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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

What is upholstery cleaning?

From your carpets to your drapes to your furniture, all fabrics need to be cleaned. Cleaning upholstery, or the fabric on your furniture, removes the dirt and oils that are transferred to couches and chairs through regular use. Because furniture upholstery can be delicate and colors can fade easily, it’s often a good idea to let professional sofa cleaners handle the job. They’ll determine the type of fabric — usually cotton, linen, wool, suede or microfiber — and the appropriate method for cleaning it, either steam-cleaning or applying a dry-cleaning solvent. In general, cleaning an entire piece of furniture includes a pretreatment, cleaning, and neutralizing rinse to the body, plus removing and cleaning all cushions and cleaning all crevices.

An upholstery cleaner may clean the entire piece of furniture, on a regular schedule or by request, or do spot treatments to remove pet, food, drink, or oil and grease stains. Furniture can also be deodorized to remove the smell of pets or tobacco smoke. Furniture that’s used often, like that in your family room, should be cleaned once a year to keep it fresh and extend its life. Sofa cleaners often also offer repair services to mend tears in fabric or patch holes in leather.

How often should carpets be steam cleaned?

Dirty carpets can be unhealthy for the people living in the home, particularly those who have allergies, so it’s important to have them cleaned regularly; simply vacuuming once or twice a week isn’t enough. Carpet cleaning should be done by a professional carpet cleaning service at least once a year to remove grime and help extend the life of your carpet. Most carpet manufacturers recommend professional steam cleaning, which penetrates deep into the carpet fibers and lifts out both dirt and the pollutants that get tracked inside. Steam cleaning also removes most of the moisture, so carpets dry quickly enough for homeowners to resume using them the same day. Between professional carpet cleanings, your carpet may need an emergency spot cleaning. Pet accidents, food or drink spills, and more can often be effectively cleaned with some water and a drop of white vinegar, although many cleaners will also make house calls for smaller spills and hard-to-clean spots like wine or grease stains.

Who cleans area rugs?

Like your carpets, area rugs should ideally be cleaned at least once a year to remove dust and dirt and help them last longer. In general, carpet cleaning professionals also clean area rugs. Some rug cleaners bring their cleaning equipment to your home, while others remove your area rugs and clean them at their facilities. Either way, the rug should be cleaned with the solution most appropriate to its specific fabric and construction. It should also be completely dry before you return it to the floor.

How can I get my grout clean?

Dirt, mildew and grime can make your grout lines look downright tragic. If you have the ability, DIY tile and grout cleaning is definitely doable. Your main obstacles are time, project size, availability of the right materials and effort. Your first step in tile and grout cleaning is making sure the surface area is cleaned of basic dirt and buildup and wiped down. Be sure not to use a bleach-based cleaning agent, which could react dangerously with the vinegar used in later steps.

Depending on the delicacy of your tile and grout, it may be wise to start with water and friction before proceeding to a cleaning solution. In the shower you can spray the area while brushing gently, or use a spray bottle filled with warm water on countertops or floors. If water won’t do the trick, try a solution of equal parts warm water and white vinegar, and repeat the gentle brushing motion. This combination should begin to lift dirt and grime from the grout. For additional tile and grout cleaning power, baking soda applied directly to grout lines and sprayed with your water vinegar solution can help suds off sticky grime. If your DIY cleaning solutions aren’t doing the trick, store-bought sprays and pastes may have more cleansing power. Rinse thoroughly after cleaning and enjoy your sparkling clean grout.

Tile and grout cleaning supplies include:

  • Old standard or electric toothbrush
  • Stiff bristle brush
  • Spray bottle
  • White vinegar
  • Commercial grout cleaner

What are the different types of house cleaning services I can get?

There are several services offered by professional house cleaning companies, each suited for a different purpose. These services include:

  • Standard cleaning, which is a basic cleaning typically done on a weekly or monthly basis;
  • Deep cleaning, which is a detailed cleaning with more intensive work than a standard clean;
  • Move-in and move-out cleaning, which is a detailed service preparing a home for residents moving in or out;
  • Green house cleaning, which is a service that uses eco-friendly cleaning supplies and products. 

Aside from the type of cleaning services available, homeowners may also choose daily, weekly, monthly or one-time services.

How much is a house cleaning?

The national average cost for house cleaning ranges between $25 and $50 per hour, per cleaner. However, the cost of house cleaning services near you might be different.

House cleaning prices vary based on how many square feet your home is, how dirty your house gets and how often the cleaning service comes. And, prices can be lower in areas with a lower cost of living, higher in big cities or affluent regions.

Some companies charge a set amount — such as 5 cents — per square foot, with a minimum amount, such as $100. You may save money by increasing the frequency of your house cleaning visits. Often a company will charge you less per cleaning when you schedule more cleanings per month. The cost advantage rewards your loyalty, and also reflects the fact that more frequent cleanings make it easier to maintain a high level of cleanliness in your home. A housecleaning service may charge more for the first visit or for one-time services than for recurring cleanings.

To learn more about the cost of house cleaning, visit our House Cleaning Cost Guide.

How much does a move-out cleaning cost?

Moving is hard enough work even before you have to clean the empty home to perfection. Instead of scrubbing your tile grout with a toothbrush, hire a professional cleaning company to provide move-out cleaning services for you. For moving out of an apartment, cleaning prices can range from $110 to $150. When scheduling a move-out cleaning, talk with the pro and confirm all the key points they will clean to ensure you receive your deposit back.

Important areas to have cleaned include the fridge interior, the oven interior, bathroom tile, the shower and tub, all blinds, and sometimes the walls. Some cleaning companies do not quote a flat rate for a move-out cleaning, as the number of hours it may take to clean structurally identical apartments could vary greatly depending on how clean or dirty the inhabitants were. For example, move-out house cleaning prices may range from $150 to $180 for one- or two-bedroom apartments.

How much is commercial window cleaning?

The national average cost to clean windows is $120-$170. Typically, window washing for commercial spaces costs less per window than residential window washing, but has a higher overall price because the greater number of windows. Commercial window cleaning companies may charge a standard rate per window — for example, $3 to clean the exterior only, with a higher rate of $4 or $5 to also clean the interior. There may be an additional charge, such as an extra $1 per window, for scrubbing off water stains or deep-cleaning window tracks. Double-hung windows require more labor and will therefore cost more to clean. Companies may charge a flat rate, such as $8 per double-hung window or $9 per French door, to account for the added work. Building height will play a factor in window washing costs. Standard cleaning for one- and two-story buildings will typically stay within the same range, but cleaning high-rise windows may entail special safety permits and equipment, which would increase costs. Your location will also affect window washing costs. Smaller towns and areas with a lower cost to do business will have lower window cleaning rates than large cities.

What is steam cleaning?

Steam cleaning is an increasingly popular method of carpet cleaning that uses hot water and a detergent solution. The carpet cleaning machine sprays the solution onto your carpet, then sprays hot water on top to activate it. The machine then sucks up the majority of the water, extracting grime and pollutants from the carpet fibers. Steam cleaning is generally considered a safe way to clean carpets because it doesn’t use chemicals that are unhealthy for people or risky for the carpet fibers. Professional carpet cleaners use machines that are more powerful than home cleaners, so they can suck up more dirt and leave the floors dryer. Because steam cleaning penetrates the surface of the carpet, it removes far more dirt, pet hair, dust mites and other debris than vacuuming does. Steam cleaning is also commonly used for cleaning furniture and mattresses, so steam cleaning companies may offer these services bundled with carpet cleaning services.

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