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Common Mistakes


MISTAKE #1:  Choosing a carpet cleaner based on equipment alone. 

No question, your carpet cleaner needs first-rate equipment.  But he also needs something else — employees who are skilled at operating that equipment.  Many companies own hot-water extractors, but 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) or by the Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration (ASCR).  Before you choose a carpet cleaner, ask to see written proof of their certification.

MISTAKE # 2:  Choosing a carpet cleaner who only uses one type of cleaning system.

Most cleaners offer only one type of cleaning system. There are different methods of cleaning for different types of fibers. Like with clothing, some need to be dry-cleaned and some thrown in the washer. Some need special care so the colors don’t fade, and others need a boost to obtain that clean and bright look again. Limiting yourself to only one method will not give the best in every situation.

MISTAKE #3:  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 (perhaps even a unit they rented from their local grocery store), which cannot match the cleaning performance of the superior machines designed to remove the most soil and contaminants, and leave the least residue behind.

MISTAKE #4:  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.  This also allows the carpet cleaner to see the type of carpet, the level of soil, and measure the exact square footage so he is able to give you a more accurate quotation.

MISTAKE #5:  Choosing a carpet cleaner who doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee. 

In my view, every carpet cleaning company should be fully accountable for its work. And 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 an unconditional guarantee. Or, if they do, the guarantee may be "limited". Ask the carpet cleaner if he offers an unconditional guarantee and then make sure the carpet cleaner includes his guarantee on his written quotation.

MISTAKE #6:  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. Look for a cleaner that works by referral only. Cleaners like this have to deliver an incredible service to live on word of mouth only. We literally have hundreds of testimonies that our clients have sent to us. You can also go to and read them for yourself.

MISTAKE # 7:  Choosing a carpet cleaner who isn't certified.

They should be certified by the IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification). If your carpet cleaner isn't a close friend, you may not know whether he has the knowledge or experience to clean your carpets. 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, carpet cleaners who are certified by IICRC have earned a college degree in carpet cleaning.


If you’re thinking about having your carpets cleaned, we encourage you to follow these four steps:

STEP #1:  Make a commitment to yourself to get your carpets cleaned. 

The longer they remain dirty, the sooner they’ll wear out.  Industry testing shows that you can have up to one full pound of dirt in a square foot of carpet before it begins to look dirty.  This dirt is abrasive and wears down the fibers and substantially shortens the life.  Many warranties require at least an annual cleaning by a professional to be honored (check your own warranty to see your requirements, and if they specify the type of cleaning method to keep your warranty in effect). 

Another necessity of regular cleaning is to remove the contaminants besides the “dirt” that gets trapped in your carpet’s fibers.  The longer you wait to clean, the longer you have to breathe all the pollen, fungus, pet odors, dust mites, and chemicals that hide in your carpet.

STEP #2:  List your objectives. 

Is the health of your indoor environment highest on your list, so that you would want a company that is using the proper equipment and method to address your concerns?  Do you want only the dirt removed – something you could do with a rented shampooer – or are you concerned about removing other contaminants (bacteria, pollen, dust mites, mold spores)?  Do you want to work with an honest, reputable company – or are you willing to risk working with the company that offers you the lowest price – knowing that the company might not be in business tomorrow and might not be safe to let into your home?

STEP #3:  Ask questions. 

The way you learn about a company is to ask specific questions and listen carefully to the answers.  Here are nine questions to ask a carpet cleaner to help you feel more confident about the one that you choose:

1) What method of carpet cleaning do you recommend for my needs?

2) What type of equipment do you use to clean carpet, and what are your cleaning steps?

3) How often should I get my carpets cleaned?

4) What training have you had in cleaning carpets?

5) Are you a member of a trade association or other professional organization?

6) Are you and your technicians certified by the IICRC or ASCR, and can I see your certificates?

7) Do you guarantee your work?

8) Are you insured?

9) Do you have any references of clients or businesses who I can call regarding your work?

Avoiding the carpet cleaning scam

How to select a professional carpet cleaner

"Cleaning carpet can be a dirty business."

"Don't let them pull the rug out from under you."

"Not all scum is in the carpet."

"Clean your carpets without cleaning out your wallet."

"Don't get taken to the cleaners"

These clever phrases have appeared recently in newspaper articles and televised consumer news programs across the nation warning consumers about carpet cleaning scam operations. The media has related horror 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 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 Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), an international, nonprofit organization that certifies cleaners who meet prescribed levels of technical proficiency and pledge to operate by a code of ethics.

To help educate consumers so they will not become victims of fraudulent practices within the cleaning industry, 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 business people have legitimate expenses they must cover, including license, taxes, insurance, employee wages, and benefits, and quality tools of the trade. A professional carpet cleaner who must cover all of these business expenses and make a profit to stay in the business cannot afford to drive to your house for $14.95, much less clean a room of carpet when there.

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.

Truth in Advertising : Read the fine print in advertised specials to find out exactly what the price includes, and request a firm price in writing before work begins.

Training : Professional cleaning firms require management and employees to engage in formal training in a variety of cleaning disciplines, and these educational efforts will be ongoing. Consumers should ask about the formal training background of technicians who will be cleaning their carpet.

Certification : Professional firms require certification of technicians through such certification organizations as the IICRC and ARCCA or through comparable franchise or independent training and testing organizations.

Experience : The years of experience a firm has, combined with formal training programs, contribute significantly to the experience and proficiency of its employees.

Knowledgeable : Professional firms employ and train technicians who have the ability to answer basic questions regarding carpet performance and maintenance, as well as spotting and cleaning.

References : 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. Do not hesitate to call the Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau.

Trade Associations : Professional cleaning firms are members of regional or national trade associations or other organizations that promote high ethical standards and continuing education. Look for trade association logos in advertising.

Credibility : Community involvement through the Chamber of Commerce and/or professional business, charitable, or similar organizations will be undertaken by concerned, caring professionals. Look for logos indicating involvement in these organizations.

Cleaning Standard : Ask if the cleaner is operating according to the IICRC S001-Cleaning Standards. Request to see a copy of this industry-prescribed document.

Method : Ask the cleaner which method of cleaning will be used and the advantages and disadvantages of this method compared to other methods.

Proof : Never hesitate to ask for proof. Ask to see the cleaner's certification card, business license, and insurance certificate.

No Pressure : Technicians must be courteous and willing to take the time to thoroughly explain the cleaning process and to answer all questions. The consumer should never feel pressured.