Recent Posts

How often you should clean upholstery — and the right way to do it!

8/21/2017 (Permalink)

Cleaning How often you should clean upholstery — and the right way to do it! Shutterstock

How often you should clean upholstery — and the right way to do it!

Aug. 14, 2017 at 4:07 PM

Karen B. Gibbs


need of a clean? What about your car? Upholstery, like carpet, needs regular attention, says Shawn Bisaillon, owner of Professional Carpet Systems of North Denver. As an industry consultant for cleaning and restoration, he's sharing insider tips for keeping upholstery looking great.

Upholstery cleaning basics

  1. If you're going to hire a professional: Bisaillon recommends having upholstery cleaned by a certified cleaning technician every 12 to 24 months — more frequently in households with small children or pets.

To assure that you’re getting a qualified cleaner, look for certification by International Cleaning and Restoration Association or International Institute of Cleaning and Restoration. Before booking an in-home cleaning, request the name of the technician and his/her ICRA or IICR registration number.

  1. Vacuum: Use upholstery and crevice attachments (they make a huge difference!) to pick up crumbs and dust on a weekly basis.
  2. Clean spills immediately: Blot them up ASAP. If the spill leaves a spot, follow instructions on the fabric care label. If it’s safe to use water, blot the area alternately with a damp towel and a dry towel to remove it.
  3. Treat the stain: As always, follow cleaning instructions on the fabric care label. For stains on silk and antique fabrics, consult a professional, otherwise if the stain is from an organic source, like mustard, coffee or other foods, Bisaillon suggests lightly misting it with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide.

Pro tip: Always test in an inconspicuous place first to make sure the fabric is color-safe.

These items were hand-picked by our editorial team because we love them - and we hope you do, too. TODAY has affiliate relationships, so we may get a small share of the revenue from your purchases. Items are sold by the retailer, not by TODAY.

For other stains, Bisaillon uses a CRI-approved spot remover like Benefect Impact Cleaner for Carpet and Fabric. Test it first in a hidden spot, then follow manufacturer’s directions. After working on the stain, leave a towel on top of the treated area as well as on the underside of the fabric to absorb residual liquid.

Clean it yourself

What to do:

  1. Start by thoroughly vacuuming, using the upholstery and crevice attachments.
  2. If using cleaning products to break up soil, remember to lightly mist them onto the fabric. (Overspraying can cause the cleaner to seep into cushions.) Then, with a gentle touch, groom the fabric with a soft sponge or brush.
  3. Rinse the fabric by lightly spraying with warm water and suctioning away moisture with a wet/dry vac. Blot with an absorbent towel. Allow furniture to dry completely before using. To hasten the drying process, use fans or place the cushions outside to dry.


What to use:

For touch-ups, look for professional-grade home products like Stain X Pro Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo or any other approved upholstery product listed on the Carpet and Rug Institute website. Never use bleaches or de-greasers.

For pet messes, use a wet/dry vac to vacuum up as much of the urine as possible. Apply a bio-enzymatic urine digester, such as Urine Off or Nilodor, according to package directions.

Prepare for disaster

You can spare yourself a lot of work and expense by applying a fabric protector to new or newly cleaned upholstery, especially if the upholstery is made of delicate, soft fibers like silk. For such fabrics, professionally applied Fiber ProTector repels stains, adds UV protection, reduces static electricity and inhibits growth of bacteria, mold and mildew.

For family-friendly fabrics, professionally applied, high-performance 3M Scotchgard does the job. Regular 3M Scotchgard, while not as powerful, is a good DIY option.

Smart Heating and Cooling tips

8/21/2017 (Permalink)

General Smart Heating and Cooling tips    Smart Cooling and Heating Tips

Smart Heating and Cooling tips 

Running your household can often feel like a chore. There are many tasks related to maintenance that you have to keep in your mind at all times to keep your space performing in efficient ways. One primary area to focus your attention is the HVAC system you use to keep your home comfortable. Paying attention to the needs of your units can help you to avoid disaster and keep your home cooled and heated in the best possible ways.

To see excellent results from your maintenance endeavors, be sure to focus on specific aspects of your system. By paying attention to certain areas, you will have a much easier time getting your home in the state that you would like it to be in.

Low Numbers

Staying comfortable at home is not always the easiest of tasks. When you crank up the heat in the winter it can cost you. Energy bills are not cheap and plenty of homeowners are looking for ways to lower the numbers that they spend each month. To keep your costs low while simultaneously reducing the amount of stress on your heating & cooling systems you need to keep the thermostat set to lower numbers. When you turn the heat up as high as it can go, it will cost you a small fortune.

Instead, you can keep the thermostat at a normal temperature and see better results from a financial perspective. In addition to this, keeping your thermostat at a low temperature will help to ensure that you get many years of service out of your HVAC system. This does not mean that you can’t play around with keeping your house different temperatures but the default should always be something reasonable. Finding a balance here will help your home perform the way you would like it to.

Keeping It Clean

Another excellent way for you to make sure that your HVAC system is in great shape is by cleaning it out from time to time. Your units will benefit greatly by you taking a little bit of time to check over the various parts and provide a little care. The filters, for example, can wind up being one of the more important components of your system. These filters are responsible for catching any loose dust or dirt that is floating through the air and circulating through your units. Unfortunately, the filters can clog pretty quickly.

The more clogged a filter is, the more difficult it becomes for your HVAC system to perform the way it is intended. This can put a lot of strain on the unit, causing it to break and wear down far faster than is normal. To avoid all of this, get into the habit of changing the filters at a sensible pace. Knowing when it is time for you to change the filters can allow you the room that you require to keep your system running right and give your home a comfortable feeling whenever you walk through the door.

In the Still of the Night

Many HVAC systems also offer the option of running fans to keep a home circulated. This can be helpful if you want to make sure that your home has a fresh feeling. It can also be useful if you want to cool down your home with the natural air outside instead of having cooler air created by your unit. To achieve this goal with a level of success, run the fans primarily at night. Temperatures are lower at night and keeping the fans of your HVAC running at this point can help you to give your home a cool atmosphere.

Running a household is not always a simple task. To see the most success from your endeavors, focus on the maintenance required by your heating and cooling systems. The more you learn now, the easier it will be to spot an issue down the line.

partnered post • cc-licensed photo by Neal Fowler

Solved! The Best Way to Clean Hardwood Floors

8/21/2017 (Permalink)

Cleaning Solved! The Best Way to Clean Hardwood Floors The Best Way to Clean Hardwood Floors

Get hardworking hardwood spic-and-span with these safe solutions for dusting, deep cleaning, and stain removal.

By Manasa Reddigari 

Q: I never gave much thought to cleaning my cherry wood floor until I noticed how dingy it had become! What’s the best way to clean hardwood floors? I need recommendations for both cleaning techniques and supplies.

A: It’s true, regular cleaning is a must to maintain the rugged beauty of hardwood floors. Because different floor finishes have unique care requirements, the best way to clean hardwood floors will depend on the type of finish, rather than the wood species (e.g., cherry, maple, oak)—employ the wrong method and you could do damage! Read on to learn how to identify your floor’s finish, then choose the best technique and supplies ideal for dusting, deep cleaning, and removing stains.

Test your floor’s finish. There are two main types of hardwood floor finishes: surface finishes and penetrating finishes.

  • Surface finishessuch as urethane and polyurethane form a protective waterproof barrier on the surface of the floor. When liquids come into contact with surface finishes, they pool rather than penetrate the wood—so it’s safe to use water and water-based cleaning products on them. The easiest way to check if your floor has a surface finish is to take a sharp knife blade to a small, hidden area of the floor and scrape off a tiny amount of finish. If the scraped material is clear, your floor probably has a surface finish. If scraping the floor finish smudges it, but no clear material comes away, your floor likely has a penetrating finish.
  • Penetrating finishessuch as linseed or tung oil soak through the surface of hardwood floors, and then are usually topped with a wax coat for added sheen. These finishes easily absorb water, and water can warp wood floors, so use only solvent-based cleaning products instead of water-based ones on floors with penetrating finishes.

Start by busting dust. Dry mopping, sweeping, and/or vacuuming on a weekly basis is the best way to rid hardwood floors of light dust, dirt, and pet hair accumulations. Your best bet for a mop is one with a large, flat head affixed with a microfiber cloth pad that can be removed, machine-washed, and re-attached. Available in a variety of brands, including Scotch-Brite and O-Cedar, for $10 to $20 at home centers or office supply stores, these mops feature tiny synthetic fibers that reach into the grooves of wood floors to pick up and hold dust without scratching the wood. If sweeping, opt for brooms with exploded tips (synthetic fiber ends) to help trap collected dust in the broom head and prevent it from resettling on the floor. When vacuuming, use a floor-brush attachment and avoid the beater-bar—its rotating brush can dent wood floors. Move your cleaning tool from one side of the floor to the other, giving extra attention to spots where adjacent floor boards meet—this is a common hiding place for trapped dust. This routine works on floors with either surface or penetrating finishes.

Deep clean heavy dirt and grime buildup. If a surface-finished hardwood floor still looks dingy or dull after dusting, deep clean it with any pH-neutral, wax-free, and petroleum-free cleaner such as Bona PowerPlus Hardwood Floor Deep Cleaner or a homemade solution comprising a quarter-cup of dish soap and a gallon of warm water. Saturate a sponge mop with the cleaner, wring out the excess liquid until the mop head is damp but not dripping, then mop three-foot sections of the floor at a time using circular motions to draw out dirt and grime. Then, rinse the mop in fresh water, wring out the excess, and damp mop the floor again to soak up lingering cleaner. Use a soft, clean towel to dry the floor.

If your floor has a penetrating finish, the best way to deep clean it is to strip away the grimy old wax coat and re-apply a fresh wax coat. Rub a clean cloth saturated in mineral spirits over two-foot sections of the floor at a time, letting the mineral spirits dwell for five minutes on each section before wiping away with a fresh cloth dampened slightly with water; then, dry thoroughly with a fresh, dry cloth. Finally, apply a solvent-based hardwood floor wax such as DuraSeal Paste Wax with a soft cloth in the manufacturer-recommended amount, and then use the cloth or an electric polisher (buy one for between $50 and $150, or get a four-hour rental rent for about $30, at hardware stores) to buff the wax in circular motions, polishing in to two-foot sections at a time.

Perform the appropriate deep cleaning routine on a biannual basis, whether you see grimy buildup or not. It can be hard to notice on a floor you walk on every day, but once it’s clean you’re likely to be impressed by the difference!

Scrape off food stains. Remove caked-on food from either a surface or penetrating finish by carefully inserting the tip of a plastic knife under the lower edge of the debris, and then gently slide the knife upwards. Rub the scraped spot with a clean cloth slightly dampened with a few drops of water, then make a second pass with a dry cloth to sop up the water. If using this technique on a floor with a penetrating finish and a small section of the wax coat gets stripped by the knife, re-apply a dollop of solvent-based hardwood floor wax to the area with a soft cloth, buffing it in to render the area shiny and spotless.

Fight oil stains with TSP. Oil and grease stains on floors with surface or penetrating finishes easily break down when exposed to trisodium phosphate (TSP), available in powder form for $3 to $4 per pound from home centers. Donning gloves and protective glasses, dilute two tablespoons of TSP in one gallon of warm water in a large bucket. Dip the tip of a clean cloth into the solution, then use gentle circular motions to work it into the stain. Once the TSP dissolves it, run a water-dampened cloth over the area to sop up the TSP, then quickly dry the area with a clean cloth.

Ice out wax and gum. Dried candle wax, crayon marks, and chewing gum on floors with surface or penetrating finishes readily come away with ice. Fill a freezer bag with a few ice cubes, then place the chilled bag over the offending buildup until it becomes brittle, then scrape it off with the edge of a plastic spatula. If the spatula removes the protective wax from a floor with a penetrating finish, re-apply a solvent-based hardwood floor wax to the scraped area with a soft cloth, then buff it into the repaired area with the cloth.

Scrub water, ink, and pet stains well. Spots left by water, ink, or pet urine represent the most stubborn of stains. Remove them from floors with penetrating finishes by lightly sanding the stain with extra-fine sandpaper, then gently scrubbing with a coarser “00” grade steel wool wet with mineral spirits. Wipe away the mineral spirits with a water-dampened cloth, followed by a dry cloth to remove the water. Apply a solvent-based hardwood floor wax to the scrubbed area with a soft cloth and buff it in to restore its shine. Sandpaper and steel wool can degrade surface finishes, so you’ll want to tackle these stains using only a hardwood floor cleaner (like Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner) and a scouring pad designed for surfaced-finished floors.

Children's Aid Society 2017 School Supply Drive

8/21/2017 (Permalink)

Community Children's Aid Society 2017 School Supply Drive   Children's Aid Society 2017

SERVPRO® of Charles County and Children's Aid Society 2017 School Supply Drive

All across Maryland parents are preparing to send their kids back to school and we all know what that means.... shopping for school supplies. Kids LOVE getting new school supplies, I know my daughter does. The unfortunate truth is there are many families that cannot afford school supplies for their children each year. I know from personal experience that each year the list gets bigger and BIGGER! 

This is where phenomenal organizations such as The Children's Aid Society come into play. They do a school supply drive that helps many families provide supplies for their children. They depend on donations big and small to make this happen each and every year. 

Here at SERVPRO® we find it very important to be involved in our communities beyond doing business. We are fortunate enough to work, live and SERV our communities, so we feel as if we should give back as well. SERVPRO® of Charles County is involved in different campaigns throughout the year and this is The Children's Aid Society School Supply Drive 2017! 

It takes one small gesture to start a movement! 

Christmas 2016

8/21/2017 (Permalink)

Community Christmas 2016 Christmas Shopping 2016

There is nothing more precious than a child’s face on Christmas morning. Regardless of what life throws at you, we believe every child should have something on Christmas morning. SERVPRO® of Charles County and SERVPRO® of Oxon Hill wanted to do our part in helping our community, so we went SHOPPING! We went shopping for all of the fun things children look forward to on Christmas morning as well as basic necessities including socks, hats and gloves. Providing items for children in our community filled our hearts with so much joy and we look forward to doing it again! We played a small part in helping our community and it was one of the most amazing days!  

It takes one small gesture to start a movement! 


8/21/2017 (Permalink)



Jul 13 2017

This won’t be a long post, but during my long saga with the master bathroom reno (next steps should be posting this weekend!), I wanted to pop in about a recent trip I made to the dollar store.

My trip was practically arbitrary, having decided just to stop in really quickly to see if I can find a disposable bucket for grout. I have some old dollar store trash bins I’ve kept in a stack in the garage for years, but I had finally depleted my stash and needed more. I have often used cheap dollar buckets instead of my 5-gallon buckets for tile projects because whenever I mix up materials (tile adhesive, grout, etc.), the product is usually half-dried by the time I start to clean up. This also means that it’s a beast to remove, and can make a huge mess in my yard while I clean everything out. By letting the leftover product simply dry up in the dollar bucket, I can then toss away the entire thing if I can’t get the dried slop to come off cleanly (it’s about 50/50 as to whether or not I need to reuse it).

It was time to restock, but I was very surprised to find a number of other great DIY supplies that I never knew were available. For $1 apiece, these make for some great items to keep around for home repair projects!

On this trip, I got:

  • disposable particulate masks
  • assorted foam brushes
  • batteries
  • small utility knives (I love having these all over the house… they are my go-to over scissors)
  • 4×6 plastic tarp (decent size for the price!)
  • rubber mallet (this was the most surprising find)
  • cleaning towels (for wiping off grout haze)
  • wrinkle releaser (not DIY necessarily, but good for photography)
  • more buckets
  • one-time use super glue (I don’t know about you guys, but mine always dry up between uses, so smaller containers is ideal!)
  • not pictured: a set of mixing spoons (they came in a set and I’m out of paint sticks, so these were great as disposable mixing paddles)
  • not pictured: drain declogger tool

Other items that I saw were available (but I don’t need, so I didn’t get, but worth noting):

  • hammer
  • level
  • screw driver sets
  • safety goggles
  • tape measures
  • work light/flash light (small, but still!)

It occurred to me that since my friends are in that stage of buying homes and such, stopping by and picking up a handful of these things is a great idea for a housewarming gift! I wouldn’t recommend that you buy things like a hammer, or a decent tape measure, or other tools that you really need quality for at a dollar store necessarily, but if a homeowner isn’t super handy and probably doesn’t have them already, it makes a great little gift in case they run into a DIY emergency (and new homeowners always do). If they do have quality tools, they can still appreciate the other items that one can never really have too many of, like tarps, or shop pencils, or utility knives.

Have you found anything at the dollar store that surprised you?


Charles County Smoke and Soot Cleanup

8/9/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Charles County Smoke and Soot Cleanup Smoke and Soot Damage Can Cause a Pervasive Odor in Your Charles County Home.

Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.  

Smoke and soot facts:

  • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
  • Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
  • The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.

Different Types of Smoke

There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Charles County will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:

Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber

  • Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.

Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood

  • Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.

Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire

  • Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 

Our Fire Damage Restoration Services

Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions.  We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage.  We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.

Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – 301.753.8313

When Storms or Floods hit Charles County SERVPRO is ready!

7/24/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage When Storms or Floods hit Charles County SERVPRO is ready! Our highly trained crews are ready to respond 24/7 to storm or flood damage in Charles County.

SERVPRO ofCharles County specializes in storm and flood damage restoration.  Our crews are highly trained and we use specialized equipment to restore your property to its pre-storm condition.

Faster Response

Since we are locally owned and operated, we are able to respond quicker with the right resources, which is extremely important. A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces the restoration cost.

Resources to Handle Floods and Storms

When storms hit Charles County we can scale our resources to handle a large storm or flooding disaster. We can access equipment and personnel from a network of 1,650 Franchises across the country and elite Disaster Recovery Teams that are strategically located throughout the United States.

Have Storm or Flood Damage? Call Us Today 301.753.8313

Faster to your Charles County Water Damage Event

7/12/2017 (Permalink)

Flooding and water emergencies don’t wait for regular business hours and neither do we. SERVPRO of Charles County provides emergency cleaning and restoration services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—including all holidays.

Faster To Any Size Disaster

Flooding and water damage is very invasive. Water quickly spreads throughout your home and gets absorbed into floors, walls, furniture, and more.  SERVPRO of Charles County arrives quickly and starts the water extraction process almost immediately. This immediate response helps to minimize the damage and the cleaning and restoration costs.

Need Emergency Service? Call Us 24/7 – 301.753.8313

Water Damage Timeline

Within Minutes

  • Water quickly spreads throughout your property, saturating everything in its path.
  • Water is absorbed into walls, floors, upholstery, and belongings.
  • Furniture finishes may bleed, causing permanent staining on carpets.
  • Photographs, books, and other paper goods start to swell and warp.

Hours 1 - 24:

  • Drywall begins to swell and break down.
  • Metal surfaces begin to tarnish.
  • Furniture begins to swell and crack.
  • Dyes and inks from cloth and paper goods spread and stain.
  • A musty odor appears.

48 Hours to 1 Week:

  • Mold and mildew may grow and spread.
  • Doors, windows, and studs swell and warp.
  • Metal begins to rust and corrode.
  • Furniture warps and shows signs of mold.
  • Paint begins to blister.
  • Wood flooring swells and warps.
  • Serious biohazard contamination is possible.

More Than 1 Week:

  • Restoration time and cost increase dramatically; replacing contaminated materials and structural rebuilding may be extensive.
  • Structural safety, mold growth, and biohazard contaminants pose serious risks to occupants.

About SERVPRO of Charles County

SERVPRO of Charles County specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.

For Immediate Service in Charles County, Call SERVPRO

7/12/2017 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Charles County provides 24-hour emergency service and is dedicated to being faster to any-sized disaster in Charles County. We can respond immediately to your emergency and have the expertise to handle your restoration or cleaning needs.

  • 24-Hour Emergency Service
  • Faster to Any-Sized Disaster
  • Highly Trained Restoration Technicians
  • A Trusted Leader in the Restoration Industry
  • Locally Owned and Operated
  • Advanced Restoration and Cleaning Equipment 

Have Questions? Call Us 24/7 – 301.753.8313

Residential Services

Whether your Charles County home needs emergency flood damage or your upholstery cleaned, you can depend on us.  Our technicians have extensive cleaning and restoration training and can make your property look its best. Learn more about our residential services:

  • Water Damage Restoration
  • Fire Damage Restoration
  • Mold Remediation
  • Storm Damage Restoration
  • Cleaning Services
  • Building/Reconstruction Services

Commercial Services

There's never a convenient time for fire or Water damage to strike your Charles County commercial property. Every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. So when the need arises for professional cleaning or emergency restoration services we have the training and expertise to respond promptly with highly trained technicians to get your property back to business. Learn more about our commercial services click: