It may be tempting to be a DIY carpet cleaner, but is it worth the risk?
(Article source : Angie’s List)
New carpet is one of the biggest investments you can make in your home, and many homeowners take comfort in knowing their purchase is backed by a manufacturer warranty.
But your carpet warranty won’t protect you if you don’t follow proper carpet cleaning and maintenance instructions. And while it may be tempting to save money by becoming a DIY carpet cleaner, doing it on your own could cost you down the road.
Carpet cleaning done right
Many carpet manufacturers have strict requirements when it comes to cleaning and maintenance, and failure to follow manufacturer instructions can render your warranty invalid.
“Carpet warranties are pretty straightforward,” says Pete Duncanson, chairman and acting president of the IICRC. “Some of them will actually say, ‘Use a professional cleaner.’”
Manufacturers also often have requirements that outline how often the carpet must be cleaned.
Mohawk rugs, for example, require a minimum of one professional cleaning every 18 months using products and equipment certified with the Carpet and Rug Institute Seal of Approval.
The risks of DIY carpet cleaning
Unless you have an old carpet nearing the end of its life and you can’t afford a professional carpet cleaning, resist the urge to clean it yourself, says Steve Chapman, retired owner of Chapman’s Cleaning Service and former ServiceMaster franchisee in Brownsburg, Indiana.
“You should always have it professionally cleaned unless it’s way out of warranty,” he says.
For the most part, customers lack the training and expertise of IICRC-trained professionals.
And while carpet cleaner rental can seem like a viable option, homeowners generally don’t have access to the equipment and cleaning solutions necessary to get the job done right and stick to IICRC standards.
“There’s a cavalcade of things that can go wrong,” Duncanson says.
Steam cleaner rentals often don’t have enough power to fully rinse and extract shampoo or cleaning solution from the carpet, Chapman says.
The residue left behind attracts dirt, which will cause your carpet to get soiled faster.
Store-bought cleaning solutions and spot treatments only remove stains on the surface of the carpet, Duncanson says, and one-step carpet cleaners violate a cardinal rule of carpet cleaning.
“There’s no clear water rinse or extraction,” which means that the product is never completely rinsed out of the carpet, Duncanson explains. Spot cleaners also leave behind residue that can attract more dirt and cause more stains.
“Anything that leaves shampoo or cleaning solution in the carpet is unacceptable,” Chapman adds.
“It would be like washing your clothes on the wash cycle alone, taking it out before the rinse cycle and putting it in the dryer,” he says. “It would come out sticky.”
Inexperienced carpet cleaners can also do more harm than good. Using the wrong cleaning products or rubbing instead of blotting stains will only make the problem worse.
Duncanson says he was recently at a church gathering when someone spilled coffee on the carpet. Despite his protests, he says he watched churchgoers pour water onto the stain, rubbing the spot with towels in an attempt to remove it.
“A little cup of coffee, maybe a two-inch stain, became a spot on the carpet almost 2-feet wide,” he says. “Things like coffee or wine — those are things that require a professional to get out.”
Hiring the right carpet cleaner
Even hiring a professional carpet cleaning service won’t protect you if you don’t follow the requirements on your warranty.
Protecting your investment
Installing new carpet can be a big deal, and comes with a big price tag.
In 2014, Angie’s List members reported paying between $775 and $1,100 per room for new carpet and padding.
Some customers believe that buying a stain-resistant carpet with a warranty means they’re guaranteed to get decades out of their carpet.
“The big mistake is they believe the stain resistance is bulletproof,” Duncanson says. The only way to guarantee a long life for your carpet — and make sure it remains covered under warranty — is to follow the guidelines on the warranty.
“You wouldn’t buy a car and not change the oil,” Duncanson says. “You can get 100,000 miles out of it if you maintain it — it’s the same with your carpet.”
In addition to following the care instructions to the letter, customers should keep receipts from each professional carpet cleaning.
“Keep your receipts and get the credentials of who’s cleaning (your carpet),”