Things You Should Know Before Hiring a Professional Carpet Cleaning Company
- The carpet-cleaning industry is unregulated and not all carpet cleaners have received formal training.
- If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
While you’re more likely to wait until your carpets are covered in muddy paw prints and unidentifiable splodges before hiring a carpet cleaner it is recommended to have your carpets cleaned at least once a year to prolong their life.
Carpeting your home is no small investment so you want to make sure your carpet cleaner knows what they’re doing.
Avoid the temptation to choose a carpet cleaner solely on Price
Take into consideration their qualifications, experience and whether they have insurance to cover the cost of any damages done to your home.
Ask these questions to make sure you’re getting a professional.
What do you charge?
Price should never be the deciding factor in choosing a carpet cleaner, but generally if they are charging a very low price, be cautious. If you want a high-quality level of service, you must be expected to pay for it.
The carpet cleaner should give you an estimate over the phone, but may need to inspect your carpet first to firm it up. Make sure that you give an adequate description of your entire home, including whether you have pets and if your carpets are stained.
Most cleaners charge by the ‘standard’ room, which can be as low as €40. Others charge by the square meter, starting at around €4 per m2. But as every job is different, there is no one-size-fits-all price.
Included in the price should be basic spot removal, pre-vacuuming and moving furniture (with the exception of large or delicate items). The company may offer extras such as deodorising, sanitising (meant to kill bacteria) and carpet protection (which forms a protective but not impenetrable layer on your carpet).
Trap: You’ll almost certainly come across the old ‘bait and switch’ technique in the carpet cleaning industry. It happens when a company will charge a low price – as low as €20 a room – just to get their foot in the door. Then once they are there, they try and convince you that you need extras, such as spot removal or sanitising until you are paying well over the original quote.
What guarantees do you offer?
Companies should offer workmanship guarantees in writing so if you are not satisfied with their work, or they damage your carpets, they will be more likely to correct their mistakes.
Do you have insurance?
The company should have Public Liability Insurance for your security and Treatment Risk Insurance to cover the cost of any damage done
How long Should it Take?
This will depend on the size of your home, the method used and how much furniture needs to be moved, but allow at least three hours.
Carpet drying time will also vary but for hot water extraction (also known as steam cleaning) it shouldn’t take longer than two hours with proper ventilation If it takes longer than this to dry, too much water has been left in your carpet.
An unregulated industry
Because the industry is unregulated, there is little incentive for carpet cleaners to receive formal training. Most of the time a cleaner will have on-the-job experience and will do a reasonable job – but if they’re untrained and inexperienced, problems can occur.
“A lot of carpet cleaners are unaware because they’ve never had formal training that you can cause a lot of damage inadvertently,” says one expert.
Among other things, a qualified carpet technician has been trained in:
- Occupational health and safety, including appropriate chemical handling.
- Identifying the appropriate chemical for both the type of carpet and the stain.
- How to use their equipment effectively to avoid mishaps like overwetting the carpet.
Carpet cleaning methods
Hot water extraction
Hot water extraction (also known as steam cleaning) is what the carpet manufacturers recommend and is referred to as ‘periodic or corrective cleaning,’ and is suitable for most carpets.
Manufacturers recommend hot water extraction as the preferred method of carpet cleaning to invigorate and prolong the life of the carpet.
In the process:
- The carpet is vacuumed.
- A chemical is sprayed on and left to bond with the soil.
- Afterwards water is injected into the carpet with a high-pressure jet spray.
- Finally the water is vacuumed out.
‘Dry’ cleaning (some water is used though less than in steam cleaning), is what the standard refers to as a ‘surface cleaning.’ It’s handy for areas that receive a lot of traffic and need a fast drying time. Dry cleaning can be used as a maintenance clean but it’s still best to have hot water extraction done from time to time.
Bonnet cleaning is the most-commonly used form of dry cleaning.
In this process:
- The carpet is vacuumed.
- A cleaning agent is applied to the cleaner and sometimes the carpet and then they go over the carpet with the cleaner.
- The cleaner has a pad (the bonnet), which rubs the carpet, transferring the dirt onto the pad.
- Finally the carpet is vacuumed.
DIY carpet cleaning
You can hire a carpet cleaning machine from most Laundarettes and some supermarkets. They work by hot water extraction. Carpet manufacturers often warn against doing it yourself, as there’s more chance of overwetting your carpet, but you’ll save money.
- The carpet cleaning machine will cost around €50 for 24 hours.
- The heavy-duty cleaning agent costs around €10.
With a DIY job, you are liable for any damages done to your home, so read and follow the instructions carefully. If you’re having trouble making the machine work, you can call the machine’s supplier to guide you through the steps.
A Good Experience
When Ben and his wife Tracey were preparing to move into a rental property, they noted the carpets hadn’t been cleaned by previous tenants. “The carpets had some noticeable pet hair and a pet smell so we insisted they be cleaned,” says Ben.
Their letting agent organised a carpet cleaner, who arrived promptly and did a very professional job. “I was very happy with the result,” says Ben. “He definitely got the pet smell and the hair out, which were our main concerns.”
Weeks later, when their washing machine overflowed and flooded the carpet in the next room, Ben and Tracey were even more impressed. They called the carpet cleaner for his advice and he returned to their house to help them, free of charge.
“He pulled up the carpet and left us with an industrial-sized fan. We just left that running for a couple of days with the windows open and that dried it out. We didn’t hesitate to ring him again the next time we needed our carpets cleaned.”
A Bad Experience
When choosing a carpet-cleaning company to have his carpets hot water extracted (steam cleaned), Tim chose a local one he found in the Golden Pages. When they’d finished he was pleased with the job and handed over €200 with their assurance the carpet would be dry in a matter of hours.
Two days later, Tim’s carpets were still wet. “We had to walk around on plastic for two days and use blow heaters to dry the carpets – and dealing with a crawling baby on wet carpet was not easy,” he says.
Unfortunately Tim didn’t realise that the company was at fault, thinking his wool carpets were to blame for the lengthy dry time. He only realised years later, when he used another company, that his carpets should have only taken two hours to dry. “I won’t be using that company again, I’ve thrown the card away!” he says.
Overwetting isn’t uncommon and can result in:
- The growth of mould and a mouldy smell.
- Water stains and brown stains from the carpet backing.
- Shrinking or cracking, which in extreme cases will destroy the carpets.
If your carpet seems overly wet, ask the carpet cleaner to suck more water out if possible, and to lend you an industrial-strength blower to help them dry faster. They may also need to lift the carpet back so the underlay can dry.