Hosting a Christmas Party? Here’s How to Protect Your Carpet From Spills

It won’t be snowing here in Phoenix anytime soon, but there are other signs that Christmas is coming. Holiday classics are on the radio, colored lights are adorning the houses on my street, and invitations to my annual party are in the mail. Another sign that Christmas is coming: I’m getting ready to tackle holiday-party spills on my nearly-white carpet.

If you said that it wasn’t a good idea to install an almost-white carpet in my home, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. I do have to take great care to keep my carpet looking clean. I vacuum twice a week, and have my carpets professionally cleaned twice a year. (And if you’re invited to my party, I’ll be there to take your shoes at the door.) But probably the most important thing that I do is attend to every spill and stain as soon as it happens.

If you’re committed to stopping whatever you’re doing to deal with a spill or a stain, the battle’s half won. Winning the other half of the battle requires you to know how to tackle the most common kinds of stains. Once you know what kind of tools you need, you’ve also got to keep them on hand. Want to do as I do this holiday season, and keep stains out of your carpet? Here’s how to deal with some of the most common stains.

Red Wine

White carpeting and red wine may not be a match made in heaven, but you’ll always find them together at my Christmas party. (Hopefully not too close together.) That’s why I’m always ready for a red wine spill. After a spill, I immediately start blotting up the wine with a plain white paper towel. I work gently, because the idea is to pull the wine up, not pull it down. I keep blotting until the towel is pulling up very little red. Next, I mix equal parts warm water and white vinegar with a dash of dishwashing soap.

I continue to blot, gently, until the stain is gone or until the blotting is no longer pulling up any red. If part of the stain remains, and you can’t pull any more out, stop what you’re doing and call a professional. (I call Dr. Chem-Dry – the company that already drops by every six months for a cleaning.) The earlier a professional cleaner can attend to the stain, the better the chance it will be removed. Wine is among the toughest stains, but this course of action has never failed. Sometimes, I’m even able to get the stain up without any help.

Coffee

Another staple at my home as well as my party is rich, dark coffee – something that definitely stands out against light carpet. Tending to a coffee spill isn’t much different than dealing with red wine. You’ll need a plain white paper towel. You’ll want the same mixture of warm water, white vinegar, and dish soap. You’ll want to gently blot stains until they disappear. And you’ll want to call your cleaning pro right away if you can’t handle that stain.

For whatever reason – probably because my coffee mugs are bigger than my wine glasses – coffee spills tend to be bigger than wine spills. So it’s worth mentioning here that, should you have a lot of liquid to pull up, be sure to swap out paper towels once they’ve been blotted down. You won’t want to push wet towels into the carpet. Plan on having a lot of paper towels on hand before any party.

Grease

While I hate to use the term grease in relation to the food I serve at my parties, the shoe fits. And when guests are walking around with meats, cheeses, and all of those other saucy or oily foods that I serve, some are bound to end up on the floor. While the basic ingredients for dealing with grease stains on carpet are almost the same, there are a couple of key differences.

First, you’ll want to swap out the vinegar for more dishwashing soap in your cleaning solution: Plan to mix one part soap to four parts warm water. You’ll also want to apply the cleaning solution to some paper towel, and press it into the stain for five minutes before beginning the bottle process. Both the extra soap and the extra time are needed to loosen and break down the grease to the point where it can be blotted away.

While I’m no carpet cleaning expert, I have managed to keep a white carpet looking great for a few years now. Do as I do – and quickly – and both you and your carpet will do just fine the next time you host a Christmas party.

Choosing the Right Siding for Your House

It’s not uncommon for homeowners to replace the siding on their homes at some point during the life of the home. Over time your home’s siding takes quite a beating. Constant exposure to the sun, heavy storm winds, hail, rain, and general exposure to the elements will eventually cause your siding to crack, warp, or just simply start falling off in places.

As a homeowner, it’s important to maintain your siding to avoid water damage, pests, and other types of damage that can result from not having the outside of your home properly sealed against the elements. But with so many different siding options, how can you know which one is right for your home, your climate, and your budget?

There are three main types of siding that are popular options for modern homes. These are wood siding, vinyl siding, and fiber cement siding. Each of these has different pros and cons, and offers a different look for the exterior of your home. Let’s take a deeper look at each option:

Wood Siding

For a classic feel, wood siding is a great option, and allows for all kinds of customization in terms of color and finish. Unlike other siding options, wood siding can be painted any color, or even stained to retain the natural grain and texture of the wood.

On top of aesthetic appeal, wood siding is incredibly durable and more eco-friendly than other siding options. Depending on your region’s climate, the manufacturer, and how well you upkeep your siding, you can expect wood siding to last anywhere from 10-50 years.

The main drawback to having wood siding is the large amount of maintenance that you’ll have to perform to keep your siding looking nice. Wood siding requires regular treatment for insect prevention, in addition to regular restaining and repainting.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is the most affordable siding option, and is installed on more than 30% of homes in the US. In addition to lower prices, vinyl siding also requires far less maintenance than wood siding. Vinyl siding will never rot, fade, warp, or crack unless it is struck by an outside force.

Depending on what kind of siding you get and your regional climate, you can expect vinyl siding to last you 50 years or more.

If you’re looking for a great product at an affordable price, vinyl might be your best bet, though it is easily damaged by falling branches or hail storms, meaning you could end up replacing it long before it reaches its 50-year lifespan.

Fiber Cement

Fiber cement is the most recent technology that’s breaking into the siding industry, but it’s rapidly gaining popularity with homeowners across the US. Fiber cement siding is made of cement, sand, and cellulose fibers, and is generally molded to mimic the look of wood siding.

This type of siding is the most durable siding option available, and can be expected to last 50+ years. It is also flame retardant, highly durable, and never needs to be repainted or refinished. It’s also completely resistant to termites and other pests that can wreak havoc on other types of siding.

 

When making your choice for new siding, take each different option into consideration to determine what is the best choice for your home. Think about your local climate, the amount of upkeep you want to be responsible for, the aesthetic you’re hoping to achieve, and your budget. While there isn’t a huge difference between the three most common options, some have benefits that outweigh the others. Talk to a contractor in your area, like Metropolitan Contractors, to get the latest information about your siding options. Make sure to put in your time for research so you aren’t stuck with more work than you bargained for after installation.

Make a Carpet Cleaning Toolkit This Holiday Season

Holiday season is just around the corner – that wonderful time of year when we open our homes to friends and family and good cheer. It’s also the time of mulled wine spills, tipped mugs of eggnog, cranberry stains, and grandchildren tracking dirt indoors. In other words, it’s the season of carpet stains. Thankfully, just a little advance preparation can keep a little mishap from becoming a permanent stain.

Start by assembling a carpet cleaning kit. Many of the items below are probably in your cupboard already:

  • Plain white cloth, or plain white paper towels
  • Vinegar
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Club soda
  • Baking soda
  • Table salt

Plain white cloth – Witness a spill, and you might be tempted to use whatever towel you have at hand. Instead, take a moment to grab a plain white cloth or paper towel. After a spill, your goal is to transfer any color onto the cloth; use a colored cloth or patterned towel, and you may just end up transferring more color onto your carpet.

White vinegar – It’s no accident that vinegar is so often mentioned in homemade stain removal solutions. Vinegar is a mixture of acetic acid and water. When mixed with water, the components of acetic acid break down; the remaining components are very effective at weakening and breaking down stain-causing substances. And because acetic acid also mixes easily almost any kind of liquid, it’s a great teammate for other cleaning solutions.

Dishwashing liquid – This common household ingredient helps water to spread more easily over surfaces and penetrate deeper into carpet fibers. If your stain is water soluble – think holiday fare like food, gravy, and alcoholic drinks – a little warm water and dishwashing liquid may be enough to release the stain. If you need a little more stain-fighting power, add a little vinegar into the mix.

Club soda – The carbonation in club soda lifts stains and prevents them from penetrating carpet fibers; this home remedy is particularly effective at removing stains from red wine – a holiday season staple at my house. In fact, the professional carpet cleaners that I use – Rainier Chem-Dry – uses carbonation as a key component in their own cleaning solution. In addition to being effective, club soda also evaporates without a trace.

Baking soda – First, baking soda can act as a chemical catalyst for improving the effectiveness of vinegar. Baking soda is absorbent, and able to soak-up stain-causing liquids. Baking soda is abrasive; it’s slight grittiness can help to pry stains out of carpet fibers. And finally – it’s a natural freshener and deodorant. Apply a baking soda and vinegar mixture to a stain, and let it sit for a while; after it dries, circle back with a vacuum cleaner to pull up the soda and the stain.

Table salt – Baking soda is one kind of salt; table salt is another. If you don’t have baking soda handy, table salt may do the trick.

No matter which cleaning solution I try, I work slowly. I use each cleaning solution sparingly, to avoid spreading the stain. And I’ve had pretty good luck using each of the above ingredients, or combinations of them. That said, they don’t always work. The last item you should add to your stain-removing toolkit is the phone number of a professional carpet cleaner you can trust. You’ll want one handy, because time is of the essence when dealing with stains; the earlier you deal with them, the better your chances for complete removal.

Prepare for carpet stains in advance, and when the inevitable spill occurs, the fast cleanup won’t dim your holiday cheer.