Your Carpet Is Probably Nasty—Here's Everything to Know About Professional Cleaning

Find out how much carpet cleaning costs, and if you really need it.

<p>dem10/Getty Images</p>

dem10/Getty Images

Whenever I vacuum my carpets, I’m always surprised at how much dust and dirt is sucked out. However, this pales in comparison to what's removed during a more thorough carpet cleaning. Anyone who's seen those carpet cleaning videos online knows that old carpets and rugs can hold onto a shocking amount of disgusting gunk—which vacuuming alone can't remove. While there are DIY carpet cleaning solutions, you may want to bring in the pros for a serious clean, which leads to two questions: How much does carpet cleaning cost and how do you know if you need it? Keep reading to find out more.

Related: How to Clean Rugs and Carpets—Because You May Not Be Doing It Right

How Much Does Carpet Cleaning Cost?

We consulted with David Steckel, home care expert at Thumbtack, and he told us that on average, professional carpet cleaning costs $150-$200. “Carpet cleaning services may charge anywhere from $89-$109 on the low end and $300-$400 on the high end,” Steckel says.

However, he notes that there are a variety of factors that can determine your actual price. “Your carpet's condition, the total square footage of the area that needs to be cleaned, and the type of treatment you choose will impact your carpet cleaning costs.”

While you may be looking for carpet cleaning because of a specific spill or stain in just one room, it can actually sometimes be cheaper to get multiple rooms cleaned. “For example, if the average cost for one room is $94, you may be able get two rooms cleaned for $120, three rooms for $146, and so on,” Steckel explains. “Also, a company might charge a minimum of $250 or they may have a two-room minimum."

Some companies also charge by square footage. “In this case, prices usually start at approximately $0.15-$0.20 per square feet, and go up to an estimated $0.40-$0.50 per square feet," Steckel says. Costs can also increase with cleaning difficulty, with things like carpeted stairs and deep stains, he adds.

Natalie Rebuck, principal designer at Re: Designer Architects, tells us that she has a three-story five-bedroom home. “I typically spend about $2,000 on carpet cleaning per year, but I'm also typically having sofas, chairs, runners on the stairs, and large cushions for benches, ottomans, upholstered headboards, even leather chairs, et cetera, cleaned as well.”

Carpet Cleaning Methods

The type of carpet cleaning treatment or method you choose can also make a difference in cost.

  • Dry Cleaning: (Estimated cost: $215) “Dry cleaning uses a low-moisture system, and the cleaning agents may protect against future stains,” Steckel says. However, Steckel warns that some of the chemicals could be problematic for people with allergies.

  • Steam Cleaning: (Estimated cost: $300) “Steam cleaning removes most dirt, bacteria, and grime from your carpets,” Steckel says. But with this method, be prepared to stay off the carpets for a while, since it will take some time to dry.

  • Carpet Shampooing: (Estimated cost: $240) This method typically involves a machine that includes one tank with cleaning solution or shampoo and another tank that holds the dirty water once removed from the carpet.

  • Encapsulation: (Estimated cost: $0.20 per square foot) The process of encapsulation involves a liquid or foam detergent that crystalizes into a vacuumable powder as it dries.

  • Bonnet Cleaning: (Estimated cost: $25 per room) This method is popular in commercial buildings and involves a heavy-duty machine with a motorized spinning pad covered in cleaning solution.

Pros and Cons of Professional Carpet Cleaning

One advantage of professional carpet cleaning is thoroughness. “Professional carpet cleaning offers a thorough and deep clean, effectively removing dirt, allergens, and stains that regular vacuuming may not tackle,” Steckel says. “This promotes a healthier indoor environment, especially for individuals with allergies or respiratory issues.”

Also, if you don’t want to lug equipment around, professional carpet cleaning means you don't have to do all the pushing, pulling, moving furniture, etc. yourself.

“One potential downside of professional carpet cleaning is the cost associated with the service, which can be relatively high depending on the size of the area and the extent of cleaning required,” Steckel says.

In addition, he notes that you’ll be inconvenienced for a while as the carpets dry. The more rooms you clean, the less space you’ll be able to access, while the floors are wet.

“To determine if it's worth it, consider factors such as the carpet's age, level of foot traffic, and any specific stains or odors that need addressing, weighing these against the cost of the cleaning service,” Steckel advises.  “Effective cleaning can help you extend the life of your carpet and save on premature replacement.”

Rebuck agrees. “While spot cleaning is the way to handle messes in the moment, the reality is we all need to be cleaning our carpets and fabric items in the home at least once a year in high traffic areas, and every-other-year in less used spaces.”

DIY Alternatives to Professional Carpet Cleaning

However, you can also clean your carpets yourself. The Rug Doctor, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Bissell are just some of the companies that will let you rent a carpet cleaner from a local store. Estimated prices are around $30 to $40 a day. Rentals tend to include an upholstery hand tool for cleaning stairs and furniture.

Another alternative—the most cost-effective method—may be to purchase your own carpet cleaner:

  • The Bissell Revolution HydroSteam Pet Carpet Cleaner ($399) uses HydroSteam Technology to remove stuck-on messes, and also has a SteamWash Max Clean Mode to remove tracked-in dirt and debris. In addition, the Quick Dry Mode lets you refresh and dry carpets in 30 minutes. The carpet cleaner comes with a tough stain tool, and a pet upholstery tool.

  • The Shark CarpetXpert ($299), uses high-pressure spray, powerful suction, and a high-speed brushroll. It can penetrate deep into carpet fibers without oversoaking them, and has ultra-fast dry times. The carpet cleaner can be used on carpets and area rugs, furniture, and stairs, and includes a handheld stain eliminator that can be used on upholstery, as well as a pet tool to remove debris and liquid.

You can save a significant amount of money by purchasing your own carpet cleaning machine. Not only is it more cost effective, but this allows you to clean your carpets whenever you want to.

Related: The Best Homemade Carpet Cleaners for Removing Stains From Every Type of Rug

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