After our home and car, the furnishings in our home are often the third biggest expense in our lives. When you add up the cost of the carpets, upholstery, rugs, curtains and other fabrics in your home, the result can be a surprisingly large amount of money. So, how do you know if you should call the experts in or tackle deep cleaning yourself?
It doesn’t matter how careful you are – eventually everything will need cleaning. With the fabrics in your home, (and yes, carpets are a fabric), keeping them clean not only keeps them looking good, it dramatically extends the life of the items too. In fact, the vast majority of manufacturers’ warranties on carpets are only valid if you have them professionally cleaned at the correct intervals – usually 12 to 18 months.
How to keep your furnishings clean
Obviously, regular vacuum cleaning is very important as is dealing promptly and appropriately with spills and accidents. But there comes a time when deep cleaning is required. So should you try to do this yourself? Or bring in a professional?To get the best results and prevent any damage, it’s essential you understand the fibre type and construction of what you’re cleaning and the type of soil you’re dealing with. This will indicate the appropriate cleaning methods and products.
As a homeowner, it’s unlikely you will have this level of knowledge to clean safely and reach the standards you would expect from a professional.
Avoiding supermarket cleaning products
Consumer cleaning products promise the earth in TV adverts but they really aren’t all they are cracked up to be. The same applies to the cleaning machines you can hire from many supermarkets and DIY stores. If they were half as good as they are made out to be, as a professional I would be using them too. Not likely!
I regularly get calls from homeowners who have attempted to clean items themselves and it has gone horribly wrong. You might think that anything sold to the public would be safe but these products and machines often cause bleaching, colour run, fibre damage, rapid re-soiling and lots of other issues.
DIY cleaning disasters
These photos show the damage caused by a DIY carpet clean.
You can see how the carpet has shrunk away from the skirting board. It may have been possible to stretch it back in to place, but the carpet had also delaminated.
The latex glue in the backing had failed and the carpet was literally falling apart, meaning the only option was to replace it – a very expensive mistake!
Using a professional cleaner will give you better results, keep your precious belongings safe and ultimately save you money. Provided the cleaner you hire really is a professional.
Unfortunately, the cleaning industry is completely unregulated, meaning that anyone can buy or even hire a cleaning machine and call themselves a professional. Just because they want to charge you money for doing a job doesn’t make them a professional!
How to find a true professional?
The best place to start is with the National Carpet Cleaners Association, the NCCA.
To become a member, cleaners must undertake training and pass examinations on assessing items to be cleaned, cleaning methods, fibre identification, carpet and fabric construction, the chemistry of cleaning and more.
Members must also carry Treatment Risk Insurance. This professional indemnity insurance means any item being worked on is covered should any damage be caused by the cleaning process. This isn’t the same as Public Liability Insurance.
Find your local NCCA members.
The benefits of using an NCCA member are explained in their video:
Keeping up to date with industry developments
Members also keep up to date with latest cleaning news through a monthly magazine and have access to a Technical Helpline, which I help to run.
There are, of course, some very professional carpet and upholstery cleaners who aren’t members, but it is difficult for homeowners to check they are properly trained and insured. Using an NCCA member removes any uncertainty.
Should you call a professional, or Do It Yourself?
Not all cleaning problems need a professional, but think of the value of the items you are going to clean and ask yourself a simple question. Is it worth spending a little money to protect an expensive item?
For handy hints and tips on cleaning please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on our website.
You can also tweet us @DirtDetectives