Consumer Guide to Carpet Cleaning

Choosing a carpet cleaner isn’t easy. Why? Because you’re bombarded with misleading advertising, confusing claims and simply bad information.

From super-low prices and high-pressure sales – to unqualified technicians and near worthless methods – how do you ever find a qualified, competent, professional carpet cleaner? You start by reading this Consumer’s Guide. Here you’ll discover how to avoid four carpet cleaning rip-offs, eight mistakes to avoid when choosing a carpet cleaner, and four steps to a fresh, clean, healthy carpet.

We wrote this guide to help you better understand carpet cleaning. Now, with this information, you can make an informed, intelligent decision.

How to Avoid 3 Carpet Cleaning Rip-Offs

To some degree, all of us are attracted by low price because we want to work within a budget. But some carpet cleaners use price as the bait for their false and misleading advertising. They offer a cheap price, usually between $9.95 and $15.95 per room – and then, once they are in your home, they pressure you into buying ‘add-ons.’ It’s as if you were buying a car and found that the dealer was charging you extra for the tires and steering wheel. Carpet cleaning is not as cheap as some unethical carpet cleaners would like you to believe.

Dual process carpet cleaning describes the process of shampooing or heavy preconditioning, followed with hot water extraction cleaning. Unfortunately, unethical carpet cleaners often use dual process as a bait-and-switch technique. Here’s how it’s done: First, they ‘bait’ you with a basic cleaning (single process) at an unbelievably low price. Then, when you call, they try to ‘switch’ you to more expensive dual-process cleaning. If you don’t fall for their switch and choose their basic service, you’ll likely receive poor workmanship using little or no chemical.

Years ago, many people believed this was true because their carpets were damaged by ‘technicians’ who didn’t know how to properly clean using hot water. But today, we know it’s false. By washing and then rinsing your carpet with hot water, your carpet is thoroughly cleaned – in the same way that the person who showers and then rinses off the dirt and soap will be much cleaner than the person who takes only a sponge bath. Obviously, each carpet cleaner will be biased toward his own method, and each method does have advantages. So I suggest you look at what carpet manufacturers say.

5 Costly Misconceptions About Carpet Cleaning

MISCONCEPTION No 1: “I should wait as long as possible before having my carpet cleaned”
No. Dirt is an abrasive, like sandpaper. Every time you step on your carpet, you grind dirt into the carpet fibres. This cuts your carpet. Just as if you had used a knife This cutting causes your carpet to wear out faster. A dirty carpet will not last as long as a clean carpet. While vacuuming helps, by itself, it’s simply not enough. The longer you wait to have your carpet cleaned, the more damage you do to your carpet and the faster it wears out.

MISCONCEPTION No 2 : “The only reason I clean my carpet is to make it look clean”
No. As you probably know, outdoor air contains pollens, fungus, bacteria, air pollution, cigarette smoke, car exhaust – and hundreds of other chemicals. When you come into your home, you carry those pollens, bacteria and chemicals in your hair and on your skin, clothing and shoes. Not surprisingly, all those chemicals and toxins wind up in your carpet.

MISCONCEPTION No 3 : “One method of carpet cleaning is as good as another”.
No. The dry cleaning methods – which are dry foam, dry chemicals, and dry compound – do not rinse your carpet in any way. Instead, they may leave a dirty residue. These are good maintenance methods to keep clean carpet clean, but you have to use them every few weeks. The most effective cleaning method is hot water extraction, which is the most popular method used today.

Hot water extraction means a hot water cleaning solution, under high pressure, is forced into your carpet and then sucked out of your carpet Carpet cleaners use one of two types of hot water extraction. If they use a large unit that operates from a van or truck outside your facility, it’s called ‘Truck-Mount’ extraction. If they use a smaller unit that can be brought inside, its called a portable extraction unit. We would only recommend Truck-Mounted machines as they provide much hotter water and a much more powerful vacuum to remove as much of the water and soil as possible, providing dryer and cleaner carpet.

MISCONCEPTION No 4: “Having the right equipment is all a company needs to clean my carpets properly”.
Not true. Many companies own hot-water cleaners but very few companies teach their employees how to use them properly. This is why it’s important that you choose your carpet cleaner carefully. The best cleaning companies are those that have been certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, known as the IICRC. Before you choose a carpet cleaner, ask to see written proof of the certification of the technician who is going to do the job! If they don’t have them – don’t use them!

MISCONCEPTION No.5: “I should use the company that offers the lowest price”
No. I’ve seen so many problems arise from lowest-bid companies that I suggest you NEVER hire the company that quotes the cheapest price. The two most common problems are:

1. The price may not be for the services you want performed. The company may be equipped to remove only the dirt from the surface of your carpet, but you want as much soil as possible removed as well as bacteria, fungus, pollens, dust mites and tobacco residues removed also.

2. The price you may see advertised may not be the price you pay. Many homeowners have learned that the low price they saw advertised lasted only until the carpet cleaner got into their home. Then they were pressured into paying a lot more for a variety of add-ons.

4 Mistakes to Avoide When Choosing a Carpet Cleaner

MISTAKE No 1: Choosing a carpet cleaner based on equipment alone.
No question, your carpet cleaner needs first-rate equipment. But he also needs something else. He needs to be skilled at operating that equipment. Many companies own hot-water extractors, but very few carpet cleaners know how to use them properly. The best way to know that the carpet cleaner’s knows how to use it is to make sure the cleaner has been certified by the IICRC. Before you choose a carpet cleaner, ask to see written proof of the technicians IICRC certification.

MISTAKE No 2: Choosing a carpet cleaner based on low price.
Low price could be a problem in three ways (1) Low price could be the bait that attracts your phone call. Once the cleaner gets into your home he pressures you into a much more expensive job. (2) Low price can be for single-process cleaning. Rarely does the consumer know what this means and, when told, asks for dual-purpose cleaning instead, which costs much more. (3) Low price means the carpet cleaner has cheap equipment which will not effectively clean your carpet.

MISTAKE No.3: Choosing a carpet cleaner who is not certified by the IICRC.
If your carpet cleaner is not a close friend, you may not know whether he has the knowledge or experience to clean your carpet well. If you want to be sure you’re hiring a competent professional, make sure heis IICRC certified. The carpet cleaner must earn that certification through study, experience and successful completion of formal written examinations. If effect, cleaners who are certified by the IICRC have earned a college degree in carpet cleaning.

MISTAKE No.4: Choosing a carpet cleaner who doesn’t use hot water extraction system.
You might expect this from me, since I use this type of system. But there are several good reasons. Smaller portable hot water extraction systems are good, but they are not as good as the powerful ‘Truck-Mounted vacuum systems. Compared with hot water systems you can rent, our systems use hotter water, higher pressure and stronger suction. So all the way around you get a much better job. No two ways about it they leave your carpets cleaner, fresher, dryer and healthier than ever before.

4 Steps to a Fresh, Clean, Healthy Carpet

If you’re thinking about having your carpets cleaned, we encourage you to follow these four steps:

STEP No 1: Make a commitment to yourself to get your carpets cleaned. The longer they remain dirty, the sooner they’ll wear out. Plus the longer you have to breathe all the pollens, fungus and chemicals that hide in your carpet.

STEP No 2: List your objectives. Do you want only the surface dirt removed, something you could do with a rented shampooer, or do you want all the bacteria, fungus etc. removed which will require a hot water cleaner, as we use. Do you want to work with an honest, reputable company – or are you willing to risk working with the company that offers the lowest price – knowing the company might not be in business tomorrow.

STEP No 3: Ask questions. The way you learn about a company is to ask specific questions and listen carefully to the answers. Here are six tough questions to ask a carpet cleaner before he begins to clean your carpet:

  1. What method of carpet cleaning do you recommend?
  2. What type of equipment do you use to clean carpets?
  3. What will your equipment remove from my carpet?
  4. How often should I get my carpets cleaned?
  5. What training have you had in cleaning carpets?
  6. Are you certified by the IICRC and will you show me your certification certificates.

STEP No 4: Once you’re satisfied that you’re working with an honest, competent professional, invite him into your home and ask for a specific quotation in writing. A written quotation gives you the assurance that you know exactly what your job will cost – no surprises.

By following these four steps, you’ll gain all the information you need to make an informed, intelligent decision. If you want a quick, cheap carpet cleaning job, many companies in the phone book can help you.

But if you want your carpeting to be completely and healthily cleaned – removing the bacteria, fungus, chemicals, pollens, and tobacco products – then we invite you to call us. We’ll be happy to answer your questions – provide you a cost estimate over the telephone – or come into your home and give you a free written quotation – without obligation of any kind.

Joey Johnston administrator