Misconception #1: You should wait as long as possible before cleaning your carpet or upholstery.
Big mistake. It is an old wives tale that once you clean your carpet it will get dirty faster. Actually, this statement had some truth in it a few years ago when carpets were shampooed. It’s compared to shampooing your hair and not rinsing it out. Today's hot water extraction cleaning agents do not leave a sticky dirt attracting residue. However, some carpet cleaners pre-spray your carpet with their cleaner and do not use enough cleaning strokes to thoroughly rinse the fibers, thusleaving residue to attract soil. Dirt is an abrasive– like sandpaper. Every time you step on your carpet, you grind dirt into the carpet fibers. This cuts into your carpet fibers, causing it to wear out much faster. While vacuuming helps, by itself, it simply is not enough. Modern carpet yarns are engineered to conceal dirt - which is good, to adegree. Regular cleaning is needed because by the time your carpet begins to show soiling, for example, in the traffic lanes, the damage has already begun. Regular scheduled cleaning can prevent this from happening. So the longer you wait to have your carpet cleaned, more damage is done to the fibers and the faster it wears out. Dirty carpets simply will not last nearly as long as a clean carpet. Worn fibers will also attract soil much faster. Cleaning should be done every 9-12 months or 6 months with pets, kids, spills or high traffic areas. But there’s more than visible dirt to be removed. Learn about that in misconception #2.
Misconception #2: The only reason you should clean your carpet or upholstery is to remove the dirt.
Not true. Not only do you want to clean your carpet for appearance reasons, you also want a healthy carpet - germ and odor free. Unfortunately the dirt in your carpet has lots of company. Carpet is the biggest filter in your home and it needs hot water extraction on a regular basis to be effective. As you probably know, outdoor air contains pollens, fungus, bacteria, air pollution, cigarette smoke, car exhaust and hundreds of other unwanted guests. Not to mention the dirty work done by dust-mites and their allergens. Did you know tobacco smoke contains over 4000 different chemical compounds, 43 of which cause cancer. Even if you don’t smoke, when you come into your home, you carry those chemicals on your skin, hair, clothing and shoes. Your pets also carry fleas and many germs on them. Not surprisingly all of this winds up in your carpet and upholstery. As you walk on your carpet all of these ‘substances’ are stirred up and redistributed into the air you breathe. If you have allergies, asthma, emphysema or other breathing problems - one major source of your problem could be the unhealthy trappedindoor air and the ‘unwanted guests’ in your carpet and upholstery. Cleaning also flushes the fibers of odors. You become accustomed with your homes odors, but your friends likely don’t. Cleaning makes your home smell fresh. Many clients notice immediately the clean smelling freshness after their carpets and furniture are cleaned. The soil, pollen, dust, germs and odor have been extracted from the fiber. Many sensitive people breathe easier after a true professional
cleaning is performed in their home to remove these allergens and odors.
Misconception #3: One method of cleaning is as good as another.
Not true. You can choose from two primary methods: Dry cleaning or hot water extraction. Many people believe that dry cleaning your carpet is like dry cleaning your clothing, which is a misconception. First, we’ll explain dry cleaning. Here are two common methods of “dry cleaning” your carpets:
1) The Dry-compound method spreads an absorbent mixture that looks like wet sawdust (host) or white powder (capture) all over your carpeting. Then the machine brushes the mixture into the carpet, which in theory, causes dirt toabsorb into the mixture. When the mixture has dried, a vacuum cleanerattempts to remove all the material out of the carpet. Vacuuming does notremove the cleaning product entirely. Any remaining mixture stays behind in the carpet and even gets on your baseboards. For a health safety consideration, caution is to be taken, since pets lick their paws and small children put theirfingers in their mouths. Results are disappointing, because the carpet is not rinsed in any way. It relies on vacuuming up the ‘product’ that was applied to the fibers. This method has proved not very effective for wall to wall carpet cleaning but may be somewhat effective on emergency spills.
2) The Bonnet method uses a round cotton bonnet (or mop) under a rotary floor scrubbing machine. First, a wet cleaner is applied to the carpet. Thebonnet spins from side to side, absorbing the dirt. After the bonnet is saturated with dirt, another bonnet is applied. Bonnet cleaning is like trying to use a large towel to rub the dirt out of your carpet. Or imagine shampooing your clothes and not rinsing them. Carpet cleaning franchises such as Chem-Dry use this method. This method is also popular in interim carpet cleaning for largecommercial carpets because of how fast large areas can be covered. Both dry cleaning methods have no means of rinsing the fibers in any way or to extract the maximum amount of dirt, germs, allergens and odor. Results are obvious on very soiled carpets since this method surface cleans and fails to deep clean. The rotary machine can leave swirl marks in the carpet pile. The bonnet system has very limited capability for soil removal and leaves much of the detergent in the pile since it employs no real extraction. As a result, rapid re-soiling oftenoccurs. Like dry-compound, it is not very effective. Shaw Industries, America’s largest carpet mill, actually recommends NOT to use this method.
3) Hot Water Extraction also known as Steam-Cleaning is the second carpet cleaning method and the most used by professional cleaning companies. A hot water cleaning solution under high pressure is applied to your carpet and isimmediately extracted out to a separate waste water holding tank. This method extracts deeply imbedded soil, germs, allergens and odor. The 200+ degree heated cleaning solution rinses the fibers and renews its luster and fluffiness. Proper cleaning pressure and operators cleaning technique prevent over wetting. The carpet backing and pad would only get wet from inferior, irresponsible cleaning firms. For professional cleaning, Shaw recommends the hot water extraction method. Shaw has done their own independent extensive testing. For your carpet warranty to remain valid, hot water extraction method is required. Shaw requires proof of cleaning at least every 18 months by a professional IICRC certified firm to keep your warranty in force. Shaw also recommends the use of truck-mounted machinery instead of portable equipment. Truck-mounted machines have high heated cleaning solutions with more cleaning and extraction power which leaves you with a thoroughly cleaner and drier carpet. No question about it, hot water extraction/steam cleaning is the most effective way to have your carpets cleaned when done correctly. Beware, there are plenty of horrible hot water extraction cleaning companies and many people have experienced them. Hence, hot water extraction is the best, but sadly can be the worst if you hire the wrong company. Misconception #4 speaks about how things other than using truck-mounted equipment is necessary for a quality cleaning job.
Misconception #4: Having the right equipment is all a company needs to properly clean your carpets and upholstery.
Not true. Many companies own hot water extraction machines. But, a large number of employees and even owners don’t know how to use them or clean with the proper technique. This will result in a low quality cleaning job and often times over wetting. There are many different cleaning agents with different results to choose from. Hot water extraction cleaning can be the worst if not done right. Many clients have been turned off with hot water extraction because of soaked carpets caused by improper cleaning technique or poor machine maintenance. With good reason, they have been lured to advertisements of dry cleaning. They didn’t have soaked carpets but they also were disappointed and frustrated with the poor dry-cleaning results. There are different quality levels of machinery. Superior Steam Cleaners spends $50,000 updating just one of our top of the line machines. There are many choices, and we could have spent less, but you have to invest in the best equipment to do the best high quality work. Some clients have resorted to cleaning their own carpet because of receiving such a poor quality cleaning job, supposedly done by a professional cleaner. But can cleaning your own carpet get the same results? Read #5.
Misconception #5: I can get the same results by renting a machine and ‘doing it myself.’
Not true. In fact, do it yourself machines are so inferior to our powerful equipment, it’s not even a fair comparison. The ‘do it yourself’ machine does not have the 200 degree hot water, higher cleaning pressure and powerful vacuum that a truck-mount machine does. The low quality cleaning agents used by the consumer do not clean well and are not as concentrated leaving a residue in the carpet that will attract soil quickly. Superior Steam Cleaners uses quality cleaning agents that are very concentrated, using less than 1/5 oz. per gallon of water. Lack of vacuum power or poor suction causes damage by over wetting. A true professional’s years of experience enables them to do a better job. They have made an investment in training to understand the equipment, to know the proper cleaning agents for the situation at hand, and to recognize the differences in fibers and carpet construction. Professional truck-mounted equipment will leave you with a cleaner and drier carpet.
Misconception #6: The cleaner with the lowest price is the company you should hire.
All of us like finding a bargain. But in the carpet cleaning business, companies know what they’re worth and price their work accordingly. Pricing is across the board. Cleaning is a service, not a commodity. If brand X is sold at Walmart for $100 and the identical item brand X is also sold at a high end department store for $150, then it’s clear you have found a better price. Perhaps customer service and other things may still draw customers despite the cost. Remember, price is what you pay and value is what you receive. What value is there in spending half of what you should have spent on a quality service if the cheaper service doesn’t perform up to standards?
Problems regularly arise from a consumer trying to save on their cleaning. Often, they found out the hard way the old saying, “you really do get what you pay for”. Many have wasted their money and were left with an ineffective cleaning, lost time and unbearable frustration. The lifespan of their carpeting is often shortened. A lower priced cleaner may be cheaper because they speed through the job. They may even use inexpensive portable machines, or cheaper ineffective cleaning solutions. Perhaps they hire technicians that leave much to be desired. Can you trust them? Will you feel safe? Maybe they use unethical advertising methods such as the bait and switch technique where they offer a low price like $25.00 a room to get their foot in the door. By the time they leave they have pressured you into buying extras like spotters, deodorizers or carpet protector. You paid a lot more than you expected, likely because they are paid on commission. If you don’t buy additional things they make no commission and are more likely to rush your cleaning job. It’s not wrong to recommend these items if they are actually needed, but the client should never feel pressured into buying anything. Warning: Most low quality cleaning companies price by the room instead of by the size or sq.ft. of the area being cleaned. Hallways, baths and closets may not have as much sq.ft. but are still priced as a room, which is in their favor, not yours. Large areas or rooms such as great rooms and basements are considered multiple rooms, which again is in their favor, not yours.
Some people are so hung up on price that they fall victim to low priced carpet cleaners and then are “surprised” when they get short changed. Being in business since 1992, Superior Steam Cleaners has seen many cleaners come and go. Often new companies just copycat other competitors low pricing when starting in business. They don’t understand how much it costs to run a quality cleaning service and soon are cutting corners and then out of business.
The longer we live the more we learn that there’s almost always a reason you will pay more or less for anything you purchase. The information presented so far has likely given you a new perspective on carpet cleaning, but to be fully educated learn the 21 mistakes to avoid when choosing a cleaner.