Carpet Cleaning

Tips On How To Select A Professional Carpet Cleaning Company

There are five questions to consider when selecting a professional cleaning firm:

The single most important point to consider in selecting a professional carpet cleaning company is the reputation of the firm. If a carpet cleaner was referred to you by a friend, then you already have one point of reference. However, it may be that your friend happened to get lucky with the carpet cleaning company that day. It is always best to confirm. Luckily, the internet makes this fairly easy. There are a variety of online forums that allow internet users to review local businesses. Here are a few that we have found most useful in finding local carpet cleaner reviews:

Yahoo Local
Google Maps
Insider Pages
Angie's List
MSN Live Local

Keep in mind that in order for someone to leave a carpet cleaner review, the person is most likely extremely satisfied, or extremely dissatisfied. Leaving a review online takes effort, and a person who is indifferent about the service will not take the time to leave an online carpet cleaner review. If you find a firm with a lot of positive reviews, you can bet the service is exceptional. The opposite conclusion can be drawn for a firm with multiple negative cleaning reviews.

How long has the carpet cleaner been in business? Be wary of carpet cleaning companies that offer cheap pricing, but aren't listed in your local phone directory, or do not have a presence online. The last thing you want is a fly-by-night service that messes up your carpet then is impossible to find. If a carpet cleaning company has been in business for at least a few years, you can feel confident that they have already learned from some of the more common mistakes and will be able to provide you with a higher level of service.

Carpet Cleaning is not a regulated industry. To ensure that you are receiving carpet cleaning service from a firm that conforms to industry standards, look for companies that are certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC). The IICRC is the world's most renowned certification body for professional cleaners. The IICRC website describes its purpose as follows:

The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) has served as the Industry Guardian for the cleaning, inspection and restoration service industries for more than 30 years. As a non-profit certification organization, the IICRC helps ensure that you have access to trusted and trained cleaning professionals by establishing and monitoring certification programs and standards for these industries.

To qualify for IICRC-Certified Firm status businesses must demonstrate proof of insurance, maintain a written customer complaint policy with documented follow-up and provide ongoing education and training leading to certification for all technicians. IICRC Certified Firms are also required to abide by the IICRC Code of Ethics. Services provided by IICRC–Certified professionals range from flooring inspection and cleaning to mold remediation to water and fire damage restoration.

IICRC certified firms employ technicians that have completed a rigorous hands-on and written examination process. IICRC firms are generally more expensive than non-certified firms, but the level of service is top notch. For a list of IICRC certified firms in your area, click here

Carpet cleaning companies use a variety of tools and chemicals to complete the project. Since the cleaning industry is not regulated, there is not a chemical or equipment standard. Make sure you use a cleaning company that is an authorized service provider under the Carpet & Rug Institute's (CRI) Seal of Approval Certification Program. The CRI is a nonprofit trade association representing the manufacturers of more than 95 percent of all carpet made in the United States, as well as their suppliers and service providers. In addition, CRI indepentently tests carpet cleaning products and equipment, and provides ratings of their effectiveness. Cleaning firms that are CRI authorized service providers use equipment and cleaning products that pass the industry's highest standards. For a list of CRI certified firms in your area click here.

In addition to the CRI, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, & Restoration Certifictation (IICRC, as discussed above in the Education section)helps sort through the variety of cleaning methods that you will find. The IICRC recognizes, and sets practical standards for a number of cleaning methods. Each method has it's place. While one method may have advantages, it may not be best for every situation. We will introduce you to the most common methods here: Steam Cleaning

Hot Water Extraction
This method of cleaning is commonly referred to as "Steam Cleaning". However, steam (water over 212°)is not actually applied to the carpet. Use of the word "steam" began as a marketing tool to sell this approach. Hot water extraction cleaning has evolved over time as equipment and chemicals improved, but the basic process has remained the same: A hot water solution (usually containing a cleaning agent) is injected into the carpet, then sucked up with a vacuum system, eliminating soil and spent solution. Hot water extraction systems range from small protable units with a 30 psi capacity, to large truck-mounted systems with 3000 psi capacity and truck powered vacuums. If you decide hot water extraction cleaning is the best fit for your needs, make sure you know what type of equipment the cleaning company is using. A company that uses a small portable unit should not be as expensive as a company using a powerful truckmounted system.

While the above information describes the basic Hot Water Extraction cleaning process, the results can be greatly improved if the cleaner applies a prespray prior to extraction. A pre-spray helps emulsify, saponify, and suspend oils and soils, facilitating the extraction process. Adequate dwell time, and agitation with a carpet rake or mechanical agitator helps as well. Before you hire a cleaner, ask them to describe the process they use in detail. Many people worry about sticky residues that may result from the use of a prespray. Make sure your cleaner uses products approved by the Carpet & Rug Insitute (CRI) and this will not be an issue.
- Effective: Hot water extraction is currently the most used method. If done properly, many independent experts and labs find that it removes more soil than other methods.
- Extended Drying Time: Plan on 2-24 hours dry time. The more powerful the vacuum, the quicker the dry time.
- Higher Cost: More expensive equipment, and the need for better trained personel make this one of the most expensive carpet cleaning methods. Absorbent Pad Carpet Cleaning

Absorbent Pad
This method is also referred to as bonnet cleaning or dry cleaning. This method is used by Chem Dry, and others throughout the carpet cleaning industry. Absorbent pad cleaning can be used as both an interim maintenance, as well as the primary cleaning method. The equipment involves using a rotary floor machine with a driving block attached to the rotary base. An absorbent pad, or bonnet, is attached to the driving block.

In preparation for dry bonnet cleaning, the carpet is thoroughly vacuumed, then sprayed with a special cleaning solution. The cleaning solution is generally a water-based formula combined with solvents to aid in cleaning and drying. After adequate dwell time of the cleaning solution, the rotary machine, with absorbent pad attached, is used to buff the carpet. The abosorbent pad will pick up suspended soil and excess cleaning solution.
- Cost Effective: companies generally charge less due to low equipment costs, and less technical know-how required.
- Fast Drying: When performed properly, the carpet should be dry in less than 2 hours.
- Poor Deep Cleaning Capabilities: this method will usually only clean the top third of the carpet.
- Build-Up: due to the aforementioned problem, repeated cleanings can cause excess build up from chemical and deep soil. Hot water extraction should be used after several bonnet cleanings to remove deep soil and left over chemical residues. Absorbent Compound Carpet Cleaning

Absorbent Compound
In this method, a powder is spread on the carpet by hand or a spreading machine then worked into the carpet by counter rotating brushes. The powder is impregnated with cleaning agents. After being worked into the carpet, the powder releases the cleaning agents into the soil. The soil is emulsified and suspended. After adequate dwell time (15-30 min), the powder is vacuumed back up.
- Fast: If time is critical, a home can be cleaned in a fraction of the time required for hot water extraction.
- Quick Drying: The carpet is completely dry within 20 minutes!
- Build-Up: thick, dense carpet is likely to trap the powder and cause build-up.
- Not Always Effective: this method has very limited effectiveness on heavily soiled carpet. Since there is limited flushing motion, this process should only be used as part of a consistent maintenance program. Rotary Shampoo Carpet Cleaning

Rotary Shampoo/Dry Foam Cleaning
This method has been used for many years. With the advent of synthetic detergents and other cleaning technologies, this method can be used effectively without the residue problems that were once associated with it.

There are several different types of machines used for shampoo cleaning. These are: a rotary machine, a three-head floor machine, and a dry foam exctraction machine. In the case of the rotary floor machine, and three-head floor machine, the base of the machine is fitted with one or more brush heads. A chemical is fed through the top of the machine head, and down through the rotating brushes where it is worked into the carpet. Hot Water Extraction may be included as a second step.

In the case of the dry-foam extraction machine, the machine first whips the cleaning solution into a foam, then applies the foam to the carpet. A cylindrical brush (rather than a brush that turns on a horizontal plane) then works the foam into the carpet pile. The foam and soil are then extracted with an attached vacuum system.
- Dries Quickly: when done properly, carpets should be dry within 2-4 hours
- Excellent Soil Release: Superb agitation combined with good chemical action results in excellent soil release from the carpet fiber.
- Incomplete Soil Removal: although the soil is released from the carpet fibers very effectively in this method, vacuum alone will not remove as much of the suspended soil as hot-water extraction. It is for this reason hot water extraction is sometimes included as a second step.
- Over-Wetting: untrained technicians are prone to apply too much solution in this method.
- Possibility of Damage: Inexperienced carpet cleaning companies have been known to damage carpet fibers by using too aggressive brushes. Encapsulation Carpet Cleaning

Encapsulation Cleaning
Encapsulation cleaning is not really a separate method. It is a new chemistry that can be used with several methods. In encapsulation cleaning, a water-based solution containing the encapsulation agents is applied to the carpet. Encapsulation chemistry includes emulsifiers that dissolve oils and grease. Following application, a rotary brush machine or counter-rotating brush machine is used to work the solution into the carpet, further loosening soil. Included in the encapsulation solution is a polymer that coats the carpet fibers and the soil particles. This low-friction polymer coating causes the "encapsulated" soil particles to drop to the base of the carpet. Following adequate dry time, the polymer-encapsulated soil is then easily removed with the next vacuuming.
- Speed: this method can be done very quickly, usually resulting in lower cost to the consumer.
- Fast Dry: If done properly, the carpet will be completely dry within 2-4 hours.
- Build-Up: On carpets with thick, dense pile, encapsulated soil particles may build up at the base of the carpet. Even a powerful dry vacuum can never adequately remove this build up. Nothing can take the place of hot water extraction in these cases to provide adequate flushing.

This point probably goes without saying, but make sure the company guarantees their work. All businesses make mistakes, and you should feel assured that the company has an orderly process to handle your complaint in the event you are dissatisfied with the work performed.