Carpet should be professionally cleaned by a qualified technician at least once a year - perhaps a little longer interval for infrequently used carpet and even sooner for more heavily used carpet. Some variables to consider include carpet traffic (# of people, children and pets) and visible soiling and stains.
What is the standard drying time and why is it important?
The IICRC* S100 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Carpet Cleaning specifies: (Section 7.5, Drying): When cleaning carpet, it is highly recommended that drying occur within six to eight hours or less: however, drying time must not exceed 24 hours. Failure of the professional to implement drying procedures could result in a variety of after-cleaning problems. Often, occupant cooperation is needed to expedite drying. With normal temperature and humidity coupled with use of your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, the carpet should be dry in much less than 24 hours. If it stays damp longer than that, the opportunity for microbial growth and associated odor arises.
Companies that use hot water extraction ("steam cleaning") typically require anywhere between 8-24 hours of dry time depending on the variables listed above. Cleanup Man's low moisture organic cleaning with advanced fast dry technology reduces the typical dry time to under 2 hours (usually 30-60 minutes).
What steps should a trained professional take when cleaning my carpet?
The principles of carpet cleaning listed in the S100 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Carpet Cleaning, updated in 2011 include: Dry Soil Removal - Thorough vacuuming using an upright vacuum with brush agitation and high-efficiency double-lined collection bag, or a final filter, to remove up to 99 percent of particles. Soil Suspension - This involves the application of properly specified, formulated and mixed preconditioning agents designed to separate soil from fibers. There are four fundamentals involved in soil suspension: application of preconditioning chemicals; using heat or temperature to speed chemical reactions; agitation for proper chemical distribution, and providing dwell time so that chemical reactions can be completed before soil extraction is attempted. The acronym "CHAT" (chemicals - heat - agitation - time) makes the fundamentals of soil suspension easy to remember. Soil Extraction - Any method of cleaning must physically remove soils if it is to be successful. Soil removal takes place with absorption, wet vacuuming, rinsing and even dry vacuuming. Grooming - Grooming has little to do with physical soil removal; however, it is needed to eliminate pile distortion and matting, to properly distribute additives, such as carpet protectors, and to create an even appearance. Drying - Damp carpet resoils rapidly, creates potential for slip-fall problems and ultimately, can grow bacteria with associated odor.
What should I look for in a carpet cleaning professional?
You may have experienced or heard stories of trusting consumers who have responded to low-price carpet cleaning specials only to become victims of unethical cleaners who refuse to honor the advertised price, intimidate the consumers and/or do poor quality work. Bait-and-switch operators are prevalent in many industries, and the carpet cleaning industry is no exception. This does not mean that all carpet cleaners are rip-off artists. How do you know who is and who is not? The professional carpet cleaning industry has cited these scam activities as a major industry concern and is taking action to help eliminate unprofessional workmanship and unethical tactics. One of the leaders in this campaign is the IICRC, an international, non-profit organization that helps to educate consumers. While there is no single criterion for selecting a carpet cleaning service and several combined factors must be considered in the selection decision, the IICRC has released a list of guidelines to consider when selecting a carpet cleaner.
Price: If an advertised price sounds too good to be true it is! Often carpet cleaners advertise a low price just to get their foot in the door. Use common sense; a low price usually equates to low quality for any product or service. Legitimate businesses have expenses they must cover in order to provide you with a quality service and must make a profit to stay in business. Quality: Never should the price of cleaning services be the sole criterion for selecting a carpet cleaner. A price that sounds high may not be a signal of a rip-off. In all professions, quality work deserves a quality price. Customer Reviews: Consumers should ask for references from previous customers, and they should consult friends and business acquaintances about the reputation of the cleaning firm they are considering. Method: Ask the cleaner which method of cleaning will be used and the advantages and disadvantages of this method compared to other methods. Truth in Advertising: Read the fine print in advertised specials to find out exactly what the price includes. Many times upselling occurs because things like deodorizer and carpet protector are not included in the original price. Training: Consumers should ask about the training background of technicians who will be cleaning their carpet. Experience: The amount of experience along with the training a technician has contribute to the effectiveness, proficiency and final results of the service being provided. Knowledgeable: Professional technicians should have the ability to answer basic questions regarding carpet performance and maintenance, as well as spotting and cleaning. No Pressure: Cleaning professionals should be courteous and willing to take the time to thoroughly explain the cleaning and to answer all questions and you should never feel pressured.
All information is from the IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning & Restoration Certification) and Cleanup Man LLC