Consumer Guide

Five Costly 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 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 – 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.

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

No! As you probably know, outdoor air contains pollens, 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 pollens, bacteria and chemicals in your hair and on your skin, clothing and shoes. Not surprisingly, all those chemicals, pollens and bacteria wind up you guessed it – 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. If you’re sensitive to cigarette smoke, you might find that you’ll breathe easier after you hire a company to get those harmful chemicals out of your carpet.

3. Having the right equipment is all a company needs to clean your carpets properly.

Not true. Many companies own hot water cleaners – but a large number of employees have not been trained properly to use them. You probably know someone who bought the newest computer on the market – but didn’t learn how to use it. The same is true with carpet cleaning machines – the company may own good equipment, but the employees may not use it correctly. This is why it is important that you choose your carpet cleaner carefully.

The best carpet cleaning companies are those that have been certified by the Institution of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, known as the IICRC. A carpet cleaning company cannot buy this certification. The carpet cleaner must earn the certification through study, experience, and the successful completion of formal, written examinations. Cleaners who are certified by the IICRC have, in effect, earned a degree in carpet cleaning.

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.

Point # 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 some 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.

On the other hand, if you want your carpet to be thoroughly cleaned and dried quickly, and if you want to remove the harmful dirt, bacteria, pollens, chemicals and tobacco residue, then you need to hire company that uses a hot water cleaner mounted in a truck. This is the only way to assure that your carpet remains healthy and free from dirt, disease-causing bacteria, and hurtful chemicals.

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 was not the amount they were charged.

And if you’ve ever hired a carpet cleaner, you too may have been the victim of false or misleading advertising. You probably learned the hard way that some carpet cleaners offer a cheap price – usually between $3.95 and $9.95 per room – and then pressure you into paying a lot more once they get inside your home. Some of them may even break the law by using illegal bait-and-switch tactics.

As in all businesses and professions, the carpet cleaning industry has its share of bad apples. We 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.

5. Any honest carpet cleaning company should be able to give you an exact price quote over the telephone.

We wish this were true, but it isn’t. Consumers often think that if they want to clean four rooms and the price is $6 per room, then the price will be $24. But this isn’t always true.

First, honest, reputable carpet cleaning companies usually price carpet cleaning by the square foot. So if you’d like us to tell you the exact cost of cleaning your carpet, we need to know the exact number of square feet that you want cleaned. To get an accurate measurement, we use electronic measuring devices, or a measuring wheel to calculate the exact size of the carpet area.

You’ll be glad to know that the carpet area to be cleaned is not nearly as great as most people think. For example, if you want your entire home cleaned and your home is 2000 square feet, the amount of carpeting to be cleaned might be only 1200 square feet. This is because most home measurements are outdoor measurements. Plus we deduct the area taken up by walls, room dividers and the like. The result is that the actual area to be cleaned is usually only about 60% of the square footage of the home.


Here is a list of questions that we encourage you to ask us during our visit.
  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. What type of chemicals do you use? Are they safe?
  5. How often should I get my carpets cleaned?
  6. What training and experience does the person coming to my home have?
  7. Are you a member of any trade associations and if so which ones?
  8. Are you certified by the IICRC and will you show me your certificate?
  9. Do you guarantee your work?
  10. Do you have general liability insurance and workers compensation?

By following these four recommendations, you’ll gain all the information you need to make an informed, intelligent decision. If you want a cheap surface carpet cleaning job, many companies in the phone book can help you. Or you can rent a shampooer and do the job yourself.