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Question DetailsAsked on 8/29/2013

How do I evaluate a carpet cleaning company? Dry vs steam vs chemical; furniture moving expectations; room ads

I've never had a professional clean my carpets. I understand some can ruin the carpets by leaving soap residue behind. Steam seems harsh. I don't see how dry chemical can get dirt out of fiber twists. What are the questions I need to ask when interviewing a carpet cleaner? What associations should they subscribe to that enhances standards? What furniture should I expect to be moved and put back? Is a hallway considered a room?

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2 Answers


As a starter, here is an Angie's List articles on that very subject -

For my money, dry methods like chemical cleaning and "dry cleaning" (not at all related to the method used for "dry cleaning" clothes, which is not dry at all) are a joke - if you do not wash the dirt out of the carpet, you are not cleaning it any more than vacuuming it.

One thing to bear in mind is most "steam cleaning" is not steam at all by the time it hits the carpet - it is hot water. For my money, that is the best way - steam-temperture hot water spray into the carpet then removed with a strong vacuum system - it uses less water (so does not soak your carpet pad).

Generally, unless you contract otherwise, they should be expected to move any furniture one person can move. That which is too heavy like a desk or piano they will slip a protective pad under the legs to keep it from getting saturated. Large heavy items like window seats and highboys and ceiling-height computer desks and such they will work around, and go under if possible - but not move. Ditto for beds, etc. If you want those larger items moved then you have to pay a lot more, because they need a second person to come in to help move them.

A "room", in most deals and coupons, means so many square feet - so a typical bedroom may be a room, but a large living room or den may equal 2 or more rooms. A hall is usually counted as a room. You should be looking at the total complete cost, not per-room cost and discounts and such - what matters is the bottom line, and the method they are using, and of course firstmost, their reputation and ratings.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


First it is important to know what type of wall to wall carpet is in your home and who it is manufactured by. Virtually every US manufacturer or residential carpet will recommend hot water extraction to properly clean your carpet. So start there by verifying what you have in your home.

So- what is hot water extraction? Ask a few carpet cleaning companies and you may get a few different answers but generally speaking we're talking about high temperature steam cleaning at 212 degrees or close to, and not hot tap water at 120 to 140 degrees maximum from your home. For every 18 degrees above 140 degrees the cleaning performance doubles. This means 158 degrees is double the performance 140, 176 is double 158, 194 is double 176, and 212 degrees is double 194. A commercial company cleaning at 212 degrees will provide 16 times the cleaning performance of another company cleaning at 140 degrees.

High temperature steam actually allows for using less chemicals to clean your carpet. When cleaning is followed by a non chemical steam rinse you are left with very clean carpet that will not reattract soil because the detergent was properly removed. Also drying times are greatly reduced with high temperature steam vs hot tap water. Most every truckmount, and some newer high performance commercial portable carpet cleaning machine are equipped to handle this level of performance need to clean your carpet. You will pay most for a truckmount company, a little less for high powered portable company, and even less for low powered portable company without high temp heat.

Some carpets showing moderate to higher levels of soil in traffic areas and/or along wall to wall baseboards may need rotary shampoo in addition to high temperature carpet cleaning to effectively remove staining buildup. Don't wait for the cleaning techician to arrive at your door to have this conversation if your carpet looks like a deeper cleaning is needed.

I would start with getting a referral from someone you know first when searching for a local carpet cleaning company. If you strike out there find out during the interview process with each prospective company the following-

What method do you use? (preferred answer high temperature steam with clean rinse)

How long does it take for carpet generally to dry? (preferred answer under 4 hours acceptable answer under 8 hours but remember humidity, etc. also plays a role)

If locally owned are they licensed and insured? (preferred answer is both keep in mind most smaller companies do not meet threshhold for their local county license and may not be required to officially have one so check your local laws to be sure)

Are they IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certicifaction) certified? (preferred answer yes as this means they were properly trained)

Do they move furniture? (preferred answer is yes for most basic furnature moved and put back in place protected but expect limitations especially if 1 person vs 2 man crew)

What else is included with your pricing? (preferred answer is deodorizer + spot treatment included but many will use these as add on services)

What is considered 1 room/area? (preferred answer 200 sq. ft avg or slightly higher- do expect larger room/area to be considered 2 areas but some will prorate a small room)

Is a hallway considered 1 area? (preferred answer is 1/2 area or something like that)

What about stairs? (preferred answer is no more than the cost of 1 area but this differs with each company)

Do they offer a re- clean guarantee? (prefferd answer is yes all the good companies do)

Do they offfer deep cleaning/ rotary shampoo service if needed? (preferred answer is yes)

Be careful with low price 3 area + hall type offers usually they leave out many services you end up needed during the appointment meaning a higher cost. Also most companies cannot afford to run such a job that inexpensively on a regular basis, and you end up with a rushed job performance if you do not add services when they arrive. While some nationally run companies are capable of providing good service value due to high turnover rates we feel most reliable locally owned carpet cleaning compnies will offer a better value for your cleaning dollar. So get a thorough phone cleaning quote including what it costs to add rotary shampoo per aroom/area if you think you might need extra attention with traffic lanes, etc. so you are not surprised by the extra cost during the job and can make an informed decision.

Good luck and hope this helps you better find a qualified carpet cleaner in your area.

Steve Singleton- Owner

Superior Carpet Steam Clean

Manassas, VA

Answered 6 years ago by stevesingleton

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