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Vacuuming Tips for Health and Safety

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2011MayJunP29Not long ago, a reader asked for practical tips on vacuuming, noting flooring retailers need to better understand practical, useful vacuuming tips to be able to share with their customers. This situation is equally true for carpet and rug cleaners.

While pet owners are “stuck” on their animals, their pets’ hair sticks to everything textile related. According to Consumer Reports magazine, certain vacuums are much better than others in removing pet hair from carpets and rugs. About once a year, the magazine rates vacuum performance since models and technology rapidly change. These ratings include the ability of each vacuum to remove or help eliminate pet hair.

There are also concerns of pet dander, allergens, bacteria, fungi and/or viruses being present in one’s vacuum cleaner dust and debris. Recent reports by Charles Gerba (aka Dr. Germ) and his colleagues indicate measurable, possibly unhealthy levels of pathogenic microbes in vacuum cleaner waste tanks and capture bags. Species such as E. coli, salmonella, norovirus and other pathogens may be present when emptying vacuum waste, which can become a health-related issue when dumping.

Here’s a tip: Be cautious and take extra care when emptying your vacuum cleaner debris into the trash. Avoid disturbing or getting the collected dust, soils and fine debris airborne. With careless handling these can enter into one’s breathing one, especially when emptying a bagless vacuum. Also, take precautions when disposing of dirty cleaner bags.

Dry soil and dust from heavily laden rugs are best removed by first beating or vacuuming the rug upside down. Thereafter, it can be turned and then vacuumed again, right side up. The damaging dry soils, sandy and fine dirt particles get trapped deep down in the pile fibers and yarns. Rug cleaners and others consider this double-sided dry soil removal, and say it’s a useful recommendation to customers.

Take a large piece of heavy brown wrapping paper, plastic sheet or Tyvek type rug wrap. Turn the rug face down and vacuum it from the backside, especially using a beater bar vacuum. This creates localized agitation in the rug pile and causes much embedded soil to drop out by gravity onto the paper or plastic sheet. Lift the rug and very carefully, dispose of the dust that resides on top of the sheet. Then turn the rug right side or face side up, and vacuum again thoroughly. The result is that more entrained, particulate soils and dirt are removed, leaving a much cleaner and healthier rug.

Vacuum high-traffic areas more often and rigorously than less trafficked carpet areas. Consumers surveyed state that about half of them vacuum their carpets each week. Vacuum more frequently to preserve the lifetime and appearance of carpets and rugs.

According to Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies, by Elizabeth Goldsmith for the Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI), the following tips apply: “The more foot traffic over your carpet, the more you need to vacuum…[One should] vacuum daily in high-traffic or petfilled areas.”

Vacuuming twice weekly in medium-to-light traffic areas is the optimum. Retailers can obtain Carpet Cleaning [and vacuuming] Tips for Dummies for a nominal shipping and handling fee from CRI. Go to www.carpet-rug.org for more information and ordering details.



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