Floor Care Fundamentals
Clean carpets and floors make a world of difference to the look and feel of any home. Before you register, take a few moments to learn about your floor care options and decide which products are best for you.
A Cleaning Essential
Vacuuming should be an essential part of your personal cleaning routine. It keeps your house clean and attractive. And, it even helps you stay healthy by removing dirt, dust and other allergy-causing particles from your living areas.
Uprights: Used for vacuuming larger areas, uprights are the most traditional and commonly used floor care products. When selecting your model, look for a complete cleaning system with a hose and attachments mounted on the vacuum cleaner itself - a big plus when cleaning stairs, corners and under furniture.
Canisters: Providing increased mobility, canisters are often more versatile than upright vacuums. In addition to carpets, canisters are also great at cleaning bare floors, vacuuming stairs and car interiors and sucking up dirt from corners.
Hand vacs: For cleaning small areas, corners and crevices, nothing is more convenient than a hand vac. These appliances are often cordless, which makes them perfect for quickly attacking those inevitable dry messes (like the next time Fido knocks over your prized collection of African violets, or your nephews decide to "decorate" your couch with potato chips).
Get the Deep-Down Dirt
Deep cleaners (a.k.a. carpet cleaning machines) use water
and special detergents to loosen and remove dirt and ground-in grit.
Traditional deep cleaners: With their rotary brushes, they extend the life of your carpets making them look newer and smell fresher. Now there are models that have a built-in heater that revs up the cleaning potential. It usually takes just a few hours for your carpets to dry.
Portable deep cleaners: No more manual scrubbing of smaller stains on carpets and upholstery. Grab a portable cleaner for the inevitable spill and handle it with ease.
The Right Match for You
Read on to find out if your unique circumstances will play a part in choosing floor care products.
If you have allergies, a vacuum with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter is the way to go. These filters remove nearly 100% of dust, ragweed, pollen and other allergens in your home. This type of filter is also a good choice for pet owners.
If you're fanatical about dirt, consider buying a vacuum with a dirt sensor, which tells you when an area is clean.
If you have a lot of different surfaces to clean, then you should focus on products with a wide variety of attachments and features. Look for bare floor functions, extension hoses, crevice tools, stairs and upholstery attachments, dusting brushes and others.
If you don't like the hassle of changing vacuum bags, then look for a bagless vacuum. Most major floor care manufacturers offer several bagless models in varying price ranges. These vacuums trap dirt and dust in a secure compartment and can be emptied directly into your trash can.
If you have more than one level of living space, then you might want several floor care products. For instance, you might have hardwood floors on your main living level, but carpeting in your upper-level bedrooms. In this case, the combination of floor care products (an upright with bare floor functions for downstairs and a canister with a variety of attachments for upstairs) is the most ideal solution.
Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize
In order to best defend your home from dirt, keep a well-stocked supply of floor-care accessories on hand at all times!
Belts: Many people think that vacuum belts only need be replaced when they break. In reality, a worn-out belt can often be the cause of poor cleaning. Since not all belts are created equally, make sure to reference your owner's manual to choose the right belt for your vacuum.
Bags: Vacuum bags can fill up faster than you think! Change your bag if it is filled to the indicator line, if your "check bag" indicator is lit or if the bag is visibly more than three-quarters full. Keep in mind that if you have a pet, you may have to change the bag more often.
Filters: Most HEPA filters should be changed after six months, although some manufacturers claim their filters can last up to a year. Of course, excessive dirt or an actual tear is a clear indication that a filter needs to be replaced.
Putting the Care Back Into Floor Care
It's easy to take your flooring and upholstery for granted. But, whether you own or rent, it's really best to view these items as investments and treat them with extra-special care.
In fact, most manufacturers are now equipping their machines with convenience-focused features (like self-propelling functions, auto brush shut-off for bare floor cleaning and much more) to make caring for your floors easier than ever!
Just follow our simple guidelines below to keep carpets, bare floors and upholstered furnishings looking their best:
- For bare floors, vacuuming is the first step. Do this at least once a week to remove dirt and dust. This routine vacuuming will make mopping and waxing much faster and easier!
- Vacuum carpet and area rugs once a week. Make sure to stop dust bunnies in their tracks by vacuuming under tables, chairs, beds and other dust-collecting areas.
- Every two weeks, vacuum your upholstery. Don't forget the backs and sides of furniture, as well as underneath the cushions!
- Vacuum curtains and blinds once a month. Most modern uprights and canisters come with special attachments and extension hoses to make this chore a breeze.
- Use a deep cleaner as needed for messy spills and excessive dirt.
Tips & Techniques
- Set your vacuum's nozzle according to the height of your carpet. Use the lowest setting for a low-pile carpet and a higher one for plush carpet.
- Never rub or scrub stains on carpet! Blot them instead, and always move from the outer edges toward the middle.
- Before you use any stain removal solution on your carpet, test it on a hidden spot, like under a chair or in a corner.
- Vacuuming is the best method for removing dirt from upholstery. However, pet hair can be another story. Try running a slightly damp sponge over the fabric to remove most of the hair, and then vacuum again.
- Experts caution not to base your floor care purchase on the product's amps, horsepower or watts. Rather, a vacuum cleaner's performance should be judged on airflow, the suction level, special features and attachments and, of course, an ergonomically correct design.