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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.

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 much does it cost to get your carpet cleaned professionally?

The cost of carpet cleaning is generally determined by the type of carpets, stains, square footage and number of rooms that you need cleaned. On average, a professional will charge $94 to clean one room. Two rooms cost an average of $120, and three rooms cost approximately $146. 

To find out how much it will cost to clean your carpets, contact the top-rated professional carpet cleaners near you and ask for free cost estimates.

How much does carpet cleaning cost per square foot?

In some cases, a quote from a carpet cleaning company will depend on the square footage of the room. The lower end of these prices will be between $0.15 and $0.20 per square foot, and they may rise as high as $0.40-$0.50 per square foot. Factors raising the price include the carpet’s condition (are there stains?) and whether they have to clean carpeted stairs, which take longer.

To find out how much it will cost clean your carpets, request cost estimates from pros near you.

How do I find and hire a professional carpet cleaner?

First, take your search online to find the best carpet cleaners near you. Look at their ratings, photos of their past work and customer reviews. Having too many negative reviews can certainly be a bad sign, but you should also pay close attention to how they handle those reviews. 

Before you make your final decision on who to hire, ask yourself these questions:

  • What method of carpet cleaning do you prefer? Steam cleaning is an increasingly popular method because it’s thorough and safe, and dries quickly enough for you to return to your home the same day the carpets are cleaned.
  • Are the pros reputable? It's always a good idea to check their reviews and references. Look for references from people in your neighborhood with homes similar to yours.
  • What’s included in the base price? What other services does the carpet cleaning company offer? Some companies will move furniture for you, while others charge a fee for it. Some include stairs in the cost of the home’s cleaning, while others charge per step.

Ask a few carpet cleaners to provide you with an estimate for your home, and compare their quotes to decide on the best one for you. You should also check to make sure that the contractor holds the proper insurance and licenses. 

Is it worth getting carpets professionally cleaned?

Purchasing a steam cleaner yourself may help to remove stubborn stains, but it simply won’t match the deep clean and efficiency that comes from hiring a professional carpet cleaner. Pros have powerful tools that can quickly remove even the most stubborn stains. 

If you’re selling your home, clean carpets can make your home more appealing to prospective buyers. And the expense is offset when you consider that you only need to get your carpets cleaned about once a year. Plus, professional carpet cleaning can extend the life of your carpets, saving you money in the long run.

How long does carpet cleaning take?

Given the way it can transform the carpet, cleaning happens remarkably quickly. You can expect an average size room to require about 20 minutes to thoroughly clean.

The job could take longer for several reasons. If the stains are widespread or particularly deep, the professional cleaner might need to spend more time removing them. They may also need to take time to move furniture out of the way.

Who cleans couches?

Even if your furniture doesn’t appear dirty or stained, your couches are collecting just as much dust, pollen, germs, pet hair and dander, and even food crumbs as your carpets. In general, the same professionals who clean your carpets and drapes can also clean your couches. Carpet cleaners usually offer upholstery cleaning services as well, and may offer a discount if you have your carpets cleaned at the same time. Alternatively, you can choose from a range of professional upholstery cleaners in your area who specialize in cleaning different types of upholstery fabrics, including delicate antique fabrics and other hard-to-clean materials such as suede. In addition to deep-cleaning the entire piece of furniture, sofa cleaners can spot-treat food, pet, and oil and grease stains. Most professionals also offer services to sanitize and deodorize your furniture and apply protectants to prevent future stains. As with carpets, experts recommend that you have your upholstered furniture cleaned once every year or two, depending on how much use it gets and whether you have children and pets.

How much does upholstery cleaning cost?

The cost to have your upholstered furniture cleaned depends mostly on two factors: the size of the furniture and the type of fabric. The national average cost of upholstery cleaning ranges from $120 to $150. Most people have multiple pieces cleaned at once, but sofa cleaners will come to your home for just one heavily soiled couch or to spot-treat stains. The smaller the furniture, the lower the cost: A lounge chair may cost an average of $50 to clean, while a couch costs an average of $135 and an L-shaped sectional costs an average of $190. Delicate materials such as antique fabrics or suede upholstery are more expensive to clean than sturdier ones. Having the sofa cleaner do repairs will also add to the cost. Repairs such as mending a tear in fabric or patching a hole in leather may be charged by the task or by the hour; in general, repairs cost an average of $15 each. Special or delicate fabrics may cost additional fees, too.

How much does it cost to clean a rug?

Area rugs are typically found in high-traffic areas of the home, like hallways and entryways, so they collect more dirt and stains than simple vacuuming can handle. Similar to carpet cleaning, professionals can come to your home to deep-clean your area rugs. The national average cost for rug cleaning ranges from $80 to $120, but may be higher or lower depending on the rug’s size and fiber type. Rug cleaners generally charge by the square foot; for example, a standard 8-foot by 10-foot rug costs an average of $100 to clean. Natural fiber rugs, such as wool or silk, are usually more expensive to have cleaned than synthetic rugs. A carpeting cleaning company may charge on average $1.50 per square foot to clean a synthetic rug, $2 per square foot for a wool rug, and $3 per square foot for a silk rug. Some delicate rugs need to be washed by hand, which increases the price. Carpet cleaning companies often offer additional services, such as removing odors or applying moth deterrent, which can add 20 cents to 25 cents per square foot.

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