Professional Carpet Cleaning: What to Know Before You Book
Have you ever wondered why people bother hiring professional carpet cleaning companies when they can just rent a machine and do it themselves? The reality is that there's a world of difference between what homeowners can accomplish on their own and what the pros can do. Read on to learn about the tools carpet cleaning companies have at their disposal, plus everything you need to know about carpet cleaning cost, time, and maintenance.
What do professional carpet cleaners do?
Professional carpet cleaners have two advantages over homeowners trying to clean their own carpets: more expertise, and far more advanced equipment.
Pros know how to handle specialty situations, such as water damage, tough stains, and fabrics that need sensitive care.
They also have access to tools you won't be able to rent at your local hardware store. This includes UV lights for spotting pet stains, but most importantly, it includes the expensive equipment necessary for performing hot-water extraction, also known as steam cleaning.
What is steam cleaning?
Steam cleaning is a form of hot-water soil extraction that cleans carpets far more thoroughly than consumer-grade surface-cleaning equipment can. Oddly enough, it doesn't actually involve steam, but rather extremely hot water pumped through a powerful hose system that can flush out dirt at the carpet's deepest level. Here's how it usually works:
Technicians pre-condition the carpet with a special solution that loosens stains and dirt. They may also agitate the carpet with a brush to increase the solution's effectiveness.
Using a high-pressure hose hooked up to a truck outside, the techs then spray the carpet with extremely hot water, sometimes 200° or higher, rinsing away ground-in dirt and residue.
They immediately vacuum the mixture of water and solution into a holding tank and exhaust the dirty air out of your home, leaving behind nothing but clean, damp carpet that will dry in a matter of hours.
How much does carpet cleaning cost?
Carpet cleaning typically costs about 15 to 30 cents per square foot. That means that if your home has 1,000 square feet of carpet, you'll pay between $150 and $300 for carpet cleaning (unless you've discovered some good carpet cleaning deals, of course). Services that cost extra might include:
Severe odor removal
Area rug and upholstery cleaning
How often should you clean your carpets?
Typically you should have your carpets professionally cleaned every 12 to 18 months. Not only does this keep them looking their best, it also prolongs the life of your carpet. Some carpet manufacturers may even require cleanings this frequently in order to maintain your warranty.
How long does carpet cleaning take?
The carpet-cleaning process generally takes about 20 minutes per room.
How long does carpet take to dry?
It can take anywhere from 2 to 24 hours for carpets to dry, depending on factors such as airflow and humidity. Most carpets will dry within 6 to 12 hours. Here are some things to keep in mind about the drying process:
You can walk on your carpet as it dries, but keep it to a minimum and wear clean socks or shoe coverings.
Though no dangerous solvents are left behind in the cleaning process, it's still best to keep kids and pets off the carpet until it's completely dry.
You can significantly reduce drying time by turning on ceiling fans and opening windows to increase airflow.
Cranking your heat won't do much to speed things up; carpet dries best in the 60- to 70-degree range.
How do you maintain carpet?
The most important thing you can do to maintain your carpet is to get it professionally deep-cleaned every year or so. Between cleanings, you can also:
Clean spills immediately. Dilute them with water, then vacuum up the remnants before they set in. If necessary, use a spot remover, testing it on an inconspicuous area first.
Vacuum frequently—multiple times a week if you can. This prevents dirt from sinking deep into carpets in the first place.
Use doormats. Place one at each entrance to your home and make sure you wipe your feet (or remove your shoes) before entering.
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Sean is a senior editor and a gradually improving cook. He once asked a man at an airport if he was Kevin Sorbo, and the man said no, but it was totally Kevin Sorbo.