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:

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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.

But don’t take my word for it…

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You’ve heard me say it in sunny summer, and it’s worth saying again in gray winter: Clean your carpets regularly. Frequent professional cleaning has many benefits which are not limited to keeping your home looking great. As LeVar Burton always says on Reading Rainbow, “But don’t take my word for it!” Check this out: I stumbled upon this article from Cleanlink this morning which offers up the top ten reasons to have your carpets professionally cleaned year round, and I highly recommend it to anyone who needs a professional cleaning right now, in the cold clutches of winter but is considering putting it off until Spring for fear of Mother Nature.

Don’t fret! A professional carpet cleaning technician should come prepared for winter. Expect them to arrive with walk-off mats to clean their boots and door-blocks to keep your warm air (and pets) in while keeping Old Man Winter out.

Entryway carpets get the most abuse this time of year, and if you’re considering a cleaning, this is where I’d recommend you focus. Remember, carpet cleaning does not have to be a massive, all inclusive, expensive affair. Randy’s Carpet Care has a $60 minimum charge, and this may be all it takes to freshen up your entry and protect it from the damaging effects of mud, salt, and sand that inevitably gets tracked in.

When in doubt, call and request a free estimate: (616) 392-1400

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You can’t live without these things, but you don’t know their story…

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NOTE: This blog was originally published May 25, 2016.

In the world of invention and innovation, the gents tend to get the lion’s share of public recognition. This is certainly true for innovators of household products, even products that are staples and household names. For example, we’ve all heard of William Procter and James Gamble, but show of hands: Who’s heard of Annie Murray? Mrs. Murray was the wife of an early investor in the failing Electro-Alkaline Company in 1916. Their chief product, Clorox Bleach, had up to that point been used by industry and the military (who, no joke, used it to clean battlefield wounds). Annie saw it’s potential as a household cleaner.

ANNIE: We should market liquid bleach to housewives. The money will… uh… Pour in.

MR MURRAY: You’re crazy. That’s the worst idea since plastic.

ANNIE: Watch this.

Read more…

Vote for Randy’s Carpet Care!

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You have made us the Best of the Best.

For thirteen consecutive years, the readers of the Holland Sentinel Newspaper have voted for Randy’s Carpet Care in the Sentinel’s annual People’s Choice Awards. Your overwhelming support over the years has been amazing. Thank you! Now our title is on the line for 2016, and we humbly ask you to take the time to follow this link and vote for Randy’s again. Let’s make it fourteen consecutive years!

Thanks again for your support!

All the best,
Jeremy

PS: Spread the word!

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Is it even possible to clean this?

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Think of your carpet like a sponge, soaking up dust, allergens, and dirt in your home. The thoroughfares with the most regular foot action, like the carpet leading into the kitchen and bathroom, will soak in the most dirt.  Sure, you vacuum, of course you do, but the vacuum isn’t getting one hundred percent of the dirt out. Need a good reason to have your carpet professionally cleaned? Over time, your carpet sponge will drink in it’s fill, and you’ll be left with visible traffic patterns like the one pictured above.

Ew, gross.

Now, first of all, you can prevent this. I’ve written about that before, so I’ll refer you here.

Second, regular vacuuming will and does make a difference. Follow this link to more on that.

Finally, to answer the question posed above: Yes! It is possible to clean your heavy traffic patterns away. Chances are, wearing will still be visible to some degree, but the dirt will come out, and a professional carpet cleaning technician can oftentimes make a significant improvement.

For example: Above is the before picture. Below is the after.

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Whoa!

If you have any questions about the traffic patterns in your West Michigan home, call Randy’s Carpet Care for a free estimate today! (616) 392-1400

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Are you actually performing this absolutely important task?

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Mornings are the worst, man. My family rushes around in a frenzy, a tornado of toothbrushes, oatmeal, backpacks, and untied shoelaces. Besides the wooshing sounds, you’re likely to hear things like, “She’s being mean!” and “You have ten minutes!” and my personal favorite, “Stoooop iiiiiit!” Then, just as quickly as the morning madness descended upon us, we’re out the door for a day at work and school. When we return home, a new weather pattern emerges with homework, dinner, dishes, laundry, baths, and bedtimes. (Woosh! Stop it!) We hardly ever take the time to look down and think about the carpet under our feet.

Do you?

Given the regular barrage of daily tasks we all work at to keep our households running, carpet cleaning isn’t usually the first priority on most folk’s minds. It’s not like you need a steam cleaning every day, right?

Some people go years without cleaning their carpets. “We vacuum, and it’s just my husband and I here, and we take our shoes off at the door,” says many a nice customer when chatting with me about a potential cleaning. My response is always the same. “Just because the carpet doesn’t look dirty, doesn’t mean it’s not.” See, vacuuming, as important as it is, removes most dirt, but not all of it. If you haven’t had your carpet professionally cleaned in years, there’s years worth of dirt, dead skin cells, hair, bacteria, germs, and allergens under your feet. It’s not the most healthy scene. As if that’s not bad enough, the dirt in the heaviest trafficked areas of your home is accelerating the wearing of the carpet fibers. This is also true of your upholstered furniture.

Other folks clean their own carpets. This is probably fine for light maintenance or spotting, but chances are, you’re using one chemical for every spot, and some specific spotting requires specific chemicals and sometimes specific processes in order to get the job done right. Furthermore, when you use soap to clean your carpet, you risk leaving residues behind which will act as a magnet to dirt and cause the carpet to look bad relatively quickly.

So, the question becomes, how often should you have your carpet professionally cleaned?

Once annually.

Annual carpet cleaning will not only keep your carpet looking great, it will help keep your home free from germs and allergens as well as increasing the carpet’s useful life. This need not be a major operation every year. If you had a wall to wall cleaning last year, schedule your open areas to be cleaned this year. Traffic areas are the most important areas to keep clean. Under your couch and bed and dresser, the carpet is not getting that dirty, and if the furniture reaches down to the floor, it’s not even possible for the carpet to get dirty.

So, take a break from the daily tasking tornado and give Randy’s Carpet Care a call. We’re hear for you snow or shine and estimates are always free. (800)920-2202

Woosh! Stop it!

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Be afraid! You won’t actually believe this terrifying truth!

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Dead skin cells. Dust mites. Pet dander. Hair. Crumbs. Sweat. Dirt. Pollen. Germs. Nanobots. As the years pass, a little bit of every snack, a little bit of every spill, and even a little bit of your own family and friends gets left behind in your furniture. Who knows what may be revealed if the upholstery of your couch was to be put under a microscope… Uncleaned furniture is not just gross, it can also cause adverse health effects to those with weakened immune systems.

It makes your favorite spot to chill in front of the tube a little less inviting, eh?

So, your love-seat isn’t quite so lovely anymore, and you’re all set to DIY with your apron on, a towel in one hand, and a garden hose in the other. The fact of the matter is, you can’t clean your own upholstery… (Continue reading.)