Whether it’s children spilling drinks, pets shedding fur, or visitors tracking in mud, your carpet captures it all, day after day, year after year.
Professional cleaning can remove the visible abuse carpets and rugs take, but it will also preserve carpet fibers, keep colors brighter, and help rid your home of hidden dust and allergens that even regular vacuuming can miss.
Angie's List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service companies, went to its highly rated carpet cleaners for advice on the different cleaning methods available and tips on hiring the right cleaner for the job.
“With so many carpet cleaning techniques available, it’s important to check which method is approved by your carpet’s manufacturer so you don’t inadvertently void your warranty,” says Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks. “Most companies recommend a professional carpet cleaning every 6 to 12 months, but it really depends on the foot traffic in your home.”
Dry cleaning and steam cleaning are the two most popular types of carpet cleaning techniques. Some companies use a combination of hot water extraction – or steam cleaning – followed by a dry clean pass, in which a removable pad lifts any lingering soil. Steam-cleaned carpets can take 4 to 6 hours to dry, whereas the dry system by itself takes about an hour. A combination of both helps reduce the drying time and offers a more effective cleaning. If a dry cleaning can’t clean a heavily soiled carpet by itself, a steam cleaning usually can. Some companies use a non-toxic carbonation-based cleaning system that requires only a sixth of the water steam systems use. Those typically dry in 2 to 3 hours.
While professional cleaning should be done periodically, homeowners can take simple, every day actions to prolong the life and appearance of their carpets and rugs.
“The easiest and cheapest way to preserve your carpet is to take your shoes off at the door to keep dirt out, but you can do even more by wearing socks or slippers to keep natural foot oils away from the rug,” Hicks said. “Entryway rugs will help catch any incoming mud or dirt, and our highly rated companies say you can never vacuum too much.”
To quickly remove stains, experts recommend pouring water on the affected area and extracting it with a shop vacuum. Using multiple cleaning products can actually do more to set the stain in than remove it, and can work against the products used by the professionals, Hicks said.
When hiring a carpet cleaner:
• Before work is done: Check the status of the company on Angie’s List. Obtain a written contract with the total prices and statements of guarantees that the cleaning company offers. Most reputable companies will return if stains show back up after they leave, so ask about any guarantees before you sign a contract.
• Prepare your home: Move as much furniture from the rooms to be cleaned as you can, and remove small items and breakables from tables and floors before the cleaners arrive to make the process as quick and easy as possible. Ask ahead of time what the company will move for you – both before and after the carpet is cleaned.
• Note areas that need extra attention: Show the company any problem areas and spots or pet stains that need special attention.
• Coupon caution: Read the fine print on those coupons you see that offer huge discounts or a low price for a certain number of rooms. Before you agree to hire, ask the carpet company for their definition of a room size and specifically what the coupon covers. Typically, a room is considered a single-purpose area less than 250-square feet. Stairs and hallways are not considered part of a room. A disreputable company may try to charge you more than you thought the coupon spelled out; it’s better to know the cost specifics before the work begins.
• One way calling: Be wary of companies that solicit business door-to-door or via telephone. Most reputable carpet cleaning companies don’t resort to these tactics. If their work is good, they stay busy.
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