With Pets and Kids, Carpeting or Hardwood Floors?

By Jeremy Strickland

Note: Names and details have been changed to protect the innocent.

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Annie’s family got a new addition a few months back, a cute little Pyrenees puppy that one of her three kids named “Oscar.” The family had a lot of love to give but job and school schedules to keep, so the puppy found himself home alone for several hours every weekday, kept in the living room with the doorway gated and the TV on to keep him company. Puppies typically need to eliminate once every two hours, so you can imagine what happened in the absence of his new family. To make matters worse, Buttermilk, the family cat, came down with a bladder infection and took to the living room for relief too.

Once Buttermilk was better and Oscar was potty trained , I was called in to assess the damage and estimate a carpet cleaning. With an ultraviolet light in one hand and a moisture detector in the other, I found the twenty year old carpet to be more than 30% saturated with urine. Pulling up the carpet at a corner revealed that the problem was deep, going through the padding to the wood underneath. The living room carpet was beyond a cleaning, it needed to come up and be replaced.

Between the vet bills, cat medication, and the cost of cleaning supplies (you should have seen the array of spray bottles; Annie had purchased every possible cleaner she could find in-store and online), she had already spent a good chunk of cash. So, Annie’s question to me was, “Should I just avoid carpet altogether at this point and go with hardwood floors?” It’s easy enough to see why Annie would feel this way after what happened with her pets, but I still recommended carpet to her. In fact, there are quite a few vital reasons to consider carpeting over hardwood floors.

Accidents happen with pets and kids, but with technology advancing every aspect of our lives, new kinds of carpeting have been developed that are resistant to both stains and wearing (see: Triexta carpeting). Besides being cheaper than hardwood, carpet is a beneficial choice for a homeowner because it makes for a quieter house, provides warmth in the winter, is cozier on your feet, and cushions your kids’ tumbles. As Mike Sheridan (Randy’s Carpet Care’s senior-most technician) likes to point out, it also helps to filter the air of your house.

Ever see lines of dirt that have formed under a doorway or in the crevices at the baseboards of a home? These are filtration lines, where the air has been forced through the carpet at a concentrated point, and the carpet has trapped all of the particles carried with the air. Everything from dust to dog hair to your spouse’s last sneeze will get trapped in the carpet, and just like your furnace air filter, if you keep it clean, it will help to keep you healthy. Just as your kitchen trash bin needs to be emptied every couple of days, so does your carpet, so vacuum often, and have your carpets professionally cleaned at least once annually. You will see your investment in carpeting last a long time while improving the look and feel of your home and helping your family stay healthy and comfortable.

I called Annie to follow up with her yesterday. I was glad to hear that both Oscar and Buttermilk are happy, healthy, and going to the bathroom in the appropriate places. The living room is freshly carpeted. Annie and her husband feel that new carpeting instead of hardwood floors was the right choice for their family, saying that as much the kids love to play on the floor in front of the TV, it’s nice to know that they have a clean and comfortable spot for it.

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Potty training your new puppy can be tough. Here’s some helpful advice from the Humane Society: How To Housetrain Your Dog or Puppy

Did I mention that recyclable carpet is going on the market? If you’re considering new carpeting in your home but you’re concerned about the footprint you’ll leave behind, have a look at this: The First 100% Recyclable Carpets Are Here

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To bleach or to vinegar, that is the question…

by Jeremy Strickland

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There are white hairs infiltrating my beard, so like many of my middle-aged peers, I’m thinking more and more about getting and staying healthy. Being a practical(ish) guy, I know I should just eat fewer tacos and spend more time on my bike, but how can I resist the promise of an expedient solution to my excess pounds? Hence my regular journeys down the internet rabbit hole, questing for a magic bullet, some bit of wisdom that will change the game and help me shed my pounds with little to no effort on my part.

Online buzz abounds about the benefits of a daily shot of Apple Cider Vinegar for weight loss, digestion, balancing PH, and more. Do a Google search on the topic, and you’ll find proponents and skeptics alike. There seems to be a few proven benefits, but based on what I’ve read, the benefits of apple cider vinegar are small, grounded more in a historical belief in the benefits rather than scientific study and peer review. It’s a fascinating topic, nonetheless, and there’s no disagreement that vinegar’s benefits go well beyond Bold Italian salad dressing.

For instance, did you know that vinegar kills about 80% of the viruses and 90% of the bacteria as household bleach? You may use it to disinfect your microwave or coffee maker as well as to kill some surface mold (neither bleach or vinegar will kill mold inside of porous materials like wood). You can also mix hydrogen peroxide with your vinegar mixture to clean and disinfect your cutting boards or use this process for cleaning dog poop out of your carpet. Tis true, my friend, and because vinegar is less abrasive than bleach, biodegradable, and non-toxic, vinegar’s a fine general disinfectant.

However, you have to keep in mind that vinegar isn’t the best for cleaning dirt (neither is bleach, for that matter), it’s most effective as a rinse, diluted 50/50 with hot water. It’s not going to kill some dangerous bacteria like staphylococcus, so if someone in your house is sick, has a weakened immune system, or if you have a good deal of dirt to clean away, you’ll want to add some soap to your hot water and vinegar solution. Some folks may encourage you to use baking soda and vinegar for cleaning your oven, but don’t bother with that. The bubbling, foaming chemical reaction which makes your Junior High School Science Project Volcano so cool is caused by the vinegar (an acid) cancelling the baking soda (a base). Combining vinegar and baking soda in your oven just makes more of a mess for you to clean up.

DO NOT mix vinegar or any other chemicals with bleach. The fumes from household bleach can be harsh enough, but mixed with the wrong chemical, will literally create a chemical weapon.

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Bleach is the disinfecting equivalent of a nuclear warhead, your final option. You may be asking,  “Why bother with bleach at all if vinegar has such amazing natural disinfecting abilities without being one part chlorine gas?” Well, to be fair, while vinegar and peroxide do have germ killing powers, there is some question as to whether or not they perform any better than soap and hot water. Bleach, though it may ruin your shirt and burn your nasal cavity, kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including the aforementioned staphylococcus. That’s as thorough as it gets, and bleach is biodegradable too. Otherwise known as sodium hypochlorite, bleach is made from sodium chloride (aka table salt), so it begins it’s life as salt water and essentially goes back to being salt water when it breaks down. Mix it one cup to a gallon of warm water if you decide to use it (avoid hot water, this may release chlorine gas). Wear a mask and gloves to protect yourself.

No mask needed for vinegar, though. The jury’s still out on whether or not apple cider vinegar should be taken medicinally, but vinegar should definitely be kept with your cleaning supplies. With 80% – 90% effectiveness and no soapy residues left behind, the bottom line is that vinegar is great for daily household use in your kitchen, bathroom, and dining room, but keep bleach on hand for the tough jobs, eat fewer tacos, and spend more time on your bike. There’s no magic bullet, after all.

Further reading:

What do Captain America and the world’s oldest carpet have in common?

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“The Pazyryk Carpet, which was excavated from a burial mound in 1947, was an incredible find at the time, as it was a nearly-2,500-year-old carpet that was largely intact, due to its being frozen in a block of ice. The details captured on the fabric, which is believed to be the world’s oldest pile carpet, are impressive—24 cross-shaped figures, 28 men on horseback, 24 deer. While the carpet’s colors have faded, the details can still be made out.”

— From the Atlas Obscura article, “From Tufting to Jingles, the Evolution of Modern Carpet.