While carpet is a long-lasting flooring choice, it needs regular cleaning to maintain its character.

The question is “how much should you pay for carpet cleaning?” And is price an indicator of a quality clean?

This article has tips on what to ask before you hire a carpet cleaning pros and how much you’re likely to pay for a variety of common tasks.

Why have your carpets cleaned?

Picture this: at a recent dinner party you hosted, the ever-enthusiastic Mr Jones spilled his glass of fine red wine all over your white carpet. Or perhaps the dog bounded in from the rain, leaving muddy footprints throughout the house. Maybe you’re moving out and need your carpets professionally cleaned to satisfy the landlord. Whether it’s from general wear or spills, your carpet is likely to get grimy and will need a clean at some point.

What jobs can a carpet cleaner do?

Besides the obvious task of carpet cleaning, what else can a carpet cleaning service help with?

  • Carpet and fabric protection are specially formulated treatments that provide a barrier against damage from liquid spills and help to repel dirt.
  • Steam cleaning uses hot water that is sprayed onto the carpet surface and is then extracted at high pressure.
  • Dry cleaning is a less invasive alternative to steam cleaning that is suitable for less soiled surfaces.
  • Upholstery cleaning, typically of fabric furniture helps to prolong its life and look.
  • Rug cleaning is required to prevent dirt getting ingrained and permanently damaging the fabrics.

The cost of DIY carpet cleaning

Supermarket shelves sport an assortment of carpet cleaning products for you to use yourself. The trouble is, there’s no guarantee the product will work. In fact, it may make the stain worse! Many store-bought products also aren’t suitable for some carpet materials. It can be tricky to know what cleaner to use on which carpet. This is why it’s often a better idea to call in a professional carpet cleaner, especially if you need to clean a large area.

Dry cleaning vs steam cleaning – which is best?

The next question to ask yourself is whether you need a basic dry clean or a steam clean. Don’t worry if you don’t know, as some carpet cleaner carry equipment for both and advise you on which is the most suitable.

The decision depends on when your carpet was last clean, its fibre, the degree of staining and whether the carpet is in a home or office. When contacting carpet cleaning companies, you should ask whether they offer both methods. Steam cleaning works from a vehicle-mounted or portable machine. This is a powerful and thorough cleaning method that is more effective than dry cleaning, which uses less water and is not as intensive.

What does my carpet cleaning quote include?

Before hiring a carpet cleaning professional, it’s important to find out what their quote includes. Is stain, spot removal and deodorising included? Do they charge extra to move large items of furniture such as cupboards and beds?

Does my carpet cleaner need to be licensed?

No – the cleaning industry as a whole is unregulated and there are no formal qualifications required.

A common problem is over wetting of a carpet. This can damage your carpet underlay and lead to the growth of mould. Ensure your service uses the correct techniques and equipment to prevent this.

Questions to ask your carpet cleaning service?

Make sure you screen your carpet cleaning service before you hire them. Some questions to ask them include:

  • How long have you been operating?
  • Do you have references I can follow up?
  • Are you a member of an association?
  • Are you able to provide a written quote?
  • How long will my job take?
  • How long will my carpet take to dry?

How much does carpet cleaning cost?

Most carpet cleaning services have a standard per room rate, though the size of your room can be a factor. If your carpet is heavily soiled and/or has serious stains expect this to cost more than a standard clean.

You may be able to hire a carpet cleaner for around R100 a room, though this is likely to only be for a 1-step clean. A more thorough clean (involving a 4 to 6 stage cleaning process) can cost from R200 to R400 per room.

A flight of stairs are charged as a room or a fixed fee per stair. Landings and hallways are also charged as a room, depending on their size. Large living or dining rooms may also be charged as two rooms.

Some services may have a minimum number of rooms they will clean, or a minimum charge.

For carpet cleaning, expect to pay in the region of:

  • R750 to R950 for a 2 bedroom unit
  • R880 to R1050 for a 3 bedroom unit
  • R1250 for a 2 bedroom townhouse (unfurnished)
  • R1350 for a 2 bedroom townhouse (furnished)
  • R1400 to R1850 for a 3 bedroom house
  • R1850+ for larger homes

For rug cleaning, expect to pay in the region of:

  • R100 to R450 per rug, depending on the size

For upholstery cleaning, expect to pay in the region of:

  • R50 to R100 per dining chair
  • R200 to R300 per seat (fabric)
  • R300 to R350 per seat (leather)

For fabric protection, expect to pay in the region of:

  • R300 per seat

Bear in mind that some companies will charge a cancellation fee, if you cancel the clean within 48 or 24 hours. It’s always best to find this out before you book, to avoid any nasty surprises.

The best way of finding out the cost of your carpet cleaning job is to get quotes from local carpet cleaners. This will give you a sense of what market rates currently are.