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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.

What’s the best way to set up a consultation or an appointment with a professional carpet cleaner during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Set up a virtual appointment to discuss the scope of work. Conducting the consultation over video conference or phone call will ensure that you remain within the CDC's social distancing guidelines

Start by messaging a professional steam cleaner or carpet cleaner near you, and ask them if they would be willing to talk by phone or video call. Be sure to ask them how they handle payments and what precautions they have in place to keep you and your household safe. 

How can I find out if a professional carpet cleaner is considered an essential COVID-19 service provider?

Local and federal governments are currently in the process of defining essential services guidelines, and it’s best to read them to see whether professional carpet cleaning or steam cleaning is considered essential. A good place to start is with your city or state’s government website.

The CISA's Identifying Critical Infrastructure During COVID-19 webpage identifies 16 critical infrastructure sectors on a federal level. Some, but not all, jurisdictions follow CISA’s definitions of critical infrastructure.

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.

Can I use digital payments to pay for professional carpet cleaning?

It’s common for professional carpet cleaners to accept digital payments such as Square Cash, Venmo, Google Pay, Zelle, PayPal and others. The current COVID-19 pandemic is quickly encouraging other companies to digitally transform as well. Make sure the carpet cleaner you hire will accept a digital payment instead of cash or check, and come up with a strategy for complying with social distancing regulations.

Compare carpet cleaners near you to see which types of payments they accept.

Does a professional carpet cleaner or steam cleaner need to enter my home?

Because the majority of carpet cleaning and steam cleaning jobs take place in someone’s home, it’s likely that a professional carpet cleaner would need to enter your home.

When you contact carpet cleaners near you, ask if they will do a video call in place of a standard consultation. Send photos and other materials digitally. Practice safe social distancing at all times, and follow both local and CDC guidelines.

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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