6 Costly Misconceptions About Carpet Cleaning

Carpet Cleaner

Hello. We are Katrina and James Wild, owners of White Water Cleaning, professional carpet & upholstery cleaners. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide you with information about carpet cleaning and to help you choose a carpet cleaning company. The information in this message applies equally to upholstery cleaning.

We’ve been in the carpet cleaning business long enough to have learned that carpet cleaning is the subject of much confusion. In fact, people have so many misconceptions about carpet cleaning that we decided to offer this consumer education message, so when you select a carpet cleaning company, you can make an informed intelligent decision.

In our next post, we’ll share with you 4 recommendations and 7 questions you should ask a carpet cleaner before you invite him into your home.

Now, here’s…

Misconception No.1:

You should wait as long as possible before cleaning your carpet.

No. Dirt is an abrasive – like sandpaper. Every time you step on your carpet, you grind dirt into the carpet fibres. This cuts your carpet, just as if you had used a knife causing it to wear out faster. A dirty carpet will not last as long as a clean carpet and while vacuuming helps, 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.

Misconception No.2:

The only reason to clean carpets is to remove the dirt.

No. As you probably know, outdoor air contains pollens, fungus, bacteria, air pollution, cigarette smoke, car exhaust – and hundreds of other chemicals. When you come into your home, you carry those pollens, bacteria and chemicals in your hair and on your skin, clothing and shoes. Not surprisingly, those chemicals and toxins end up in your carpet.

If you have allergies, asthma, or other breathing problems – one major source of your problem could be the pollens, fungus, and other chemicals in your carpet.

In addition, tobacco smoke contains over 4000 different chemical compounds, 43 of which cause cancer. Even if you don’t smoke, those chemicals get on your shoes and you tread them into your home and into your carpet.

If you’re sensitive to cigarette smoke, you might find that you’ll breathe easier after you hire a company to get rid of those harmful chemicals out of your carpet.

So as well as getting rid of the dirt, another important reason to clean your carpet is to get rid of the pollens, fungus, bacteria, chemicals and the tars and residues from tobacco smoke.

Misconception No.3:

One method of carpet cleaning is as good as another.

Not true. – There are 2 primary methods: There’s dry cleaning and hot water extraction.

First, we’ll explain dry cleaning. Many people believe that dry cleaning your carpet is like dry cleaning your clothing. This is not true. All carpet cleaning methods use water in one form or another. Here are the 3 methods of dry cleaning.

1) Dry foam. When a carpet cleaner uses a dry foam, they apply shampoo to your carpet, allow it to dry, and then suck the dry shampoo into a vacuum. But can you imagine applying shampoo to your hair, allowing it to dry and then removing the shampoo from your head with a vacuum? This method can leave a residue in your carpet, which is one reason dry foam is not very effective.

2) Absorbent Pad or (Bonnet Cleaning) This method is similar to dry foam, except that the carpet is ‘buffed’ with a large cotton pad and floor polishing buffer machine. The rotating motion causes the cotton pad to absorb dirt from your carpet. This method is also called bonnet cleaning. Bonnet cleaning is like trying to use a large towel or mop to rub the dirt out of your carpet. Like dry foam it’s not very effective, although sometimes, depending on the carpets construction, this maybe the only option.

3) Dry, Absorbent Powder. The dry powder method spreads a moist, absorbent powder that looks like sawdust all over the carpet. Then a machine brushes the mixture into the carpet, which in theory causes dirt to be absorbed by it. When the mixture has dried, it is then removed by a vacuum cleaner. Because the carpet is not rinsed in any way, this method is not very effective (again, depending on the carpet’s construction, this too maybe the only option).

The second cleaning method is called water extraction or ‘steam’ cleaning, as it is commonly known. (even though steam is in fact not used at all). A high-pressure  water extraction unit cleans much better because it rinses the carpet much better breaking up the dirt, bacteria, chemicals and pollens in the carpet. Then the machine produces a huge vacuum to draw the dirt and pollutants out of the carpet. 

Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, recommends water extraction as it’s the most effective and thorough way to clean carpeting.

The minimum cleaning process that we use at White Water Cleaning Ltd has 14 separate steps including hot water extraction. We have found that most other cleaners will generally only use 3 of these steps.

Misconception No.4:

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 don’t know how to use them. You probably know someone who bought the newest computer on the market – but didn’t learn how to use it for a year or more. The same is true with carpet cleaning machines. The company may own good equipment, but the employees may not know how to use it correctly. This is why it is important to choose your carpet cleaner carefully.

The best carpet cleaning companies are those that have been certified by the National Carpet Cleaners Association. Before you choose a carpet cleaner, ask to see written proof of the company’s certification and membership.

Misconception No.5:

Hire the company that offers the lowest price.

Maybe – but not always.  Here are 2 important points to consider:

Point No.1: The price 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 only the surface dirt, you can choose from dozens of companies that use small shampooers or other cleaning methods. Or you can even rent a machine at the local supermarket and do the job yourself

On the other hand, if you want your carpet thoroughly cleaned – if you want to remove the harmful dirt, bacteria, pollens, chemicals and tobacco residues – then you need to hire a company that uses a high-power water extraction cleaner as part of the process. This is the only way to assure that your carpet remains healthy and free from dirt, disease-causing bacteria and harmful chemicals.

Point No.2: The price you see advertised, or are quoted over the phone, 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.

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 £25 and £40 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. (Watch this clip from the TV show “Rogue Traders” about “Bait and Switch” tactics)

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

Misconception No.6:

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

I wish this was true, but it isn’t.

Honest reputable carpet cleaning companies almost never price carpet cleaning by the room. Instead, carpet cleaning is usually priced by the square foot or square metre. 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 meters that you want cleaned. But even that won’t enable us to give you an accurate quote over the phone.

There are three other factors that need to be considered:

First, the type of carpet. Certain types of carpet are harder to clean than other types.

Second, the amount of soiling. Carpet that hasn’t been cleaned for ten years will take longer to clean than carpet that was last cleaned 12 months ago.

Third, the amount of furniture that needs to be moved. If you move your furniture, you’ll save money.

So the type of carpet, the amount of soiling and the amount of furniture that has to be moved all affect the cost.

In our next post, We’ll give you 4 recommendations, and 7 questions you should ask a carpet cleaner before you invite them into your home.

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