Ultimate Spring Cleaning, Day 22: Carpet Crawlers

by Michael on April 12, 2010 · 0 comments

Brown shag makes the room. (Photo by army.arch)

Ultimate Spring Cleaning is a project to clean and declutter not only your house, but your life. Each day you’ll get a housecleaning assignment, an assignment that involves the world around you, and a project to clear your mind. You can start anytime at the Ultimate Spring Cleaning main page.

Those with garages should continue the cleaning they started yesterday. The rest of us might have a fairly easy day…unless your carpets haven’t been cleaned in a while.

Your Home: Clean Your Carpets

What color is your carpet?

Are you sure?

If you’ve lived in your home for more than a couple of years but haven’t had your carpets shampooed, their original color may be different than you think. Just the ordinary day-to-day walking we do on our rugs can grind in dirt and other substances. And even if you’re fastidious about soaking up spills (with or without the ShamWow), every time your carpet gets wined or beered or sodaed a bit stays behind, not only discoloring the floor covering but also adding to the smells in your home.

So make an appointment to properly clean your carpets. This can either be done by an outside professional, or by yourself with a rented or purchased machine.

Professional Carpet Cleaning

The easiest but most expensive method, you simply make an appointment with a cleaner, remove the furniture from the rooms to be cleaned, and let them do their thing. This is usually also the fastest method: a pro can spot-clean nasty stains, deep-clean the entire rug and then suck up the resulting moisture to leave your carpet almost ready to walk on. (I said almost.)

Use a service like Angie’s List to find a reputable pro, or get a recommendation from someone you trust. The average price for carpet cleaning can vary—plan on about $100 per 500 square feet—if you find multiple cleaners you wouldn’t mind using, get bids. (Be sure to measure your rooms before calling, and don’t forget carpeted stairs.)

Clean Them Yourself

Your other option is to run a carpet-cleaning machine yourself. If you don’t want to buy a cleaner (and unless you have frequent parties or otherwise see your carpets stained often, you shouldn’t), you can go the rental route. For about $30-40 (plus extras) you can take home that Rug Doctor from the local grocery store.

The machine will include the instructions (and warnings) you’ll need, but my advice from years of experience with rental carpet cleaning begins with this: plan your cleaning for a warm, sunny day when you have no other commitments. Warm and sunny ensures your carpets will dry quickly, and since you’re renting by the day, it’s obviously financially prudent to get the job done with no interruptions.

You’ll also have to buy cleaning fluid for the machine, and unless your home is unusually large, the small bottle should suffice—you’ll be mixing it with a large quantity of hot water. Under my sink I’ve still got a mostly-full jug of cleaning fluid that I bought about four cleanings ago.

If you have some bad stains, you may also want to buy a spot treatment to pre-treat them before the overall cleaning. Finally, when you run the carpet cleaner, don’t speed through it. Make sure you’re getting the rug good and clean, and that your passes overlap so you aren’t missing spots.

Your World: Have Lunch with a Co-worker

Even if you’re not looking to “get ahead” in your current workplace, it’s good to build a social network—you never know when someone might have information you can use, or who may resurface to help you at a critical time.

This exercise is simple: just pick a co-worker you admire professionally and arrange to grab lunch. If you normally have lunch with one or more particular colleagues, this time try to have lunch with somebody new. It doesn’t have to be a VP or someone else in a position of power; it can be a sales rep or programmer or just someone from a different department. Discuss anything you want: questions about their job, input on yours, information on projects, future plans, hobbies…the only rule is, keep it positive.

Here’s the most important tip to improve your social networking: don’t focus on what they can do for you, but find out what you can do for them. Ask no favors, just share information and offer to make yourself useful in whatever way you can.

Keep it enjoyable, and don’t press too hard for scuttlebutt or gossip. Stay professional but not overly serious. After all, it’s just lunch.

Yourself: Make a Home Gym

Whether you’re a member of a commercial fitness club or not, you can make use of a home exercise space when there’s not enough time for a full gym visit, or when you need a break to blow off some steam. No matter what your budget, you can put together a home gym with simple equipment.

First, assess your space. If you live in a one-bedroom apartment, you probably don’t have room for an Olympic barbell and squat rack. By the same token, if you have exposed beams you might be able to attach a climbing rope or gymnastics rings. Spare space in your garage would make for an excellent home gym area. Just make sure everything you want to attach to the walls, ceiling or door frame is secure and can hold your weight. You don’t want to be hanging upside down from a pull-up bar held up with flimsy anchor screws.

At the minimum, you should have a pair of dumbbells. You can work most of your body with a pair of dumbbells, and if you can add a bench, it will open up even more variety in your workout. A mat for post-workout stretching would round out the most basic equipment.

Adding a pull-up bar will open up your options to one of the best exercises (along with the push-up and the squat) known to man. I own an Iron Gym, and it fits without screws or bolts on any regular-size door frame with normal molding.

If you do have room for a barbell and weight set, by all means get one. Don’t forget to get a rubber mat and bumper plate, though—if you’re going to be lifting solo you’re going to have to “bail” (drop the weights when they’re too heavy to hold on to) from time to time. A squat rack or “power rack” is also a huge plus. Needless to say, a full Olympic weight set is best suited for a ground floor or garage.

If you want to get a full-body cardio workout and have the space and money, a rowing machine would be like the cherry on top of the fitness sundae. If you have to go downscale, get yourself a jump rope—it worked for Rocky, it can work for you.

Kettlebells, Olympic rings and climbing ropes are great. One item to avoid is the all-in-one home gym machine. They take many shapes and names, like Bowflex, Soloflex, Nautilus, and others. Also, just about any device with “Ab-” in the name is useless to you if you’re already eating well and doing other exercises (like squats) that engage your core.

Once you have your basic weight set together, you’re ready for a workout plan. May I recommend the Starter Workout with Free Weights?

Flat broke? Don’t worry about all this—you can do body-weight exercises anywhere in or out of your home. Just find a good space, and let it rip.

Then meditate, and be ready to go beyond your home tomorrow.

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