HOW TO AVOID FOUR CARPET CLEANING RIP-OFFS
RIP-OFF #1: UNBELIEVABLE LOW PRICE.
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 the bait for their false and misleading advertising. They offer a cheap price 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 the steering wheel. Carpet cleaning is not as cheap as some unethical carpet cleaners would like you to believe.
RIP-OFF #2: BAIT AND SWITCH.
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 chemical and they will not guarantee their work.
RIP-OFF #3: UNSUPPORTED CLAIMS. “THIS CLEANING METHOD IS 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 cleans thoroughly, then a method that only 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.
RIP-OFF #4: OUTDATED BELIEFS. “HOT WATER DAMAGES YOUR CARPET.”
Years ago, many people believed this was true because their carpets were damaged by “operators” who didn’t know how to properly clean using hot water. But today, we know that is false. By washing and then rinsing your carpet with hot water, your carpet is thoroughly cleaned, in the same way that a person who showers and then rinses off the dirt and soap will be much cleaner than the person who takes only a sponge bath. Obviously, each carpet cleaner will be biased toward his or her own method, and each method does have advantages. So I suggest you look to what carpet manufacturers say. Shaw Industries, the largest carpet manufacturer in the world, recommends only hot water extraction cleaning with a truck-mounted equipment, used by firms that are IICRC Certified.
SIX COSTLY MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT CARPET CLEANING
YOU SHOULD WAIT AS LONG AS POSSIBLE BEFORE CLEANING YOUR CARPET.
NO. Dirt is an abrasive, 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. This cutting causes your carpet to wear out faster. A dirty carpet will not last as long as a clean carpet. The longer you wait to have your carpet cleaned, the more damage you do to your carpet and the faster it wears out.
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 come into your home, you carry those pollens, bacteria and chemicals in your hair and on your skin, clothing and shoes. Not surprisingly, those chemicals and toxins end 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 chemicals in your carpet.
ONE METHOD OF CARPET CLEANING IS AS GOOD AS THE OTHER.
NO. The dry cleaning methods, which are dry foam, chemical dry cleaning, and dry compound, do not rinse your carpet in any way. Instead, they leave a dirty residue. You might say the carpet is cleaned only halfway. When asked which cleaning method is recommended to maintain the warranty of Dupont Stainmaster carpet. Dupont answers, “Most professionals use Hot Water Extraction”. Hot water extraction means a hot water cleaning solution under high pressure is forced into your carpet and then vacuumed out of your carpet. Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, also 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-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. They recommend the small, portable unit only in areas where the truck-mount 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 Conscientious Carpet Care uses.
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 train 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 lnspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, known as the IICRC. 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 aren’t certified don’t use them!
THE COMPANY THAT OFFERS THE LOWEST PRICE IS THE COMPANY YOU SHOULD HIRE.
NO. I’ve seen so many problems arise from 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 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 break the law by using illegal bait and switch tactics.)
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 me to tell you the exact cost of cleaning your carpet, I need to know the exact number of square feet you want cleaned. To get an accurate measurement, I use a standard, everyday, tape measure to calculate the exact size of the carpeted 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 in 10 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.
CRAWLIN’ CRITTERS & CRUD:
A guide to the slime and livestock that’s sleeping, crawling and galloping through your carpet
Asphalt. Bacteria. Car exhaust. Chemicals. Dirt. Dust. Dust mites. Earth. Food particles. Fungus. Germs. Gravel. Grease. Grime. Grit. Hair. Industrial waste. Lint. Mud. Pet stains. Pollens. Pollutants. Rock. Sand. Scum. Smoke. Soil. Soot. Tar. Tobacco smoke. Urine. Vomit.
Plus, don’t forget living creatures, such as dust mites, fleas, and critters that live, hide and breed in your carpet. Will you help us? We’re trying to find at least one thing that’s in your carpet for every letter of the alphabet. And we don’t have anything at all for these letters: J, K, N, O, Q, W, X, Y, Z. If you can think of something that could be in your carpet that begins with these letters, or any other letters, please call or write to us and we’ll consider including them in our next consumer’s guide.
WHICH METHOD CLEANS BEST? DRY FOAM?
No. The carpet cleaner applies shampoo to your carpet, allows it to dry, 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)?
No. 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 and “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 or mop to rub the dirt out of your carpet. It is not very effective.
DRY, ABSORBENT POWDER?
No. 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 yam. And because the carpet is not rinsed, this method is not very effective.
HOT WATER EXTRACTION?
YES! This is a fancy way of saying that a hot water cleaning solution under high pressure is forced into your carpet and then vacuumed 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 from two different types: Truck-mount extraction, which is done with a large machine mounted in a truck or van. Or portable extraction, which is done with a small, industrial, unit.
On 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-mount unit first. And this isn’t surprising, a truck-mounted unit cleans much better because it heats water to a high temperature, and shoots the cleaning solution into your carpet at higher pressures. This breaks up dirt, bacteria, chemicals and pollens in the carpet. Then the machine produces huge vacuum volume to draw the dirt and chemicals out of your carpet. This is the method Conscientious Carpet Care uses.
No question, the most effective way to clean carpeting is with a hot water unit mounted in a truck. It’s the most powerful cleaning machine on the market and the only machine that cleans dirt, harmful bacteria, fungus, chemicals, pollens, tobacco residue and dust mites from your carpet. 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, in the same way a person who showers and then rinses off the dirt and soap will be much cleaner than the person who takes only a sponge bath.
EIGHT MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN CHOOSING A CARPET CLEANER
CHOOSING A CARPET CLEANER BASED ON EQUIPMENT ALONE
No question, your carpet cleaner needs first-rate equipment. But he or she also needs employees who are skilled at operating that 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 the cleaner has been certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Before you choose a carpet cleaner, ask to see written proof of the company’s and the technician’s IICRC certification.
CHOOSING A CARPET CLEANER BASED ON LOW PRICE.
Low price could be a problem in three ways: (1) Low price can be the bait that attracts your phone call. But once the cleaner gets into your home, he pressures you into a much more expensive job. (2) Low price can be for 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, which will not effectively clean your carpet.
CHOOSING A CARPET CLEANER BASED ON A SINGLE TELEPHONE 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 tactics when the technician steps into your living room.
CHOOSING A CARPET CLEANER WHO DOESN’T OFFER A MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE
In my opinion, 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 offers a money-back guarantee and then make sure the carpet cleaner includes his guarantee on his written quotation.
CHOOSING A CARPET CLEANER WITHOUT GETTING COMMENTS FROM HIS OTHER CLIENTS.
Any carpet cleaner can say anything about his past jobs. And, sadly, some of what he says may not be true. Make sure you ask for references or read comments from current customers so you can depend on the carpet cleaner and his work.
CHOOSING A CARPET CLEANER WHO ISN’T CERTIFIED BY THE INSTITUTE OF INSPECTION, CLEANING AND RESTORATION CERTIFICATION (IICRC).
If your carpet cleaner isn’t a close friend, you may not know whether he has the knowledge or experience to clean your carpet well. If you want to be sure you’re hiring a competent professional, make sure he is IICRC certified. The carpet cleaner must earn that certification through study, experience and successful completion of formal, written examinations. In effect, cleaners who are certified by the IICRC have earned a college degree in carpet cleaning.
CHOOSING A CARPET CLEANER WHO ISN’T A MEMBER OF THE MID SOUTH PROFESSIONAL CLEANERS ASSOCIATION (MSPCA).
MSPCA is a trade association of carpet cleaners who are dedicated to: (1) honest, ethical business practices, (2) staying current on the latest methods for carpet and upholstery care, cleaning and restoration, and (3) the highest possible level of customer service. You’re making a wise decision when you have your carpets cleaned by a member of the Mid-South Professional Cleaners Association.
CHOOSING A CARPET CLEANER WHO DOESN’T USE A TRUCK-MOUNTED, HOT WATER EXTRACTION SYSTEM.
You might expect this from me, since my employees and I use this type of system. But there are several good reasons. Portable hot water systems are good, but they aren’t as good as truck-mount systems. Truck-mount 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.
THE IMPORTANCE OF VALUE AND PRICE
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.
In their 20 year KID-PROOF Warranty brochure Mohawk Carpet Corporation says, “In addition to vacuuming, overall deep cleaning on a periodic basis is necessary to keep the carpet looking its best. The frequency of this deep cleaning is dictated by the soiled condition of the carpet. When the surface first appears dirty, even after vacuuming, or’ first begins to shows signs of matting, further delay could damage the carpet fibers.
For KID-PROOF carpets, we recommend deep cleaning only by trained, professionals using the hot water extraction method when soiling in traffic areas begin to appear.
To validate certain KID-PROOF warranties, the above recommendation for deep cleaning is a REQUIREMENT.
Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, recommends hot water extraction from a truck-mounted unit, and using a portable unit only in areas where the truck-mounted unit won’t reach.
A truck-mounted unit cleans much better than a portable unit for three reasons:
(1) It heats the water to a higher temperature. For every 18 degree increase in the temperature above 118 degrees F, you double the water’s cleaning ability. So, if the water temperature is 136 degrees F, it will clean twice as well as water that is 118 degrees F. 154 degree water will clean four times as well as 118 degree water. And so on, until you reach a water temperature of 250 degrees F.
(2) It shoots the cleaning solution into your carpet at higher pressures, which breaks up the dirt, bacteria, chemicals and pollens. 300 to 400 pounds per square inch is the optimum pressure for truck-mount hot water extraction.
(3) The machine uses stronger 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-mount 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 pollens, chemicals, bacteria and dust mite residues.
On the other hand, if you want your carpet to look good and give you years of dependable service, then 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 one year, depending on the amount of soiling and foot traffic it receives. And you need to have it cleaned thoroughly and disinfected, as only a truck-mount hot water extractor can do.
DO YOU WANT A CLEAN, HEALTHY CARPET?
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.
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 I respectfully ask that you 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 the countless bacteria, fungus, pollens and dust mites that reside in your carpet, then you’re invited to call me.
The truck-mounted hot water unit we use is the most effective cleaning system available today. Likewise, it is one of the most expensive units on the market. But we bought these units 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 machine-wash them in hot water and detergent and you’ll KNOW they are clean.
The same is true for your carpet. You can hire someone for $25 to $50 who will “brush off’ your carpeting and make you think it’s clean. Or, if you want the job done right, I’ll wash your carpets with hot water and detergent using my state-of-the-art cleaning machine and you will KNOW it is 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. You’ll receive a written quote, at no cost or obligation. And if you give us the go-ahead, you’re further protected with our…
100% NO-RISK GUARANTEE!
We want you to be super-pleased, in fact, absolutely delighted, with every carpet and upholstery job we do. So, every job comes with our iron-clad, risk free, guarantee. What does this mean? Simply this: if you aren’t happy with our work, we’ll reclean the area for free. And if you still aren’t pleased, you pay nothing. Not one cent. Many companies don’t guarantee their work, but we feel nothing is more important than your complete and total satisfaction. We stand behind every job 100%. If you ever have any questions or concerns about our work, please call right way: The truck-mounted hot water unit we use is the most effective cleaning system available today. Likewise, it is one of the most expensive units on the market. But we bought this unit for a good reason: More and more families want the good health benefits that come from having a fresh, clean carpet.
4 STEPS TO A FRESH, CLEAN, HEALTHY CARPET
If you’re thinking about having your carpets cleaned, we encourage you to follow these four steps:
STEP #l: MAKE A COMMITMENT TO YOURSELF TO GET YOUR CARPETS CLEANED.
The longer they remain dirty, the sooner they will wear out. Plus, the longer you have to breath all the pollens, fungus, and chemicals that hide in your carpet.
STEP #2: LIST YOUR OBJECTIVES.
Do you want only the dirt removed, something you could do temporarily with a rented shampooer, or do you want the bacteria, fungus, chemicals, and dust mites removed, which will require a hot water truck-mounted cleaner, as we use? Do you want to work with an honest, reputable company, or are you willing to risk working with a company that offers you the lowest price knowing the company might not be in business tomorrow?
STEP #3: ASK QUESTIONS.
The way you learn about a company is to ask specific questions and listen carefully to the answers. Here are eight questions to ask a carpet cleaner before he begins to clean your carpet:
- What method of carpet cleaning do you recommend?
- What type of equipment do you use to clean carpet?
- What will your equipment remove from my carpet?
- How often should I get my carpets cleaned?
- What training have you had in cleaning carpets?
- Are you a member of the Mid-South Professional Cleaners Association?
- Are you certified by the HCRC and will you show me your certification certificates?
- Are your cleaning technicians certified by the IICRC and may I see their certifications?
STEP#4: ONCE YOU’RE SATISFIED THAT YOU’RE WORKING WITH AN HONEST, COMPETENT PROFESSIONAL, INVITE HIM OR HER INTO YOUR HOME AND ASK FOR A SPECIFIC QUOTATION IN WRITING.
A written quotation gives you the assurance that you know exactly what your job will cost, no surprises.
By following these four steps, you’ll gain all the information you need 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 from the grocery store and do the job yourself. But, if you want your carpet to be completely and healthfully cleaned, removing the bacteria, fungus, chemicals, pollen, and tobacco products, we invite you to call us.
We’ll be happy to answer your questions, provide you a cost estimate over the telephone, or come into your home and give you a free, written quotation, without cost or obligation of any kind. To reach us, call 757-564-0201.
THANKS AGAIN! For reviewing our new CONSUMER’S GUIDE TO CARPET CLEANING. I hope you found this information helpful. If you have any questions or comments, or if you’d like us to give you an exact written quotation to clean your carpet or upholstery, please call us at 757 564-0201.
We’ve dedicated our business to consumer education and service. We will be pleased to help you in every way. We look forward to your call.
P. Scott Zimmerman
Conscientious Carpet Care
Specialists in Carpet Cleaning