How to Choose A Carpet Cleaning Professional
Not all carpet cleaning companies are created equal. While most companies promise quality service for a low price, that is not usually what you get! Read below to find out what you should look for in a carpet cleaning company.
What to Look For
Training and Certifications
Ask what types of professional training a company's technicians have received. A professional carpet cleaning company
should employ people that hold the Carpet Cleaning Technian certification by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC, also known as the Clean Trust). This is the most common and well-known training school
for the cleaning and restoration industry. Other certifications to look for include Upholstery and Fabric Cleaning Technician, Rug Cleaning Technican, Carpet Repair and Reinstallation Technician, and Water Damage Restoration Technician.
Experience and Customer Feedback
Knowledge comes not only with education, but experience. Ask how long a company has been in business, and check social media sites, search engines, and places like Angie's List for customer feedback. Also, ask your friends and neighbors who they have used in the past and their experiences with the company. One or two bad reviews does not necessarily mean a company is bad, but many poor reviews should raise a red flag. You can also ask the company for references if the information is not available online.
License & Insurance
In areas like Tallahassee, small cleaning companies come and go rapidly. Ask the company you call if they are licensed with the State of Florida. You can also check for this online at www.sunbiz.org. A cleaning company should also carry insurance for the services they offer.
If a price sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Ever heard the saying, "you get what you pay for?" Price should never be the main reason for choosing a cleaning company. Always read the fine print on advertised specials.
The IICRC defines the five main principles of carpet cleaning as:
Dry Soil Removal: Thorough vacuuming helps to remove dry soils from carpet fibers
Soil Suspension: The application of the proper pre-treatment agent to loosen soils from carpet fibers. There are four characteristics of soil suspension: application of chemicals, use of heat or temperature to speed up chemical reactions, agitation of carpet fibers to aid in distribution of chemicals, and dwell time to complete chemical reaction, or CHAT.
Soil Extraction: The most common method from removing soils from carpet is the hot water extraction method, also known as steam cleaning.
Grooming, as necessary: Grooming of carpet helps eliminate mattng of carpet and distribute cleaning agents.
Drying: With normal temperature and humidity conditions, carpet should take no longer than 24 hours to dry. Use of air movers, ceiling fans, and, with the right conditions, the outdoor envionment (opening windows) can speed the drying process. The ideal dry time for carpet should be around 6-8 hours.
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All Pre-Sprays are Not Created Equal
You’ve probably heard a carpet cleaner say, “the price includes a pre-spray to remove your spots.” Did you respond with “That’s great, sign me up”? WAIT! Not all pre-sprays used in professional carpet cleaning are right for every job. There are a few more things you should know.
Pre-spray is one of the first steps in cleaning carpet, and choosing the right solution is important to providing the most thorough cleaning possible. The pH of a cleaning product plays a major role in the quality of a carpet cleaning job, and it is important that the cleaner understands how it works.
Generally, choosing a cleaning formula with a pH opposite of the soil type’s pH produces the best results. The pH scale ranges from 0-14, with neutral being 7. The lower end of the scale is acid, and the higher end is alkaline. Opposites attract, and the same is true with pH. For example, acidic soils, such as fruit juice spills, should be cleaned with an alkaline cleaner. It is important to choose the appropriate cleaning formula, as using the incorrect pH for the fiber type, or strong pH levels in either direction, can destroy fibers and negatively affect dyes.
Most cleaning chemicals for synthetic fibers are alkaline (high pH) in nature, since soil removal happens best at alkaline pH levels. High pH (alkaline) cleaners work well on olefin, polyester, nylon, and acrylic fibers. It also works well to remove protein stains, oils, and grease from fibers. Wool is a protein, and requires cleaning chemicals with mildly acidic pH levels.
While high pH or alkaline cleaners can be the best cleaning option for many textiles, and the outcome can be sparkling, they leave the fibers prone to re-soiling quickly and can leave the carpet with a sticky or crunchy feel. This is why it is important to neutralize pH.
The natural pH of most carpet fibers is near neutral (7). For wool, the natural pH will be between 5.5 and 7. For the life of the fiber and to keep from attracting soils, we should leave the fibers as close to possible to their natural pH when we have finished cleaning. Treating the fibers with an acid rinse agent accomplishes this.
So, ask what pre-spray formula is best for your carpet type, and make sure the company is neutralizing the pH following the cleaning. If you are having natural fibers such as wool or silk cleaned, make sure the company is taking precautions to protect the fibers and dyes.
Our technicians are trained to determine the type of fibers he is cleaning, and choose the right cleaning product for every job. He will also attempt to identify each type of stain to determine the appropriate cleaner to remove it, and will neutralize the pH of the carpet once finished using our fabric softening rinse.
Questions to Ask
What is included with the cleaning service?
At a minimum, the cleaning should include application of a pre-spray and a deep steam extraction.
Does the price quoted include specialty treatments?
This includes treatments such as enzyme for pet stains, high traffic area treatment, carpet protection application, etc. Many times these are at an additional cost.
Will you move my furniture?
Typically, furniture moving is not included in the price of carpet cleaning unless you ask for it specifically.
Will you finish the cleaning with a low pH treatment?
Many companies use high pH cleaners on carpet. While they clean well, it makes your carpet a magnet to dirt, allowing it to re-soil easily. Ask if the carpet's pH will be lowered following the cleaning to help it stay clean longer.
Do you guarantee your work, and for how long?
A good carpet cleaning company should offer some type of guarantee. Sometimes stains come back, or other issues occur, so you want to know if you have options should this occur. Also, ask about the time frame for the guarantee so you can be sure you call in time if there is a problem.