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The History of Carpet Cleaning

We’ve talked about the history of carpeting in the home but what about the history of cleaning those carpets? Up until the mid 1800’s, carpets were cleaned by house servants.  Dirt was beaten from the carpets to a carpet rod or a stiff broom. Smaller rugs could be shaken out outside. In the later 1800’s, carpet cleaning became a door to door business, with the equipment being pulled by a horse. The large equipment would be parked outside of the home or business that was being cleaned, and long hoses would be fed in through windows to get the job done. The first vacuum cleaners appeared around this time as well, but were a luxury item that few could afford. Traveling salesmen enjoyed visiting housewives beginning in the 1940’s to show off their carpet cleaning prowess. Often marketing “try before you buy” deals, the salesmen would demonstrate their carpet cleaning technique on a small piece of carpet and persuade the lady of the house to allow them to finish the job. Many of these traveling carpet cleaners had little more than vacuums, and there are still door to door carpet cleaning and vacuum cleaner salesmen today! The hot water extraction method of carpet cleaning did not come in to play until the late 1940’s. Mounting a hot water extraction machine in a truck or a van was certainly easier and worked a lot better than the previous methods of carpet cleaning, and provided the opportunity to market to the masses. This is the preferred method of carpet cleaning today, and there are many companies nationwide who provide this service.

In Case You Missed It…

We’ve gained quite a few new followers lately, so we thought we would take this opportunity to recap some of the topics we’ve covered on our blog so far.   Do you wonder what the best ways are to keep your carpet clean in between your regular cleanings?  Read our post here to learn about regular vacuuming and spot cleaning.   Maybe you think your carpet gets dirtier more quickly once you’ve had it cleaned.  We busted that myth, and you can read about it here.   Many people think that if their carpet doesn’t look dirty, then it must be clean.  Here, we talk about why regular cleanings are important.   Did you know that carpeting in the home dates back to the 18th century? Here, we talk about the history of home carpeting.   And finally, we never knew there were so many interesting facts about carpeting in general.  In this post, we give you a list of what we think are some very fun facts.      

Fun Facts About Carpets

We’ve scoured the internet to come up with some fun facts about carpets and everything to do with carpets. Who knew that carpets in general could be so interesting?  
  1. The Norovirus, the virus commonly called “stomach flu”, can survive on an uncleaned carpet for a month or more.
  2. In the middle ages, floors were covered with rushes, that acted as a disposable carpet.  When it got dirty, it was thrown away.
  3. Vacuum Cleaners in the early 20th century were large and coal powered, and required three people to operate! Other early vacuums were parked outside and had long hoses that had to be fed in through windows.
  4. Red carpets traditionally marked the routes of leaders and politicians as early as 458 B.C.
  5. The American floor covering industry argues that the difference between a “rug” (related to the words “rag” and rough”) and a “carpet” is strictly a matter of size. Any piece smaller than 40 square feet is considered a rug while anything larger is a carpet. According to the American carpet industry, then, the “flying carpet” or “magic carpet” is technically a rug.
  6. When properly cleaned and maintained, carpeting may improve the quality of  air in a home by trapping allergens and dust.  When a carpet is not cleaned and maintained, allergy symptoms can be exacerbated.
  7. Carcinogens in cigarettes may accumulate in household carpet. Because dogs and cats, not to mention children and infants, spend a great deal of time on the floor, they may be at risk for developing lung cancer in households with cigarette smokers
  8. The phrase “to sweep under the carpet” in its figurative sense was first recorded in 1963
  9. The term “carpet” derives from the Latin carpere, “to pluck,” probably because carpets were made from unraveled “plucked” fabric. “Carpet” has the same Latin root as carpe diem, literally “pluck/seize the day.
  10. Stachybotrys chartarum is a hos mold that grows on wet carpeting.  It produces toxins which cause immunosuppression, nasal irritation and dermatitis.  This makes having a carpet completely extracted and dried after flooding very important.
  *Thanks to the folks at Random Facts for providing some of this great info.

The History of Home Carpeting

We now know the benefits of having carpet in your home. Other than being aesthetically pleasing, carpeting serves the purpose of helping to keep your home clean. How did carpeting come to be the norm in homes though? We did some research to find out. Carpets were probably first made by nomads, woven from scraps and laid on the floor in their tents to provide a little bit of comfort when lying on the ground. In fact, the oldest known carpet is called The Pazyryk Carpet which was discovered in the grave of a Scythian prince. The carpet was carbon dated, and determined to have been woven in the 5th century BC. So yes, carpeting in actuality has been around for thousands of years, but when did it become mainstream? In the late 18th century, carpeting was a luxury that not many could afford. If a home did have carpeting at all, it was likely that it was small area rugs used similar to the nomads in their tents to cover unsightly floors. These rugs could be taken outside and be shaken and beaten to get them clean. Near the middle of the 18th century, there were carpet mills around the country producing millions of square yards of carpeting per year. The end of the 18th century in to the early 1900’s; however, showed a decline in the use of carpeting with the introduction of textiled hardwood floors and the carpet industry took quite a hit. The economic boom after the second world war brought new light to the carpeting industry. Tufted carpeting took the place of the old woven method, and soon carpets were stretching from wall to wall in homes all across America. Today, even with the wide availability of other flooring choices such as tile, vinyl and wood, carpeting is still the most popular flooring choice of consumers and based on the health benefits, comfort and appearance, it will continue to be for years to come. ___________________________________________________________________ Bibliography Robert Whaples. A History of the U.S. Carpet Industry Wikipedia. Persian Carpet

My Carpet Doesn’t Look Dirty; Why should I have it cleaned?

Floors and carpets get dirty, sometimes quickly or sometimes over time. A carpet can be deceiving, in that it will look good, and feel ok to walk on, but in truth it could actually be quite dirty. Vacuuming alone can only remove so much dirt. The dirt that is left behind accumulates deep in the carpet fibers and builds up over time. In order to keep your carpet looking nice, and keep a healthy home, carpet cleaning is needed outside of regular vacuuming. You may not realize it, but carpets act as filters in the home. They filter everything including dust, dead skin, hair, grit and soil and even allergens that are found in the home environment. Carpets trap these particles that would otherwise circulate around your home. This is actually a good thing. When soil builds up in the carpet it can no longer act as a filter and can allow a steady stream of allergens back into the home environment. Proper cleaning and maintenance of your carpet not only adds years of life to it, but also goes a long way in keeping you and your home healthy.

Myth Busted: My Carpet Gets Dirtier Faster After I Have it Cleaned

A common misconception related to having your carpet cleaned is that the actual cleaning of your carpet causes it to get dirty faster. This conclusion is usually made when a week or so after having the carpet cleaned, spots that were gone reappear or spots that you’ve never even seen mysteriously surface. Other times, it will just seem like your carpet is attracting more soil. There are some specific reasons that these problems occur. The first is wicking. Many times, and especially in large volume spills the spot has seeped from the carpet fibers in to the backing or the pad of the carpet. When the spot is cleaned from the carpet only the material in the carpet fiber is removed. As moisture from the cleaning itself is introduced in to the backing of the carpet, the spot actually pulls out of the backing and wicks back in to the carpet fibers as it dries, thereby making it seem as though the spot reappeared. The good news is that even if a spot does come back, it can be removed. First, refer to the spot cleaning method we mentioned in our last post. When the carpet is cleaned professionally again, be sure to point out the spots that have come back to ensure proper cleaning. Another reason spots return, or the carpet appears to be dingy overall soon after cleaning is known as re-soiling. Re-soiling is caused by a sticky residue that is left behind. The residue may be from the spot itself, the cleaner that was used, or both. If a spot is not fully removed, sticky residue can be left behind. This residue acts as a magnet for soil, making it seem as though the spot has reappeared. Likewise, if the carpet is not rinsed properly and soap is left behind (as is common when cleaning with grocery store machines) the entire carpet will remain slightly sticky and will attract soil. We liken this to failing to rinse all of the shampoo from your hair in the shower. If you leave shampoo behind, your hair will be a sticky mess. The same is true of your carpet. A thorough cleaning should include a thorough rinse. While these are certainly situations that occur, it is not simply that having your carpet cleaned is making it get dirtier. Having your carpet cleaned properly and with the proper equipment should alleviate these issues altogether, leaving you with the great looking carpet you would expect after a cleaning.

Keeping Your Carpet Clean Between Cleanings

We get a lot of questions from our customers and the most common is probably this: Now that my carpet is clean, what can I do to keep it that way? Most carpet cleaning experts agree that one of the main components of keeping a carpet clean and enhancing its longevity is regular vacuuming. Vacuuming once or twice a week is ok, but more regular vacuuming may be more beneficial from 3 or more times a week in some spots to daily in the heavy traffic areas of your home. Regular vacuuming is important because it removes soil and many other contaminants (such as allergens) before they are ground in to the carpet. Soil is your carpet’s worst enemy, and even bare feet can grind soil and dust from the air in to the carpet. Be sure that your vacuum is clean, inspecting the brushes for lint and string that should be removed. You should also check the suction port and air pathway regularly. A healthy vacuum will go a very long way in keeping your carpet in good condition. Of course, all the vacuuming in the world won’t get rid of spots on your carpet. Maybe you spilled your evening coffee, or your child rolled their sippy cup through the room. We have seen it all! Most small spot can be removed easily right at home, and without the “revolutionary stain lifters” you can buy in the grocery store. Since most modern carpets are manufactured with stain guard, a clean white cloth, and a small amount of water with a touch of club soda or vinegar will usually do the trick. Rather than saturating the spot, the carpet should be blotted with the damp cloth. More often than not, the spot will come right out. Following these quick and easy tips is the surefire way to keep your carpet looking great in between cleanings.

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