You may not be bothered by your carpets on a day-to-day basis, but inevitably there will an incident that gets your attention until you have to do something about them. It might be the out-of-town guests arriving next week or the lost earring that forced you to get down and look under the vanity. Suddenly, you notice every little spot on your carpets. With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s probably time to call in the professionals. But where to start? In this article, we’ll walk you through what to expect from carpet cleaners and what to look for in the company you decide to hire.

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The nitty gritty on dirt and cleaning your carpets

Before we talk about what to expect from carpet cleaners, let’s talk about your carpets. A few basics will give you a headstart when it comes time to talk with a cleaning company. It’ll be easier for you to decide if they know what they’re talking about.

Types of dirt in carpet

Three main categories of dirt can be found in your carpet: gritty, oily, and wet.

Gritty, or loose dirt comes in all sizes. It’s the most common dirt you think of and what you expect to be cleaned up. You can’t always see it, but you know that it’s there, slowly and silently damaging your carpet fibers.

Oily, or atmospheric dirt is airborne. Think of smoke or pollution or exhaust. This kind of dirt has an oily residue that makes it difficult to remove from fibers and other surfaces. You won’t see it right away, but over time the accumulation of oily dirt will leave carpets greasy and smelly.

Wet dirt or spills can cause an unsightly mess. Sometimes it seems impossible to remove the stains left behind.

Why this matters

Learning about the dirt in your carpets can help you understand the different methods of cleaning that companies will use. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be to talk with a carpet cleaning company. You’ll want to hire a service that can take care of all three kinds of dirt. Otherwise, you’ll find that your carpets still look dull and grimy after your cleaning. Let’s look at what a basic cleaning should cover.

Carpet cleaning principles

When it comes to carpet cleaning, there are five essential principles to any carpet cleaning as outlined by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification or IICRC.

  1. Dry soil removal: Dry soil is removed by doing a thorough vacuuming.
  2. Soil suspension: Soil suspension is the loosening of soils from carpet fibers by applying an agent as a pre-treatment.
  3. Soil extraction: The extraction is the step of carpet cleaning that removes soils from your carpet. The most common method for the process is hot water extraction method (steam cleaning).
  4. Grooming: Just like with grooming a pet, grooming your carpet gets rid of matting and allows for even distribution of the cleaning agent.
  5. Drying: Unless you live in some extreme weather conditions, the drying process should take no longer than 24-hours. Fans and other appliances or devices that get the air moving in your house can help the process finish a little sooner. The best dry times only take about 6-8 hours.

At the bare minimum, any professional carpet cleaning service will execute these five steps/processes.


Very low moisture cleaning

Now that we covered the basics, let’s look at a specific carpet cleaning technique. What seems to be gaining more and more popularity in the industry is called “very low moisture” cleaning (VLM). This is also the method we use at Enviro-Dry.

There are a few variations of VLM cleaning:

  • Bonnet Cleaning
  • Encapsulation
  • Pad Capping
  • Dry Compound Cleaning

The process

At Enviro-Dry, we use the pad capping method, which is similar to encapsulation with just a few differences. Here is a summary of the process:

First off is a quality pre-vacuuming. This removes any loose soils in the carpet, while also loosening and lifting carpet fibers, giving the cleaning solution a better “grip” to your carpet.

Second, the encapsulation chemical is applied to the carpet via a sprayer. The cleaning agent surrounds the dirt and grime on the carpet, which arguably allows for a better clean in the next two steps.

carpet fibers

Third, a rotary machine with special pads is used to pick up the encapsulated dirt from the carpet.

Fourth, a final vacuum will remove any encapsulated dirt or grime not picked up by the pad capping process above.

Fifth, and maybe the best part of the VLM pad capping process, the dry time is usually only 1-2 hours!

Benefits of VLM

Not only does it allow carpets to dry quickly, very low moisture cleaning has other benefits as well. Because it doesn’t use a lot of water to clean, VLM prevents your carpet from stretching and bubbling. The moisture caused during a regular carpet cleaning can ruin the adhesive beneath your carpet and lead to mold and mildew growth. With VLM, neither of these is a problem. In a regular cleaning, where excessive amounts of water are used, the moisture can even damage your subflooring. Lastly, VLM is a cleaner method of carpet cleaning. A regular carpet cleaning takes awhile to dry, which increases the likelihood that someone or something will need to walk across it. The littlest bit of soil on them will cling to the wet carpet, making it dirty again. Because VLM-cleaned carpets dry so quickly, they’ll be more usable and stay cleaner longer.

What to expect from carpet cleaners:

Now that you know the basics of carpet cleaning, let’s talk about the people coming to clean your carpets. Here are five expectations we think you should have for your carpet cleaners.

  • Professional and courteous attitude

There are plenty of horror stories that’ll leave you thinking that customer service is a thing of the past. However, it’s not unreasonable for you to expect your carpet cleaners to be professional and courteous. Not only should they know what they are doing they should also be kind to you – even if you don’t know much about what they are doing. A professional and courteous attitude is essential when looking for a carpet cleaning company. You’re allowing them to enter your home, so make sure you feel comfortable with the people you hire.

  • Certified technicians

Hiring a certified service will put your mind at ease. You might not know all the industry standards and processes, but that’s why you’re paying for their services. Certifications tell you that the company you’ve hired knows what needs to be done and that they can do it well. It also means they’re vouching for their technicians. If their technicians fail to comply, the company’s certification could be taken away.

  • Hygienic method of cleaning

Before coming to your home, the company you hire has probably been to dozens, if not hundreds, of residences. When they bring their equipment into your home, they’ll also bring along any hair, dirt, smoke, etc. from the other places they’ve cleaned. That is unless they clean their equipment between every job. This is part of our 5-star, standard operating procedure at Enviro-Dry and we highly encourage you to look for a company that does it too. Not only will it ensure a better cleaning job, but it’ll keep unnecessary dirt and allergens out of your home.

cat on carpet

  • Satisfaction guaranteed

If a company does not provide a promise of “satisfaction” after services are rendered, then you are inviting a world of hurt. What is promised if a shoddy job is done? Will you receive some remuneration? Make sure you know the company’s guarantees before you hire them. You don’t want to find yourself replacing carpets right before the holidays!

  • Insurance

Making sure that the cleaning company you hire is insured is probably not at the forefront of your mind. However, as soon as a cleaning service ruins your carpet, then it definitely ends up taking precedence in your thinking. A company that is insured gives you a safety net in case a mistake is made that hurts either your property or one of their staff.

Questions to answer before you hire:

We’ve given you a lot of information to digest, so here’s a quick summary. We’ve put it in the form of questions. Hopefully, this will be an easy checklist to work through as you review different cleaning companies.

  1. Will they clean their equipment before they come to my house?
  2. How will they clean my carpets?
  3. Did they explain their process satisfactorily?
  4. Will they address specific concerns that I have, like pet urine, stains, allergies, etc.?
  5. Do they seem friendly and knowledgeable?
  6. Do I feel comfortable letting them into my home?
  7. What kind of certification do they have?
  8. Is the company insured?
  9. What do they charge, and are their fees reasonable?
  10. Do they offer any guarantees on their work?

Now you know what to expect from carpet cleaners…

We hope you found this information useful. Now that you know what to expect from carpet cleaners, we hope you’ll be able to find the best company to get the job done right. Feel free to peruse our FAQs and carpet cleaning services page if you want to read more about the methods we use.

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