A Consumer’s Guide to Carpet Cleaning

by Ben Smith

Hello. My name is Ben Smith, owner of Premium Care Solutions, an Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) certified firm and member of the Carpet and Rug Institute.  When it comes to carpet care, I have found that consumers are bombarded with misleading advertising, confusing claims and bad information. From super-low prices and high-pressure sales to unqualified technicians and near-worthless cleaning methods. How do you find a qualified, competent, professional carpet cleaner?  Make an informed, intelligent decision based on the following six misconceptions about carpet cleaning.

#1: Wait as long as possible before cleaning your carpet.

Not true.  Dirt is an abrasive, just like sandpaper. Every time you step on your carpet, dirt is ground into the fibers.  This cuts the carpet fibers, just as if you were to use a knife.  A dirty carpet will not last as long as a clean carpet, and while vacuuming is an important part of carpet care, it’s simply not enough.  The longer you wait to have your carpet cleaned, the more damage your carpet will sustain and the faster it will wear out. Regular carpet cleanings should be scheduled at least twice annually.

#2:  The only reason to clean carpets is to remove dirt.

Not true.  Air contains pollens, fungus, bacteria, air pollution, smoke, car exhaust – and hundreds of other chemicals.  Every time you open your doors and windows, every time you return to your home, those pollutants come into the home with you. They are carried in on your hair, your skin, clothing and shoes, on pets, mail, groceries, and any other number of ways. Not surprisingly, those chemicals and toxins wind up in your carpet.

For those with allergies, asthma, emphysema, or other breathing problems, a major source of the problem could be due to the pollens, fungus, smoke, and chemicals in your carpet. The most effective way to reduce these pollutants is through professional carpet cleaning.

#3:  One method of carpet cleaning is as good as another.

Not true.  The dry cleaning methods –dry foam, dry chemicals and dry compounds – do not rinse your carpet in any way.  Instead, they leave a dirty residue.  You might say they clean your carpet only halfway.  Hot water extraction results in a fully cleaned carpet—no dirty residue left behind!  With hot water extraction, a pressurized hot water cleaning solution is forced into your carpet to loosen dirt and contaminants, and then sucked out of your carpet along with all the dirt.

#4:  Any company with cleaning equipment can clean your carpets properly.

Not true.  Many companies own hot water cleaners, but very few companies teach their employees how to use them properly.  This is one of the most important factors in choosing a carpet cleaning service.  The best companies are those that have been IICRC certified; before choosing a cleaner, ask to see written proof of the company’s IICRC certification, as well as the certification of the technician who is going to do the job!  If they don’t have them, don’t use them!

Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, recommends only hot water extraction cleaning with a truck-mounted unit used IICRC certified firms. Stand-alone personal or rental carpet cleaners are no substitute for regular deep cleaning by a professional service. 

#5:  The company that offers the lowest price is the company you should hire.

Not true.  So many problems arise from lowest bid companies. Remember, you get what you pay for.  There are a couple of common problems to be aware of when it comes to low-bid cleaning offers. 

The low price may not cover the services you want to receive.  The company may only be able to remove the dirt from your carpet, but low-quality equipment does not remove want bacteria, fungus, pollens and dust mites. 

The price you see advertised may not be the actual price you pay.  Many homeowners find that the low advertised prices disappear once the cleaner arrives at their home. Then, they discover the low price only covers a basic service or room size and are pressured into paying a lot more for “add-ons” like disinfectants, moving furniture, or cleaning multiple spaces.

#6:  Any honest carpet cleaning company should be able to give you an exact price quote over the phone.  

I wish this were true, but it isn’t. Honest, reputable carpet cleaning companies almost never price carpet cleaning by the room. Instead, cleaning is usually priced by the square foot. Other factors in determining cost are the type of carpet, amount of soiling and amount of furniture to be moved. If a carpet cleaning company provides you with a quote over the phone, be prepared for that number to change when the technician arrives at your home. 

For questions about carpet, upholstery or tile cleaning, you’re invited to call Premium Care Solutions at 252-752-0828.  We’ve dedicated our business to educating consumers.  We’ll be happy to help you in every way.