10 Ways to Save Money on Carpet Cleaning

A worker cleans a carpet.
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I used to be a carpet cleaner, so I can tell you that not everyone pays the same price.

In fact, of the 10 ways to save money on carpet cleaning listed below, four of them cover how to get a discount from professional cleaners. Then we look at how to do the work yourself, four ways to make the necessary cleaning less frequent, and one more-radical solution.

1. Vacuum Often

Like the next three suggestions, this is a way to extend the time between cleanings. Dirt gets ground into the fibers if it isn’t removed quickly, so if you vacuum more often you’ll need professional carpet cleaning less frequently.

Shaw Industries, one of the largest carpet manufacturers, recommends cleaning by a certified hot water extraction professional every 12 to 18 months. You void their warranty if you don’t have it done every two years. But if you can use this and the other suggestions here to clean at two-year intervals instead of one, you effectively cut your cost of carpet cleaning in half. Start vacuuming!

2. Try Spot Cleaning

A woman cleans a spot on a carpet.
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Sometimes your carpet is only dirty in a few spots. You can wait longer between full cleanings if you deal with those stains and soiled areas. Drip a bit of water (with a drop of non-aromatic dish detergent per ounce) on the stains and blot it up (don’t rub) with plain white paper towels or a white cotton rag. Repeat this until you see no more transfer of the stain to the paper towels. If that doesn’t work, a good carpet stain guide will have more specific instructions for removing dozens of different kinds of stains.

3. Use Mats and Runners

On a microscopic level, dirt acts like little blades when it’s in your carpet. It nicks and cuts fibers, shortening the life of your carpet and making it necessary to clean more often.

A great way to catch a lot of that dirt before it reaches the carpet is to have mats and rugs inside and outside of entrances. It also helps to use runners where there is heavy foot traffic.

4. Enforce a No-Shoes Policy

Footwear carries dirt and other debris, so your carpet stays cleaner if you don’t wear shoes in the house. That lengthens the time between necessary cleanings, saving you money. But shoes are also harder on the fibers than bare feet or socks, so you save even more because your carpet will not wear out as quickly.

5. Do Your Own Carpet Cleaning

A professional cleaning can cost up to $600 if you have a lot of carpet. Clean your carpet yourself with a portable machine, and it will cost $20 to $32, according to Rug Doctor (their locator just found 20 places to rent their machines within 10 miles of me). That doesn’t include cleaning solvents or the $3 charge for the hand tool (a good idea for stairs and furniture), but in any case you should be able to do it all for under $50.

Portable units can’t clean as deeply as a truck-mount hot water extraction machine used by a professional. On the other hand, they work on lightly soiled rugs and carpeting, or can be used for in-between years if you are having professional cleaning done every two years to keep your warranty valid.

6. Measure Your Rooms

A person measures a floor with a measuring tape.
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Some carpet cleaners charge by the room, but it’s also common to charge by square footage. According to Angie’s List, current rates are about 30 to 50 cents per square foot. So if a carpet cleaner calculates that you have 850 square feet of carpeting and your own measurements show only 750 square feet, you can make him measure again and you’ll save you between $30 and $50. Cleaners make mistakes, but there is no reason for you to pay for them.

7. Move Your Furniture

If you ask, and if you are able, some carpet cleaners will cut you a deal if you move the furniture before they arrive. This works if you have a place to put the furniture, like an enclosed porch or a room that isn’t getting cleaned.

8. Clean Only Traffic Areas

Often the carpet is not dirty under and behind the couch and other furnishings. Or, if it is dirty, it’s just loose dust that will vacuum up easily. Carpet mostly gets dirty in the “traffic areas,” meaning all the places you and others walk. Some professional cleaners might be happy to give you a discount if you want only traffic areas cleaned. We did that when I was a carpet cleaner, and it was nice not to move all that furniture. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it.)

9. Watch for Specials

During the slow season, which is summer here in Florida and winter in the north, carpet cleaning companies often offer specials. They might do “whole house” specials or offer extras for free, like cleaning the couch. Watch for advertised specials and coupons, but also keep in mind that when business is slow you can always ask for a better price.

10. Remove Your Carpet

You pay more upfront for tile or wood flooring, but maintenance and replacement make carpet more expensive in the long run. Wood and tile floors can last a lifetime — something to consider when it’s time to replace your carpeting.

An online flooring installation estimator shows that 800 square feet of tile flooring runs about $5,100 (in this area), versus $2,500 for carpet. That $2,600 difference seems like a lot, but look at the savings over the years. In the next 18 years, you might replace the carpet twice at $2,500 each time, and clean it a dozen times at $250 per cleaning. That’s a future cost of $8,000 versus a $20 or $30 per year for floor cleaning supplies in the case of the tile floor. Wood floors can be trickier to properly maintain, but they also cost less (normally) than carpet over the years.