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"Should I clean my carpets myself, or use a professional?"
Most experts agree that DIY carpet cleaning is not as effective as a good professional cleaning, but, a professional cleaning is considerably more expensive. So, is professional carpet cleaning worth it? If your entire carpet needs to be cleaned: yes. For small spot cleaning, probably not (unless you've tried unsuccessfully to remove the spot yourself).
Carpet cleaning is important not only for removing spots and stains, but also for removing deeper dirt and damaging debris that can shorten a carpet's lifespan and diminish its appearance.
Consumers using smaller rented machines and off-the-shelf cleaners can take on smaller stains with pretty good success. But, when it's time to clean your entire carpet – which should be done at least every 18 months in busy homes – professional carpet cleaners offer important advantages.
Professionals: possess extensive knowledge of different carpet fabrics, know the best cleaning solution to use for every style and fabric, come armed with powerful truck-mounted steam cleaning machines, and/or high quality portable machines that consumers generally don't have access to.
Problems associated with DIY carpet cleaning include: older, weaker rented machines may not effectively remove deep dirt and debris, rented machines are hefty and can be difficult to use for inexperienced homeowners, tearing or rippling of the carpet can occur around weak or thin spots, lack of homeowner knowledge can lead to difficulty in removing certain kinds of stains, over-saturation of the carpet can occur, which often leads to mold or mildew and major headaches.
So, while it might make a lot of sense to rent a machine for smaller clean-ups, large-scale carpet cleaning is best left to a pro.
"How does professional carpet cleaning work?"
Professional carpet cleaners most commonly use the hot water extraction method – also known as steam cleaning – with either a truck-mounted unit or portable machine. While truck-mounted units are stronger, portable machines are more versatile.
During the process, hot water combined with a cleaning solution is sprayed deep into the carpet, and then sucked back into the machine along with any dirt present on the carpet.
Dry cleaning carpets is another method, which uses dry chemical compounds or cleaning solvents to break down dirt. Despite the name, professionals do use a small amount of moisture to complement the chemicals used.
If you choose to have your carpets professionally cleaned, look for local cleaners with positive reviews and verifiable certifications, and get estimates from at least three cleaners. Before they start their work, do a walkthrough to look for any stubborn spots or difficult areas to ensure you won't have any surprising additional charges at the end. If your carpet needs repairs, make sure to complete those before having it professionally cleaned.
"How great is the difference between DIY and professional carpet cleaning?"
The difference is greater than many people may think. For short-term cleaning of minor stains and spots, rented equipment and store-bought cleaning solutions are often enough to do the trick.
However, for deep, thorough cleaning – which should be done every 18 months or so – professional services are the way to go. Dirt and debris lodge deep in carpets over time, hidden from view below the visible surface of the carpeting. When not removed, that dirt causes carpets to deteriorate more rapidly.
It's very difficult for DIY'ers with rented equipment (which is often older and less powerful than professional equipment) to remove all of the dirt built up at the base of carpeting. The carpet cleaning machines used by professionals are better able to remove the dirt most DIY machines cannot.
Pros are also more experienced in knowing the type and amount of cleaning solution to add to the machine, the best techniques for using the machine, and making sure that most of the cleaning solution is removed when the job is done, so that mold and mildew don't take hold inside or below the carpeting.
"Does steam cleaning really get carpets clean?"
Yes. Steam cleaning, also known as hot water extraction, is the cleaning method most often recommended by major carpet manufacturers. With a quality carpet cleaning machine – which can be truck-mounted or portable – and the right cleaning solution for the carpet being cleaned, steam cleaning is highly effective.
"What is the best way to clean oriental rugs/carpets?"
You can call a professional, or take a DIY approach. For DIY’ers, remember that these rugs need gentle care compared to traditional carpets.
If tackling the job as a DIY project, bring the rug outside on a sunny day to take advantage of the sun’s natural drying capabilities. Start by vacuuming the rug, avoiding any fringe. Next, combine rug shampoo, gentle fabric cleaner or mild dish soap with water to create a cleaning solution. Gently scrub the carpet with the cleaning solution, and keep all movements going in the same direction to protect the rug. Thoroughly rinse the rug when finished, again working in the same direction as the fabric. Lay the rug flat to dry on one side, then the other. Make sure the rug is completely dry on both sides before placing it back in its normal location.
If you're not sure about the DIY approach, contact carpet cleaning experts who are experienced in cleaning oriental rugs, for a safe and effective cleaning.