What distinguishes one carpet cleaner from another?
To help consumers make an informed educated decision when hiring a carpet cleaner I have provided this fact filled guide. Here, you’ll discover:
What I’ve Learned: The 6 things you NEED to know
Carpet Cleaning Process: The basic science of cleaning
How to Vacuum: Two simple secrets to improving your efforts
Six Costly Misconceptions about Carpet Cleaning
Seven Questions you should ask a carpet cleaner before inviting them into your home.
Tip #1 CAUTION Putting Area Rugs Over Carpet – Ok, so you want to put a beautiful new area rug on top of the carpet in an area of your home. Please make sure the rug does not have latex in the backing. Latex often releases a gas called BHT that over-time naturally causes irreparable damage to the carpet by turning it yellow.
For example, the latex back on new shower mats is white and turns yellow over time. The BHT gas sometimes can also turn vinyl floors yellow.
Tip #2 Acids Etch Natural Stone Counters/Floors – Natural stone counter tops and floors are prone to etching when exposed to acids, such as lemons. It is important to have these surfaces sealed. Often contractors skip sealing natural stone counter tops. Even after sealing natural stone surfaces can still etch, so be careful letting any type of acid sit on these surfaces.
Tip #3 Unsealed Tile –Tile floors, tile counter tops, and tile showers are often left unsealed by contractors. We can bring these areas back to life and seal them to help keep foreign debris from penetrating the grout.
Tip #4 Prep A Repair Piece (Just in case ☺) – If you have new spare pieces of your carpet then I would recommend taking an approximately 12 x 24 inch piece and placing it where it will get lots of foot traffic (preferably shoe traffic). This will serve as great piece of replacement carpet that will blend in with the original carpet, if needed. After about a year of walking on this carpet have it cleaned and then put away.
Tip #5 A Reason Why Dogs Like Certain Rugs – Do you have a dog that likes to pee on certain rugs and not others? The reason some dogs pee on one rug consistently and not the others is because the rug they favor may be made out of wool. Of course the dog has not seen a lamb running around the house, but the wool causes the dog to think there is a lamb near. The dog thinks, “Hmm…No lamb is coming into my home and take over.” The dog pees on the wool rug to mark its territory. Bleach dissolves wool. So if you carefully remove one fiber from the rug and put some bleach on it and it dissolves then you know it is wool! Do Not put bleach on the rug.
Tip #6 Microfiber Upholstery – Microfiber is a fabulous material that is very durable. This fabric is imitation suede, which is a compliment. If you have a spot on this type of fabric make sure to BLOT the spill. NEVER rub the spot or you can permanently damage the fabric turning it from a suede look to a leather look. Microfiber is not like carpet and cannot be re-dyed.
The Science of Carpet Cleaning (Basic)
I have tried to simplify the science of carpet cleaning to help inform consumers and make sure they receive value when hiring a carpet cleaner. This is the basic cleaning process involved with Hot Water Extraction also known as Carpet Steam Cleaning.
A carpet cleaner uses a detergent to remove the dirt from the carpet fibers. Most of the dirt found in carpet is acidic in nature. The detergent used in carpet cleaning is an alkaline. The basic rule: If an alkaline is stronger than an acid it will neutralize the acid and if an acid is stronger than an alkaline then the acid will neutralize the alkaline.
The Carpet Cleaning Process
First, detergent is sprayed to break down and loosen the soil from the carpet fibers. Second, a wand or a rotary extraction tool is used to rinse the detergent out of the carpet. A powerful vacuum sucks up all of the dirty rinse water.
If regular water is used to rinse the carpet then there will be detergent residue left in the carpet and it will not be pH balanced. Ok, so to pH balance the carpet and follow manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations we need to add something to the rinse water to neutralize the detergent that was sprayed on the carpet.
To pH balance the carpet the water that was sprayed to rinse the detergent, earlier in our example from the wand or rotary extraction tool, should have been mixed with a fiber rinse. The fiber rinse is actually a mild acid that neutralizes the detergent sprayed on the carpet. Since the detergent is neutralized the carpet is basically pH balanced. This leaves no sticky residue, provides fluffy carpets, and helps avoid rapid re-soiling.
Many carpet cleaners do not use a fiber rinse. They rinse the detergent from the carpet with water that is mixed with detergent! The idea, which is incorrect, is that left over detergent will absorb any left over dirt. This leaves a sticky residue that attracts dirt and causes rapid re-soiling. This is like washing your hair with soap and then rinsing it with soap.
P.S. If your entire home is cleaned in less than 1 hour is that enough time to vacuum and properly rinse the detergent out of the carpet? The answer is no. Here is a question to make my point…What takes longer to put the soap in your hair or rinse it? The answer is to rinse it.
Did you know that 80% of the soil in your carpet is located in the lower 2/3rds of the carpet? The only way to remove this dirt is through proper vacuuming. If the carpet is cleaned without proper vacuuming then the soil in the bottom of the carpets is turned into mud! This is why certified professional carpet cleaners ALWAYS pre-vacuum before cleaning.
To properly vacuum you need to setup your vacuum correctly. Most homeowners seem to have their vacuum height set on the lowest setting. In other words the vacuum is set all the way on the floor. You should have your vacuum height set to where the beater bar is just touching the top of the carpet fibers. When the bar is touches the top of the fibers it vibrates and loosens up the soil. Vacuuming with the machine all the way down on the floor crushes the carpet fibers and very little amounts of soil are removed. :-)
Also, if you have a bag vacuum then you need to make sure your bag is changed regularly. When the bag gets 25%-50% full your machine has lost 80% of its vacuuming power.
“You should wait as long as possible before cleaning your carpet.
No. Dirt is an abrasive-like sandpaper. Every time you step on your carpet, you grind dirt into the carpet fibers. This cuts your carpet, just as if you had used a knife. A dirty carpet will not last as long as a clean carpet. And while vacuuming helps–by itself, it’s simply not enough. The longer you wait to have your carpet cleaned, the more damage you do to your carpet and the faster it wears out.
The only reason to clean carpets is to remove the dirt.
No. As you probably know, outdoor air contains pollens, fungus, bacteria, air pollution, cigarette smoke, car exhaust – and hundreds of other chemicals. When you come into your home, you carry those pollens, bacteria and chemicals in your hair and on your skin, clothing and shoes. Not surprisingly, all those chemicals and toxins wind up in your carpet.
If you have allergies, asthma, emphysema, or other breathing problems – one major source of your problem could be the pollens, fungus, smoke and chemicals in your carpet.
No. There are two types of cleaning that carpet cleaners offer: Dry Cleaning and Hot Water Extraction.
Below are different types of Dry Cleaning methods:
Dry foam: The carpet cleaner applies shampoo to your carpet, allows it to dry, and then, without rinsing, sucks the dried shampoo into a vacuum. Can you imagine applying shampoo to your hair, allowing it to dry and then removing the shampoo from your head with a vacuum? This method leaves dirty residue in your carpet, which is one reason dry foam is not too effective.
Absorbent pad (bonnet cleaning): This method is similar to dry foam, except that the company sets a large cotton bonnet on your carpet and with a floor polishing buffer machine on top “buffs” the carpet. The rotating motion causes the bonnet to absorb dirt from your carpet. This method is also called bonnet cleaning. Bonnet cleaning is like trying to use a large cotton towel or mop to rub the dirt out of your carpet. It’s not very effective.
Dry, absorbent powder: The dry-compound method spreads a moist, absorbent powder through the carpet. The powder is allowed to dry and then sucked into a vacuum. This method leaves dry sponge particles at the base of the carpet yarn. And because the carpet is not rinsed, this method is not very effective.
Hot water extraction: With this process hot water solution is sprayed at high pressure into the carpet and simultaneously sucked out of the carpet. This method is also referred to as carpet steam cleaning even though steam is not used.
Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, recommends hot water extraction from a truck-mounted unit, and using a portable unit only in areas where the truck-mounted unit won’t reach.
Not surprisingly, truck-mounted extraction cleans better because it heats up the water.
Once water heats up to 118 degrees, every 18 degree increase in temperature doubles the water’s cleaning ability.
A truck mounted cleaning process begins when detergent mixed with very hot water is sprayed at high pressure into the carpet to break down the soils. After providing sufficient dwell time for the detergent to work, hot water mixed with a fiber rinse is sprayed and simultaneously vacuumed out of the carpet. The process of spraying and vacuuming with a fiber rinse flushes out the carpet, neutralizes the detergent, and leaves your carpet pH balanced.
P.S. This process should be part of a multi-step cleaning process, like our 11-Step Carpet Cleaning Process.
No question, the most effective way to clean carpeting is with a hot-water unit. It’s the most powerful cleaning machine on the market and the only machine that cleans your carpet of dirt, harmful bacteria, fungus, chemicals, pollens, tobacco residue and dust mites.
Some people believe that hot water damages your carpet, but this isn’t true. By washing and then rinsing your carpet with hot water, we clean your carpet completely – in the same way that the person who showers and then rinses off the dirt and soap will be much cleaner than the person who takes only a sponge bath.
Having the right equipment is all a company needs to 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 why it’s important that you choose your carpet cleaner carefully.
The best cleaning companies are those that have been certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, known as the IICRC. Before you choose a carpet cleaner, ask to see written proof of the company’s IICRC certification and also the certification of the technician who is going to do the job! If they don’t have them, don’t use them!
The company that offers the lowest price is the company you should hire.
Maybe – but not always
Pont 1: The price may not be for the services you want performed. The company may be equipped to remove only the dirt from your carpet. But you may want bacteria, fungus, pollens, dust mites and tobacco residues removed as well.
Point 2: The price you see advertised may not be the price you pay.
Many homeowners have learned that the low price they saw advertised only lasted until the carpet cleaner got into their home. The cleaner offered a cheap price usually between $3.95 and $9.95 per room–and then, once they’re in your home, they pressure you into buying “add-ons.” It’s as if you were buying a car and found that the dealer was charging you extra for the tires and steering wheel.
As in all businesses and professions, the carpet cleaning industry has its share of bad apples. I take no pleasure in telling you this, but some are unethical, and sadly a few are dishonest. By their misleading advertising and false promises, they cast a dark shadow on our entire industry.
Then you’ll find other carpet cleaners – professionals like me who work hard to earn your trust and respect.
As a way of improving our profession, I’ve dedicated my business to educating the public. The only way you can make an intelligent decision is to have all the facts you need. This is why I’ve printed this message.
Any honest carpet cleaning company should be able to give you an exact price quote over the telephone.
I wish this were true, but it isn’t.
Honest, reputable carpet cleaning companies almost never price carpet cleaning by the room. Instead, carpet cleaning is usually priced by the square foot. So if you’d like me to tell you the exact cost of cleaning your carpet, I need to know the exact number of square feet that you want cleaned. To get an accurate measurement, I use a digital laser tape measure to calculate the exact size of the carpet area.
To give you an idea of how we estimate the cost of cleaning, here are the three things we consider:
First, the type of carpet. Certain types of carpet are harder to clean than other types.
Secondly, the amount of soiling. Carpet that hasn’t been cleaned for ten years will take longer to clean than carpet that we cleaned within the last six months.
Third, the amount of furniture we have to move. If you move your furniture, you’ll save money.
4 Steps to Extraordinary Carpet Care
Make a commitment to yourself to get your carpets cleaned. The longer they remain dirty, the sooner they’ll wear out. Plus, the longer you have to breathe all the pollen, fungus and chemicals that hid in your carpet.
List your objectives. Do you want only the dirt removed, something you could do with a rented shampooer? Or do you want all the bacteria, fungus, chemicals and dust mites removed, which will require a hot water truck-mount cleaner, as we use? Do you want to work with an honest, reputable company – or are you willing to risk working with the company that offers you the lowest price – knowing that the company might not be in business tomorrow?
Ask questions. The way you learn about a company is to ask specific questions and listen carefully to the answers. Here are 7 tough questions to ask a carpet cleaner before he begins to clean your carpet:
1. What method of carpet cleaning do you recommend?
2. What type of equipment do you use to clean carpet?
3. What will your equipment remove from my carpet?
4. How often should I get my carpets cleaned?
5. What training have you had in cleaning carpets?
6. Are you certified by the IICRC and will you show me your certification certificates?
7. Are your cleaning technicians certified by the IICRC and can I see their certifications?
Once you’re satisfied that you’re working with an honest, competent professional, invite him into your home and ask for a specific quotation in writing. A written quotation gives you the assurance that you know exactly what your job will cost – no surprises.
By following these four steps, you’ll gain all the information you need to make an informed, intelligent decision. If you want a quick, cheap carpet cleaning job, many companies in the phone book can help you. Or you can rent a shampooer from the grocery store and do the job yourself.
But if you want your carpeting to be completely and healthfully cleaned – removing the bacteria, fungus, chemicals, pollens, and tobacco products – then we invite you to call us.
We’ll be happy to answer your questions – provide you with a cost estimate over the telephone – or come into your home and give you a free written quotation – without cost or obligation of any kind. To reach us, call 503-922-4875 or 360-901-8686
Risk FREE Guarantee Carpet Cleaning
At Sean’s Carpet Care, we take our service and earning your business seriously.
Nothing is more important than your complete and total satisfaction. If for any reason you are unhappy, we’ll…
1) Come back and re-clean the area FREE of charge. Then, if you are still
not satisfied we’ll…
2) Simply refund your money
This plan guarantees to save you time and frustration…
When You Hire Us…There is NO RISK! ! !
How can we make such an offer? Well, we work very hard to meet all of your expectations.
No other company can get your carpets cleaner. We are professionally trained by IICRC. Because we feel nothing is more important than you and your total satisfaction.
Even one unsatisfied customer is too many for us.
Call us to see how we can help: 503-922-4875 or 360-901-8686