How To Choose Your Carpet Cleaner

Anytime you have a service provided in your home you want to make sure that the firm that you invite is reputable and competent. But how can you tell when you have never had any experience with the company before?

Well one way is to ask the same questions that are found under the section, “HOW TO AVOID GETTING RIPPED OFF BY AN UNSCRUPULOUS CARPET CLEANER”. Most carpet cleaners are honest, but they could be less than fully competent.

So, some additional questions may be in order, such as:

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. What kind of training have you received?
  3. Do you give free on site estimates? (be careful of estimates over the phone unless you are dealing with a reputable firm)
  4. How do you arrive at your charges?
  5. How would you clean a 5th generation nylon?

Let’s analyze some of these questions and why you would want to know the answers.

1. How long have you been in business? Everyone has to start sometime, it’s not a crime to be new in the business. However, you don’t want the person to be practicing on your carpet or furniture. What will compensate for being new in the business is if the individual has been certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification or other similar training organization. The IICRC is a highly respected, non profit organization that certifies cleaning technicians. If they say they are certified, ask them to show you their card.

2. What kind of training have you received? How many days and what subjects did you learn? The technician training should be considerable as they will be responsible for the proper care of thousands of dollars worth of carpet.

3. Do you give free estimates? A reputable firm will be most happy to do this. They will come out to your home, measure the size of the rooms (why should you pay the same price for cleaning a small bedroom that you pay for your large living room or den?). Examine the carpet for clean-ability. Test spots for the possibility of removal, and some will even give you a free written report. They should be frank and honest when setting your expectations about how your carpet will look after it is cleaned and what stains may not respond to professional cleaning techniques.

4. How do you arrive at your pricing? There are different ways of arriving at an equitable cost for cleaning your carpets. Many reputable firms will charge by the square foot others by the room. There is no one right way. In residential homes with average furnishings that must be moved and average soiling, the square footage price could justifiably run up to 35 cents per square foot. This should include the following:

  • Pre-inspect all areas to be cleaned to uncover all customer concerns and set reasonable customer expectations
  • Pre-vacuum all carpet to be cleaned
  • Move all movable furniture
    • China cabinets, book cases, entertainment centers, pianos, grandfather clocks, waterbeds, beds with bookcase headboards, aquariums, and other such items are not normally moved unless they are empty and properly prepped
  • Pre-treat the traffic areas with cleaning products that are designed to loosen oils that are binding the soil to the fibers
  • Clean the carpet and carefully return furniture to its original location, putting protective foil squares or plastic to prevent staining by furniture legs
  • Clean all open areas
  • Treat all spots that haven’t been removed in the normal extraction process and re-extract
  • Groom or brush the carpet to set the pile on end
  • Final walk through with the customer to ensure satisfaction with job

The pricing for the cleaning usually does not include:

  • Deodorizing
  • Carpet Protectors such as Scotchgard
  • Attempts to remove permanent stains such as Kool-Aid®, wine, etc. after normal professional removal techniques have been utilized. This is not the same as spot removal, which should be included in the cleaning price. Please see the difference between a spot and a stain in the section titled, “What To Do If You Have A Spill On Your Carpet”.
  • Burn spots, tears or rips in seams or other installation problems

5. How do you clean a 5th Generation Nylon? The majority of current nylon is 5th Generation or Stain Resist. This must be cleaned with cleaning compounds with a pH (a term to measure the alkalinity or acidity of a solution) of 10 or less. If your cleaning technician is not aware of this then he may not be knowledgeable enough to use the right cleaning products for your carpet. If your carpet is wool, then cleaning should be done with a solution that is a pH of 7 or should be treated with a pH balancing product to neutralize the cleaning solution (there is usually a slightly higher charge to clean wool carpets because of this extra step).