Along with high-quality work, pay close attention to cost. Some cleaners will push services you don’t need, and prices for identical services can vary from company to company by more than 100 percent. Add-ons (carpet protectors, deodorizers) can turn a low price into a high one. And be wary of companies advertising extremely low per-room or per-rug prices; some companies use them as bait and charge a lot more.

Our Ratings Tables report pricing details gathered by our undercover shoppers for carpet and rug cleaning work. Click here for discussion of rug cleaning work and prices.

Using the prices we collected and report on our Ratings Tables, we calculated price comparison scores for each type of work, showing how each company’s prices compared to the average company’s prices. Price comparison scores are adjusted so that the average score is $100; a score of $90, for instance, means that the company’s prices were 10 percent below average.

For carpet, our Ratings Tables report prices quoted by companies to our undercover shoppers to clean in several specific rooms: a combination of living room, dining room, and hall totaling 330 square feet plus an additional room measuring 130 square feet (460 square feet total). For the sample areas measuring 460 square feet, per-square-foot prices for hot-water-extraction cleaning of medium-color domestic pile ranged from $.35 or less to more than $.55.

A carpet or rug in bad condition (or of a different type than our examples) and adding extra services might mean you get quoted different prices than our shoppers did. If you describe your carpet and calculate the square footage, most cleaners will quote prices by phone.

Rug cleaning prices usually are calculated according to size and fabric type, plus charges for pickup and delivery if you don’t haul it in. Several factors determine what you’ll pay for carpet cleaning work:

  • Type of carpet—Some companies charge extra to clean very-light-colored carpet, while some charge less for commercial-grade carpet.
  • Wool, more prone to warping, shrinking, and other problems, can be pricier to clean than other materials.
  • Extent of soiling—Many companies charge more for badly soiled carpets.
  • Cleaning method—Companies that offer more than one method may charge different amounts for the different methods—with prices for in-home cleaning of several rooms varying by 50 percent or more.
  • Add-ons—A company may recommend, in addition to carpet cleaning, one or more add-on treatments (described below). Since add-ons can double the cost of a basic cleaning, consider whether you need them and find out exactly what they cost. Order add-ons only for the portions of carpet that need them.
  • Steps—Some companies that charge generally low prices for most work charge high prices for cleaning steps.
  • Furniture moving—The prices on our Ratings Tables assume that a typical amount of furniture will have to be moved. Many companies offer small discounts to customers who move their furniture themselves before cleaning.
  • By room or by square foot—Some companies charge per square foot. Others quote for a combination of two or three rooms and for additional rooms. Some quote both ways, so you might save by taking the per-room price if your rooms are large, and opt for the square-foot price if your rooms are small. Note that misunderstandings often arise when companies advertise charges by the “area.” If the meaning of the word “room” can be murky, what constitutes an “area” is even less clear. Some companies count L-shaped rooms as two rooms.
  • Add-on carpet protector applications—For an extra fee, companies will apply carpet protectors, which coat fibers to repel oil and dirt particles. This results in much more effective vacuuming and longer intervals between cleanings. Carpet protectors also mean you can clean up spills before they are absorbed into carpet fibers. While almost all carpets are now treated with a protector at the mill, reapplication may be needed in time. Typically, carpet in heavy-traffic areas loses its protective coating two to four years after purchase; in low-traffic areas, the coating may never be lost. After a carpet loses its coating, it is likely to need retreatment once every 18 months to three years. If you decide you need retreatment, make sure that the company applies a fluorochemical protector after, not during, cleaning. Other types of protectors may actually attract soil and void carpet manufacturers’ warranties.
  • Add-on sanitizing or deodorizer treatment—Odors that arise from mildew (fungus), bacteria, yeast, and other microbes may be reduced or eliminated by a sanitizing agent applied post-cleaning. The cleaning itself will remove most of the microbes, but the sanitizing agent may prevent remaining microbes from multiplying. To be effective, these products must reach the source of the problem. If urine is deep in a carpet pad, reaching it with a sanitizing agent may require overwetting the carpet so severely that the potential harm to the carpet outweighs the possible benefits of odor reduction. For odors such as those from smoke or incense that don’t arise from microbial sources, deodorizers designed to cover up smells might help. But deodorizers often cause more problems than they prevent: To succeed, deodorizers have to remain behind after the cleaning process, which means their presence could attract more dirt later.

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