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Answers to Your Carpeting and Flooring Questions

What type of carpet fiber cleans the best?

The top cleaning fiber is solution dyed nylon.  Solution dyed means the color is added to the fiber before it is extruded.  We refer to solution dyed nylon as the carrot because similar to breaking a carrot in half, looking at the fiber under a microscope you can see the color goes all the way through. The carrot type fiber can withstand stronger stain cleaning solutions without losing any color.  Visit our showroom and ask one of our consultants to give you a more in depth explanation of the features and benefits of all the nylon and wool fibers that we sell.

Why do the stains keep coming back in the same spots after paying for a professional carpet cleaning?

One of the more frequent causes of stains coming back in the same place after cleaning is that the soiling or stain also exists in the padding.  After cleaning the carpets the stain will wick back up in the same spot from the residual content in the pad.  Purchasing a pad with a moisture barrier will help keep your carpets clean longer by preventing stains from passing into the pad.  There are different grades of moisture protection.  Ask one of our consultants to explain the benefits of the different pads we offer. 

What is the best floor for me?

This is a common question and we love hearing it because it gives us a chance to show you how valuable working with Ken's Carpets and Flooring can be.  There is no direct answer to this open question, but we will ask you pointed questions and actively listen to your responses.  That is right!  Listening is one our key practices nestled in our reputation for educating our customers.  See our project planning page to get a sense of the breadth of questions we will ask in response to an open question. 

What is the difference between engineered hardwood and laminate?

Engineered hardwood is real hardwood that is adhered to a dimensionally stable core, such as marine grade plywood or Canadian Pine.  The hardwood layer is sometimes called the 'wear layer' because the thicker it is the more times you will be able to sand and refinish should it become necessary due to wear.  Depending on the type of construction engineered hardwoods can be installed in many different ways.

Laminate on the other hand is a composed of a photograph of wood (or other type of natural material) that is embedded in melamine and this sheet is then laminated to a core of medium to high density fiber boards. Laminates are designed to be installed as a floating floor, and it cannot be nailed or stapled to the subfloor.  Though the laminate materials can be manufactured with thick scratch resistant finishes, the core is vulnerable to moisture. 

What is the advantage of wool?

Wool is a naturally resilient fiber that retains its pile, shape and height.  Wool is flame retardant and provides a natural thermal and sound insulation. It should be noted that the more reputable wool carpet manufacturers take an extra step in scouring the wool to remove the spinning oils that are added in the manufacturing process. Residual spinning oil can attract soiling in traffic areas and makes the carpet more difficult to keep clean. Sheep raised in different parts of the world grow hairs that have different characteristics as well. Come to our amazing showroom and touch and feel the differences.

Please do not use a Dyson or aggressive vacuum on your wool carpeting?

Do not use a vacuum that automatically adjusts as this will cause excess fuzzing.

We have had great success with Sanitaire vacuum (model SC888). It is an upright unit with a manually adjustable head and bristles soft enough that theygroom the carpet without damaging the individual fibers. A dealer can be found at

Wool Carpet Maintenance

The most important maintenance step is proper vacuuming. Regular and thorough vacuuming at least once a week, and more often in heavy traffic areas will remove soil and dirt particles before they become embedded into the pile of the carpet. An upright vacuum cleaner with rotating beater bar and brush or canister type that are the most efficient cleaners do not use an overly stiff brush on your beater bar as it will cause excess fussing. The head of the vacuum should be adjusted so that the bristles are just barely touching the face of the carpet. It is important to move the vacuum cleaner slowly to allow time to get the dirt out, and above all make sure that the dust bag is never more than half full.


Wool Cleaning Guide

Wool Carpet Maintenance


The most important step in caring for your wool carpet is vacuuming using a suction only vacuum and not a vacuum with a beater bar. This is to prevent excessive pilling, fuzzing, pulls and pile distortion. If the vacuum has an adjustable beater bar, position the beater bar at its highest level and ensure the beater bar is not making direct contact with the face of the carpet. (A simple check is to place a piece of paper between the carpet and the beater bar to confirm it is not striking the face directly.) Vacuum thoroughly and frequently, particularly in high traffic areas. Bear in mind that walking on soiled carpet permits the soil particles to work their way below the surface of the pile where they are far more difficult to remove. Frequent vacuuming removes these particles from the surface before this happens.

For rooms with light traffic, vacuum the traffic lanes twice weekly and the entire area once weekly. Those areas with heavier traffic require that the traffic lanes be vacuumed daily and the entire area twice weekly. Up to three passes of the machine will suffice for light soiling. But five to seven passes are necessary for heavily soiled areas. Vacuuming across the traffic pattern occasionally, rather than in the usual direction of the traffic, will help prevent matting.

It is normal for wool pile to shed then minimize over time. Wool carpets are created from natural fibers and will shed initially after installation. This is expected and is not a defect. To minimize this effect, change the vacuum bags or empty the canister when half full and this will maximize the suction of the vacuum. Make sure all the vacuum hoses and lines are clear of obstruction.

Vacuum Cleaner Recommendations

Ken’s Carpets recommends the use of a strong suction vacuum. Be carful that the beater bar is not aggressive as to cause the carpet to fray.

Do not use Dyson type vacuums on your wool carpets as it will cause them to pill and fuzz.


A good vacuum cleaner is vital to prolonging the life of your carpet. An inexpensive machine will remove surface dirt but will not effectively remove the hidden dirt and particles embedded in the pile.

Stain Removal Procedure Spot and Spill Removal

All carpet care procedures mentioned thus far have been planned; spot and stain removal is the reaction to an unplanned incident. Therefore, it is desirable to have on hand the materials needed to treat stains. You may already have some of these on your kitchen shelf. Do not use any household cleaner, other than those listed,  since many household products contain chemicals that may permanently damage your carpet.

Items To Keep On Hand For Spots and Spills

  • Mix a detergent solution of 1/2 teaspoon (no more) of clear, nonbleach liquid dishwashing
    detergent such as Dawn, Joy, or clear Ivory to a quart of water in a clean spray bottle
  • A solution of white vinegar and water (1-part vinegar to 4 parts water)
  • Nail polish remover
  • Chewing gum remover (freeze or solid type)
  • Dry cleaning fluid
    General Instructions

Prompt attention to spots and spills is essential. Remove solids from a spill by gently scraping with a spoon or dull knife. Quickly absorb as much liquid as possible by blotting with white paper towels and replacing them as they become saturated. Always blot; never scrub or rub abrasively as a fuzzy area may result. When blotting, work from the outer edge in toward the center of the spot to avoid spreading the spill and enlarging the problem. A final rinse by spraying with cool water and blotting is necessary to remove detergent residue that may become sticky and cause rapid re-soiling.

The nature of the wool fiber to absorb more water than synthetic fibers without feeling damp makes it critical to remove all excess moisture. To absorb any remaining moisture from the carpet, place a half inch layer of white paper towels over the spot and apply pressure. Change towels as they become wet and repeat until the carpet is only slightly damp. On the damp area, put more towels weighted down with a heavy non-staining object, such as a plastic milk jug filled with water, and leave overnight.

The following recommendations should be used for spot cleaning. The numbers are keyed to the stain, and all instructions should be used in the recommended sequence. Some stains are marked PRO, indicating that professional knowledge and equipment are necessary.

  1. WATER SOLUBLE STAINS: Absorb as much as possible with white paper towels. Blot the stained area with white paper towels dampened with cool water until there is no more transfer of the stain onto the towels. If any of the stain remains, the detergent solution mentioned previously should be sprayed lightly onto the spot and blotted repeatedly with white paper towels, working from the outer edge in toward the center of the spot to avoid spreading. Rinse thoroughly by spraying with clean water and blotting. Again, do not use too much detergent because the residue will contribute to rapid re-soiling.

A-1. As above but treat with white vinegar—one-part white vinegar to four parts water—before using detergent.

  1. GREASE: Blot as much as possible with white paper towels. Apply a volatile solvent such as Carbona, Energine, or K2R to towels or spotting cloth and repeat blotting. Use sparingly! Do not pour or spray directly on the carpet pile as damage to the backing or adhesive underneath may result; apply the solvent to the towels to transport it to the carpet. Repeat as much as necessary. Protective gloves should be worn, as the solvent will quickly remove oils from the skin and may result in irritation. Provide adequate ventilation! Do not use flammable solvents! Follow with procedures in A.
  1. FREEZE: Freeze stains such as chewing gum and candle wax with ice or commercially available product in aerosol can. Shatter with a blunt object.
  2. PRO: Professional cleaner

Specific Stain Removal Procedures For Wool And Wool-Blend Carpets




WARNING: Certain products found in most homes can cause irreparable damage to your carpet. Bleaches, tile cleaners, mildew removers, oven cleaners, and drain openers are very strong chemicals that can discolor or dissolve carpet fibers. Acne medication containing benzoyl peroxide, a very powerful bleach, are capable of permanently damaging your carpet and most other fabrics as well.


While vacuuming is enough to remove most dry soil, the oily solid which comes from cooking vapors, air pollution, and tracked in dirt from outside presents a different type of problem. The particles of oily solid deposited on carpet fibers can cause gradual but significant dulling of delicate pastel colors; the color isn't lost but is hidden under the film. If this type of soil can accumulate, it begins to attract and hold the dry soil. This is the reason cleaning is so important when dulling of the color is first noticed; if allowed to remain too long it becomes gummy and difficult to remove.

If carpet is cleaned before it becomes too unsightly, the cleaning chore will be easier and more successful. It is a myth that cleaning the carpet before it is necessary will cause it to get dirty faster. However, choice of the proper cleaning system is important, in that some systems may leave residues which promote re-soiling and defeat the whole purpose of cleaning.

The following recommendations represent the best current cleaning knowledge and should help prolong the time between cleanings.

Ken’s Carpets recommends a professional service if using the warm water extraction method. Research indicates warm water extraction provides the best capability for cleaning. This system is commonly referred to as "steam cleaning" although no steam is actually generated. The process consists of spraying a solution of water and detergent into the pile and recovering the water and soil with a powerful vacuum into a holding tank. This can be done from a truck-mounted unit outside the home with only the hose and wand brought inside or where a truck-mounted unit cannot reach, by a portable, self-contained system brought into the home. A do-it-yourself steam cleaning is not recommended due to over-wetting and the use of excessive detergent resulting in the inability to extract enough of the solvents and water used in the process leaving behind re-soiling issues.

It is important to use the proper pH setting with the cleaning materials used with wool and wool blend carpets. To ensure the proper setting, make your professional cleaner aware that the carpet consists of wool fiber content. The pH level of the cleaning solution should be near neutral (between 5 and 7). A solution with an alkaline pH (above 7) can actually strip color from wool fibers. Bleach or optical brightening agents are not acceptable.


Ken’s Carpets does not recommend this cleaning system. The bonnet system has very limited capability for soil removal and leaves much of the detergent in the pile since it employs no real extraction. As a result, rapid re-soiling often occurs. Another disadvantage of this system is that the spinning bonnet ma

wool carpets, causing overall fuzzing.




SPROUTING: If loose ends of "sprouts" extend above the rest of the pile, clip them off even with the pile surface. Never try to pull them out. After clipping, smooth the area with your fingers. Sharp edges on your vacuum cleaner, a child's toy, high heels, or animal claws can cause the condition.

PILE CRUSHING: All carpet fibers will crush under heavy stationary loads. Crushing can be reduced by shifting furniture regularly. Crushed areas can usually be restored by covering the area with a damp, clean white cloth and then applying heat to the cloth with an electric iron on a low setting. Remove the cloth and restore the pile while it is still hot by brushing it lightly. Keep traffic off the carpet until it is dry.

SHADING: After certain cut pile carpet styles have been subjected to traffic, you may notice areas that appear lighter or darker in certain areas. Don't be alarmed! Shading is the result of the change in direction of the pile due to pressures from footsteps and vacuuming. Brushing the pile all in one direction may temporarily correct shading; however, shading is part of the carpet styling and should be expected in varying degrees. Do not mistake shading for color fading.


Hardwood Care

Hardwood flooring is an important investment in your home. Here are a few essential tips that will help your hardwood floor last longer.

  Sweep or vacuum regularly to rid your floor of dust and eliminate abrasives that can scratch the floor finish.

   Quickly wipe spills from floor to protect wood from excess liquid.

   Regularly swept or vacuumed floors will almost eliminate any need to "clean" the floor with a cleaning product. But when a cleaning product is needed, we suggest only using a "hardwood specific, non-oil based cleaner." Cleaning products should be sprayed on to the sponge mop or hand towel, never on to the floor itself.

   Use mats outside and inside entrances to prevent sand and abrasives build-up on your hardwood floor. Avoid rubber or other dense mat backings that prevent airflow beneath rugs and retain abrasives and humidity.

   Use mats near sink, dishwasher and workstations to protect floor from cooking utensils, water spills, detergents, oils and other kitchen mishaps.

   Stick felt pads under any furniture or chair legs to ease movement and prevent scratches on the wood floor. Keep pads clean at all times and regularly check for signs of wear.

   Opt for large, soft polyurethane or rubber casters rather than narrow, rigid plastic ones.

   Protect your hardwood floor when moving heavy objects. Place on a reversed mat and slide smoothly over floor.

   Be careful with pointed objects such as spiked-heeled and sport shoes that may damage the finish of your wood floor, especially if they are worn or damaged.

   Maintain relative humidity level around 45% for your good health, your wood floor and furnishings. Wood is a natural material that reacts to relative humidity variations when moisture is absorbed or released.

   The floor needs to be protected from sunlight and intense artificial lighting to reduce discoloration of exposed wood. This phenomenon with wood surfaces is normal and natural, and varies according to species.

   Occasionally move furniture and carpets around and reduce intense light sources to minimize color contrasts.

Things to avoid:

  Never pour cleaner or any other liquid directly onto floor surface.

  Do not use a wet mop that leaves excess water on your hardwood floor.

  Do not use wax, oil-based detergents or other household cleaning agents on your floors, since these products may dull or damage the floor finish, leave a greasy film that makes floors slippery, and make maintenance of your hardwood floor more difficult.

  Do not use a steam cleaner/sweeper on your hardwood flooring.














Visit our San Rafael Showroom

We invite you to stop by Ken’s Carpets and Flooring San Rafael showroom and see for yourself why homeowners and businesses throughout Marin County continue to vote us "Best of Marin."



Contact Us today! Free estimates. 

Ken's Carpets & Flooring

1914 4th Street

San Rafael, CA 94901

(415) 454-5367