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Pros, Cons & Costs: Carpet Cleaning

by Marcus Pickett

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Pros, Cons & Costs: Carpet Cleaning

Homeowners simply don't ask professional carpet cleaners to their homes enough, as carpets need to be cleaned on an annual basis. This can feel like a tall order for many, especially homeowners who have been diligent about removing shoes and weekly vacuuming. Is it really worth the time and money to keep carpets in tip-top shape? Pros, cons, and costs will provide you with the many-angled answer to this question.

Carpet Cleaning: The Pros
All research indicates that there are some very compelling reasons to drag all your furniture into the kitchen once a year and call in the professionals. Here are the pros offered by professional carpet cleaners.

  • Maintaining Appearances—
    Matt Craine, owner and founder of Professor Pyle's 5 Step Carpet Care in Gold River, CA, recommends that you clean your carpet every 6 to 12 months because "cleaning it regularly before you start to notice the spots and traffic lanes is the only way to keep it looking like new and to have it last a long time." The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) tends to agree, noting that soil left in the carpet for too long can actually work its way into the fibers, making it almost impossible to remove.

  • Health Benefits—
    Craine also stresses the health benefits of regular cleanings. "Your carpet works very much like the filter in your heating/AC system," he says. "It traps all kinds of bacteria, allergens, dust, pollens, and other nasty things that are in the air. And just like your furnace filter, it gets filled up over time. The best way to keep the air you and your family breathe clean and safe is to regularly clean your carpet."

  • Longevity—
    Finally, cleaning your carpets regularly is the best way to ensure you'll face a new carpet installation later rather than sooner. Functionally, your carpet will last 10 to 15 years, whether you clean it or not. Put off cleaning your carpet for 5 years, however, and the traffic lanes, stains, and signs of general wear and tear will have you calling a carpet company for a new rug long before the warranty on your current carpet expires.

Carpet Cleaning: The Cons
There isn't a whole lot of reasons to avoid cleaning your carpet, but there are some approaches that can sabotage the health of your carpet and your pocketbook. Here are some of the ways in which unsuspecting homeowners can inadvertently turn their cleaning into a con.

  • Watch Out for Extras—
    Mercia Tapping, President of AllergyBuyersClub.com, warns that the devil can be in the details when you hire a carpet cleaning service. "By the time they charge you $10 extra for each of the stairs, the spot remover and any other extra they can think of," she points out, "the $50 per room price has escalated to $100." In other words, beware of hidden costs. For some carpet cleaners, these hidden costs are where the money is made.

  • Repair First, Clean Second—
    If you have older carpets that are showing sings of buckling, looseness, or wrinkling, repair your carpet first, then call in the pros for a cleaning. All of these common carpet problems are signs that your carpet needs to be restretched, and having your carpets cleaned before you take care of the issue is only going to make matters worse.

  • DIY Obstacles—
    Perhaps the biggest danger in getting carpets cleaned is the notion you can do it yourself. You can, just not nearly as well as the professionals can deliver. Many home improvement stores offer rental units, but this piece of equipment is substantially inferior to commercial-grade portable steam cleaners and truck-mounted units. All too often, insufficient suction power and poor application will leave carpets damp and, ultimately, do more harm than good.

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Carpet Cleaning: Costs
So, just how much should you expect to spend to have your carpets professional cleaned? That depends on what you choose to have done. Take these numbers provided by Stanley Steemer's online estimating tool, for example. The industry giant's cost for cleaning a living room and three bedrooms comes out to a very reasonable $150. Add in the application of a carpet protectant ($74), deodorizing services ($74), and a quick once over of the couch ($85), and suddenly that $150 job is pushing the $400 mark.

There's no doubt about it that regular carpet cleaning is a good idea. It's the best way to maintain better looking, healthier, and longer lasting carpets. However, it's also important that you're clear with your contractor about what exactly you want done, how much it's going to cost, and what any additional charges might be, so that you can get the service you deserve without any undue surprises when it's time to write the check.

Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national topics within the home improvement industry.