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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.

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

The best way to set up a consultation with a house cleaner during the COVID-19 pandemic is by using virtual, online tools. Start by performing an online search for local house cleaners. Message them to set up either a phone call or video call to perform a consultation. During this call, they can give you recommendations and may be able to estimate the cost of their services. Be sure to discuss whether they accept virtual payments and any precautions they can take to perform the job safely.

How often should you get your air ducts cleaned?

How often you should clean your air ducts depends on your situation. If you or someone in the home has asthma or is acutely allergic to certain airborne materials or pollen, regular duct cleaning may be helpful. The Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t have an official position on the necessity of air duct cleaning unless the ducts have been contaminated by rodents, insects or mold, or you are aware of particles blowing out through the vents. The EPA recommends you have your air ducts cleaned on an as-needed basis. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) suggests having air ducts cleaned every three to five years.

Be cautious with companies that offer “whole house air duct cleaning,” urges the NADCA. The company may be using unscrupulous tactics to upsell you once they get started. Before any work begins, always clarify in writing what the job entails and what the cost will be. To protect yourself against fraud, read customer reviews and verify that your HVAC cleaning service has applicable licenses and certifications.

Why is it important to clean your gutters?

Rain gutters, those easily-forgotten trenches that hang off the edge of your roof, protect your roof, walls and foundation from excess rainwater. When they get clogged with leaves, sticks and other wind-blown debris, they can no longer direct water away from your walls and foundation, and may become homes for pests and insects. They also become heavy enough to pull away from the house, preventing proper rainwater drainage and spoiling the appearance of your home. Experts recommend inspecting and cleaning your gutters twice a year, once in spring and once in fall, as part of your regular landscaping schedule. Gutter cleaning and maintenance is a fairly easy DIY job for some homeowners, especially on one-story homes. However, professional gutter cleaners have ladders tall enough to safely reach rain gutters, as well as the necessary tools to clean out the downspouts. Most gutter cleaning professionals can also make any necessary quick repairs.

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.

Do you need to clean your air ducts?

Air duct cleaning is done by heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals. The pros use industrial-strength, truck-mounted vacuums and powerful brushes and hoses to clean inside the metal ducts that make up your forced air heating and cooling system. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends duct cleaning if there is “substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface ducts, ducts that are infested with vermin such as rodents or insects, or ducts that are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.”

You should also have air ducts cleaned after recent water contamination or water damage to prevent mold; after renovations or remodeling to ensure debris and dust didn’t settle in the vents and ducts; if you are having problems with allergies or asthma; or when you are moving into a newly purchased home, especially if the previous owners smoked or had pets. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends getting your air ducts cleaned every three to five years, or every two to three years in regions where homeowners use their air conditioning and heater for many months of the year, while the EPA suggests homeowners have duct cleaning done as needed.

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.

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