Getting your carpets cleaned? Make sure you know what ‘room’ really means

WASHINGTON — Whether you’re preparing for holiday guests or trying to recover from spills left behind after the party — a local consumers’ group has tips for hiring carpet cleaners.

“For sure, when you’re getting prices from different companies make sure what they mean by a room,” said Kevin Brasler, executive editor at “You may have an ‘L’ shaped room they count as two different rooms.”

When comparison shopping, Brasler said it’s easy to get estimates from carpet cleaners over the phone or via email. Just be sure to find out how they count those ‘L’ shaped rooms, detail how many rooms you have, how they measure and the number of hallways and steps there are.

“Some of these companies charge about $5 per step. Well, if you have a town house or some place with a lot of steps — you’re going to pay a fortune if you use those companies,” Brasler warned.

Also, beware companies that brag about using low or no moisture techniques that won’t promote mildew.

“A company that’s diligent at using hot water extraction equipment isn’t going to create a moisture problem for you,” Brasler said. “That’s really more of a problem with lousy companies than it is with good companies.”

What about rugs?

When rug cleaners promote that they ‘hand wash’ rugs, Brasler said few if any are actually getting on their hands and knees to do the cleaning.

“Really what rug cleaners should do is use what’s called an immersion method where they lay the rug down in a factory and use a lot of water and scrubbing machines to get it clean. So, companies that say they can come in and clean your rug in your home — those companies, in general, you probably want to avoid,” Brasler advised.

Before getting rugs and or carpets cleaned, Brasler advises:

  • Get multiple estimates — prices can vary dramatically
  • Point out to workers where stains are and what caused them
  • Get a written guarantee to at least have the work redone if you’re not happy with results

Checkbook details numbers of benefits to having the work done:

  • Improves home air quality
  • Spruces up the look of your home
  • Helps carpets and rugs last longer

Through a special arrangement with Washington Consumers’ Checkbook, readers can see Checkbook ratings on carpet and rug cleaners for a limited time.

Consumers’ Checkbook/Center for the Study of Services is an independent, nonprofit consumer organization founded in 1974. It has been an innovator in providing information to help consumers make smarter choices for more than 40 years.

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