How to Choose a Carpet Cleaner

I wanted to write an article that will help you the consumer, clear up some of the confusion in selecting a company for the cleaning of your carpet. Why? Because as you have seen on the internet and in the phone book, there’s quite a few businesses in the carpet cleaning field!

So what I would like to do right now is to answer some of the more commonly asked questions to assist you in making your decision on which company to choose.

First question:  Will the company you choose, be using the best cleaning method for the cleaning of your carpet?

Choice of the proper cleaning process is important. Some methods can leave behind chemical residues, which would promote rapid resoiling, and this of course, would defeat the whole purpose for cleaning. So which method is best?

Is it absorbent powders, like Host or Capture? Is it the bonnet method, often referred to as dry-cleaning? Is it the dry foam method? The shampoo method?  Or, is it the hot water extraction process?

Well, Shaw Industries, the largest carpet manufacturer in the world, asked themselves that very same question!  So instead of just taking anyone’s word for it, they decided to do their own research on the matter. The results of their findings were to go into their Carpet Care brochure.

Here’s what they did:  Since there are basically five different cleaning methods being used today by carpet cleaning companies, Shaw Industries took five identical pieces of carpet and soiled them all the same. (They measured the same amount of “laboratory soil” that would go into the carpet so they would know how much soil would have come out of the carpet after each piece was cleaned)  They then asked five cleaning professionals, each one professed in one of the methods, to clean the carpet piece given to them. What was the result?

Well, I’ll quote this straight from their Carpet Care brochure – It says: “Shaw Industries recommends the hot water extraction system, which research indicates, provides the best capability for cleaning.”

Why do they recommend this process? Because the hot water extraction method (often referred to as “steam cleaning”, although no steam is actually generated) is a restorative deep cleaning process that removes the soil, spots, indoor pollutants, allergens, dust and other particulates from your carpet!

And if you stop and think about it for a moment, how do you wash your hair or your clothes? You see, all fiber, whether it grows out of your head, whether you wear it or walk on it, all needs to be cleaned the same way. So it’s no wonder that this is the best method for the cleaning of your carpet!

Are their other benefits that come from using the hot water extraction cleaning process? Yes! Shaw Industries says that with periodic cleanings every 12 to 18 months,  your carpet will look better, smell better, last longer, and most importantly, provide a healthier home environment for you and your family!

That’s why my company uses a state-of-the-art truck mounted hot water extraction system and equipment, coupled with our residue-free hypoallergenic cleaning solutions, as our primary way of cleaning carpet!

Second question: How can you know that the company you select, be the best qualified to take care of your carpet cleaning needs?

First, make sure they are licensed and insured! (You would be surprised how many are not) Then, make sure they are certified by the I.I.C.R.C. (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification). The IICRC is an international independent certification organization founded in 1972, to set standards for the carpet cleaning industry. An IICRC certified firm is your assurance that the company has pledged to provide you with the best professional care of your carpet and furnishings!

IICRC certifications cannot be purchased! They are acquired through field experience, study courses and by successful completion of written examinations of those courses!  In addition, certified technicians have pledged to do business with you honestly, observing the IICRC code of ethics in maintaining the highest standard of service and workmanship for your home!

Third question: In pricing out the job, is it better to be charged by the room or by the square foot?

For the most part, the majority of the carpet cleaning companies out there, charge by the square foot. Why? Because that way, you only get charged for what is being cleaned.  But whether a company charges by the room or by the square foot, (and this next part is very important) make sure they follow the industry cleaning standard set by the IICRC.

The industry standard consists of five steps –

  1. Vacuum – to remove as much dry soil as possible from the carpet. Many companies skip this most important step because of the time it takes to do it. They will ask you to vacuum before they arrive or charge you extra for the service. This should not be the case with an IICRC certified firm as they are required to perform this step (as well as all the others) as part of being certified.
  2. Chemical Prespray and Conditioning – to loosen and suspend the soils from the carpet fibers.
  3. Rinse and Extract – this step flushes and immediately removes the suspended soils up and out of the carpet.
  4. Grooming – this step helps to lift and separate the carpet pile to allow it dry more evenly.
  5. Drying – making sure the carpet is brought back to normal use within 24hrs. by utilizing all available air movement and ventilation to speed up the evaporation of the moisture off the carpet. This can be done by opening up windows, using portable fans and turning on the fan from your central air unit. Some companies even use specialized fans made specifically to cut down on the drying time.
  6. Protectant – this step is optional, it is not a required step but one that is highly recommended. And that is applying a carpet protectant to the freshly cleaned carpet to provide an invisible shield around the carpet fibers to help protect them against most oil and water based spills. This adds longevity and cleanability to your carpet.

I hope this article has helped you in choosing a company for your carpet cleaning needs. Please feel free to email me at or leave a comment in the space provided, if you have any questions about what you just read.

  1. Mark Drummond’s avatar

    No, with orientals you can go every 2-3yrs. depending on how much traffic they are getting. The best way to clean them is with a full-coldwater-immersion wash. Orientals can hold a tremendous amount of soil because of their weave structure. They can be surfaced cleaned by a carpet cleaning service to keep up their appearance, but to thoroughly clean them requires the full wash which usually takes about a week to do from beginning to end. Sorry about not responding to you until now, the administrator for my blog was getting all of these comments so I haven’t been able to respond to them until now.