Misconceptions About Carpet Cleaning

#1: You should wait as long as possible before cleaning your carpet.

No. Dirt is an abrasive- like sandpaper. Every time you step on the carpet, you grind dirt into your carpet fibers. This cuts your carpet just as if you had used a knife, causing it to wear out faster. A dirty carpet will not last nearly as long as a clean carpet. And while vacuuming helps , it’s simply not enough to protect your carpet. The longer you wait to have your carpet cleaned, the more damage you do to your carpet and the faster it wears out.

#2: The only reason to clean carpets is to get out the dirt.

No. Outdoor air contains pollens, fungus, bacteria, air pollution, cigarette smoke, car exhaust, and hundreds of other chemicals. When you, your family, and guests 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, pollens and bacteria wind up in your carpet.

If you have allergies, asthma, emphysema, or other breathing problems, one major source of your problems could be the pollens, fungus, and chemicals in your carpet. Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 different chemical compounds, 43 of which cause cancer. If you’re sensitive to cigarette smoke, you might find that you’ll breathe easier by removing those harmful chemicals from your carpet.

#3: One method of carpet cleaning is as good as another.

No. You can choose from two primary methods: Dry cleaning or hot water extraction.

1. Dry Cleaning
Many people believe that dry cleaning your carpet is like dry cleaning your clothing. This is not true. All carpet cleaning methods use water in one form or another. Here are the three methods of dry cleaning carpet.

a. Dry Foam
When a carpet cleaner uses dry foam, he applies shampoo to your carpet, allows it to dry, and then 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 can leave a residue in your carpet, which is one reason dry foam is not very effective.

b. Dry-Chem
The dry-chem method is similar to dry foam. The major difference is that when dry-chem is used, the company sets a large cotton bonnet on your carpet. Using a machine, the bonnet spins from side to side, absorbing the dirt that’s in the carpet. After the bonnet is saturated with dirt, another cotton bonnet is applied. Bonnet cleaning is like trying to use a large towel to rub the dirt out of your carpet. Like dry foam, it’s not very effective.

c. Dry Compound
The dry-compound method spreads an absorbent mixture on your carpet, which looks similar to a moistened sawdust material. But each particle is actually a tiny “sponge”. These sponges are scrubbed in and around each carpet fiber, where they break up and absorb soil. When the carpet is dry, they are vacuumed out. This is the most effective of the dry cleaning systems, and is the method we use in our commercial maintenance programs. We recommend hot water extraction for most residential cleanings.

2. Hot Water Extraction (Steam Cleaning)
The second carpet cleaning method is called hot water extraction. A hot water cleaning solution is forced into the carpet under high pressure, and then sucked out. (This method is also referred to as steam cleaning even though steam is not used.)

Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, recommends hot water extraction. There are two types of hot water extraction: Portable extraction, which is done with a small machine, and truck mount extraction, where the large cleaning machine is mounted in a truck or van. Truck mount extraction cleans much better because it heats the water to a higher temperature and shoots the cleaning solution into the carpet at higher pressure, which more effectively breaks up the dirt, bacteria and pollens. Then the machine uses high suction to draw the dirt out of the carpet. This is the method my company uses.

The most effective way to clean carpeting is with a hot-water unit mounted in a truck. It’s the most powerful cleaning machine on the market and the only machine that thoroughly cleans your carpet of dirt, harmful bacteria, fungus, chemicals, pollens and tobacco residue. 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.

#4: The company that offers the lowest price is the company you should hire.

Maybe, but not always. Here are two important points to consider.

1. The price you see offered may not be for the services you want performed. Before you select a company, decide what you want to accomplish. If you want the carpet cleaner to remove only some of the dirt, you can choose from hundreds of companies that use small shampooers or other cleaning methods. Or, you can even rent a machine at the grocery store and do the job yourself. But if your carpet thoroughly cleaned to remove dirt, bacteria, pollens, chemicals and tobacco residue, then you need to hire a company that uses a hot water cleaner mounted in a truck.

2. The price you see advertised may not be the price you pay. Many homeowners have learned that the low price they saw advertised was not the amount they were charged. Perhaps you’ve already been the victim of misleading advertising: some carpet cleaners offer a cheap price and then pressure you into paying a lot more once they get inside your home. Some of them may even use illegal bait and switch tactics. Unethical and dishonest companies cast a dark shadow on our entire industry. But you’ll find other carpet cleaners, professionals like me, who work hard to earn your trust and respect. 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.

#5: 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. Consumers often think that if they want to clean four rooms and the price is $9 per room, then the price will be $36. But this isn’t always true. Honest, reputable carpet cleaning companies usually price carpet cleaning by the square foot. To get an accurate measurement, I have a measuring wheel I use to calculate the exact size of the carpet area. That the carpet area to be cleaned is not usually as much as you may estimate. For example, if you want your 2,000 square foot home cleaned, the amount of carpeting to be cleaned might be only 1,200 square feet. This is because most home measurements are outdoor measurements. Plus, I deduct the area taken up by walls and room dividers. The actual area to be cleaned may only be about 60% of the square footage of your home.

So even though I can’t give you an exact quote over the telephone, here are things I consider when quoting a price:

1. The type of carpet. Certain types of carpet are harder to clean than others. So before I can give you a quote, I need to know the type of carpet you want cleaned.

2. The amount of soiling. Carpet that hasn’t been cleaned for ten years will take longer to clean than carpet that was cleaned within the last six months.

3. The amount of furniture that has to be moved. If I need to move your furniture, the bid will include that labor. Or if you want to clean around certain pieces of furniture, this will deduct from the cleaning square footage.

When you’re thinking about having your carpets cleaned, I offer these four recommendations:

#1: Make a commitment to yourself to get your carpets cleaned properly. 
The longer they remain dirty, the sooner they’ll wear out, and the longer you have to breathe all the pollens, fungus, chemicals and dust mites that live in your carpet.

#2: List your objectives.
Do you want only the dirt removed, which is something you could do with a rented machine? Or do you want the bacteria, fungus and chemicals removed, which will require a hot-water truck mount cleaner, like I 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 company might not be in business tomorrow?

#3: Ask questions.
Here are the questions I suggest you ask:

1. What method of carpet cleaning do you recommend?
2. What type of equipment do you use to clean carpet?
3. What does 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 a member of any trade associations and, if so, which ones?
7. Are you insured and bonded?

#4: 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 recommendations, 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 and do the job yourself.

But if you want your carpeting to be completely and thoroughly cleaned – removing the bacteria, fungus, chemicals, pollens, and tobacco products – then I invite you to call me. I’ll be happy to answer your questions — provide you a cost estimate over the telephone – or come into your home and give you a free written quotation – without obligation of any kind.


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