Carpet cleaning is big business. When you need your carpets cleaned you have a choice. Either hire a carpet cleaning machine and do the job yourself or get in touch with a specialist carpet cleaning company to do the job for you. If you work during the week, often the last thing you want to do on the weekends is to hire a carpet cleaning machine and spend time cleaning the carpets. Not only that but on weekends you have your children home from school and the last thing they want is to be stopped from using a room for a few hours, especially if the weather is bad and they cannot go out.
What should you do about it?
The answer is to pay for a professional carpet cleaning company to come to your house in the week to clean and dry the floor coverings while no one is around.
Why do you need your carpets cleaned?
Carpets and rugs in the home are probably one of the most expensive accessories to your house. They take a lot of wear and are continually subject to dirt from the outside world. They are expensive to buy but will last for many years if properly looked after. It makes sense therefore to include a regular maintenance and cleansing routine.
There are many reasons why you might need to clean your household carpets.
Dirt from outside. Unless you insist on a house rule of removing your outdoor shoes before entering the home, people will always walk around your carpets wearing their outdoor shoes. No matter how rigorously you wipe your feet on the door mat, you will always bring in dirt, grime and traces of everything you have stepped in while going about your daily outdoor business. This dirt accumulates and will eventually need to be removed.
Pets. Everyone loves their pets, but let’s face it; their standards of cleanliness are different from ours. Your animals may come into the house directly from a muddy field and tread paw prints across your lovely floor. They might have eaten something they shouldn’t have done and vomited or defecated leaving a stain and a smell? Simple answer is to have the carpet cleaned.
Moving from your old house. When moving from your old house, whether it is rented or owned by you, you will want to leave it in good condition. In fact many tenancy contracts stipulate that all carpets must be professionally cleaned before you vacate the property. This could be because you had pets, smoked, or just insisted on walking through the house with your outdoor shoes on. In fact it is just good manners to remove all your personal dirt from your old house before someone else moves in.
Moving to a new house. When you move to a new house you may need it cleaned. Sometimes the previous occupiers weren’t as clean as you might have hoped. In this case you will want to have your carpets professionally cleaned to remove all traces of their presence, and what better time to have it done than before you unpack your furniture and clutter the rooms. Even if the previous occupier has cleaned thoroughly, there will often be patches on the carpet that are lighter than their surroundings, where pieces of furniture have been standing for many years. The darker areas therefore require cleaning to bring up the colour to its original.
Burst pipes or flood damage. If you have had problems in the house from burst water pipes or minor flooding from outside, the obvious answer is to call in the carpet cleaner to remove the water. Their machines will be able to suck up liquid and afterwards sanitise the carpets from unwanted mess.
Spring cleaning. Apart from the normal daily or weekly clean around the home, a lot of people do what is called a “Spring Clean”. This incorporates cleaning behind and underneath those arm chairs, cupboards and settees which are never moved from one week to the next. This is an ideal time to clean immovable objects like carpets.
Smoke damage. After a small house fire, you will want to clean the carpets of smoke odour and soot. Carpet cleaning is the ideal way to do this.
Removal of bacteria, mould, body fluids. If your home suffers from damp, and older houses always do, it will be worthwhile to remove the mould and spores that grow because of the damp. Bodily fluids too are not pleasant to have around the house either, and a carpet cleaning professional will have the correct equipment to do all these jobs.
Flea, carpet moth & other pests. As well as mould and fungi, carpets can be overrun by fleas, carpet moths or other household pests. This will be no problem to the carpet cleaning company as they have the correct chemicals and equipment to eradicate them.
Caravan carpets. It isn’t only houses that have carpets; both touring and static caravans do as well. In fact caravan carpets will probably need more cleaning than household ones.
Rug cleaning. Not only do full size fitted carpets require cleaning; rugs need that kind of care as well. They have the same wear and tear that carpets do and need to be refreshed.
What is involved in carpet cleaning
There are many different types of cleaning machines and many different techniques for cleaning and so different steps can be done by the same machine or by different machines, but they all work using the same principle; force a cleaning liquid into the carpet, apply friction and remove dirt by using a powerful vacuum. For a deep clean, steam can be forced into the carpet and removed by suction. This is especially useful for removing and killing insects, parasites and bacteria.
There are different ways to clean different kinds of carpet and we will now talk a bit about these techniques as it is important to understand how the methods work.
Hot water extraction cleaning
This method is also known as steam cleaning. The machine uses high pressure hot water or steam to loosen and dissolve the dirt within the carpet fibres. This method commonly uses a chemical cleaning agent, agitation of the carpet fibres using some kind of brush, then rinsing with clean water followed by a suction to remove almost all of the liquid. When complete, the carpet is almost dry and then is allowed to completely dry naturally. A carpeted floor area of approximately 3000 ft2 will take about 2 hours to clean and four hours to dry before it can be used. This type of cleaning is recommended to be done in the late afternoon so the carpet is allowed to dry overnight.
This technique is what most people think of when they decide on having their carpets cleaned. And indeed it was popular until the 1970s when encapsulation cleaning was introduced. The disadvantage of shampooing is that the wet foam is not removed properly, is not rinsed and takes a long time to dry. The foam becomes sticky as it dries, easily collecting more dirt resulting in a rapid soiling.
This technique uses synthetic detergents that break down into a powder as they dry. The loosened dirt particles are encapsulated into the foam powder and are removed using a vacuum cleaner or brush. This method is far more popular that shampooing as it uses less water with a corresponding shorter drying time. There is also less chemical residue left behind in the carpet. Although this is a good method of cleaning it is unable to cope with heavily soiled carpet and upholstery.
Just as its name suggests, this method only cleans the surface fibres. The machine uses a spinning pad which has been immersed in cleaning solution to agitate the surface and effectively scrape the dirt from the carpet. Bonnet cleaning is popular on floors which are subject to heavy traffic such as public areas and hotel lobbies. The carpet is cleaned with a very small amount of moisture and so can dry very quickly. As this method only cleans the top of the carpet, ‘deep down’ dirt quickly moves to the surface where it needs cleaning again. A chemical residue also remains which tends to accumulate within the fibres.
Dry carpet cleaning
This technique is one of the most recently developed carpet cleaning methods. Developed in the 1980s, it cleans effectively and requires no drying time. However many users do not trust this technology and doubt its effectiveness when cleaning carpets. The carpet fibres are separated using rotating brushes while the cleaning powder settles to the bottom of the carpet pile. The cleaning compound dissolves and absorbs the dirt and is then removed. Dry cleaning is safe for all types of carpet and can be used in work places which are used 24 hours a day as no disruption to work takes place during the cleaning process.
Carpet cleaning services and contractors
So, let’s move on now and talk a bit about the people who do the work. As mentioned before, carpet cleaning can be big business. Almost everyone has carpets of some kind and these will need freshening up now and again. All you need is a van, a carpet cleaning machine and a pair of overalls. Isn’t that correct?
No it’s wrong!
There is more to it than that, as some thought will soon make clear.
You must realise that if you invite someone into your home to clean your carpets and leave them alone to get on with their job, they must be trustworthy. All reputable cleaning companies will check whether their employees have a criminal record. Not only does this give private customers peace of mind, but also allows them to take on work in schools, care homes and other places where vulnerable people live and play.
The cleaning company will require insurance to cover damage done to you and your property by their employees, their equipment and their procedures. The chemicals they use can be aggressive to natural fibres and dyes and a hidden sample of carpet should always be tested for colour fastness. Even so, the company must be insured for any damage done.
The company will require compulsory insurance to protect against compensation claims from employees in case of illness or injury caused as a result of their work.
Employees must be trained in the use of their tools. If the company takes on pest removal then the operatives will need suitable training for that as well.
How to choose a contractor who offers good service at a fair price
Good carpet cleaning contractors are not difficult to find. Look online and browse their websites. See if they are used by large insurance companies, if so then they have a good record of work and charge reasonable prices.
If the company’s employees have been checked for criminal record (DBS checked), then the company will advertise that fact. If they do not advertise this, it doesn’t mean that their employees are all crooks, but it does mean that you should ask a company manager whether the check has been carried out and if not, then why not?
- Check whether the company is covered by insurance for third party damage.
- Are they members of the National Carpet Cleaners Association or its equivalent in the country where you live.
- Ask them what equipment they use.
- The employees are handling chemicals in your home, so find out what training they have had.
- Find out whether a risk assessment has been done and ask to see a copy. This may not be a specific assessment for your home but will at the very least be a general domestic risk assessment.
- Before they start work, ask to see their assessment of the chemicals they use
- Research the rates in your area for carpet cleaning.
- Ask friends if they can recommend a good carpet cleaning company.
Who should you NOT choose?
As carpet cleaning is a specialist task, needing training and proper equipment to do it properly, you should never employ:
- Contractors who have domestic carpet cleaning machines, they just aren’t robust enough for continual use.
- Always make sure they have the correct insurance in case of damage to your carpet.
- Someone who arrives at your home and removes his equipment from the back of his car. They are probably a ‘cowboy’ outfit.
- Someone who doesn’t know the special requirements of the chemicals he uses.
- A contractor who has no references that you can contact.
- Cold callers. A contractor who has to resort to cold calling (knocking on your door or telephoning without invitation) is obviously lacking in work. As yourself why that is.
- After researching the rates for your area, do not choose anyone who charges much less or more than the average rate.
- Ask whether the company has a satisfaction guaranteed policy if you are not happy with the outcome of the job.
What other services will a contractor usually offer?
There are certain other cleaning jobs or similar operations that will require similar skills and equipment. Because not everyone wants their carpets cleaning all the time, you will find that carpet cleaners take on these jobs as well; in fact many carpet cleaners often offer a complete cleaning service. Some of these jobs are as follows:
Often upholstery will need to be freshened as well and it makes sense to ask the carpet cleaner to clean your upholstered chairs while he is in your home. The safeguards needed for carpet cleaning are the same as those for upholstery and the contractor should be familiar with them.
Single stain removal
Sometimes your carpet does not need a complete clean but only the removal of a discoloured patch or stain.
Event & party cleaning
After holding a party or similar event, you may want to employ a carpet cleaning contractor to freshen up your carpets and remove any stains or spills. It would be sensible, while the contractor is there, to pay for a complete tidy, remove all the party trash and return your home to you as good as new.
Like carpets and upholstery, curtains would be no problem to a reputable contractor.
Stains can be unsightly and unhygienic on an otherwise perfectly usable mattress. This service is often part of a contractor’s skillset. If the contractor has pest removal training, then bed bug or flea removal can be done as well.
No one really enjoys cleaning the burnt on grease inside an oven. Why not pay the contractor for the service.
Clean hard flooring
Many people do not have carpets at all or have carpets only in certain rooms of the house. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was someone you could phone to come and clean your lino, wooden and stone floors? Wait a minute, there is! Your carpet cleaning contractor should have the knowhow and the equipment to deal with this job.
It’s not only internal floors that need cleansing, garden paths and driveways need the occasional wash as well. If your carpet cleaner can do this job, then he can also clean moss and lichen from your external walls and guttering.
A protective layer can be applied to your carpet after cleaning or from new, which will protect it from spills and stains. The Scotch Guard application effectively seals the fibres and stops them absorbing liquid.
As well as having your carpets cleaned you can also have them deodorised to remove any long lasting smell, such as tobacco, food or pets.
Some carpet cleaning contractors will include their carpet cleaning service as part of a complete ‘Spring Clean’.
Commercial contract cleaning
Contractors would prefer to take on a planned maintenance preventative contract. If you have a company that has carpets or other flooring and would like them regularly cleaned to enhance the corporate image, then just get in touch with your carpet cleaner.
Indoor pest removal
A deep steam clean will remove fleas, ticks and other insect parasites.
Carpet cleaning cost breakdown
Every house is a different size and there are many different types of carpet on the market. It therefore is understandable why there is no universal carpet cleaning price. Not only that but also every country will have different average cost of living and pay scales.
Carpet cleaners will often include the moving of two pieces of furniture into their costs and then charge extra for moving more furniture. Some companies charge on a ‘per room’ basis, specifying a certain area as equivalent to one room. This way if you have a large living room they may charge you for two standard rooms.
Another way of charging is on a ‘per square foot’ or ‘per square metre’ basis. If however you own a smaller home, the company will charge you disproportionately more than if you live in a larger home because it has to recover its equipment and transport costs, which being fixed, would be a larger proportion of a smaller price.
Average carpet cleaning costs are as follows:
|Carpet cleaning per room||$25 to $75
|Carpet cleaning per square foot||$0.30 to ?0.50
|Steam clean a 2200 ft2 house (three bedrooms, living room and hallway)||$188 to $544
|Dry cleaning a 2200 ft2 house||$323 to $600
|Spot cleaning||Hourly rate
|Stain removal||Hourly rate
DIY vs Professional. Which is best?
If you decide to clean your carpets yourself, what do you need to buy or rent to do the work? First step is to acquire a machine to do the job. Every town has an equipment hire shop where you can rent a carpet cleaning machine on a daily rate. You will have to pay for the chemicals to add to the water and the electricity to power the thing, but apart from that, you can rent the machine for as long as you want. Bear in mind that it will be most in demand at weekends, when people are home from work and most DIY takes place, so you will probably either have to schedule your rental for a day during the week or give the shop plenty of warning as to when you want to hire.
Hire shops will only rent good quality equipment as they do not want a lot of ‘downtime’, so there should be no problem with the machine breaking down. You will either receive a printed instruction booklet together with safety instructions or receive a 10 minute instructional in how to operate the machine.
The cost of rental for a 24 hour period will be about $30 and for a 48 hour rental, about $40. An extension hose and special ‘stain removal tool’ will cost you about $5 extra. On top of this you have the cost of consumables like carpet cleaning chemicals. The cost of this would be from $13 to $23 for a 32oz bottle or $18 to $30 for a 52oz bottle.
The big advantage of hiring a machine and doing the job yourself is that you don’t have to wait in for a contractor. Just a few hours will allow you to clean a whole house; it is therefore quite feasible to do the job in the evening or at the weekend.
The biggest disadvantage of doing the job yourself would be that you are not covered by insurance if you damage your carpet because you have not been trained properly.
10 questions to ask the contractor before hiring
1. How long have you been in business?
You will know from his answer whether he is experienced or not. Don’t be put off if the contractor is just starting out, after all we all had to start somewhere, but his prices should reflect his lack of experience. As long as he has insurance and the proper equipment then there is no reason why he should not be given a chance. But remember that the final decision is yours.
2. How many operatives are needed?
Usually just one person is required to operate the machine. Two people may be required however if there is furniture to be moved.
3. When can you begin the job?
You need to know this so you can plan to be there to allow them access to your home. You will also need to know that the wait will not be too excessive. You don’t want to put up with dirty carpets for too long.
4. How long will the cleaning job take?
This will give you an idea as to whether you just need to be around for a short time or whether it would be practical to come back later to check on the job when they have finished.
5. Do you foresee any major problems?
The contractor will be able to see on the initial inspection whether any problems are foreseen. Have you any large pieces of furniture? Can the furniture be moved into another room?
6. Can I have a firm quote?
You want to know how much money the job will cost. As stated earlier, carpet cleaning can be priced per room or per floor area. Either way, the contractor will be able to tell you how long the job should take and how much the cleaning chemicals will cost. If the job is just a simple stain removal then you may be able to pay per hour. But expect a minimum charge to cover equipment and transport overheads.
7. Have you any references from previous customers?
It is always worth asking if there are any references you can have. Get a list from the contractor and follow them up. Most people will only be too happy to give their opinion of someone’s work quality.
8. What is your ‘after sales service’?
What happens if after the job is completed, there is still a visible stain? Is there a money back guarantee?
9. Ask to see the operative’s certificates.
You will want to be reassured that the person with whom you are entrusting your valuable carpets is able to do the job. Have they had any training? Not only with the machine but also with the handling, use and disposal of the cleaning chemicals.
10. What will he expect of you?
The contractor will require access to water and electricity and somewhere to dispose of the waste water. Most, if not all, carpet cleaning chemicals, if diluted properly, are safe for disposal down the normal domestic drain. Be aware that if you have private drainage to either a septic tank or sustainable reed bed or similar, you may not want the chemicals to be disposed of into the drain. There may be ecologically friendly and biodegradable cleaning liquids that can be used. Or maybe the contractor can remove the waste water from the site to dispose of elsewhere. Be prepared to pay extra for the use of these cleaning liquids or a disposal service. Ask him if you can save time and money on the invoice by moving the furniture beforehand and replacing it when the job is completed.
To Sum Up
A valuable household asset like carpets will last for years if they are looked after and cleaned regularly. Whether you hire a contractor to do the job and have peace of mind that there is insurance to cover any damage or negligence, or whether you rent the machine and chemical cleaning liquids yourself is a matter of personal choice. As a team who have many times tried the DIY option, we can say from experience that the machines are easily operated; you will have full instruction in its use from the hire shop either by a one-to-one training or by a written booklet.
The job is very satisfying and relaxing and will save you money. If you don’t think you are up to the DIY route then, by all means, contact and employ a contractor to do the job for you. The only thing that matters is that you will have at the end of the job, nice and clean carpets, smelling fresh and without dirt and grime. You will also be assured that your carpets will not need replacing for many years to come.