Now that Thanksgiving is over, you might be looking to have your carpets professionally cleaned. There are many choices, from hot water extraction to bonnet to dry carbonation techniques. With so many options, it's easy to be overwhelmed.
Here's a look at how each one works.
· Steam cleaning (also known as hot water extraction): The most universally used carpet cleaning technique. This process typically involves spraying a solution of warm or hot water and a cleaning agent into the carpet, then extracting it all with a powerful vacuum. This can be a truck-mounted system or a portable unit. The truck mounted system ensures the dirt is removed outside the home. A downside to hot water extraction cleaning is a long dry time, which typically ranges from four to 10 hours, depending on the carpet type and the humidity level in the home.
· Bonnet cleaning: A low moisture cleaning method which some prefer because there is less of a chance for mold and mildew. The bonnet method consists of a round cleaning pad that fits like a cap over a rotary brush to help loosen dirt from the carpet. While the top one-third of the carpet is cleaned, soil which has settled to the bottom of the pile remains behind. This cleaning method should be viewed as a temporary measure between more intensive cleanings.
· "Dry" carbonating extraction: Uses carbonation to create effervescent bubbles, which lift dirt from the carpet before extracting it with a strong vacuum. Though frequently referred to as a "dry" method, it actually does use water, but requires just a fifth of the water needed for traditional steam cleaning, Some companies may heat the solution up before applying it to give it more reaction to the carpet versus using plain water.
When it comes to picking one, Angie Hicks from Angie's List says, "The best bet is to follow your carpet manufacturer's recommendation because you don't want to risk voiding your warranty."
Most carpets can withstand any of the cleaning methods listed above, but you'll want to make sure the manufacture will still honor the carpet's warranty if their specified method isn't followed.
Before you hire a professional , you also need to do your homework.
Find out what the cost will be.
"Carpet cleaning cost are determined by the square footage of the area being cleaned or the number of stairs," says Hicks. "Always insist on an in-home estimate to get the best estimate possible and remember than even a small area may cost around $79 to be cleaned."
And if a deal sounds to good to be true, it probably is. So make sure that you're going to get the right estimate so you don't end up with extra charges down the road.
Remember to ask about a cleaner's certification and only use companies who can show one from the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoring (IICRC), which most manufacturers require. They are also insured and bonded.
And make sure you get a written contract with the total prices and statement of guarantees that the cleaning company offers.
Outside of hiring a professional, there are also things you can do to help your carpet last longer.
· Act fast: The longer a stain sits in your carpet, the hard it is to remove it. Some cleaning products can actually make a stain worse if not used properly - so be sure to call a professional.
· Clean regularly: To keep your carpets cleaner longer, vacuum them regularly yourself with a good, household vacuum cleaner and have them professionally cleaned by a qualified and reputable company at least once a year and in accordance with your manufacturer's instructions. Clean more often if you have pets or heavy foot traffic.
· Is your carpet loose? Consider getting your carpet stretched if it's showing signs of being loose. A loose carpet will wear faster because the fibers overlap and rub together with the dirt buried in them, which acts like sand paper.
And according to carpet cleaning technician Jason Hanna, "Don't eat in the rooms where there is carpet -eat or drink, vacuum at least a couple times a week and if you take your shoes off your carpet will last almost forever."
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