Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How to Choose a Carpet Cleaning Company

Not all carpet cleaning companies are created equal. While most companies promise quality service for a low price, that is not usually what you get! Using the tips below, and asking the right questions, will help you select a professional carpet cleaning company that will provide the most value for your dollar.

Training and Certifications

Ask what types of professional training a company's technicians have received. A professional carpet cleaning company should employ people that hold the Carpet Cleaning Technician certification by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC, also known as the Clean Trust). This is the most common and well-known training school for the cleaning and restoration industry. Other certifications to look for include Upholstery and Fabric Cleaning Technician, Rug Cleaning Technician, Carpet Repair and Reinstallation Technician, and Water Damage Restoration Technician.

Experience and Customer Feedback

Knowledge comes not only with education, but experience. Ask how long a company has been in business, and check social media sites, search engines, and places like Angie's List for customer feedback. Also, ask your friends and neighbors who they have used in the past and their experiences with the company. One or two bad reviews do not necessarily mean you shouldn’t use a company, but many poor reviews should raise a red flag. You can also ask the company for references if the information is not available online.

License & Insurance

In many cities, small cleaning companies come and go rapidly. Ask the company you call if they are licensed with the state you live in. You can also check for this online on local government websites. A cleaning company should also carry insurance related to the services they offer. It is also a good idea to ask if the company runs background checks on all their employees.


If a price sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Typically, you get what you pay for, and price should never be the main reason for choosing a carpet cleaning company. Always read the fine print on advertised specials.

Cleaning Method

The IICRC defines the five main principles of carpet cleaning as:

Dry Soil Removal: Thorough vacuuming helps to remove dry soils from carpet fibers.

Soil Suspension: The application of the proper pre-treatment agent to loosen soils from carpet fibers. There are four characteristics of soil suspension: application of chemicals, use of heat or temperature to speed up chemical reactions, agitation of carpet fibers to aid in distribution of chemicals, and dwell time to complete chemical reaction, or CHAT.

Soil Extraction: The most common method from removing soils from carpet is the hot water extraction method, also known as steam cleaning.

Grooming, as necessary: Grooming of carpet helps eliminate matting of carpet and distribute cleaning agents.

Drying: With normal temperature and humidity conditions, carpet should take no longer than 24 hours to dry. Use of air movers, ceiling fans, and, with the right conditions, the outdoor environment (opening windows) can speed the drying process. The ideal dry time for carpet should be around 6-8 hours.

A professional carpet cleaning company should follow these steps, at a minimum, on all cleaning jobs.

Other Important Questions to Ask

What is included with the cleaning service? At a minimum, the cleaning should include the five principles of carpet cleaning listed above.

Does the price quoted include specialty treatments? This includes treatments such as enzyme for pet stains, high traffic area treatment, carpet protection application, etc. Many times these are done at an additional cost.

Will you move my furniture? Typically, furniture moving is not included in the price of carpet cleaning unless you ask for it.

Will you finish the cleaning with a low or neutral pH treatment? Many companies use high pH cleaners on carpet. While they clean well, it makes your carpet a magnet to dirt, allowing it to re-soil easily, and can have a sticky or crunchy feel. This can damage the carpet’s fibers and shorten its useful life. Ask if the carpet's pH will be lowered or neutralized following the cleaning to help it stay clean longer.

Do you guarantee your work, and for how long? A good carpet cleaning company should offer some type of guarantee. Sometimes stains come back, or other issues occur, so you want to know if you have options should this occur. Also, ask about the time frame for the guarantee so you can be sure you call in time if there is a problem.