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8 Misconceptions About Carpet Cleaning
MISCONCEPTION #1: You should wait as long as possible before cleaning your carpet.
No. Dirt is an abrasive, like sandpaper, scratching and dulling your carpet. Remember the feeling of sand between your toes as you walk along a beach? Its like that every time you step on your carpet, you grind dirt into the carpet, grinding your expensive yarns down into those worthless fibers that fill up your vacuum bag. A dirty carpet will not last as long as a clean carpet and every moment you wait, your carpet wears out faster!
And while vacuuming helps, by itself, it’s simply not enough. The dirt causes micro-occlusions or microscopic scratches on the carpet fibers. Dirt will stick to these scratches and will not vacuum off. The longer you wait to have your carpet cleaned, the more damage you do to your carpet, the faster it wears out, the more money you spend replacing carpet.
Oily residues from the street and air are bonding to the carpet. They are brought in from your shoes, or from sweaty feet, or from the kitchen. Slightly sticky, they grab dirt and lock it on. Soils bond with the carpet through a process called “oxidation” causing colour change, and it becomes permanently attached. If you wait too long, you are throwing away the key to unlocking dirt and oil form traffic lanes. Clean before traffic lanes show up! The longer you wait between cleaning the more soiling becomes permanent.
MISCONCEPTION #1A: You should wait as long as possible before having your carpets cleaned for the FIRST TIME!
Because of poor technicians and cleaning methods this myth has been propagated (described in Misconception #6). Proper cleaning will remove soils and pollutants without removing any finish from a carpet, even a 5th generation carpet. The carpet will not resoil faster nor will spots reappear sooner. It will in fact last longer, look better, feel softer and smell fresher.
If you waited 2 years or more before cleaning your new carpet it may indeed soil faster if you choose not to reapply carpet protection.
Carpet protectors wear off after 6 months to a year just as polish wears off a car. So after the carpet is cleaned, you have clean, unprotected carpet, which will resoil faster than protected carpet. It is recommended that protectant be re-applied to any carpet worth cleaning to help preserve it.
By cleaning your carpet more frequently, i.e. on a maintenance plan, you will increase the life span of your carpet and save money$$.
Clean your carpet for hygienics rather than for appearance.
It will be healthier and you will never see a soil build up or a traffic lane. Excessive wear occurs when the carpet reaches the “Unacceptable Appearance Level”. It begins to wear faster, looks dirtier more often, and will need replacement sooner. You will save money in the long run by hiring a professional cleaner more frequently.
You can Pay NOW, or pay LATER!
It usually costs more if paid later!!
MISCONCEPTION #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, your family members or friends come into your home, they carry those pollens, bacteria and chemicals in their hair and on their skin, clothing and shoes. Not surprisingly, all those chemicals and toxins wind up; you guessed it, in your carpet.
How long you would go before washing your underwear? How often do you wash your kitchen floor? You clean these because of hygienics, not just because they might “look” dirty. If you wash your kitchen floor once a week, it just makes sense to wash your carpet once or twice a year. Clean your carpet for hygienic reasons instead of for appearance.
Is the air starting to smell stale and your allergies are acting up? If you have allergies, asthma, emphysema, or other breathing problems, one major source of your problem could he the pollens, fungus, smoke and chemicals in your carpet. Pollutants in the air are filtered through your carpet. The carpet traps them so you don’t breathe them over and over. But what happens when that trap gets full? Your family starts breathing dust mite debris, pollens, pollutants, fungus, spores, bacteria and a long list of other really gross stuff.
Tearing out the carpet is not the answer! The American EPA found that homes with carpet are healthier, as long as they are cleaned frequently. This is because of your carpets natural filtering ability, which traps that entire gunk, so your family doesn’t breathe it over and over. Once your carpets natural filtering ability is full it’s time for a thorough cleaning for your health’s sake.
In addition, as you may know, tobacco smoke contains over 4000 different chemical compounds, 43 of which cause cancer. And even if you don’t smoke, those chemicals get on your shoes and clothes, you track them into your home and you leave them in your carpet. If you are sensitive to cigarette smoke, you might find that you’ll breathe easier after you hire a company to get those harmful chemicals out of your carpet.
So another important reason to clean your carpet, in addition to getting rid of the dirt, is to get rid of pollens, fungus, bacteria, residues from tobacco smoke and other pollutants.
MISCONCEPTION #3: One method of carpet cleaning is as good as another.
No. The dry cleaning methods, which are dry foam, dry chemical, and dry compound, are great for in-between or interim cleanings or if the carpet needs to dry immediately, however, they do not rinse your carpet in any way, leaving soil and cleaning residue in the carpet. 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 or 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-mount extraction. If they use a small unit that can be brought inside, it’s called portable extraction. Shaw’s first choice is the truck-mounted unit-and it recommends the small, portable unit only in areas where the truck-mounted unit won’t reach.
The truck-mount 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 my company uses.
MISCONCEPTION #4: Truck-mounted steam cleaning units will remove ALL the soil from the carpet.
To the contrary of many cleaner’s boasting, No they will not. Only 20% of the soil trapped by a carpet is actually stuck to the fibers and requires a specialized cleaning method, like steam cleaning, to remove it. The other 80% is loose soil and needs to be removed by dry vacuuming. This why the “STANDARD for CARPET CLEANING”, written by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, Restoration Certification states that:
‘prevacuuming is the first step in any cleaning method.’
If proper prevacuuming is not done the loose soil and hairs will stick to the carpet when they get wet and the fine soil, at the bottom of the carpet, will just turn to mud.
Its like having sand or hair in your hand. When its wet it sticks like glue. When it is dry, however, it blows off cleanly.
Wicking happens as the fine soil, now mud, gets pulled with the water up the carpet fibers as the carpet dries. The soil that was hidden now becomes visible and the carpet may look worse after cleaning. This is a common problem for cleaners who don’t prevacuum or who rely on the customer’s inefficient machine. It is for this reason that I insist on prevacuuming the carpet myself with the best dry vacuum system available.
Many people use the dry methods to avoid the wicking problem, but if the carpet isn’t thoroughly vacuumed before a dry method is performed the results still won’t be any better. In fact, if the carpets do look okay after cleaning, all they’ve succeeded in doing is to giving you the illusion of a clean carpet. All that soil still remains, grinding away at the carpet.
What to look for in a Good Vacuum.
“A top-fill upright vacuum with brush agitation, or a canister vacuum with a “power head”
incorporating a brush agitation should be selected and used with routine frequency.” It should have a high efficiency filtering system or bag to keep dust from being recirculated and contributing to indoor air pollution. (STANDARD for CARPET CLEANING)
Bags should be emptied when they are HALF FULL so the vacuum can operate at peak efficiency. When the bag is half full it loses 30% to 40% of its airflow and just won’t pick up any more soil, even though you think it is. When choosing a vacuum, don’t be sucked in by a fancy name or a low or high price. You get what you pay for BUT some salesman mark the price up so you think you’re getting a great deal when they give you a discount. If you need a new vacuum I’ll be happy to give you more advice.
MISCONCEPTION #5: Having the right equipment is all a company needs to clean your carpet properly.
Not true. Many companies own truck-mounted steam cleaning equipment 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 and technicians are those that have been certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification. This institute is an independent certification body, established in 1972, to set cleaning industry standards. They communicate not only with the cleaners but also with the carpet manufacturers to stay on top of all the latest developments. IICRC certification cannot be bought. It must be earned through study, experience and successful completion of formal, written examinations. IICRC certified cleaners have, in effect, earned a degree in carpet cleaning. The IICRC provides written credentials to cleaners it certifies. So before you choose a carpet cleaner, ask to see written proof of the company’s IICRC certification and also the certification of the technician who is going to do the job! If they don’t have them-don’t use them!
Also, you need to check the work ethic of the actual technician coming to your home. You can do this by asking for referrals. Many larger companies have more than one technician, one may be the best and another could be the worst. The technician is the key to quality results, not a particular method or piece of equipment. It’s their attitude toward the work. Some have their mind set on time and money so they perform the fastest work possible, most likely cutting comers where they can, and charge the most money. The best ones will take whatever time is necessary to get the job done right!
MISCONCEPTION #6: Hot water damages your carpet and it will get dirtier faster if it is steam cleaned.
This isn’t true. The truth is you could steam clean your carpet once a week without damage. People get this misconception because of bad technicians and improper cleaning methods.
1) Some technicians still use the ONE STEP method. They just start steam cleaning the carpet without prepping it, cleaning with ONE solution only. The cleaning solution, usually a very strong cleaner, is also the rinse solution. This tends to leave a soapy residue on the carpet, which attracts more soil. As well, it is usually too strong and removes soil resistors from 5th generation carpets. This is why some people would never clean their carpet because they thought that steam cleaning would remove the finish from the carpet and it would soil faster.
2) Some technicians move too fast or don’t use any soap at all. They are trained to sell rather than clean so if they aren’t able to get any extra money from you for extras and add-ons, they cut corners, not completely cleaning the carpet. Soiling and spots reappear sooner.
Steam Cleaning requires a well trained technician. Like a violin played properly, it will render the most beautiful music the ear can hear. If played improperly, well, where are the earplugs! If a tech “screws up” with a dry method the worst that happens is the carpet isn’t cleaned. Improper steam cleaning can and has Left A Soggy Wet Mess, physically damaging the carpet. This is where the bad rep comes from.
There is Only One Way to Steam Clean a Carpet in my opinion, and that is by following the IICRC procedures. Only a few companies, those interested more in a high quality of cleaning, are willing to invest the extra time and effort needed to perform all of these steps.
MISCONCEPTION #7: The company that offers the lowest price is the company you should hire.
This may be true… but not often. Here are two important points to consider:
1) The price you see offered might not be for the services you want performed. You need to decide what you want to accomplish before you choose a company. If all you need is for a company to remove only the top dirt from your carpet, there are plenty of companies willing to take your money, or you could rent a machine and do it yourself.
But should you want deep soil as well as the bacteria, fungus, pollens, dust mites and tobacco residues removed, then you need to hire a company that is fully trained, takes the time to prevacuum, and properly equipped with a truck mounted steam cleaning unit. This is the only way to assure that your carpet remains healthy and free from dirt, disease-causing bacteria, and hurtful chemicals. You won’t get the lowest price but what you will get is the best value for your hard earned dollar, saving you time and money long term.
Remember, you get what you pay for.
(2) The price you see advertised might not be the price you pay. Many homeowners have learned the hard way that the low price they saw advertised lasted only until the carpet cleaner got into 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.
A company can offer you THREE things:
1) Best Service
2) Best Quality
3) Best Price
But they can only offer TWO at the same time!
MISCONCEPTION #8: Any honest carpet cleaning company should be able to give you an exact price quote over the telephone or online.
I wish this were true, but it isn’t. Imagine asking a dentist for an exact price over the phone to fix your teeth, or a mechanic to fix the noise in your car. There are other considerations besides the number of rooms in a house that determine the price of cleaning.
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 me to tell you the exact cost of cleaning your carpet, I need to know the exact number of square feet that you want cleaned. To get an accurate measurement, I 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:
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 we cleaned within the last six months.
Third, the amount of furniture we have to move. If you move your furniture, you’ll save money.
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