Carpet Cleaning – What to look for and why you will get what you pay for!
I can always tell when I get a phone call from a customer who stumbled upon our website or listing in the phonebook. The first question they ask is “How much?” Not that it’s a bad question, it shouldn’t be the first question or the only question. When looking for a quality service provider such as a auto mechanic, heating and air company, or carpet cleaning, tile cleaning or oriental rug cleaner you want to know what sets them apart from their competition. Would you hire the cheapest hair stylist, surgeon or lawyer? Most of us would not! We would ask our friends who they recommended or do research as to their qualifications. I own a pair of scissors but please dont let me cut and color your hair! Quality carpet cleaning is very much the same.
Carpet Cleaning, Tile Cleaning, Rug Cleaning, any service that our company provides, does not require a license or any particular qualifications. This is a problem as it allows people who are uneducated and unscrupulous to enter your home and give you unsatisfactory or even disasterous results! Look for a company that is certified by the IICRC. The process is simple, go to IICRC.com, the educating standard in the industry, and do a search for certified firms. This will assure you that the company is properly insured and all of their technicians have completed the basic course in carpet cleaning. It doesn’t guarantee they will follow proper protocol but at least you know they understand how to properly clean your carpet and flooring.
The second tell-tale sign of a quality carpet cleaner is if they vacuum your home before cleaning. This is time consuming and therefore many companys dont bother but is the first step in properly cleaning carpet. Over 80 percent of the soil in your carpet can be removed with a good vacuuming! A good cleaner knows this and takes the time to do this before introducing moisture to your floors.
The next step to finding a quality cleaner would be how they apply the cleaners or cleaning agents. Most inexpensive cleaners simply run a generic cleaner or emulsifier through the water in thier wand in one stroke and extract it on the return stroke. This only allows the cleaner to come in contact with the soil for a split second. Although this will get your carpet cleaner it will not get it clean. A good cleaner mixes a cleaning agent based on what type of soil you have and carpet fiber is in your home. For instance a wool carpet is damaged if the PH of the cleaner is over 9 yet an olefin Berber carpet should be cleaned with a 12 or 13 PH cleaner and a Nylon fiber should not exceed a PH of 10 or it will lose the factory applied stain protecant. In addition, additives are necessary in many cases to maximize the cleaning results for things like, grease, ink, pet stains, etc. These cannot be run through the carpet cleaning equipment and should be applied with a sprayer prior to rinsing and extracting. By applying cleaners first you can allow a “presoak” in order for the cleaners to have time to break loose the soil from the fiber. A good cleaner will allow 5-15 minutes dwell time for the cleaners to remain on the carpet until it is rinsed.
The next thing to look for is truckmounted equipment. Truckmounted equipment means the equipment is mounted inside a van or trailer and hoses are then run from them into your home or business. You can clean with portable equipment but they do not have the power, vacuum or heat that the truckmounted equipment will therefore they generally do not clean or dry carpet as fast. Many inexpensive companys use portable equipment as the investment can be a tenth of the cost of a good truckmounted machine. But without the vaccuum they tend to leave your carpets too wet, not properly rinsed and not very clean! Look for a company that charges enough to invest in good tools and equipment.
Now that the carpet has been thoroughly vacuumed and a cleaning agent has been applied with an electric or pump up sprayer you want the cleaner to be raked or brushed into the fibers. This is not always necessary but in traffic lanes and highly soiled areas this will make a big, big difference. Our company will either use a grooming rake or in extreme situations we use a heavy duty electric roller brush to work the cleaners in and the soil loose. The secret to a good cleaning is broken into 4 parts. We call it T.A.C.T. Temperature- using hot, hot water! Sanitization begins above 185 degrees and cleaning power doubles every 18 degress above that! Hot water cleans better than cold or even warm. Hotter water cleans even better! Aggitation- The is the step we are currently describing. Think of it like the aggitator on your washing machine or scrubbing a laundry stain with a brush prior to washing.Chemistry or Cleaners- This is the proper use of cleaners and proper chemistry to get your carpet its cleanest! Certain types of stains require certain types of cleaners. It is important to treat every home as its own unique cleaning challenge! Time- This is taking your time and allowing the cleaners to work! Dwell time allows the surfactants to break the surface tension of embedded soil and allow it to be rinsesd free.
Rinsing the carpet with extremely hot water is the next step in proper cleaning. This should be either a fresh water rinse or a rinsing aid that is injected into the water to neutralize the PH of the cleaning agents used. Many inexpensive carpet cleaners will use a harsh detergent in this step, leaving a soil attracting residue in your carpet or at the very least, a crunchy, stiff feel when it drys.
Speaking of drying, a quality carpet cleaner will take the extra time to make dry passes to extract as much of the moisture as possible. This will do two things, Leave your carpets much dryer and also help prevent stains from reappearing as the carpet dries. These extra dry passes are time consuming but absolutely necessary in providing you with clean, dry carpet as quickly as possible.
Lastly the cleaner should bring in high speed airmovers or fans to speed the drying process. This will knock hours off the dry times and many times your carpets can be dry when the cleaners leave! This can be affected by the humidity, the effectiveness of your heating and cooling system and how soiled your carpets were but generally our company can leave the carpets dry when we leave. This is also very time consuming but it is important to provide the best experience to our customer while preventing soil from “wicking back” to the surface. Wick back is soil that returns during the drying process. It cannot occur on dry carpet so by drying the carpet prior to leaving we can address most issues with wickback soil. This makes for happy customers.
The last caveat to look for is a company that is honest and upfront with their pricing! If they charge extra because of the soil in your home, or stains that might require extra time, beware! Our company includes all soil and stain removal except excessive pet or red stains or filtration soil along the baseboards. Some filter soil, red stains and even pet stains are covered in the cleaning costs but we may add a little bit for removing several if they are not removed with a good cleaning. Many carpet cleaning companies use low costs to get into your home then raise the prices substantially once they are in the door. Look out for this deceptive and dishonest practice! A good cleaner should be able to provide a very close estimate by asking a few questions over the phone. Arm twisting should never occur for additonal services such as protectant, “powerscubbing” or deoderizers. With the exception of pet odors, deodorizers are a waste of money as they mask the odor briefly only to fade away in a couple of days leaving the odor behind! You should be respected in your home and your budget and finances should be left to your decision making, not extorted by heavy handed salesmen.
This is an overview of what to look for in a quality cleaner. You will pay a bit more for this level of service but the results will be well worth it! Your carpets will be cleaned in a safe and healthy way, they will come much cleaner and stay cleaner longer, and because of this your carpets will last much longer and give you many many years of use! All of these processes are a basic part of our cleaning system at Exceptional Carpet Cleaning and Floorcare. We take pride in giving our clients the best cleaning that money can buy in a professional and respecful way! Give us a call today and see how affordable this high quality service really is, you will be amazed. We guarantee it!!!