A Message from the Owner: A Consumer's Guide to Carpet Cleaning
CONSUMER GUIDE TO CARPET CARE
Six Costly Misconceptions
Hi! This Kevin Buck, owner of SERVPRO of The Twin Ports. We're your locally owned and operated SERVPRO franchise serving the Duluth and Superior (Twin Ports) market. I'm grateful for the opportunity to provide you with information about carpet cleaning and help you choose a carpet cleaning company.
I've been in the carpet cleaning business for over 30 years. In that time, I've learned that carpet cleaning is the subject of much confusion. In fact, people have so many misconceptions about carpet cleaning that I decided to offer this consumer education message so when you select a carpet cleaning company, you can make an informed decision.
Misconception #1: You should wait as long as possible before cleaning your carpet.
Dirt is abrasive like sandpaper. Every time you step on the carpet, you grind dirt into your carpet fibers. This cuts your carpet causing it to wear out faster. A dirty carpet will not last nearly as long as a clean carpet. While vacuuming helps, it's simply not enough. Then longer you wait to have your carpet cleaned, the more damage you do to your carpet and the faster it wears out.
Misconception #2: The only reason to clean carpets is to get out the dirt.
As you probably know, outdoor air contains pollen, fungus, bacteria, air pollution, cigarette smoke, car exhaust, and hundreds of other chemicals. When you and your family members come into your home, you carry those various compounds with you, in your hair and on your skin, clothing, and shoes. Not surprisingly, all those pollutants wind up in your carpet.
If you have allergies, asthma, emphysema, or other breathing problems, one major source of your problem could be the pollen, fungus, and chemicals in your carpet.
In addition, tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 different chemical compounds, 43 of which cause cancer. Even if you don't smoke, those chemicals get carried into your home simply by being out in public spaces. If you're sensitive to cigarette smoke, you might find that you'll breathe easier after you hire a professional to get those harmful chemicals out of your carpet.
In addition to getting rid of dirt, another important reason to clean your carpet is to get rid of pollen, fungus, bacteria, chemicals and the tars and residue from tobacco smoke.
Misconceptions #3: One method of carpet cleaning is as good as another.
Unfortunately, this is not true. You can choose from two primary methods: Dry cleaning or hot water extraction.
DRY CLEANING METHODS
First, I'll explain dry cleaning. Many people believe that dry cleaning your carpet is like dry cleaning your clothing. This is not accurate. All carpet cleaning methods use water to clean. Some methods use more water than others. “Dry Cleaning” for carpets should really be called “Low Moisture Cleaning”. Here are three methods of dry cleaning carpet.
When a carpet cleaner uses dry foam, he applies shampoo to your carpet, allow it to dry, and then sucks the dried shampoo chunks into a vacuum. 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, however a new spin on dry foam called ENCAPSULATION cleaning is quite effective. It utilizes a crystallizing detergent to suspend and capture soil particles in an acrylic polymer which actually CAN be vacuumed out. It is a cost effective maintenance method for commercial carpets.
The Bonnet Cleaning method is similar to dry foam. The major difference is that when bonnet method is used, the company sets a large cotton bonnet on your carpet. Using a machine, the bonnet spins from side to side, absorbing the dirt that's in the carpet. After the bonnet is saturated with dirt, another cotton bonnet is applied. Bonnet cleaning is like trying to use a large towel to rub the dirt out of your carpet. It can, however, be effective on glue down or commercial carpets.
The dry-compound method spreads an absorbent mixture made of recycled corn stalks. It looks like wet sawdust all over your carpeting. Then the machine brushes the mixture into the carpet, which in theory causes dirt to absorb into the mixture. Once the mixture has dried, a vacuum cleaner sucks the residue out of the carpeting. However, vacuuming does not remove all the residue, which accumulates over time between the carpet and pad. Because the carpet is not rinsed in any way, this method is not very effective.
HOT WATER EXTRACTION
The second carpet cleaning method is called “hot water extraction”. This is a fancy way of saying that a hot water cleaning solution under high pressure is forced into the carpet and then sucked out of the carpet. This method is also referred to as steam cleaning even though steam is not used.
Shaw Industries, the world's largest carpet manufacturer, recommends hot water extraction and you can choose from two different types: Portable extraction, which is done with a small machine. Or truck mount extraction which means the large cleaning machine is mounted in a truck or van.
SERVPRO of The Twin Ports has the largest, most powerful truck mounted cleaning unit ever made. It's called "the VORTEX" . The VORTEX generates 300+ degree heat, which dissolves oil and dirt with 10x less cleaning products used. Plus, because it has a vacuum powerful enough to power 3 simultaneous users, your carpets are dry in 1/3 the time! You will not believe the difference between other truck mounted units and the VORTEX system.
Misconception #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 many company 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 you are considering may own good equipment, but the employees may not know how to use it correctly. This is why it's important that you choose your carpet cleaner carefully.
The best carpet cleaning companies are those that have been certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, known as the IICRC. A carpet cleaning company cannot buy this certification. The carpet cleaner must earn the certification through study, experience and the successful completion of formal, written examinations.
Cleaners who are certified by the IICRC have, in effect, earned a degree in carpet cleaning. In addition to IICRC training all SERVPRO carpet techs are required to complete a proprietary SERVPRO course training in production and safety.
The IICRC provides written credentials to the companies it certifies. So before you choose a carpet cleaner, ask to see written proof of the company's IICRC certification. All certified technicians are required to carry an IICRC certification card with them.
Misconception #5: The company that offers the lowest price is the company you should hire.
Maybe, but not always. Here are two important points to consider.
The price you see offered 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 some of the dirt, you can choose from hundreds of companies that use small shampooers or other cleaning methods. Or, you can even rent a machine at the grocery store and do the job yourself.
On the other hand, if you want your carpet thoroughly cleaned, removing the harmful dirt, bacteria, pollen, chemicals and tobacco residues, then you need to hire a company that uses a hot water extraction unit mounted in a truck like the VORTEX. This is the only way to assure that your carpet remains healthy and free from dirt, disease-causing bacteria, and hurtful chemicals.
If you want the best, most powerful cleaning available, seek a company that utilizes a Vortex unit. SERVPRO of The Twin Ports has powerful portable extraction units that we use for high rises and the places the Vortex machine cannot be used. We offer the same quality assurance, however. It just takes us more time.
So remember that the price you see offered may not be for the services you want performed.
The price you see advertised 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 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.
As in all businesses and professions, the carpet cleaning industry has its share of bad apples. I take no pleasure in telling you this, but 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.
Then you'll find other carpet cleaners - professionals like us who work hard to earn your trust and respect.
As a way of improving our profession, I've dedicated my business to educating the public. The only way you can make an intelligent decision is to have all the facts you need. This is why I've written this consumer guide. And to help promote my efforts at consumer education, we offer ongoing classes at our facility in Duluth.
Misconception #6: Any honest carpet cleaning company should be able to give you an exact price quote over the telephone.
I wish this were true, but it isn't. Consumers often think that if they want to clean four rooms and the price is $40 per room, then the price will be $160. But most often if it seems too good to be true it is.
First, honest, most reputable carpet cleaning companies usually price carpet cleaning by the square foot. 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 feet that you want cleaned. To get an accurate measurement, we use a Laser measuring device to calculate the exact size of the carpet area
You'll be glad to know that the carpet area to be cleaned is not nearly as great as most people think. For example, if you want your entire home cleaned and your home is 2000 square feet, the amount of carpeting to be cleaned might be only 1200 square feet. This is because most home measurements are outdoor measurements. Plus we deduct the area taken up by walls, room dividers and the like. The result is that the actual area to be cleaned is usually only about 60% of the square footage of the home.
So even though we can't always give you an exact quote over the telephone, here are things we consider when quoting a price.
First, we consider the type of carpet. Certain types of carpet are harder to clean than others. So before we can give you a quote, we need to know the type of carpet you want cleaned.
Second, we factor in the amount of soiling. Carpet that hasn't been cleaned for ten years will take longer to clean than carpet that was cleaned within the last six months.
Third, the amount of furniture that has to be moved is also considered. If we have to move your furniture, the bid must include that labor. But if you move your furniture, we have a 10% empty room discount.
To recap, we consider the type of carpet, the amount of soiling, and the amount of furniture that has to be moved. So, as you can now imagine, every quote is different.
If you're thinking about having your carpets cleaned, I offer these four recommendations:
Recommendation #1: Make a commitment to yourself to get your carpets cleaned. The longer they remain dirty, the sooner they'll wear out and the potential for adverse health effects rises.
Recommendation #2: Consider your objectives. Do you want only the dirt removed, something you could do with a rented machine. Or do you want the bacteria, fungus and chemicals removed, which will require a hot water truck mount cleaner, like I use.
Do you want to work with an honest, reputable company -- or are you willing to risk working with the company that offers you the lowest price -- knowing that company might not be in business tomorrow.
Recommendation #3: Ask questions. The way you learn about a company is to ask specific questions and listen carefully to the answers. Here are the questions I suggest you ask:
1. What method of carpet cleaning do you recommend?
2. What type of equipment do you use to clean carpet?
3. What does your equipment remove from my carpet?
4. How often should I get my carpets cleaned?
5. What training have you had in cleaning carpets?
6. Are you a member of any trade associations and, if so, which ones?
7. Are you certified by the IICRC and will you show me your certificate?
Recommendation #4: Once you're satisfied that you're working with an honest, competent professional, invite him into your home and ask for a specific quote in writing. A written quote gives you the assurance that you know exactly what your job will cost -- no surprises.
By following these four recommendations, you'll gain all the information you need to make an informed, intelligent decision. If you want a quick, cheap carpet cleaning job, many companies in the phone book can help you. Or you can rent a shampooer and do the job yourself.
But if you want your carpeting to be completely and thoroughly cleaned, then I invite you to call SERVPRO of The Twin Ports. In addition to 24/7 emergency services like water damage and fire cleanup, we are your local experts in carpet and floor care.
We’ll be happy to answer your questions and set up a time to come into your home or business and give you a free written quote, without obligation of any kind. To reach us, call (218) 727-2575.