CONSUMER'S GUIDE TO CHOOSING A VACUUM CLEANER
By Brian Domingue, President, The Secret Service, Cleaning Service, LLC

If you decided to be a smart consumer before purchasing your last vacuum cleaner, by the time
you concluded your research, it’s likely your head was swimming. There are so many options and
price ranges for vacuum cleaners, how in the world are you supposed to know which one fits you
best? Aren’t you really buying the same basic household appliance whether it costs $60 or $800?
Why does such an innocuous purchase have to be so complicated? It doesn’t. And it isn’t.
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I have purchased or tested almost every major brand of vacuum cleaner available to the consumer market and more
specifically, the brands and models available to the consumers of Montgomery County -- Bissell, Hoover, Dirt Devil, Oreck,
Dyson, Rainbow and Kirby. And, there is one vacuum cleaner that stands out.

The vacuum cleaner I would recommend to 92.5% of you is the Bissell Powerforce aka Cleanview aka Wide Path. In my
opinion, it is by far the best value in household-use consumer vacuum cleaners.

Before I continue, let me say that I am in no way affiliated with Bissell. I am not a salesman, an executive, a vendor or any
other way connected to or concerned with the Bissell company (I don’t even own any of their stock).

First of all, the product works! And while my findings aren’t statistical or scientifically analytical, I know it picks up my kids’
Cheerios off the floor. And I can feel that subtle power of the machine adhering to the floor as it sucks and agitates the nap
in my short-pile carpet, leaving a crisp “V” with each pass.

It is quiet as vacuum cleaners go. It weighs 12 pounds, which is only four more pounds than a $200-$600 Oreck. It is
bagless which means lower long-term operating cost, as well as no fumbling around the vacuum cleaner aisle when it’s time
to change the bag (if you ever remember to). It’s very easy to assemble with only two screws to attach, and it has on-board
attachments which are easy to use and are securely attached: if you have ever bought a vacuum with the removable carrier
… well, let’s just say it wasn’t in the top 100 inventions of the 20th century. NO ONE has engineered a useful carrier yet.

Here is what makes it the best value for you: it can be purchased locally at virtually any large general goods store for less
than $50 -- The Wide Path for about $10 more. Buy some belts with your Bissell (which are easy to change out) and you will
have a cleaning machine that will make you happy for years.

Don’t let the $50 price tag fool you -- it’s a good machine. But even if it only lasts a year, which it may if you use it twice a
week or more, throw it away and buy another one. You will still come out ahead of those who are spending even a dime more
than $100 on a vacuum.

Expect a problem with the release handle by your left foot. Treat it gingerly or it may revolt on you and break. That’s the only
consistent issue I have had with the machine.

So, what about the other 7.5% of you to whom I wouldn’t recommend this product? Well, about 3.5% of you are going to
purchase the most expensive vacuum cleaner available anyway, and you cannot be swayed from purchasing an $800
Dyson. Don’t get me wrong, it is an incredible product and I highly recommend it, but it’s not nearly the balance of price and
function as the Bissell.

The other 4% of you have dust allergies that are too severe to allow you to handle a bagless container when it’s time to
empty it. While I believe strongly in the Bissell’s seal around the bagless container, you may opt for a bagged vacuum.

Oreck has a nice way of handling the dust issue: some models have a sliding seal that automatically closes the hole in the
inner bag as you remove it, allowing very little dust to escape. They also offer hypoallergenic inner and outer bags which will
really help those with dust allergies. The Oreck vacuum cleaners are also by far the most comfortable vacuums to use
because of the handle design and light weight. An Oreck handle on a Bissell Powerforce for $50 would be the perfect
vacuum cleaner

Other first-hand observations:
1) I have never had any success with any other Bissell product besides the vacuum cleaner mentioned in this article.  On
the whole, Bissell does not typically produce reliable, good- performing machines.
2) Hoover products perform consistently well.  I have purchased many of their products over the years -- I even started my
company with a Hoover -- and everything from their upright vacuum cleaners to the hard-floor scrubbers to the hand-held
stair vacs to the carpet cleaners are good machines.  They are typically good performers and are typically durable machines.
3) I will never purchase another Dirt Devil product.  I have never been happy with any Dirt Devil purchase I have ever made.
4) When purchasing an Oreck, my recommendation is to NOT purchase the 21-year model.  If I recall correctly from the seat
of my chair, the cost is $600 - $700.  Instead, purchase a $200 model and a "buy two, get one free" tune-up package.  
There are two significant differences among Oreck models: one speed vs. two speeds, and the sliding seal for the inner bag.

TRICKS TO ADDING FRAGRANCE TO YOUR HOME
By Brian Domingue, President, The Secret Service, Cleaning Service, LLC

Over the course of the time we have been in business, we have had to come up with some unique solutions to making a
home or office fragrant.  From model homes and inventory homes, to occupied residences and offices, many times we have
had to ensure that the presentation of the facility was nothing less than 100% positive, and that not only means it looks
clean, but it smells clean.

It's no real secret in this industry that smell is the strongest impression and most lingering memory a visitor will have to a
home or office.  Whether you have a long-term concern or need a quick fix, here are a few tricks we have learned or
internally developed that may help your situation.

Long-term:
Plug-ins work great, but don't overdo it.  First, assess which areas or rooms need help the most and use a plug-in there.  
Remember though that the smaller the room, the more likely you are to overwhelm the room with the fragrance you have
chosen.  Try to use plug-ins in larger rooms only like the living room, kitchen and hallways.  Most importantly, DO NOT USE
more than one fragrance throughout the house or office!  Also, pick the most neutral fragrance you can find like "vanilla" or
"springtime fresh" that will have a wider appeal.  This is especially important if you are selling your home and will have a
variety of people to worry about.  As much as possible, plug them into an outlet that is not visible or is inconspicuous such as
behind a table or chair, behind the entertainment center or the master bed.

Mid-range:
A Realtor friend of mine taught me that when a prospective buyer is coming to view a listing, she asks her seller(s) to put a
few drops of liquid vanilla extract on a sheet of foil and place it in the oven.  Turn the oven to 350-400 degrees, and the
resulting fumes will smell like a sheet of freshly baked cookies.  Experiment with this before crunch time: I have had varying
degrees of success with it, at times adding a lot more extract, and at other times testing the oven temperature for the right
balance of vapor concentration v. lingering time.  It's a small investment of time for the payoff.  IMPORTANT: DO NOT use this
method if you are using plug-ins or other fragrances throughout the rest of the house.  The fragrance will be concentrated in
the kitchen, and once shoppers pass into the next room, the combination of smells is likely to make them sick.

Short-term:
A few tricks here depending on your preference ...
1) One of the best neutral fragrances we have ever used is the Oreck carpet deodorizing crystals.  We don't use it on carpet
much though and, if you're selling your home with prospective buyers coming around the corner, here's what you do: after
removing the cover and filter, shake the can of crystals (which have the consistency of powder) into your a/c return vent.  Be
sure the system is on, and the fragrance will be blown into every room throughout the house.  Start with only a little, and add
more as desired.  These crystals work great inside your vacuum cleaner as well: if you don't empty your vacuum bag or
cannister often enough, this product does a great job of reducing the musty smell you will get with lack of maintenance.
2) Every plug-in brand comes with refills.  A trick we have used, most notably in empty facilities where a plug-in would be
unsightly, is to buy the refills only.  WITH GLOVES ON, cut one end of the refill to expose the fragrance, usually a gel/jelly
substance.  Squeeze the gel onto inconspicuous spots such as door hinges, under the lips of countertops or cabinets, on a
window frame, the TOP of a ceiling fan blade, etc.  The idea is to NOT put it on fabrics or painted surfaces as those spots
may discolor or leave a grease spot.  Try to squeeze the gel at nose level as much as you can.  You may even try this trick on
your a/c return filter, although it's not nearly as effective as the cystals/powder.  Also, DO NOT get it on your skin or clothes
or you will smell like a walking plug-in for a while.  The fragrance is not easily washed off/washed away.

A few notes on other methods:
1) I have tried to "burn" a fragrance on a hot light bulb.  Tried several products with no success.
2) Potpourri works well for many.  If the bowls or plates fit with your decor, then the sky is (almost) the limit -- still be careful
about using too much.  However, when selling a home, you do not want a boiling pot of potpourri on the stove for shoppers to
see, nor do you want to leave the little self-contained burners out.  Some prospective buyers may think you are trying to hide
an odor.
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