Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Satisfaction of Rug Cleaning - Yep! Mean it!

My cleaner couldn't make it this week, and with two cats in the house there was no way around it: I had to do house work!

Well, for starters I have to admit that once in a while this is not a bad thing to do; cleaners have a tendency to work around uncomfortable things, while I just would like to know that/if/when my house is falling apart. It is nice to know that the vacuum needs new filter pads, that screws are coming off the shelves or the skirting boards are rising. I would like to employ somebody who sees the house as a valuable asset that needs to be maintained not just well presented; who would find out how I use the house in order to attend to the highly used areas more than the others, and who would actually go and find dirt. I can easily swipe and wipe through the middle bits of my house and make it presentable; I would like somebody, who makes it a task to challenge the house and it's tendency to fall into chaos.

However, today I took on this tasks with focus on rugs. My rugs are cheap. I have cats; what can I say? They nevertheless have the job - the rugs, not the cats - to make the room look homey and warm. If they are dirty and smelly they achieve quite the opposite. Well, that is kind of true for cats as well, but those definitely wouldn't like the treatment I gave my rugs today.

It's a myth
Do not believe that there is a vacuum cleaner out there that can clean carpets properly. These steamy things are working because they wash the carpet, but normal vacuums don't. We have to live with whatever they can do for carpets because those can't be lifted, I however will get you more dirt out of any rug, cleaned with whatever fancy vacuum, and believe me: I do have a fancy one.

De-dust and de-stink
Last opportunity for this year to use snow as the best of all rug cleaners. It was a bit icy already, it works nicer when it is still a bit fluffy, but it did the trick.

Usually I fold the rug in the middle and bash it against a flat vertical surface. A piece of wall just outside my rear door does the trick perfectly fine. This however only gets the dirt and dust out, not the stink. Today I threw them upside down into the snow and then used a broom to beat the hell out of them. In the olden days we had a proper carpet-beater, with a big head like a tennis racket and made from some flexible material like rattan; I am not even sure if they sell those these days. And we had a carpet rails, which could take room sized rugs. It is a fantastic workout and brilliant for anger management, believe me, and for the rest of the time I used it to improve my gymnastics skills. Today the broom would have to do, a bit of rage would have helped, and no gymnastics.

The secret is dampness
The snow collects the dust and won't let go of it again. When you vacuum there is always a bit of dust hanging in the air, however good the filters are: just scraping the vacuum head over the carpet whirls it up and it will settle again on it. If the suction is really high it sucks in a dense carpet and the head wouldn't slide over the surface easily, if it is not high enough it won't be able to get the dust from the bottom of a thick carpet. Beating out the dust and having it caught in something sticky is just a brilliant thing.

From the snow the rug gets ever so slightly damp and when that dries off in the fresh air, it takes all sort of stink away as well. 



De-fluff
So, I have cats and I have a cheap - synthetic, hence charged with static electricity - yet rather thick, rug. With a good vacuum brush you will get it looking nice... BUT!

Walking over a the fibres massages hair and all sorts of stuff into the fabric. It becomes interwoven. If you ever had needles of a Christmas tree stuck between the fibres you will know that they are reluctant to come out as they present their thinnest side to the suction and the brush. The way forward is a sponge or rubber gloves, (soapy) water and elbow grease. Again, it is dampness not wet we are after. If I use the sponge for rubbing I use soap made into foam, when I go for the rubber glove I only have a wet towel to moisten the glove a bit. 

And then the elbow grease comes into play; rubbing against the grain and trying to catch those reluctant fibres. A pattern like in my rug is a bit of a pain in the back side, because the grain changes direction every few inches - I shall consider this fact when buying a new one!

Now that the job is done I really enjoy the look of it; it really IS satisfying - if there just wouldn't be a next time!

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