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The Best Thing I Ever Bought

Of all the columns I’ve written, the one on how to have perpetually clean carpet in my home has generated by far the most interest. And the most requests to reprint. Since you asked, here it is again, updated. Enjoy!

Okay, so maybe I should say, “One of the best things ….” but at this moment, as I write, I cannot think of anything I’ve ever purchased that can top my Hoover SteamVac. I bought it on Dec. 7, 2008, and I only know that because there it is in my Amazon order history—$147 with free shipping. All these years later – while still enjoying my spotlessly clean carpet, Hoover is still performing flawlessly. I wouldn’t want to live without my workhorse, Hoover, llustrated below on the left.

On the right, is the current version, which replaces my model—Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner Machine.

Two versions of Hoover Carpet Cleaning machine

Background

I have a love/hate relationship with carpeting. I love how it looks, how it feels under my feet and how it warms up a room. But I hate dirty carpet; I cannot abide a spot. The thought of what lurks between those fibers gives me the heeby-geebies.  Read more

How to Buy Carpet—What You Need to Know to Make the Perfect Decision

It’s not something you buy every day. But when it’s time to buy carpet, you’ll want to know your stuff. Make a bad decision and you’ll pay dearly for a long time, and I am not talking just about the money. You’ll pay a significant price in dissatisfaction and disappointment.

 

Carpet Samples Displayed Beautifully in a Carpet Store to Help Customers Know How to Buy Carpet

 

First, decide the style of carpet and type of fiber you want, determined by where it will be installed and how much money you have to spend.

Visit several retail carpet stores that will let you take carpet samples home for a few days. Walk on them, view them in a different light. Set a heavy piece of furniture on them to see if the fibers will “rebound” once removed.

No matter how much pressure the sales staff pours on, remember you are not obligated to purchase from any store even if you checked out samples from them.

 

Styles of Carpet

Plush

Usually one solid color with even, smooth pile height. Varies from lightweight (apartment-grade) with fewer tufts per square inch to heavier weights that are very dense. Comes in a vast range of colors. Shows footprints and vacuum marks.

Textured plush

Two shades mixed with varying pile heights that reduces vacuum marks and footprints. About the same price as plush.

Frieze

Very tightly twisted tufts of yarn. More expensive than plush but wears much longer—15 years is not unusual. Frieze comes in a variety of pile heights from short all the way to super shag. Durable, holds up to heavy use without matting or showing traffic patterns. Rebounds well.

Sculptured

Has two types of tufts—loops and cut pile in varying heights. Often called high-low. Usually has several shades of color varying from light to dark. Doesn’t show much dirt; often used in apartments. Read more

Meet My Spring Clean A-Team

There’s an illness that has been documented by poets for centuries and I’ve got it. It’s Spring Fever, that wonderfully amorphous disease we all recognize come April and May. Spring fever remains a fuzzy medical category, but there has been a great deal of research on how seasonal changes affect our mood and behavior. I know how it affects me—it makes me want to spring clean!

spring-cleaning-with-spring-fever

While I don’t invite all my friends over to help, I have built quite a team that makes the job, if not fun, at least enjoyable. Today, I’d like to introduce you to each member of my awesome spring clean team.

Deep Cleaning Brushes

I got the initial set as a gift from a friend who knows me well. I love to clean nooks and crannies, which is crazy, but true nonetheless. OXO Good Grips Kitchen Appliance Cleaning Set specific cleaning tools are perfect but not only for the kitchen. I use them on grout, in corners; along baseboards. And into the dishwasher they go almost daily, to get sanitized. Watch out nooks and crannies. Your dirty days are fast coming to an end.

Squeegee

I suppose that windows would win if I could have only one item on my spring clean list of dirty things to clean. There’s just nothing like looking at spring through sparkling, crystal-clear windows. Want to know the secret to the sparkle? A good squeegee and the best scrubber to go with it.


MORE: Sparkling Clean Windows—Cheaper, Better, Faster!


Microfiber Cloths

Forget the paper towels. And the terry cloth. When it comes to serious cleaning of anything—especially glass and mirrors—there’s nothing more efficient than microfiber because it is lint-free and streak-free. A set will last for years. And years.

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The Best Way to Vacuum Carpet is to Memorize this Routine

Perhaps this has happened to you: You’ve lived with carpeting, then for one reason or another you live with hardwood or some other type of hard surface flooring that shows up every little bit of dust and dirt. You can’t believe it! You can sweep or vacuum one day and by the next morning, dust and dirt have returned. 

Happy family of four in love with their clean carpet

Of course, you think that some new dirt- and dust-producing thing has mysteriously descended on your living space, but the truth is it’s the same dust and dirt that has always been present only now you can see it.

I cannot tell you how shocked I was to see what accumulated in such a short time on my new dark wood floors. In my mind, I multiplied by 7, 14 and even 21 days. Am I the only one who doesn’t vacuum every day of her life? Yes, I admit it. And just imagining what had accumulated in the carpeting almost made me wretch. Seriously.

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How to Get Sparkle in a Vase, Cheap into Pest Control and Piddle Out of Carpet

The longer I live, the more convinced I am that for every household problem, there are at least two possible ways to deal with it: One that involves calling out the professionals and another do-it-yourself option that’s cheaper, better and maybe even faster!

Crystal vase with fresh violet sweet peas

How to clean fine crystal

Dear Mary: I have a beautiful crystal vase that over the years has acquired a build-up of residue that I cannot remove. Do you have a suggestion on how to remove it? Pat

Dear Pat: That build-up is likely calcium, lime and other minerals from years of standing water. You may need to experiment a bit, but I’m sure you can return that vase to its sparkling beauty without damaging the vase. Here are three simple and completely harmless methods:

Method 1: Fill the vase with your hottest tap water. Pour in a few squirts of liquid automatic dishwashing detergent, or a single pod if that’s what you have, and allow it to sit for a few hours, or overnight. Empty the vase and use a sponge or bottle brush to remove any remaining film. Rinse, dry and look at that sparkle!

Method 2: Fill the vase with water and drop in one or two denture tablets, depending on the vase size. Allow to sit and work overnight. In the morning agitate the container gently to ensure all of the deposits and mineral build-up has come loose. Empty the vase and wash with mild soap and water. Rinse well and dry it completely.

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Using Hydrogen Peroxide to Remove Stains

Faithful readers will recall a reader tip earlier this week, in which Julie shared her simple homemade carpet shampoo of hydrogen peroxide, hot water and a tiny bit of liquid laundry soap.

That tip set off a semi-avalanche of responses requesting specific details, and many of which cautioned, wisely, that hydrogen peroxide can have a bleaching effect on some types of fabrics and carpets that are not colorfast.

glass red wine carpet stain

Carpet cleaning details

Mix HOT water, and a few drops liquid soap, preferably a simple biodegradable soap, such as ERA, Blue Dawn or Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap. Add enough hydrogen peroxide to make the overall solution from about 1/2% to about 2% hydrogen peroxide*. Fill carpet cleaner reservoir.

(*Use 1 3/4 cup   3% hydrogen peroxide per 1 gallon water; or 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed 50/50 with water.)

In theory, hydrogen peroxide could alter the color in carpet, depending on the kind of dye. However, this is unlikely using 3% peroxide. I have poured 3% hydrogen peroxide directly onto carpet in my home and have not had any problems.

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