Looks Clean or IS Clean? How to be confident in the cleanliness of your home

Didn’t your mom tell you that beauty is only skin deep? A person’s true, often hidden, character lies far deeper than their face. If you spent more time with someone, worked in conversation at different angles, what kind of dirt might you find?  I like to think about CARPETS like people. If you spent more time vacuuming your carpet, worked the passes of the vacuum at different angles….I ask you again: What kind of dirt might you find?

Carpet Monster

First of all – What does “CLEAN” mean? People clearly have different definitions of this term. But for the purpose of this article, I mean the absence of: visible dirt or stains, harmful embedded dirt, and illness-causing allergens, critters or pathogens. Clean things not only look and smell better, but they last longer and improve your personal quality of life as you use them. Here’s why…

Looks can indeed be deceiving… In our line of work, “clean” is NOT just surface deep. For instance, vacuum cleaners are designed to take care of your carpets by removing dust, dirt, hair and allergens. Some vacuums do a very nice job of getting the stuff you see off of the carpet’s surface. But does that mean it’s really clean? NOPE! These “leftovers” are not only gross, but can cause catastrophic carpet damage over time. Many of those particles (like sand or “Carpet Fresh”) are microscopically abrasive. Left in the base of the pile, they act like tiny knives sawing away at the fiber as you walk over top. Foot traffic also grinds in dirt and dust to all layers of the carpet, and flattens or bends the pile over. This matted look is hideous, but also means that broken fibers will begin to release excessively when you vacuum later.

Lastly, if you have allergies, asthma, emphysema, or the like, one major source of your problem could be the pollens, fungus, and or chemicals caught in your carpet. Vacuuming thoroughly with a true-HEPA vacuum can bring you a lot of relief. Quality of life is always paramount, with protecting the quality of your household goods, a close second. 

Here are a few TIPS from “How Things Work” to keep your carpet trulyclean and prevent damage:

  • Carpets need to be vacuumed once a week and more often in areas of heavy traffic. Every few weeks, take a little extra time and use your crevice tool for cleaning around baseboards and radiators and in other hard-to-reach places.
  • Take your time when you vacuum a carpet, especially a plush carpet in which dirt and allergens are sure to be deeply embedded. One pass with a high-powered vacuum (with brushroller/agitator) is not enough. Go over each section of carpeting several times, and work slowly to allow the agitator brush to vibrate out all the ground-in dust and dirt, while the suction takes it away into the collection bag or bin.
  • Pay special attention to the areas where people sit and move their feet. Vacuum these areas of heavy traffic with a crisscross pattern of overlapping strokes.
  • Rule No. 1 regarding spots and spills on your carpeting: Clean them immediately. If you catch the spill when it’s fresh, you’ve got a good chance of removing it totally. Visit this link for specific techniques.

Don’t let this information scare you away from carpets or rugs altogether. Aside from adding color, warmth and reducing noise in rooms, its “attractive” nature also keeps allergens on one place (on the floor and out of your face!) The trick is just to clean them properly.

 

Alternatively, hard surface flooring may be the “prescription” for many folks suffering from allergies, but cleaning them can pose a whole new set of surprising challenges.The good news is that nearly all of them can be solved in one shot. How? Vacuum your hard floors with a high-filtration, top-exhausting canister-style vacuum with deluxe, natural bristle brush. (And yeah, we sell those!)

If your vacuum truly does have the ability to deep-clean your rugs andtake care of your bare floors properly, fantastic! However, is it trappingALL of that collected dust? If not, then some of dust blows out the vacuum’s exhaust into your breathing air, then settles back on every surface in the house. This is a lot like sweeping a pile of dirt under the rug (because you’ve only moved the debris from one area to another instead of removing it altogether!) Not only is that a waste of time, but creepy stuff that usually is exclusive to the floor now transfers everywhere, worst of all – into your lungs! NOT CLEAN.   

With all of this said how CLEAN are your floors and carpets? 

I could torture you for hours with examples of lurking dirt and germs in unforeseen places, but what’s the point?  We all know that some germs can make us really sick and we do our best to avoid and/or kill them. Others we gladly ingest on purpose (as I now snack on yogurt.) None of us tolerate the look of dirt and grime very well. This article is NOT an attempt to make you feel like a lazy or dirty person, turn you into a psychopathic germaphobe, or scare you into buying a type of vacuum you can’t afford. The point is to show you, that in the world of vacuums and floor coverings, the dirt you miss can be very destructive and unhealthy.

P.S.  So as not to leave you discouraged…if you’d like some super easy tips to make cleaning more fun (and even glamorous) watch our new YouTube video!  

Get your WAY the NICE way…

golden rule
… live by the Golden Rule and get Royal Results!
I think we are pretty “nice” people…we’re told that often enough so I believe it to be true! I think it’s fun to be nice. It feels natural and right to be nice. Niceness usually means that you get niceness back – and that feels great to receive! Are we perfectly nice 100% of the time? No, nobody is, but we sure try our best! But what IS niceness? Let’s explore this topic to see if we can agree on what “nice” behavior is, then see if it’s as effective as being aggressive in a sales or service situation. Oh – and what does this have to do with vacuum cleaners? You’ll see…
I enjoy producing articles that teach a “bigger” message. But to answer that last question, remember that your vacuum is a machine.  Like many others you have it frequently requires professional service and replacement parts. With that comes personal interaction between you and your service providers (like us!) And when everyone plays nice it makes every experience SO much more enjoyable and rewarding for both parties! If you work in retail you surely know what I mean! Just remember that we all are consumers also and we can all-too-quickly forget what it’s like to be on the other side. So this concept applies to your vacuum cleaner and to a multitude of areas of your life!
I believe that “nice” behavior is a cocktail of several different qualities expressed in an exchange between two or more people. If even one of these elements are left out the situation can get heated, stressful, be difficult to resolve the problem and/or cause an irreparable blowout! So, what should be in this ideal mix? In my book, the requirements are: Gentle tone of voice, a smile, patience, carefully listening to the other’s perspective or/or needs, sincerity and honesty, relaxed body language, respect for the other’s time… Be sensitive to the other person’s feelings and perspective – yet aim to NOT be so sensitive personally (i.e. have a thicker skin.)
For example, here at Queen Vacuum, most of our customers are absolutely amazing; the most delightful and appreciative folks! Yet we must remember that when a customer comes in frantic, upset, demanding or angry that their vacuum isn’t working that we shouldn’t take it personally. And like every business, we have systems in place that keep the work flow orderly, efficient and allow for thorough execution of each job or transaction. It makes work easier when customers respect that our systems are in the best interest of all of us. We of course try to be flexible and super-helpful for those who some in with true “emergencies” or special situations. BUT – badgering, questioning and extreme, on-the-spot demands are discombobulating, stressful and unfair to everyone, including other customers – like, duh LOL!! 
If you ever have a real predicament, special need or lots of questions – feel free to call in advance to kindly explain and see if/when/how we can arrange a solution. We’re happy to help you any way we can! But it might be too hard for us to help and think critically when our benches are already full of complicated repairs AND the showroom is full of active sales appointments AND the phone is ringing off the hook! NO, we may not be able to unclog someone’s Dyson RIGHT NOW while they wait no matter how much they beg/make a scene/threaten to never come back again LOL!!
MORAL OF THE STORY: We all get cranky and impatient sometimes. But I genuinely believe our lives would be so much better if we were all a little nicer. Our encounters in life are often brief and with little or no background. We don’t know each other’s situations or hardships and one tiny straw can indeed break the camel’s back.
So whatever side of the sales counter we’re on, let’s ditch the ‘ol “chip” on the shoulder and choose to be happy and kind! Instead of being aggravated, impatient, demanding and/or accusatory let’s all pledge to assume the best, give the benefit of the doubt, be patient… you know, “golden rule” stuff! A little respect and a friendly smile can go a long way to getting everyone what we desire!
 
By the way…if YOU are a nice person too – STOP IN and be sure to send in all your FRIENDS if they’re anything like you! 

Do NOT Take it Back!  (Top 3 reasons why it’s kinda EVIL to RETURN a vacuum cleaner)

We’ve arrived at the height of the shopping season… Vacuum cleaners are not necessarily the most popular of gifts, but new machines are commonly purchased at this time of year due to the excessive cleaning and preparation that goes along with entertaining! And with lots of sales come lots or RETURNS, right? Let’s hope not (we’ll get into why shortly.)

So, today I’m going to touch on a topic that’s, well, a little touchy…Returns! Ever buy a new vacuum at a big-box store and notice a little piece of paper that fall out of the box when you assemble?  “…DO NOT RETURN TO THE STORE.” Why on earth is that? Besides, retailers like Wal*Mart and Costco take back everything, no questions, right?!

That note was inserted by the manufacturer of your vacuum, and it’s pretty standard-issue. They know that most consumers are on their own… They know that at any given big-box store there’s no store staff member to help a customer select correct machine for their home and it certainly won’t be assembled for them. These product manufacturers (like Bissell, Hoover, Dyson, etc.) at least provide an owner’s manual with simple instructions and a free hotline or website link for basic troubleshooting.

Despite the disadvantages in the mainstream shopping method for appliances like vacuums, the actual setup and maintenance on most vacuums isn’t so bad.

But many folks simply lack the patience (or think they don’t have the mechanical knack) to utilize the resources provided to solve their issue. Thus, combined with the extremely liberal return policies of many retailers, today’s customers’ first inclination is to immediately return the vacuum to the store.  

But what does that really solve and how does that affect the retailer?

By the end of this article I hope you’ll understand the many reasons why returning a vacuum is such a BAD IDEA! You’ll also learn it’s so much more practical and valuable to shop with a dedicated small appliance seller and repair station like Queen Vacuum!!

Here are the top 3 Reasons why it’s kinda EVIL to RETURN your vacuum:

  1. It’s not ETHICAL.  By this I mean that it is potentially hurtful to others. Here’s how…

a.) One of the unfortunately typical causes for vacuum return is a practice called “retail borrowing” or “beturning.” But, quite frankly, it’s stealing. As it relates to our business, it’s unethical to buy a new vacuum then use, abuse, neglect, get it clogged, etc. and return to the store claiming it’s defective. Everybody (should) know that it’s wrong to purchase a product with the intent to use it briefly (borrow it) then return it. Have you ever suffered through the chafing caused by carefully tucked-away price tags in that too-expensive white cocktail dress (and avoid all red-colored foods and drinks) only to return it after the fancy event? Ever buy a massive, HD flat screen TV only to return it shortly after the Super Bowl? Tisk, tisk….

nasty cashierWhat’s the Reason for your return?

b.) New Jersey consumer protection laws prevent retailers from ever re-selling certain categories of products again as “new.” Products contaminated with biological waste or water like vacuums, toilet seats and water filters fall in this category.  In other words, if Home Depot sells you a new Hoover, you go home, use it for a few days and decide to return it, they can never sell it again as new. They give you back your money but take a loss. It cannot go back on their shelf, new.

c.) Thus, “beturning” a machine to a store (that really shouldn’t be accepting returns on this kind of product anyway) opens up the risk of passing contamination on to others. Some big-box stores are not very careful with such returns and occasionally re-stock that contaminated product!  This opens consumers up to the risk of receiving product that had collected hazardous construction materials, excrement, pet allergens, mold or insect infestation.  Vacuums properly refurbished and boldly disclosed as “used” are fine, if you choose to buy one from a reputable source. But buyer beware!!

  1. It’s not ECONOMICAL…. This type of activity actually hurts people’s pocketbooks and bottom lines in a few ways. a.) It’s not fair to make the store buy back and suffer the loss on a machine that is not actually defective (which partly this relates back to the ethics issue.) Did you realize that 9 out of 10 vacuums that are returned are simply clogged, dirty, the belt snapped from a small accident or had been operated on an incorrect usage setting (so that it wasn’t “working right.”) By returning it, the same problem is likely to happen since you’ll never learn what simple mistake you’d been making. What a waste of time in the long run.  Typically, the “tenth” machine is genuinely defective and therefore is entitled to a simple warranty repair, paid for by the manufacturer (it’s their fault anyway!)  Losses incurred from a liberal return policy add up quickly and the only means of a business’ survival is to raise process or cut costs from somewhere else. For consumers this means you prices go up service quality goes down.

b.) You should know that, with very rare exception, manufacturers do NOT buy back vacuums returned to their product’s retailers! Units they’ve produced that are proven to be genuinely defective can be repaired for no charge to the customer by a contracted warranty station like ours. But big-box stores do not fix anything! As you read above, the retailer simply bears the loss themselves. With laws restricting what can be done with these unwanted vacuums, they may either be sold through back-door deals to private refurbishers or will be discarded (which brings up my final point…)

  1. It’s not ECOLOGICAL…
    Because manufacturers do not buy back their “junk” from retailers, many of these mass-returned big-box store vacuums just end up in the dumps in mass quantities!
Off the the dumps they go...
Off the the dumps they go…

a.) Our culture has supposedly become increasingly “green-conscious,” yet we find instead that consumers are all too eager to throw away large appliances like vacuums at the first moment of inconvenience. Do you realize the quantity of plastic and precious metals involved in their manufacture? Sure, they can be dismantled and recycled….we do it all the time here at Queen Vacuum. Does Wal*Mart take the time out of their day to do that?  This is why it’s most wise to purchase a high-quality, long-lasting machine that is simple and serviceable. Get help picking one out and establish a relationship with a reputable service facility like us. You don’t throw away your car when the oil needs changing or the alternator quits, right?  Cheap machines are typically harder to maintain and fail very quickly. Don’t waste your money, time or the valuable space in our landfills.

 

What are we thinking these days? 
Back in the day, when the vacuum acted funny, Grandma or Mom likely would’ve grabbed the manual and said “Hmm…I bet I just broke the belt. Let’s check the book to learn how to put a new one back on.”  Or “Rats, I wonder what I sucked up that clogged my vacuum? Let me turn it off and see if I can clear out the culprit.”  Today, it seems that consumers look at these situations much differently. Their inclination is to get angry, assume that the vacuum is genuinely defective and that it’s best to return it to where they bought it. Alternately, many believe that the $50 vac they bought is literally disposable, so off the curb it goes once the dirt bin is full, belt breaks or filter gets too clogged. But other than buying back the yucky, now useless vacuum at their loss, how is Wal*Mart helping you?

CONCLUSION:
Keep in mind, this is in NO WAY an attempt to steal away or diminish the rights of the consumer! After all, we’re consumers too! If you’ve been treated unfairly or received defective goods by all means, stand up for yourself! I just implore that you take a logical, fair approach (by taking whatever personal responsibility is needed) then follow the logical, fair channels to truly fix your problem. This article simply attempts to illustrate how the abuse of one’s consumer rights and stores’ policies can have very far-reaching negative consequences on the economy, our earth’s ecology, and hurt other people – consumers and retailers alike. Be thoughtful, be fair and everyone will benefit in the long run!

 

Let’s Play a Game: What’s THAT For?!

HELLOOOOO America!  I’m Vax Muucav and welcome back to the hottest new Game Show on VacTV where we ask you….
“WHAT’S – THAT- FOR?!”

Our three challengers have raced the clock and each to guess what today’s “Mystery Items” are used for. Can YOU guess?

 

This is our final round. Tina, you’re in the lead. Contestants, are you ready?

Here’s today’s Mystery Item…

Now tell me, “WHAT’S – THAT – FOR?!”

MYSTERY ITEM: What’s THAT for?


BUZZZ!

Vax: Yes, Rick?

Rick: That clearly is for spreading frosting on icecream cake.
Vax: Oh, I’m sorry, that is incorrect.

 

BUZZZ!

Vax: Stan! Tell us, what’s that for?

Stan: That is for raking patterns in Japanese ornamental rock gardens.

Vax: Oh no, that too is incorrect, Stan.

 

BUZZZ!

Vax: Tina! For the win, can you tell us – what’s that for?

Tina: Um, like, I think that is for sucking the cat fur and dust off the furniture?

Vax: COOORRRRECT!

 

Vax: Now Tina, for 10 Bonus points, can you tell us what’s it CALLED?

Tina: Um, a “couchy suckmeister?”

Vax: Oh, good try, but that is incorrect.

That, America, is an upholstery tool! One of three typically-standard attachments that come with most vacuum cleaners, this flat, somewhat wide tool may come with or without bristles. Either way, it is designed to maintain a gentle amount of suction over a wide, relatively flat area. It is perfect for pulling dust and allergens out of soft surfaces like upholstered couches or car seats, carpeted stairs or even your mattress. Equipped with short, stiff bristles or flocking (like a lint brush) it will pull up stubborn lint and pet hair. Do YOU have one at home? If so – and now that you know what it’s for – are you using it?!

Vax: Congratulations Tina, you are today’s big winner!  

Let’s show America the amazing prizes you’ve earned today…

(Curtain Draws Back)

A lifetime supply of premium Vacuum Cleaner Bags!


Tina:  Um, wow. Thanks. But there are only 10 bags there…how will that last a lifetime? I have 2 hairy dogs.

Vax: Knew you’d ask…..

(Curtain #2 draws back)  

That’s because you’ve also won a Brand New… Hairless Cat! 

Get rid of those tired, hairy mutts and bask in the love and easy upkeep of this designer feline. With no fur, it’ll take forever to fill those bags!

Thanks for watching, America! And remember, the next time you encounter a peculiar object, ask yourself WHAT’S THAT FOR?!

HELP Helpers to Help You Better…

With Mind Readers in short supply – Arm yourself with the right info to get exactly what you need! 

What do PSYCHICS have to do with getting you the correct type of printer ink, brake pads or vacuum cleaner bags? NOTHING!  (And that’s precisely why you wouldn’t want to rely on one to get the products you seek!)

Let’s take a light-hearted look at an issue that drives consumers, retailers and service people equally nuts…We call it “Crystal Ball Syndrome,” CBS for short. It all has to do with expecting others – specifically those we do business with – to be mind readers!    

With our lives as busy as they are, we all need HELP! Thus, we employ the services of a wide variety of “helpers”(i.e. repair people, hairdressers, cleaning ladies, etc.) to do things for which we don’t have the time and/or expertise.  We also need stuff (i.e. food, clothing, electronics, household supplies and replacement parts.) With so much to wade through and so many variants, we often rely on salespeople to point us to the right aisle, or to select the correct product for our needs.
But have you ever gotten all the way to the store to pick up something like an ink cartridge, only to realize that you have no idea which type (of the 100 choices on the wall) that you need! Perhaps a nearby sales clerk takes pity, trying his best to jog your memory for details that can help him figure out what style your machine takes. But you can’t even offer him the brand….All you know is that “it’s blackish/grayish, square-ish, about yea big…”  Both of you are frustrated. He makes no sale and you go home empty-handed.

Crystal Ball Syndrome strikes consumers and retailers alike…no one is immune. Parties on either side of the sales counter become understandably feverish over wasted money, effort and disappointing results. The good news is that this affliction can be prevented by executing two simple measures: Homework and Communication.

As a consumer, your HOMEWORK should be to always take a little time in advance to collect your thoughts about what you want, for what purpose, and why. Be confident and secure in what you seek, up-front. If you’re undecided it will be equally helpful to tell your salesperson exactly where you need clarification or tailored advice. Details are key! Here are some examples specific to our business…    

Let’s say you need a replacement part for your vacuum cleaner:

  • Learn the NAME of the part you need of (i.e. Drive Belt)
  • Write down PART/STYLE NUMBER if you can find it (i.e. Style 4/5)
  • Write down the BRAND and MODEL number of the machine in case (i.e. Dirt Devil, #M085590)
  • If you’re not sure what type of info you need to bring – or don’t know where to find it – Call first to ask.

If you want to buy a new vacuum cleaner, come in having considered:

  • Your budget (up front and annual)
  • Size of your house and number of levels
  • Types of hard flooring and types of carpeting
  • Pets? Kids? Cleaning service?
  • Family health issues or physical limitations like allergies or back problems
  • Vacuums you’ve liked or disliked in the past and why

COMMUNICATION: This, of course, works both ways. In other words, although service/sales people are not psychics, they should of course be skilled, listen carefully, and have a strong command of their responsibilities and products. They must also be clear to you, their customer, about what info they need in order to give you the product or result you seek.  However, their ability to help you to the fullest relies on your ability to clearly communicate your needs, likes, dislikes, budget, deadline, other expectations or questions. Try to use the right terminology if you can, but don’t be ashamed to ask what things are called – We can all work together better when we speak the same language!

We’ve all been victims and inflictors of CBS. So remember that “helpers” can’t read your mind (and neither can customers.)  Just like your husband that can’t guess why you’re upset – your cleaning lady can’t know you are allergic to PineSol if you don’t tell her.  And although you shouldn’t expect us to remember the belt style for the vacuum your Mom bought from our store in 1984 – we need to be able to help you find the model number we need to look it up and get it for you! 

In spite of the mental fog and lack of patience caused by our hectic lives, we can take steps to prevent further suffering…  Since it’s easier to do something right from the start, vow to be prepared: Know what you have, know what you want, and learn the right terminology to use to enable someone to help you to get what you need!

Enjoy a GREENER, Cleaner Home in 3 Easy Steps! (and give the planet a break too!)

The red and gold colors of fall are creeping in – but GREEN is always in season! Doing our part to help the planet starts at home. But guess what? Being environmentally responsible also has great benefits for your home and family!

Here are 3 easy (yet commonly overlooked) things you can do to make cleaning more fun, effective, and environmentally friendly:

1. Use an efficient vacuum cleaner
A good, efficient vacuum like the Miele U1 upright (pictured above) C1 Compact or C3 Complete Canister-style vacuum can pick up more dirt in less time, with great ease and agility. Most importantly, it will trap that dust so that is doesn’t spew back into your breathing air and settle on surfaces like your walls and furniture (yuck!) The production of electricity can be a big strain on our environment. With Miele- very little time, effort, and electrical energy is wasted running the vacuum unnecessarily!

2. Use a quality vacuum cleaner
Did you know that quality vacuum brands like Miele are designed to last up to 20 years?! Instead of buying multiple cheap, “throw away” vacuums – be responsible by investing in one good machine! Not only will your cleaning chores be done faster and better – but think how much energy, natural resources, money and space in the landfill will be SAVED!!

3. Use natural, plant-based household cleaning products
This is an easy one…The next time you run out of Windex® glass cleaner, or your favorite conventional, toxic all-purpose cleaner – REPLACE IT with a more responsible choice! Our favorite is Caldrea® brand aromatherapeutic household cleaners. Caldrea® offers earth-friendly, plant-based, biodegradable, cruelty-free products that smell absolutely heavenly and REALLY WORK!! We’ve personally replaced all of our products at home including window spray, dish soap, even our laundry detergent with Caldrea®! It’s made cleaning a lot more fun. And to reduce our technician’s repeated exposure to harsh chemicals, we even use Caldrea® to clean the vacuums we service! Come into Queen Vacuum to try it for yourself! FREE SAMPLES AVAILABLE!

By: Rachel Decker

Good vacuums are not hard to find – you just need to know where to look! Learn more about better choices of vacuums on our website, www.queenvacuum.com/bestvacs. Call or stop in our shop any time for more explanation, information, or schedule a personalized DEMO!

It’s “Vac” to School Time!

The A-B-C’s and 1-2-3’s of vacuuming…

Ahh…the kiddos are finally going back to school and hitting the books! Personally, I’m glad to no longer be legally obligated to attend an educational institution. However, I still love to learn! My favorite stuff to learn about is that which helps me accomplish something fun, or makes my life easier/better

  

So we put our heads together and compiled a short list outlining some of the most important, overlooked and misunderstood concepts in vacuuming. So while we’re in the “school” spirit, I implore you to take a minute to study the tips we outline below. No, we’re not going to try to turn you into total vacuum-geeks like us. But if you find vacuuming to be a giant pain in the neck (literally or figuratively) that’s your first clue that something’s wrong! Following our guidelines just might relieve you of a lifetime of needlessly confusing and frustrating vacuum headaches!

 

THE A-B-C’s AND 1-2-3’s  OF VACUUM OWNERSHIP:

 

A – It’s all about AIR FLOW!  The first vacuum cleaner began as a fan and a pillowcase on wheels: Something to move air in a specific direction, and something to separate the collected dirt from clean air. Vacs are much more advanced these days, but the principle is the same: If anything impedes the air flowing IN or OUT of your vacuum, it will not “work.” So the next time your vacuum doesn’t suck, check  to see (1) if something is clogging any of the pipes leading in to the vacuum or (2) if your bag is full, or the pores of the bag or other filter material are clogged (as clean air will not be able to pass through.) In other words, if air can’t get out of the vacuum, new air can’t get in!

B – BREAKAGE Happens. Remember that your vacuum is a mechanical device; a machine with moving parts. So don’t get discouraged when its performance mysteriously declines, or if an accident happens. Much like your car, your vacuum is comprised of parts that can get out of alignment, or wear out over time and need replacing. The good news is that much breakage is preventable! User error is a common cause, so take time to learn how to use your vacuum correctly.  Also, always provide your vacuum with the basic maintenance it requires at the appropriate intervals (like bags, belts, filters and regular cleanings). Lastly, consider getting the vacuum fixed when it doesn’t work right, before throwing it out. Most often the problem is not as catastrophic or expensive as you fear. (And hey, at least here estimates are FREE!)

C – CHOOSE Wisely. As I’ve discussed in previous articles, your vacuum is a toolChoose your brand and model of vacuum wisely, as the wrong type will not perform as desired on the surfaces you are cleaning, or meet other expectations you may have. Choose the right attachments for specific tasks (like using a soft dusting brush for vacuuming baseboard molding, instead of a stiff crevice tool.) Also, selecting the correct bags and filters for your model is imperative: Improper fit means leakage of dirt into your vacuum’s motor and your house! When in doubt, seek professional advice.

1 – You should vacuum your floors at least ONCE per week: Above-floor surfaces, ONCE per month.  Some households require greater frequency than this, especially if there are pets. But do your carpets a favor by thoroughly vacuuming the hair and dust weekly before it imbeds too deeply in the carpet fibers. This also will bring the nap of the carpet back to a raised position, helping prevent that ugly matted look in high-traffic areas. You’ll also reduce the need to “wash” the carpets with water-extraction machines. This concept also applies to your couches, drapes and mattresses! You can avoid the formation of dust-bunnies (who are born of neglect) by vacuuming your hard floors more frequently.  Eliminating the rough, sandy particles by vacuuming (instead of “Swiffer-ing”) prevents scratching and dullness in the finish of your wood floors.

2 – Every TWO years, get your vacuum serviced.  You know to change your car’s oil every 3 months or 3,000 miles, and that your brakes only last so long. Your vacuum has moving parts too. Every couple of years get your vacuum a “tune-up” which includes cleaning and lubricating the brushroller and bearings, checking the electrical system, unclogging and washing, etc. (Because you can’t keep your house clean with a dirty, smelly, busted-up vacuum!)

3 – Every THREE months check your belt and filters. Over time, fine dust clogs the pores of the material that comprises your vacuum’s filtration system. If your machine uses bags, most of the vac-choking dust gets removed with the bag (once per month on average.) But if your vacuum is bagless, it is IMPERATIVE to keep its filters very clean, very regularly. Otherwise, the vacuum will suffocate causing a sharp decline in performance and overall lifespan!  Lastly, most regular upright vacuum cleaners use a stretchy, rubber drive belt than can last up to a year. However, if you have ever had an “accident” in which something got caught/stuck in the brushroller, the belt has been subjected to excessive friction that may have caused it to break or stretch too much. Without proper tension, the brush can’t spin aggressively enough to pick up debris well on your carpets. Get a new belt on there, STAT!

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Our job is to make your life easier…but communication is the key. When you have a solid understanding of your cleaning needs and equipment and can convey the right information to us – we can provide you with the correct solutions.  In other words, the more you understand about your vacuum, the better we can help you! And when you have the right tools for the job and the know-how to follow through…the frustration stops and the savings of time and money starts! “Knowledge is power,” baby!

** CLASS DISMISSED! **

Bed Bugs…BUSTED!

Send the kiddies safely off to school, and SLEEP more soundly… 

“Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!”  GET REAL! Who can sleep after even mentioning BED BUGS? If you have just sent your kids packin’ to college, you may not be sleeping very well as it is. And worrying about their living conditions states away certainly doesn’t help. COLLEGE KIDS PRACTICALLY LIVE OFF OF THEIR BEDS, in close quarters with a high level of social interaction, and are not known for their cleanliness. So you can imagine how easily bug problems can be missed and spread. But don’t freak out…Knowledge is power!

Let’s review some common-sense tips on how to detect, and potentially avoid bed bugs with just your wits and the tools you already have! (If you already know a lot, skip to the summary.) 

(Excerpted from CDC Website, about Bed Bugs)

 What are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are small, flat, nocturnal insects that feed on the blood of sleeping people and animals. They are reddish-brown in color, wingless, and range from 1 to 7 millimeters in length. They can live several months without a blood meal. Infestations of these insects usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep or spend a significant period of time. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, nursing homes, hospitals, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms.

They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, and under any clutter or objects around a bed.  They tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep. Bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they can transport stow-away bed bugs as they travel potentially infesting new areas, including their homes, as they relocate.

How to Identify a Bed Bug Infestation:

One of the most noticed signs are bite marks that appear on the face, neck, arms, hands, and any other body parts. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea – a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from feeling the bite. These bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These other signs may include:

  • the exoskeletons of bed bugs after molting
  • bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets
  • a sweet musty odor
  • rusty-colored blood spots from their blood-filled fecal material that is often excreted on the mattress or nearby furniture

A comprehensive Integrated Pest Management program  to control bed bugs may include methods such as:

  • using monitoring devices
  • removing clutter where bed bugs can hide
  • applying heat treatment
  • vacuuming
  • sealing cracks and crevices to remove hiding places
  • using non-chemical pesticides (such as diatomaceous earth) and
  • judicious use of effective chemical pesticides
  • bed bug infestations will not go away without intervention, and intervention is most effective when populations are low

The Huffington Post printed a great article specifically on the issue of bed bugs in college dorms.  Here are some highlights… (FULL Article)

Ways students can protect themselves:

  • When going on vacation, place luggage on luggage racks rather than a bed. And if you have to use a bed, vacuum your suitcases upon return from a vacation.
  • If you’re purchasing used furniture for your apartment, make sure you thoroughly investigate it before you bring it into your home. The last thing you want to do is PAY for bugs!
  • If a bed is provided in your room, thoroughly inspect it for signs before you move in, and periodically check your mattress and surrounding areas for signs of bugs. (see below)

WHAT TO DO if you discover (or suspect) a bed bug infestation:

  • DON’T PANIC! While bed bugs are not thought to transmit disease, infestations decrease the quality of life by causing discomfort, sleeplessness and embarrassment. Please don’t start rumors until an infestation is confirmed. Also, skin allergies or other bug bites can be mistaken bed bug bites….
  • Yet be on the safe side – watch where you place your clothes, shoes, bags, etc. and limit sharing of belongings.
  • If at school, tell your R.A. you suspect a problem, so that they may arrange for proper, professional diagnosis and extermination if needed. Do not try to exterminate on your own.
  • Seek medical attention if your bites are causing you distress.
  • SEEK PROFESSIONAL DIAGNOSIS & EXTERMINATION SERVICES.
vacuum mattressSummarySo, use your smarts (as well as a flashlight and good vacuum) to check out your sleeping quarters regularly!   Change your bed sheets often and look at the mattress for signs of bugs. And one of the best things you can do to keep your MATTRESS fresh and free of allergens, dust mites, and to nip bugs in the bud – is to VACUUM it!

Utilize a powerful, sealed-HEPA vacuum cleaner with disposable HEPA bags to do this job correctly. Your goal is to pull out fine, creepy particles like dead skin cells, dust mite eggs and excrement, as well as bed bugs, their eggs and fecal matter. The vacuum must be of the highest quality so as not to expel those particles back out into the air! Dispose of your bag immediately to eliminate the contamination. Miele vacuum cleaners are the best choice for this task, and they even produce the SBD10 Mattress cleaning attachment (pictured above) to reach the awkward crevices where dust and bugs accumulate.

Now that you’re in the know don’t neglect your mattress and don’t send your kids off to school without an education about bed bugs and a good vacuum to keep their dorm clean! But DO get a good night’s sleep!

The Dirt on DUST…

What’s in that stuff, and you do you really want to touch it?

bagless vacuum survival kit
DO YOU HAVE YOUR “BAGLESS VACUUM SURVIVAL KIT?”

Summertime, the beach, vacations…Just can’t get enough of them, can you? Well, you have to come HOME eventually, and I’m sure your dustbunnies are eagerly awaiting your return! You may even add to their family as you bring back piles of sand, fur from overheated/shedding pets, weird bugs, not to mention your own “sheddings” as your exotic sunburn peels away. Eeeeewww! 

Dustbunnies are curious creatures. Made up of all kinds of questionable substances they seem to have a mind of their own, and they multiply – well, like rabbits! The only good thing about them is that they are clearly visible, which makes them easier to hunt. Dust on its own can be much more difficult to tackle – and that’s no good because it’s creepy stuff! Not only does dust migrate into hard-to-reach places, it is easily made airborne again so you have to be sneaky!

“Oh, who cares about capturing every speck of dust? And what’s the big deal if you touch it?” you ask. If you doubt dust’s creepiness, read this
Time Magazine online article entitled What’s In Household Dust?
In a nutshell, dust is made of: 

–       shed bits of human skin

–       animal fur and dander

–       decomposing insects and their fecal matter

–       food debris

–       lint and organic fibers from clothes, bedding and other fabrics

–       tracked-in and/or airborne soil particles

–       pollen

–       meteorite particles & volcanic ash

–       soot

–       particulate matter from smoking and cooking

–       scant amounts of lead, arsenic, DDT, etc.
(from sources like volcanoes and industrial processes)

Although household dust will not harm most people, it doesn’t take much of these allergenic particles to make some people miserable. Therefore it makes sense to eliminate as much dust as you can (without driving yourself crazy.)

 

Top Tips to Minimize Dust:

  1. Take off your shoes in the house!
  2. Eat only at the table and clean the floor promptly when done
  3. Don’t smoke in the house
  4. Clean regularly and vacuum everything possible

The most effective tool in your arsenal for this task is your vacuum cleaner! A properly equipped model will remove dust from hard surfaces; floor and above. It will also pull up the deeply embedded dust from carpets, upholstered furniture, curtains and mattresses: These “soft” surfaces are where some of the most allergenic materials “live.” Using dusting attachments and the correct carpet nozzle is imperative! Furthermore only a “true-sealed HEPA” vacuum has the ability to pick up these particles without releasing them back out as exhaust, or leaking out of body seams. Bagged machines are the most hygienic choice as they minimize your exposure to the captured dust.

Bagless vacuums may pick up a lot of dust, but most leak, or spew, out an unsightly amount as well. Furthermore, they require an incredible amount of maintenance to keeping running optimally, having to becleaned out, by hand, monthly. This is a messy task that can make an allergic person very sick. If you own a bagless machine – we recommend assembling a simple BAGLESS VACUUM SURVIVAL KIT: mask, gloves, apron, drop cloth and bagged vacuum. (see top image)

 

Steps to maintain your BAGLESS vacuum at home:

  1. Line floor with newspaper or drop-cloth
  2. Plug in a spare bagged vacuum
  3. Put on: dust mask or respirator, elbow-length gloves and apron or smock
  4. Unplug bagless vacuum and position on drop cloth
  5. Carefully remove dust bin then empty into large, empty garbage bag
  6. Take bagged vacuum and vacuum out the bagless’ main housing, ducts, cyclone chambers, filters and exterior. Wipe down with cloth dampened with mild detergent spray.
  7. Replace primary and exhaust filters if older than 1 year OR wash washable filters then let dry for 24 hours
  8. Once dry, re-install all filters and reassemble unit.

 *OR*  Give up and bring it in to Queen Vacuum for cleaning/service!

If your machine is bagged, simply remove and replace your bag monthly. Replace your filters annually.

Ewww-AhhhSo if dust is getting on your nerves and/or in your nose – don’t freak out! It may kill your electronics, but is not likely to kill you. It yucky and sneezy, but can easily be tackled if you equip yourself with the right tools! So kick off your shoes, use a good bagged vacuum (often), then take a deep breath (of cleaner air!)   

Top Tops for Summer Trips

How a Vacuum and other clever products can save your sanity!

Summer is going sooooo fast! But many of you may still have some fantastic plans for what’s left. Maybe you’re packing up the family truckster and venturing cross-country to camp. Perhaps you prefer sunbathing pool-side at the beach club or are the “stay-cation” type. Whatever the case, the last thing you want is for messy mishaps or post-trip cleanup to suck the fun out of your precious family time!

How often had you said that “you need a vacation from your vacation?” Catching up on missed work is one thing…But spending spending too much time shaking sand (out of everything you own) or searching for “that funny smell” in the car is just infuriating. Spend more time sipping pina coladas or gawking at the Grand Canyon by following a few simple rules and keeping a few clever products on hand!

RULES for a SUCK-CESSFUL VACATION:

1) Plan ahead to deal with messes, then tackle them right away

2) Use multi-tasking products

3) If you smell something, say something

MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS & HOW TO USE THEM:
* Available at Queen Vacuum

*1) Small Vacuum Cleaners

– If you have the luxury of electrical hookup, keep a smaller-sized (plug-in) vacuum with extension hose vacuum in your cabana, cabin or RV. Use it to tackle excessive sand, creepy bugs and to suck out the air in space-saving bags (see below)

– Use a battery powered handheld wet/dry vac (even better with a car-charging adaptor) to gather dirt and food crumbs in these same places, plus the car! These little leftovers can really leave a post-vaca vehicle smelling funky fast – so tidy up periodically through your trip.

 

*2) Moso Natural charcoal sachets
– Odors are not meant to be just covered up. Since they are often indicative of an unhealthy situation, the source and/or gaseous byproduct ought to be removed. Made only of odor-absorbing charcoal, Moso sachets are perfect to keep inside duffel bags of camping gear or cabins to get rid of dampness, musty odors and unhealthy mildew. Adding no additional scent or chemicals they work wonders in a hot, stuffy car (especially if a dog is riding along.) Just place them out in the sun for a couple of hours to refresh. 

 

3) “Space Bags”, multiple sizes
– Using these vacuum-sealing plastic bags consolidate bulky items like sleeping bags, eve, coats and other clothes. They’ll seal out dust, water and bugs as well in the months/year between their next use.

 

4) Old Washcloth and Towel
– Keep a couple of these in the car. Paper towels are good too, but the wring-able fabric helps more on a big spill. They’re also great for brushing off sandy feet and beach chairs before loading in.

 5) Natural face/body wipes– Make sure they’re gentle enough for your face. But don’t worry they’ll work great on the rest of you – or even sticky spills on inanimate objects too!

*6) Organic alcohol + essential oil spray (preferrably lavender)
– I know, thinks sounds a little odd. But I keep a little spray bottle in my purse, beach bag, desk, car – everywhere! Why? Although this product is typically labeled as natural “deodorant” the two lonesome (yet amazing)

ingredients allow this spray to morph into hand sanitizer, antiseptic, bug repellant, air/fabric deodorizer, and cleaner for dozens of surfaces!

7) Used plastic grocery bags
– If your’re packing snacks for the car ride (or on the beach with carry-out garbage) pack some of these to corral apple cores, wrappers, recycling and the like. They’ll also keep wet bathing suits, muddy sneakers or “accidents” quarantined.

Maybe one day we’ll be able to take the cross-country road trip of our dreams or a really exotic vacation. Until then, we’ll be living vicariously through you! We can’t wait to hear your feedback about how YOU used these tips to make your trips more suck-cessful (and any other cool tricks you’ve discovered!)