How much should carpet cleaning cost?
Carpet cleaning costs depend on the type of cleaning requested and the number of add-ons purchased by a homeowner. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Peter V. of Chicago)
Hiring a professional carpet cleaning service is a great way to deal with general wear and tear or to remove a particularly tough stain. Homeowners often wonder, however, what to expect for a carpet cleaning cost and how to know if they're being overcharged.
The two ways companies price carpet cleaning jobs
Because every home is a different size and houses can contain one of several types of carpets, there's no "one size fits all" category for carpet cleaning prices. There are, however, two common ways companies determine cost.
Companies may charge per room, meaning they offer a flat cleaning rate for each room in a home. There are typically size-caps in this method, so companies may treat rooms over the maximum square footage as two rooms. Companies typically charge extra for moving furniture, so homeowners need to move couches, entertainment centers and other large objects to keep costs down.
Angie’s List members report paying $25 to $75 per room for carpet cleaning, with the cost varying depending on where they live.
Companies may also charge per square foot. If you own a smaller home, you will typically pay more because the company needs to offset travel and material costs; those with larger homes will pay slightly less per square foot because equipment set up and material requirements are fixed.
Average rates run between $0.30 and $0.50 per square foot, and should include all labor, products and a guarantee about the standard of clean — for example, in compliance with the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) guidelines.
Different types of carpet cleaning cost different amounts
The type of carpet cleaning you choose also affects the cost. The most popular method, known as steam cleaning, uses hot water extraction. This kind of cleaning doesn't actually use steam but instead uses high pressure to push very hot water, along with a cleaning solution, into carpet. The resulting moisture is then removed via suction, and the carpet needs at least 24 hours to fully dry.
Most carpet manufacturers recommend this method for deep cleaning and often require homeowners to use steam cleaning in order to keep the warranty on their flooring valid. Companies may use either portable electric cleaners or vehicle-mounted equipment for more powerful suction.
Dry cleaning, also known as "low moisture" or "encapsulation" cleaning, uses a chemical solution and minimal water for a quicker clean, but it can't reach as deep as powerful wet cleaning methods.
"Dry cleaning isn't as effective as steam cleaning because nothing reaches deep into the fibers to release dirt," says Dan Ayoub, owner of highly rated Ayoub Carpet Service of Chantilly, Virginia.
With dry cleaning, homeowners don't need to wait as long before walking on their carpet, though some companies may ask you to vacate the home during cleaning to prevent accidental chemical inhalation.
Dry cleaning typically falls into the lower cost range for carpet cleaning, as it doesn't require as much labor or equipment.
Considering extra costs
While most carpet cleaning services now offer an upfront fee that covers all basic costs, it's still possible to incur some add-on costs. The first is for targeted spot cleaning: in some cases, a standard service won't be able to remove a stain completely and will require further followup. This may be covered under an initial contract, but homeowners need to know exactly what they're paying for and what requires an added cost. Many companies have also added extra services, such as color repair and dyeing, as well as dry and steam cleaning services.
For a cost, typically assessed at an hourly rate, the company will correct carpet discolored by a stain or restore portions of a carpet to its original color. Always ask for references and guarantees if you choose to use this kind of service.
Carpet cleaning costs depend on the way a company determines rates, the type of cleaning requested and the number of add-ons purchased by a homeowner. No matter the final total, however, homeowners should always receive a transparent, easily understandable invoice detailing what they owe and exactly what it covers.
Editor's Note: This is an updated version of an article originally published on May 20, 2013.