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We love carpets – when they’re clean. But keeping them clean isn’t easy – especially if you have children or pets. If you’ve ever tried to clean your own carpet, you already know that it takes quite a bit of time and effort. If you don’t have a pro-quality cleaning machine, the results may not be worthwhile; if you rent a cleaning machine, you’ll get better results, but that will cost even more time and money.

So what’s the best way to keep your carpet clean while minimizing your time, effort, and expense? Let’s break it down:

First, you should vacuum regularly – and slowly. While vacuuming is no substitute for a deep cleaning, it will accomplish some important things: It will help to remove abrasive dirt and grit that will damage your carpet fibers and shorten the life of your carpeting. It will also mitigate the dust and other allergens in your home. Take your time while you work. Slower strokes help the vacuum to vibrate the carpet fibers and release trapped materials.

Second, you should attend to spills immediately – and correctly. Don’t wait a moment to let a spill soak into your carpet (and the padding underneath). Instead, blot the spill with a paper towel. After you’ve removed as much moisture as you can by blotting, apply a carpet cleaning spray to the spill. Then lightly work, continuing to blot, from the outside in. Then rinse by blotting with a clean, damp cloth.

If you follow the two practices above, you’ll be able to keep your carpets in better shape between cleanings. But in order to maintain a clean, healthy home, you will need to clean your carpets at least once per year. If you don’t, your carpets will wear more quickly; their appearance will fade; and your home’s indoor air quality (and potentially your health) will be compromised by the dust and allergens that vacuuming simply can’t pull up from your carpets.

So how should you clean your carpets? Given the time, effort, and expense of cleaning carpets on your own, it makes good sense to arrange for a professional cleaning. But there are other factors that can make using a professional carpet cleaner an even better idea.

Many carpet cleaning companies have embraced the practice of green cleaning, using only solutions that are non-toxic, chemical-free, and eco-friendly. Here along the south end of the Puget Sound, Meridian Chem-Dry is well-known for employing green methods of carpet cleaning. Rather than using soaps or solvents, Meridian Chem-Dry uses a carbonated cleaning solution to release dirt and grime from carpets.

In addition to being able to use more effective solutions, professional cleaners also have the benefit of more powerful and effective equipment. Many carpet cleaning companies now employ truck-mounted systems that are able to extract more dirt, grime, and moisture from carpets than could any portable cleaning machine; these large system yield carpets that are not only cleaner, but drier – eliminating the possibility of mold development.

Keeping your carpets clean will never be effortless. But with smart and timely practices and decisions, you can enjoy a clean carpet and a clean, healthy home for you and your family.

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If you’re completing a home renovation, chances are you probably already have plans for your bathrooms. A bathroom is the perfect room to try out a clean minimalist design aesthetic as it can help to create a relaxing retreat for you and your guests. Many modern bathroom plans are geared towards eliminating clutter and using broad strokes of color to create a clean and inviting space.

The bold use of stone for countertops, flooring, or covering walls is one of the most striking features of modern bathroom design. Stone can create bold straight lines or geometric shapes, add beautiful natural patterning, and give surfaces a polished shine that will add an elegant shimmer to the room.  The only question now is what kind of stone should you use?

I personally recommend using a slab of engineered quartz for your bathroom remodel. Why quartz? Firstly, quartz is extremely hard and can withstand the daily wear and tear that bathrooms are subject to. In addition to being incredibly tough, quartz is also nonporous, making it bacteria and stain resistant. Other types of stone, like granite or marble, are porous, which allows any spills to seep into the surface of the stone and cause a nasty spot that’s nearly impossible to get out. Most quartz distributors have a variety of different colored slabs, allowing you to pick a subtle tone that will blend in seamlessly, or a bold statement color if that’s more your style.

Another great reason to use quartz is the fact that it is one of the most eco-friendly stone choices. Quartz is one of the most common substances on earth, and many manufacturers of quartz, like CaesarStone and Cambria, are committed to using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. CaesarStone offers a full line of quartz slabs that use up to 42% post-consumer recycled materials, while Cambria recycles 100% of the water it uses during manufacturing processes. If using eco-friendly and sustainable products is an important part of your renovation, quartz is a natural choice for your project.

Here are some great quartz colors for a modern bathroom remodel:

Iconic Black

Silestone’s Iconic Black quartz is the perfect choice for a bold modern bathroom. Chrome and white porcelain complement this inky black reflective quartz. Iconic Black is perfect for adding some much needed contrast to an all-white bathroom. Modern minimalist design often leans towards a monochromatic color palette, making Iconic Black an easy choice if you’re looking to offset the porcelain of your sink, toilet, or bathtub.

 

Pearl Jasmine

For bathrooms featuring cabinets made of dark wood, Silestone’s Pearl Jasmine is an excellent choice. This beautiful quartz features light patterning to set it apart from the white porcelain fixtures of most bathrooms. Pearl Jasmine is absolutely luxurious when paired with dark wood and brushed steel fixtures. If you’re going for a clean white design for your bathroom, think about using Pearl Jasmine for your countertops, backsplash, or flooring.

 

Sienna Ridge

If you’re not into minimalist black and white bathrooms, you might look into an aesthetic that features more natural tan, beige, and brown tones. Sienna Ridge quartz by Silestone is the perfect complement to an earthier aesthetic. The pebbly pattern of Sienna Ridge quartz matches well with natural color stone tiles and can help to break up wide swaths of flat color. Sienna Ridge looks great with all types of cabinets, whether they are natural wood or painted. It also works with a variety of different hardware and fixtures.

These are just a few of the different varieties of quartz you can use for your bathroom renovation project. If you’re still not sure exactly what kind of aesthetic you’re looking for your bathroom, talk to the friendly design specialists at your local granite and quartz distributor. Most places will have dedicated designers that can look at your bathroom and offer suggestions.

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No matter where you live or what kind of home you own, using the proper cleaning techniques is very important. In addition to keeping you happier and healthier, proper cleaning can extend the life of your carpets, your stone and tile, and your furniture – and save you money in the process.

Unfortunately, there are lots of cleaning myths out there. Falling for one of them might keep you from enjoying the clean you deserve or, even worse, cause expensive problems. Here are a few of the most common myths about cleaning your home – and the truths behind them.

Myth: Steam Cleaning Can Damage Your Carpet

No matter how careful you are or how proactive your approach to keeping a clean home, eventually your carpets will get stained and dirty. When that happens, arranging for a professional carpet cleaning seems the logical thing to do. An experienced technician with specialized equipment can pull the deep-set dirt out of the carpet fibers and leave your rugs looking like new.

Unfortunately, there is a persistent myth that professional carpet cleaning can shrink carpet and shorten its life span. This is simply not the case.

While it’s true that letting water sit on your carpet is a bad idea, modern carpet cleaning equipment is effective at removing moisture. In fact, carpets cleaned by my go-to professional cleaner, Rainier Chem-Dry, will be dry in two hours or less. A reputable professional will leave your carpets clean and fresh without risk of shrinkage or damage. So feel free to call your local carpet cleaner to remove those stains once and for all.

Myth: Bleach is the Ultimate Stain Remover

Just about everyone has heard that bleach is a great stain remover, but the chemical actually does nothing to remove dirt and grime. On the contrary, bleach only lightens stains (and fabrics) to makes household surfaces like porcelain, stone, or tile appear clean. Bleach is effective at targeting mold and bacteria, so it does have a place in your home; just be careful when using bleach around carpets, furniture, or upholstery.

When it comes to removing dirt or stains, however, stick to cleaners that are designed for the task.

Myth: Washing Your Dishes by Hand Uses Less Energy

If you have a dishwasher that’s 20 years old, this myth may have a hint of truth in it. But if your dishwasher is a more modern unit, it will actually use far less energy and water than washing dishes by hand. If you need an excuse to load up the dishwasher and put away your hand soap, rest assured that the automatic cleaning method can lower your electricity and water bills.

Myth: Newspaper is a Great Window Cleaner

If you’re looking for something to do with those old newspapers, you may be eyeing your windows and wondering the old wives’ tale is true. Well, you can put those papers back in the recycling bin and pick up a microfiber cloth instead. The print on newspapers can actually rub off as you clean, leaving telltale marks on the trim and making your cleaning job even harder.

Instead, use microfiber. Cloth made with microfiber cleans much better than newspaper and leaves no residue.

Myth: You Should Pour Soda in the Toilet

Many swear by the cleaning power of sodas like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, believing they can remove hard water stains and freshen the toilet bowl. In reality, these substances belong in the kitchen – not the bathroom. While it’s true that soda’s acid may remove some hard water stains, the dark caramel coloring is much more likely to make stains more noticeable. That’s not all: The sugar in the soda could promote the unwanted growth of harmful bacteria.

There are a lot of myths about keeping your home clean and tidy, so it is important to educate yourself and learn the truth. Leaving these common myths behind can help you keep your home sparkling clean and avoid potential problems down the line.

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Home Window Tinting, Reconsidered

Tinted windows have changed a great deal over the last several years. Many of us grew up with window tints that had to be dark in order to provide protection from sunlight, but this isn’t true anymore. Today’s window tints are not only much subtler, but also much more versatile, effective, and hardworking. If you haven’t considered tinting your windows in a while, it just might be time to give the latest generation of tints a chance.

Tinted Windows Mean Privacy

Even if you live in a nice neighborhood, you may be concerned about your privacy. You don’t want anyone to peek in your windows, or observe your daily activities. The simplest way to achieve the privacy you desire is to have your windows tinted. Today’s tints offer privacy without requiring the same mirrored appearance of yesterday’s films. Your windows will have a nicer appearance from outside the house, and they’ll offer a brighter, clearer view from inside the house.

Window Tinting & Safety

Today’s tints can offer more than privacy: They can offer protection as well. When criminals can’t see inside a home, they can’t be tempted by the sight of interesting or valuable items. And they won’t know who is inside the home – especially useful when the women or teens in your household are home alone.

That’s just the beginning. You can also find tints designed to hold windows together in the event of impacts. These window tints are exceptionally tear-resistant, and offer protection against would-be break-ins as well as impacts caused by severe storms.

Save Energy, Save Money

Almost every type of tinted window offers multiple benefits. Whether a tint is designed to provide privacy, impact resistance, or other benefits such as glare reduction, it will also help you save money on your energy bills. Today’s windows can block heat as well as trap it, helping you to maintain a more comfortable climate inside your home.

The more windows can regulate your temperature in your home, the less your heating and air conditioning system has to work to keep you comfortable. Your system will use less energy, and you’ll pay less for utilities.

There are many home improvements you can make, but few can match the bang-for-the-buck that window tinting offers. Everybody in your family will value the privacy and sense of security; and the lower energy bills will make your life easier. If you want to make one change that will truly make a difference, maybe it’s time you reconsidered window tinting.

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Anyone who has hardwood floors in their home knows that after several years of use, the finish can become dull, scratched, or worn completely away in places. This is especially true for high traffic areas, like around the kitchen table or near doors where people are coming and going regularly. Most of the time when this kind of wear and tear happens, people worry that their floors will never look as good as they once did. Fortunately, that is not the case, and this kind of damage can be fixed fairly easily if you know what you’re doing.

There are a few things you’ll need before proceeding if you plan on tackling this job yourself. Some of the things you may have laying around the garage already, like sandpaper, and dust masks. One of the main things that you’ll need that you probably don’t have is a buffer. You will absolutely want to rent a buffer from your local home store. If you don’t have a shop-vac, you might also want to look into renting that.

Here’s a more concise list of what you’ll need to refinish your floors:

  • Buffer
  • Shop-Vac
  • 180-grit Sandpaper
  • Oil or Water Based Polyurethane
  • Dust Mask and Booties
  • Respirator with Organic Vapor Canisters
  • Paintbrush
  • Long Handled Roller with ¼ inch Nap Cover

Step 1:

The first thing you’re going to want to do is remove all of the furniture from the room you’ll be refinishing and clean the floor really well. You can use a commercial floor cleaner, or make a solution of 10 parts water and 1 part white vinegar. Spray the floor down with your choice of cleaning solution and then wipe down the floor with a terrycloth mop, or an old towel.

Step 2:

Before sanding the rest of the floor, you’ll want to get the perimeter and any other hard to reach places by hand. You’ll need to sand any part of the floor that the buffer can’t easily access. Using your 180-grit sandpaper, sand about 4-6 inches out from the baseboard, making sure to sand with the grain. Sand each floorboard until the finish gets dull and forms a powder.  You may be tempted to use a sanding block, but I don’t recommend it because you might miss uneven spots in the floor.

Step 3:

Here’s where you’ll need that buffer you rented. Once you’ve sanded all the hard to reach spots and the perimeter, it’ll be time to sand the rest of the floor. Put your dust mask on, and stick a maroon buffing pad to the buffer. Buff the floor in a side to side motion, making sure to overlap your paths by about six inches. Keep the buffer moving at a constant rate to avoid sanding unevenly, and make sure to stop every five minutes or so to vacuum off the buffer pad. The dust buildup can cause it to sand unevenly or ineffectively, so you’ll need to vacuum it to keep your sanding consistent.

Step 4:

Take a break for 20 minutes or so to let the dust in the room settle, you’ve earned it after all that hard work with the buffer. Once the dust has settled, put a new filter in your vacuum and use the brush attachment to get up all of the dust.  Move with the direction of the floorboards so you can get any dust that has settled in the cracks between the boards. After vacuuming, dry-tack the floor with a microfiber cloth to get any final debris that the vacuum may have missed.

Step 5:

 

It’s finally time to start applying a new coat of finish! Put on your booties and respirator and grab your paintbrush to start the first phase of applying your finish. It’s very important that you start at the point farthest away from your exit door, you don’t want to paint yourself into the room.  Take your paintbrush and apply a 3-inch stripe around the baseboards. You’ll need to work quickly at this point, as you’ll have marks left over if you allow this stripe to dry before you apply polyurethane to the rest of the floor. Once you get to the ten minute mark it’s best to start on the middle and then do the rest of the perimeter as you get to it.

Step 6:

Now you’ll be finishing the rest of the room.  While the edge finish is still wet, pour a line of polyurethane in line with the grain. Only pour as much as you can spread out in about ten minutes. If it dries like that you’ll have a weird bump in the floor. Use your roller with the nap cover to spread out the finish, moving with the grain of the wood first, and then across it. Repeat this process until the whole floor is covered. Once you’re done, wait at least 3 hours before applying a second coat, and about a week before putting furniture back.

If you enjoy completing your own renovation projects, this can be a good weekend project as it needs to be completed pretty quickly once you start. If all of this sounds like a serious hassle, you can always call your local hardwood floor refinishing service to revitalize the wood floors in your home. No matter who you get to do it, refinishing your floors is a must if you want to keep your hardwood floors looking nice. Most flooring companies recommend refinishing your floors at least once every two years to maintain their appearance.Staying on top of refinishing your floors can also help prevent scratching on your floors. If unattended to, scratching can permanently ruin a hardwood floor, and in serious cases require you to replace parts of the floor if not the whole thing.

If you’re not sure if your hardwood floor needs refinishing or not, here is an easy test you can do that only requires a little bit of water.

Good luck with your floor refinishing project!

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There’s something to be said for the in-home remedy – the clever fix that solves a problem without professional help. There’s also something to be said for being prudent – for not letting pride compel you to handle something on your own when you’re liable to make things worse. When it comes to carpet stains, there are some you can lift away and some you can’t; the trick is knowing which is which.

Here’s a guide that can help you make the smart decision. If you run into one of these situations, it’s time to call your friendly local carpet cleaner:

Light Carpet, Dark Stain

The darker the stain and the lighter your carpet, the greater the chance that things won’t end well. Some examples of dark stains include red wine, coffee, lipstick, and blood. Most dark stains are very difficult to lift completely, regardless of the color of the carpet. But if your carpet is dark, the stain may not be easy to notice. If the carpet is light, the stain may be noticeable no matter what you do.

In this case, you’ll likely need to call a professional carpet cleaning company. But don’t wait. Quick action may keep the stain from setting, which can improve your chances of a good result.

Lingering Scent

Sometimes, lifting a stain from the carpet doesn’t mean that your problem is solved; for underneath your carpet is a carpet pad that can’t be scrubbed clean. When substances penetrate into the carpet pad, they can’t be easily removed; if these substances are malodorous – like urine or vomit – the odor may also be very difficult to treat.

If you have a scent that outlasts the stain, you’ll need the expertise of a professional to make your carpet completely clean and fresh again. Here in Phoenix, Dr. Chem-Dry is one of the best at removing pet stains and odors from carpets.

Three Strikes & You’re Out

Stain-removing products are more effective than ever, but there are some stains that are still up to the challenge. If you’ve tried to lift a stain at least three times – and failed – then it’s time to admit defeat. If you continue to scrub your carpet, you’ll be a lot more likely to damage the fibers than liberate the stain. Step aside, and call in a professional carpet cleaner.

A Spot That’s Too Clean

Is there such thing as being too clean? Maybe so. If you diligently clean away the stain on your carpet, you many also clean away some dirt and grime that’s been dulling your carpet. The area you just cleaned will look great, but the surrounding carpet may look dull as a result.

If you’re able to clean the remainder of the carpet, feel free to do it on your own. But if you don’t, you’ll want to call in a pro to give your carpet a neat and evenly-clean appearance.

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