of all that is good in the world, don’t apply an acrylic floor polish or wax. These products don’t bond with the existing finish – they sit on top of it, and as such, create a number of problems. First, any soil that isn’t cleaned off of the floor becomes trapped under the acrylic or wax and remains visible (this may be a great look for insects in a museum, but not for your floors!). Acrylic polishes and waxes are also soft, and as such, they scuff and scratch easily, but an even bigger problem is that their softness makes them subtly tacky – a bit like the confessionals on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. But unlike those confessionals, this tackiness isn’t fun to watch. It tends to hold onto soil, which makes your floor appear dirty faster. And once that soil gets into the acrylic or wax, you really can’t clean it out. Many cleaning products will cause a haze in the coating, which makes things look even worse. The only option left is to strip the acrylic or wax from the floor. This can be done, but it’s labor intensive and time consuming – not how you want to spend your Saturday!
Second, don’t mop with a lot of water as you would a tile floor. Depending on whether your floors are hardwood, engineered or laminate, and whether they were site or factory finished, you have a different level of water risk, but if water gets into the core of the plank, your floor can warp or cup. It’s best to use dry mops that use static electricity to pick up soil, or a very mildly wet mop.
Third, many people clean with distilled white vinegar. This is seen as a catch all home remedy for lots of cleaning, but it’s not a good choice for wood floors. Most soiling is acidic and is properly neutralized by alkaline substances. Distilled white vinegar is mildly acidic, so it doesn’t help dissolve most soils, and its acetic acid can slowly erode your existing finish.
Fourth, while it’s great to vacuum your floors, but don’t use the wrong type of vacuum or attachments. Steer clear of any machines or attachments that have beater bars or stiff bristles as these can scratch the finish itself. It’s best to use a wand style vacuum with a soft brush head attachment.
Fifth, despite all these warnings, don’t neglect regular maintenance. This should include routine sweeping or vacuuming (with an appropriate tool), occasional cleaning with an oil soap or non-abrasive wood floor cleaner, and every 12 – 18 months, having Advanced Degree Carpet Cleaning perform a deep, extractive cleaning to remove all embedded soil and to restore the warm, robust look you expect from your wood floors.
If you’d like to find out more about our wood floor deep cleaning and preservation finishing, or about any other service we provide, please call us at 302-945-0100.
How Clean are Your Wood Floors, Really?
Wood floors give a home a classic, elegant look that people love. And, they’re easy to keep clean, right?
Well, there are dozens of recommended cleaning methods out there, but how effective are they? Sweeping or vacuuming at least weekly is an important step to keep granular soil from accumulating and scratching the finish, but as with carpets, vacuuming won’t get all the soil. Most floor maintenance programs also recommend a monthly “deep clean.” The suggested processes range from damp mopping to spray cleaners to oil soap. While each of these methods will remove some soil, most of it just gets moved around because there isn’t an extraction step involved. Think about it - how much soil does the bottom of a rag or a mop really pick up? Waxing a floor creates a whole different set of problems because it prevents future cleanings from being able to reach the floors actual finish.
So I think we can safely say that even the most well-maintained wood floors are actually teeming cesspools of bacteria, lol!
Fortunately, we offer a great solution; a true deep cleaning that doesn’t involve the mess and expense of sanding and refinishing. It involves three full cleaning steps, with an optional application of preservation finish. We:
- Use a backpack vacuum to fully remove all granular soil from the areas to be cleaned.
- Perform two cleanings using a special wood floor cleaning machine that carefully applies a water-based cleaning agent, agitates it on the floor with soft brushes, then immediately extracts it with squeegee vacuums.
- The first cleaning uses an alkaline solution (since most soiling is acidic) to dissolve and remove ground in soil.
- The second cleaning picks up any residual detergent, neutralizes the floor’s pH and prepares the existing finish to accept our (optional) preservation finish.
- (Optionally) Apply a preservation finish that bonds with the existing finish, strengthening it and extending its life.
This process will remove huge amounts of soil that are otherwise trapped in your floors (see the video of emptying our cannister after cleaning a floor that was vacuumed regularly and cleaned with oil soap), and give them a richer, more robust feel. Having this cleaning done once a year, and the preservation finish applied every 3-5 years will help keep your wood floors looking their best for a long, long time.
We’re excited to share some big news with you. Today (February 1, 2019), we’re formally launching our plan to expand our business nationally. Hot Steam Carpet Clean was born in Sussex County, grew up here, and will always be a local company. Thanks to the opportunities provided by our wonderful customers, however, we’ve been able to evolve our cleaning processes and grow, and now we’re ready to compete nationally.
We’ll expand through two channels. Mike Dunmyer will continue to own and operate the local company, along with any branches eventually established in D.C., Baltimore and Wilmington. First, however, we will award franchises that will operate our business model outside of this home market with extensive training, coordination and support from our headquarters here in Lewes.
As part of this plan, we’re changing our name to Advanced Degree Carpet Cleaning. We’ve always differentiated ourselves through exceptional expertise, attention to detail and commitment to delivering the best results possible. We believe the name ‘Advanced Degree Carpet Cleaning’ does a better job sending that message. Make no mistake though, we’re still the same company – same ownership, same team, same commitment. We’ll just have a new name.
Doing this places a premium on continuing to perform at the level our customers expect. Our promise has always been that we’ll do everything necessary to elevate everything we clean to its best possible condition. We’re intensely focused on continuing to fulfill that promise. As such, we’ve enhanced our already rigorous internal training and added more testing requirements for our technicians. We’ll continue to use the most thorough cleaning processes in the area and will still follow up after every appointment to make sure you’re 100% satisfied.
As we kick off the next chapter in our growth, we want to thank all of our customers for the support and encouragement they’ve provided over the years. We believe great things come from Sussex County, and we’ll work hard to make everyone proud.
Kitchen Chemistry Can Save The Day!
You just spilled coffee on your new carpet. In a panic, you rush to grab a bottle of “store-bought spot removal product” and get ready to apply it liberally to the splash zone.
STOP! SLOWLY BACK AWAY FROM THE COFFEE SPILL.
Take three deep breaths. Everything is going to be ok – as long as you don’t use the spot removal product! Instead, try a little kitchen chemistry.
Just about everything you can spill on your carpet (including regular coffee) will dissolve in water, and thus intense chemicals aren't needed to “resolve” the situation. Many store bought spotters contain bleaches and/or concentrated detergents that, in addition to being unnecessary, can actually harm your carpet. So, if you do spill something on your carpet, try this:
- Soak up as much as you can by blotting (never rubbing) with a clean towel.
- Pour cold water on the spot and again blot with a clean towel. Keep doing this until the spot disappears or water alone ceases to be effective.
- For any residual – mix a 4:1 batch of hot water with ONE drop (no more) of dishwashing detergent, and either baking soda or distilled white vinegar (see note). Gently pour that solution on the spot and blot with a clean towel until it is fully gone.
Note: The decision about using baking soda or distilled white vinegar depends on whether the spilled substance is acidic or alkaline. The cleaning solution needs to be on the opposite side of the pH scale to neutralize the spill, so for spills that have an acidic pH, use baking soda in the cleaning solution. For alkaline spills, use distilled white vinegar to create an acidic cleaning solution.
The good news is that most soils are acidic, so if you have any doubt, mix up an alkaline solution with baking soda.
Things like coffee, tea, juice and pet urine all start out as acids, but pretty quickly (in about a day) metabolize into alkaline substances. If you get to them right away, they’re still acidic and you can use baking soda, but if you discover them the next day, go with the distilled white vinegar. If you ever have any doubt, check out the Stain Emergencies section of our website.
Paint, nail polish and inorganic oils require chemical solvents to dissolve, so give us a call if you’re dealing with something like that. Otherwise, kitchen chemistry can resolve most spills or spots and won’t hurt your carpet!
Check Those Filters!
Every so often, we'll have a job where we see gray shading around the baseboards of a room. This typically happens on the upper floors of a house around exterior walls (or under doors). As with everything we encounter, we use all our expertise and every potential cleaning agent to make the carpet look as good as possible. Sometimes, we can remove it completely, and other times we can lighten it, but unfortunately this "filter shading" is often permanent.
Why does this happen? "Filter shading" occurs when a house's HVAC air filters stop removing the microscopic carbon-based particulates in the air. Because houses aren't perfectly sealed, air flows through the seams where floor and wall meet, moreso on the upper floors. As air, rich in microscopic carbon is pulled through the seam, carpet along the baseboard acts as a de-facto air filter and traps those particles. Their microscopic size allows them to get deep into the fibers, and since carbon is insoluble, it doesn't respond to steam cleaning. Our thorough approach will remove any water soluble (non-carbon) elements, and we will also apply reducing agents to try and alter the chemical structure of the shading so it doesn't show as much. Most of the time, however, that gray shading is permanent.
So, the best way to deal with filter shading is to prevent it before it occurs, and the following steps will help immeasurably:
- Replace your air filters regularly so they do their job pulling particulates out of the air
- Vacuum around baseboards often
- Smoking contributes to the fleet of airborne particulates, so smoke outside whenever you can