Portland carpet cleaning pro gives tips for homeowners
James Marsh, owner/operator
Top Notch Carpet Cleaning
James Marsh started his carpet cleaning business a decade ago. He credits his success to providing good communication and customer service.
Angie’s List members have appreciated the help; their reports helped Top Notch earn the Super Service Award in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Assuming regular wear and tear, how often should I have my carpet cleaned?
You should clean it when it looks dirty. Some of my customers clean their carpets every three months, and some do it every five years. I suggest vacuuming once or twice a week, depending on whether you have pets. To remove pet stains, some customers use a mixture of half distilled vinegar and half water. Although it will make your house smell like vinegar for a short while, it will equalize the high pH in pet urine and kill the stain.
I also trust Biokleen's Bac-out, found in high-end grocery stores, which also works well on pet stains. As for pet hair, almost all new vacuums come standard with the High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) allergen-reducing filters. Cost doesn't make a difference. Keep your vacuum filter clean, and your vacuum unplugged when not in use.
Hiring a professional to clean your carpet is less strain on your back! A steam-cleaning machine may take a homeowner five hours to use. It only takes me about 90 minutes, and costs $120. If you're going to do it yourself, the trick is not to put the detergent right into the home cleaning machine. Instead, pour it into a clean, empty spray bottle and spray it directly on the carpet. Then use a push broom to work the detergent into the carpet fibers. (It's like pre-soaking your dishes and then rinsing them off).
Then, you put a mixture of hot water and one cup of distilled vinegar into the machine and go over the carpet a few times. Make sure to cover it at least once with no solution to soak up any extra moisture. This process works to keep dirt from sticking to the detergent over time. It's as close to a professional cleaning as you can get. For water-damaged carpet, I suggest hiring a professional who can handle mold, or ripping out the carpet and replacing it. It'll cost you about the same.
Nice oriental rugs should be cleaned by oriental rug professionals who shampoo them by hand, ring them out and hang them up to dry. That can cost between $2-$4 a square foot. I suggest only buying nylon carpets. Acrylic carpets are made from recycled plastic and are stain resistant, but traffic patterns will crush the carpet within its first year. Scotchgarding is a waste of time on polyester/plastic carpets, since it can't penetrate the fibers. It's a gimmick.
Nylons are the only carpets you should Scotchgard. Wool carpets wear the best, but they have to be cleaned differently, and it's not worth the extra cost. For regular carpet cleaning, I charge by the room. If a customer vacuums the carpets first and moves smaller items and furniture out of the way before I arrive, the overall cost will be cheaper. The best time to call is now through early spring. It's our slow season.