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Consumer Guide To Carpet & Rug Cleaning

6 Misconceptions about Carpet and Rug Cleaning

Introduction

Over the years, carpet and rug cleaning has been the subject of much confusion.  In fact, people have so many misconceptions about the carpet cleaning industry that it has become necessary to publish a guide for consumers to protect them against the growing number of fraudsters and scammers that are appearing in this industry. This guide will greatly assist you when it comes time for you to select a carpet/rug cleaning company by allowing you to make an informed decision.

Starting with the most popular misconceptions, the guide then continues on with further detailed information on facts you need to know when deciding who to select as your carpet and rug cleaner;

Misconception #1: It is better to wait as long as possible before cleaning your carpet or rug

Absolutely No.  Dirt is an abrasive – like sandpaper. Every time you step on the carpet or rug, you grind dirt into your carpet fibres. This cuts and scratches 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 regular vacuuming is important, it’s simply not enough to get the best lifespan from your carpet. SUMMARY: The longer you wait to have your carpet cleaned, the more damage you do to your carpet and the faster it wears out.

Misconception #2The only reason to clean carpets and rugs is to get out the dirt

No.  As you probably know, outdoor air contains pollen, fungus, bacteria, air pollution, cigarette smoke, car exhaust and hundreds of other chemicals. When you and your family members come into your home, you carry those pollen, bacteria and chemicals in your hair and on your skin, clothing and shoes. Not surprisingly, all those chemicals 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, and chemicals in your carpet. SUMMARY: In addition to getting rid of dirt, it is important to have your carpets professionally deep cleaned to rid it of pollens, fungus, bacteria, mould build-up and unhealthy chemicals.

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

Not at all. You can choose from two primary methods: Dry Cleaning or Hot Water Extraction. One myth is that many people believe that dry cleaning your carpet is like dry cleaning your clothing. This is not true. Clothes are dry cleaned with an intense solvent cleaner which is a waterless liquid and not used in the carpet cleaning process. All carpet cleaning methods use water in one form or another with some using less water than others. Read More below about the different Dry Cleaning Options. Hot Water Extraction Carpet Cleaning is a hot water cleaning solution under high pressure which is forced into the carpet fibres and then extracted out of the carpet with a powerful vacuum system. This method is also referred to as “steam cleaning” even though actual steam is not used. Read More below about Hot Water Extraction options.

Misconception #4Having professional equipment is all a person needs to clean your carpets properly.

Not true. Many companies own hot-water cleaners and very few have the knowledge on how to use them effectively. The best carpet and rug cleaning companies are those that have been certified by a recognised industry institute. Such certifications cannot be bought. The carpet and rug cleaning technician must earn the certification through study, experience and the successful completion of formal, written examinations. In effect, certified technicians earn a degree in carpet cleaning. SUMMARY: Whilst it is important for a carpet/rug cleaning technician to have the correct equipment, if they do not have the knowledge and training, they cannot do the job properly.

Misconception #5: The Company that offers the lowest price is the one that gets the most work and you should hire.

No. The lowest price is rarely the best value!  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 DIY with a rented machine from the supermarket. But if you want your carpets and rugs thoroughly deep cleaned then you need to hire a company that uses a truck mounted hot water.  2) The price you see advertised may not be the price you pay. (see our ‘Scam Alert’ below). It is common for less ethical companies to quote for a ‘basic clean’ and then charge extra for all the processes that are generally accepted as part of a basic clean. SUMMARY: It is understood that price is an important factor and that is why we all look for 2 or 3 quotes. However, selecting your carpet and rug cleaner because they are the lowest price may well cost you a lot more when you have to get a reputable cleaner in to do the job again … properly this time.

Misconception #6: Any experienced carpet and rug cleaning company should be able to give you an exact price quote over the phone.

Impossible. Consumers often think that if they want to clean four rooms and the price is $12 per room, then the price will be $48. But this is seldom the case. Sure, you can get your rooms cleaned for that price but if the contractor arrives and finds that there are many stains and maybe mould in some wardrobe corners, then it will take more time and cleaning agents to do the job properly. Most carpet and rug cleaning companies will be happy to give you an estimate over the phone but the honest ones will advise that it would be better to visit and confirm the price. SUMMARY: When chatting with the carpet and rug cleaning company on the phone, they have no idea of what condition the carpets are. You will think they are fine but a professional will see what you can’t. Invite them to visit and get a firm written quote. It’s free.

 

CLEANING CARPETS AND RUGS - DRY CLEANING OPTIONS

The reasons some companies prefer to use low moisture cleaning methods are: 1) They dry fast, 2) They are easy to produce, 3) Technicians can work fast, 4) The price is cheaper than the hot water extraction process.

Here are the Four Methods of ‘DRY’ (Low Moisture) Carpet and Rug Cleaning

DRY FOAM METHOD: 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. This is not a very popular method and is seldom used as it can leave a residue in your carpet.

DRY CHEMICAL PROCESS: The dry-chemical method is similar to dry foam. The major difference is that when dry-chemical is used, the company sets a large cotton pad (called a bonnet) on your carpet. Using a rotary 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. Again, this is not a popular method of carpet and rug cleaning as it compares to trying to use a large towel to rub the dirt out of your carpet.

DRY COMPOUND CLEANING: The dry-compound method spreads an absorbent mixture that looks like wet sawdust all over your carpeting. Then the machine brushes the mixture into the carpet, which in theory causes dirt to absorb into the mixture. When the mixture has dried, a vacuum cleaner sucks the material out of the carpeting. Because the carpet is not rinsed in any way, this method is not very effective.

ENCAPSULATION METHOD: Similar to the dry foam method the cleaning solution mechanically lifts the dirt to the surface of light foam. Then when the carpet’s dry, an acrylic polymer additive in cleaning the solution crystallizes. Then it cracks off the fibre when the vacuum runs over the carpet. This method seems to work well especially on commercial carpets. Not a restorative remedy.

 

CLEANING CARPETS AND RUGS - HOT WATER EXTRACTION CARPET CLEANING

The main benefit to hot water extraction cleaning is the flushing action of the water moving through the fibres.  One of the world’s biggest carpet manufacturers recently did testing on professional cleaning systems and determined that the amount of soil removed from a carpet is directly proportional to the volume of water used to rinse the carpet after cleaning products were applied. To achieve this result, a powerful vacuum system must be used to remove soiled water.

There are Generally 2 Methods for Hot Water Extraction

Portable extraction: This option is done with a 25 -50 litre carpet and rug cleaning machine. These are ideal for multi-level buildings where truck mounted machine hoses will not reach. They are more laborious and will generally take longer due to lower power to deliver adequate water flow. However, in saying that, Portable systems can deliver exceptional results provided the technician is sufficiently experienced with up to date training in product systems.

Truck mount extraction: This is the industry preferred carpet and rug cleaning option with a large cleaning machine which is permanently mounted in a truck or van.  These systems work well because they fully utilise the three mechanical advantages to make cleaning fast and efficient. 1) It will generate 190-240 degree heat (which aids tremendously in soil removal). 2) Cleaning products are automatically fed into the machine at a precise rate. 3) The truck contains water tanks for fresh and wastewater. Overall, hot water extraction cleans much better than the other processes because it shoots the cleaning solution into the carpet at a higher pressure which breaks up the dirt, bacteria and pollens and, at the same time the machine uses high-velocity suction to draw the dirt out of the carpet. As a matter of interest, it is common for carpet manufacturers to require this cleaning system to comply with the optional 15 year extended warranty

 

SCAM ALERT

The majority of carpet and rug cleaning companies that you see advertising are ethical and well established reliable businesses.

However, because there is a misguided belief that carpet cleaning is a simple task, you will find a growing number of inexperienced, unlicensed individuals picking up an out-of-date unreliable carpet shampoo machine and commence a plan to rip-off the public. These scammers start advertising carpet and rug cleaning at the lowest prices available anywhere and telling you that ‘these are best deals’ (too good to be true, some would say). This is known as a ‘Bait & Switch’ tactic.

Their scam goes something like this;

  1. They will advertise a temptingly low price, for example $6.95 to $8.95 per room in the local papers or most likely a letterbox voucher (in the advert above, they are attempting to offer a bulk discount for 5 rooms - do the maths)
  2. But when they arrive at your home they’ll use every con term available to ‘up sell’ or ‘upgrade’ your package convincing you that you will be getting a better deal
  3. They will tell you things like, your rooms are too large, hallways not included, you need a pre-spray, stains are too stubborn and require ‘special’ treatment, cost extra to do inside robes, not enough airflow to dry carpets and will require more air movers and de-humidifiers, will require extra sanitising due to carpet composition, etc, etc.
  4. They will attempt to confuse you and put doubts in your mind about ‘health risks’ to your family and if you take too long to agree to the extra costs, they will resort to high pressure selling
  5. And if by now you are sufficiently pressured to take the upgrades (72% of people will), which can amount to hundreds of dollars, the best you’ll get is an entry-level clean carried out with an inadequate machine operated by an inexperienced and unqualified technician who is obviously a much better salesman than they are a carpet and rug cleaner.
  6. If you stick to your guns and don’t take the up-sell at best you’ll get a quick run over the carpets with little or no cleaning chemicals, minimal removal of any deep down dirt, dust, mould or contaminants and you will be left with wet un-sanitised carpets that will leave your home with a damp odour for days to come (depending on climate).

 

CLOSING SUMMARY

If you get caught with this practice, advise the ‘technician’ that it is clear that they cannot honour the promotion they have offered and as such, you have lost all faith in their ability to clean your carpets or rugs. They may insist that they will do it at the cheap price but you can simply remind them of all the comments they made during the upsell process confirming that their ‘promotional clean’ will not do the job. Send them away! Then call a real carpet and rug cleaning company.

We hope this Carpet and Rug Cleaning Consumer Guide has been of some assistance to you. We have tried to stay away from industry tech terms and make it as clear as we can. But always remember that the final decision is yours. And always remember to ask for credentials and proof of experience because if they ruin your carpet, and they have no insurance … who’s going to pay?

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