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Consumer Guide

Why You Should Want a Clean Carpet



To some degree, all of us are attracted by low price because we want to work within a budget. But some carpet cleaners use price as a bait for their false and misleading advertising. They offer a cheap price - usually between $3.95 to $9.95 per room - and then, once they're in your home, they pressure you into buying "add-ons." It's as if you were buying a car and found that the dealer was charging you extra for the tires and steering wheel. Carpet cleaning is not as cheap as some unethical cleaners would like you to believe.


Dual process carpet cleaning describes the process of shampooing or heavy preconditioning, followed with hot water extraction cleaning. Unfortunately, unethical carpet cleaners often use dual process as a bait-and-switch technique. Here's how it's done: first, they "bait" you with a basic cleaning (single process) at an unbelievably low price. Then, when you call, they try to "switch" you to more expensive dual-process cleaning. If you don't fall for their switch and choose their basic service, you'll likely receive poor workmanship using little or no cleaning products and they will not guarantee their work.


"THIS CLEANING METHOD IS THE BEST." You'll read this in almost every ad. You'll hear this from virtually every carpet cleaner. Remember this: The method that's best
for you is the method that achieves your goal. If you want a method that dries quickly, then a method that takes a long time to dry isn't the best for you. If you're looking for a deep-down clean, then a method that cleans the surface isn't the best for you. So, before you choose a carpet cleaner, identify your objectives. Then, select the method that best reaches those objectives.


"HOT WATER DAMAGES YOUR CARPET." Years ago, many people believed this was true because their carpets were damaged by "technicians" who didn't know how to properly clean using hot water. But today, we know this is false. By washing and then rinsing your carpet with hot water, your carpet is thoroughly cleaned - in the same way that the person who showers and then rinses off the dirt and soap will be much cleaner than the person who only takes a sponge bath. Obviously, each carpet cleaner will be biased towards his or her own method. And each method does have advantages. So, I suggest you look at what carpet manufacturers say. Shaw Industries, the largest carpet manufacturer in the world, recommends only hot water extraction cleaning with a truck-mounted unit used by firms that are IICRC certified.

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MISCONCEPTION #1: You should wait as long as possible before cleaning your carpet

No. dirt is an abrasive 0 like sandpaper. Every time you step on your carpet, you grind dirt into the carpet fibers. This cuts your carpet, just as if you had used a knife. A dirty carpet will not last as long as a clean carpet. And while vacuuming helps - by itself, 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 #2: The only reason to clean your carpet 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, shoes and clothing. Not surprisingly, all those chemicals and toxins wind up in your carpet.

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

MISCONCEPTION #3: One method of carpet cleaning is as good as another

No. The dry cleaning methods - which are dry foam, dry chemicals and dry compounds - do not rinse your carpet in any way. Instead, they leave a dirty residue. You might say they clean your carpet only halfway. The most effective cleaning method is hot water extraction.

Hot water extraction means a hot water cleaning solution, under high pressure, is forced into your carpet and then sucked out of your carpet. Shaw Industries, the world's largest carpet manufacturer, recommends hot water extraction as the primary method of cleaning carpets, along with an IICRC approved firm.

Carpet cleaners use one of two types of hot water extraction. If they use a large unit that operates from a van or truck outside your facility, it's called truck-mounted extraction. If they use a small unit that can be brought inside, it's called a portable extraction. shaw's first choice is the truck-mounted unit - and they recommend the small, portable unit only in areas where the truck-mounted unit won't reach.

The truck-mounted extraction cleans much better because it heats the water to a higher temperature - which breaks up the dirt, bacteria, chemicals and pollens in the carpet. Then the machine uses high suction to draw the dirt and chemicals out of your carpet. This is the method our company uses.

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 very few companies teach their employees how to use them properly. This is why it's important that you choose your carpet cleaner carefully. The best cleaning companies are those that have been certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and restoration Certification, known as the IICRC. Cleaning technicians should receive on-going training to remain up-to-date on the latest and best methods of cleaning.

MISCONCEPTION #5: The company that offers the lowest price is the company your should hire

No. I've seen so many problems arise from the lowest-bid companies that I suggest you NEVER hire the company that quotes the cheapest price. The two most common problems are:

(1) The price may not be for the services you want performed. The company may be equipped to remove only the dirt from your carpet. But you may want bacteria, fungus, pollens, dust mites and tobacco residues removed as well.

(2) The price you see advertised may not be the price you pay. Many homeowners have learned that the low price they saw advertised only lasted until the carpet cleaner got to their home. Then they were pressured into paying a lot more for a variety of add-ons. (Some carpet cleaners even break the law by using illegal bait-and-switch tactics.)

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. Honest, reputable carpet cleaning companies almost never price carpet cleaning by the room. Instead, carpet cleaning is usually priced 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 you want cleaned. To get an accurate measurement, we use a measuring wheel to calculate the exact size of the carpet area.

To give you an idea of how we estimate the cost of cleaning, here are the three things we consider:

(1) The type of carpet - Certain types of carpet are harder to clean than other types.
(2) The amount of soiling - Carpet that hasn't been cleaned for ten years will take longer to clean than carpet that we cleaned within the past six months.
(3) The amount of stains or damage - damage such as urine saturation, red stains, etc. take longer to clean than a carpet with just soiling.

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There are several different methods used to clean carpets:

Dry Foam: The carpet cleaner applies shampoo to your carpet, allows it to dry, and then, without rinsing, sucks the dried shampoo 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 leaves dirty residue in your carpet, which is one reason dry foam is not very effective.

Absorbent Pad (Bonnet Cleaning): This method is similar to dry foam, except that the company sets a large cotton bonnet on your carpet and with a floor polishing buffer machine on top "buffs" the carpet. The rotating motion causes the bonnet to absorb dirt from your carpet. This method is also called bonnet cleaning. Bonnet cleaning is like trying to use a large cotton towel to mop or rub the dirt out of your carpet. It's not very effective.

Dry, Absorbent Powder: The dry-compound method spreads a moist, absorbent powder through the carpet. The powder is allowed to dry and then sucked into a vacuum. This method leaves dry sponge particles at the base of the carpet yarn. And because the carpet is not rinsed, this method is not very effective.

Hot Water Extraction: This is a fancy way of saying that a hot water cleaning solution under high pressure is forced into your carpet and then sucked out of your carpet. In a recent Technical Bulletin,  Shaw Industries, the world's largest carpet manufacturer, "recommends the hot water extraction system, which research indicates provides the best capability for cleaning." You can choose two different types: (1) Truck-mount extraction, which is done with a large machine mounted on a truck or van; or (2) Portable extraction, which is done with a small, hand-held unit.

regarding which type to choose, Shaw's Technical Bulletin states, "[cleaning] can be done from a truck-mounted unit outside the facility with only the hose and wand brought inside, or where a truck-mounted unit cannot reach, by a portable, self-contained system brought into the facility."

As you can see, Shaw recommends the truck-mounted unit first. And this isn't surprising. You see, the truck-mounted unit cleans much better because it heats the water to a higher temperature and shoots the cleaning solution into the carpet at higher pressures. It's the most powerful cleaning machine on the market and the only machine that rids your carpet of dirt, harmful bacteria, fungus, pollens, tobacco residue and dust mites.

Some people believe that hot water damages your carpet, but this isn't true. By washing and then rinsing your carpet with hot water, we clean your carpet completely.

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MISTAKE #1: Choosing a carpet cleaner based upon equipment alone

No question, your carpet cleaning company needs first-rate equipment, but they also need something else. They need employees who are skilled at operating the equipment. Many companies own hot-water extractors, but very few companies teach their employees how to use them properly. The best way to know that the carpet cleaner's employees have been properly trained is to make sure each cleaner has been certified by the IICRC and has received on-going training. 

MISTAKE #2: Choosing a carpet cleaner based on low price

Low price can be a problem in four ways:

(1) Low price can be the bait that attracts your phone all. Once the cleaners gets to your home, he or she pressures you into a much more expensive job.
(2) Low price can be for a single-process cleaning. Rarely does the consumer know what this means and, when told, asks for dual-process cleaning instead, which costs much more.
(3) Low price means the carpet cleaner has cheap equipment or cleaning products, which will not effectively clean your carpet.
(4) Low price may also represent a company that does not carry legally required workers compensation insurance or liability insurance.

MISTAKE #3: Choosing a carpet cleaner based on a single phone call

Instead, invite the person to your home and ask for a specific written quotation. Then you'll know exactly what the carpet cleaner recommends, and you won't be the victim of high-pressure sales tactics when the technician steps into your living room.

MISTAKE #4: Choosing a carpet cleaner that doesn't offer a money back guarantee

In our view, every carpet cleaning company should be fully accountable for their work. If you aren't pleased with the job in every way, you shouldn't have to pay for it. Period. Not all carpet cleaners offer a guarantee. Or, if they do, the guarantee may be "limited." Ask the carpet cleaner if he or she offers a money back guarantee and then make sure the carpet cleaner includes the guarantee on the written quotation.

MISTAKE #5: Choosing a carpet cleaner without getting comments from others

Any carpet cleaning company can say anything about their past jobs. And, sadly, some of what they say may not be true. Make sure you ask for references or read comments from current customers so you can depend on quality of their work.

MISTAKE #6: Choosing a carpet cleaner who doesn't use a truck-mounted hot water extraction system

You might expect this from us, since we use this type of system. But, there are several good reasons. Portable hot water systems are good, but they aren't as good as a truck-mounted system. Truck-mounted systems are the Rolls Royce of carpet cleaners. Compared with portable hot water systems, truck-mount systems use hotter water, higher pressure and stronger suction. So all the way around, you get a much better job. No two ways about it.
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Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. When you select a carpet cleaner, you'll choose from a wide variety of cleaning methods and prices. Shaw Industries recommends hot water extraction from a truck-mounted units, and using a portable unit only in areas where the truck-mounted unit won't reach.

Here's why a truck-mounted unit cleans better that a portable:

(1) It heats the water to a higher temperature. For every 18 degrees increase in temperature above 118º, you double the water's cleaning ability. So if the water temperature is 136º, it will clean twice as well as 118º water, and so on until you reach 250º.

(2) It shoots the cleaning solution into your carpet at higher pressure, which breaks up the dirt, bacteria, chemicals and pollen. 300 to 400 pounds per square inch is the optimum pressure for truck-mounted hot water extraction.

(3) The machine uses stringer suction to draw the dirt, chemicals, bacteria, pollens and tobacco smoke residue out of your carpet.

Not surprisingly, having your carpet thoroughly cleaned with truck-mounted hot water extraction costs more than renting a shampooer at the corner grocery store.

If you bought the cheapest carpeting you could find, then renting a small shampooer might be all you need. No question, it will get out some of the dirt, but the key word here is "some." It will not get out many of the contaminants and dust mite residue.

On the other hand, if you want your carpet to look good and give you years of dependable service, you need to take extra good care of it. This means you need to have it cleaned by a skilled, qualified technician at least every six months to a year, depending upon the amount of soiling and foot traffic it receives. And, you should have it cleaned and disinfected, as only a truck-mount hot water extractor can do.
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Which is more important to you: a clean carpet... or a clean and healthy carpet? Yes, I assure you, there is a big difference.

Each carpet cleaning method has advantages and disadvantages. Some methods will get out only the dirt. Other methods will get out dirt and grease. Still others will get out virtually everything. And, to be sure, some are more expensive than others.

If all you want is a cheap, rinse-the-dirt-off-the-top cleaning, then we respectfully ask you to call another company. But, if you want to protect your health - if you want to protect your investment in carpeting - if you want to protect your family from countless bacteria, fungus, pollens and dust mites that reside in your carpet, then you're invited to call us.

The truck-mounted hot water unit is the most effective cleaning system available today. Likewise, it's one of the most expensive units on the market. But, we chose this equipment for a good reason... more and more families want the good health benefits that come from having a fresh, clean carpet.

Have you ever seen how dirty a little boy's pants get when he plays outdoors? If you have, then you know you can brush off his pants and make him think they're clean. Or, if you want the job done right, you can machine wash them in hot water and detergent and you'll know they're clean.

So, if you want a thoroughly clean carpet - if you're willing to invest in your family's good health - you're invited to call us. 
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If you're thinking about having your carpets cleaned, we encourage you to follow these four steps:

1. Make a commitment to yourself to get your carpets cleaned. The longer they remain dirty, the sooner they'll wear out. Plus, the longer you have to breather all the pollen, fungus and contaminants that hide in your carpet.

2. List your objectives. Do you want only the dirt removed, something you could do with a rented shampooer, or do you want all the pollutants and dust mites removed, which will require a hot water truck-mount cleaner? Do you want to work with an honest, reputable company, or are you willing to risk working with the company that offers the lowest price? 

3. Ask questions. The way you learn about a company is to ask specific questions and listen carefully to the answers. Here are six questions to ask a carpet cleaner before he or she begins to clean your carpet:

            (1) What method of carpet cleaning do you recommend?
(2) What type of equipment do you use to clean carpet?
            (3) What will your equipment remove from my carpet?
(4) How often should we get our carpets cleaned?
            (5) What training have you had in carpet cleaning?
            (6) Do you guarantee your work?

4. Once you are satisfied that you are working with an honest, competent professional, invite him or her into your home for a specific written quote. A written quote gives you the assurance that you know exactly what your job will cost with no surprises on the day the work is done.

By following these four steps, 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 healthfully cleaned, please give us a call. We will be happy to answer your questions, provide you with a ballpark cost over the telephone based upon information you provide, or come to your home to provide you with a written quote without cost or obligation of any kind. To reach us, call (510) 734-6756 or (925) 476-8655.
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