11 Things to Expect From a Professional Carpet Cleaning Process

Amy Pawlukiewicz
Written by Amy Pawlukiewicz
Reviewed by Asya Biddle
Updated March 4, 2022
professional cleaning white carpet
Photo: Andrey Popov / Adobe Stock


  • Carpet cleaning usually costs $120–$230.

  • Pros can cover the whole process, from inspection to moving furniture to applying a protectant.

  • They have access to specialized equipment for the job, like cleaners and industrial fans.

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What’s that, a chocolate stain on your rug? Wait! Don’t reach for that dish soap. It’s time to call in the carpet cleaning pros. Average carpet cleaning costs about $120 to $230 based on your state, the square footage of your home, and the type of services and chemicals being used by the company. And once it’s done, you’ll be happy you did it. Here’s what you can expect from a professional carpet cleaning process.

"By hiring a professional carpet cleaning company, a homeowner is ensuring their carpets are maintained and cleaned so dirt and debris are unable to break down carpet fiber and become a place of growth for mold, bacteria, other allergens, and odors," says Asya Biddle, Angi Expert Review Board member and manager of The Dust Busters janitorial company in Williamsport, PA. 

1. Pre-Inspection

During the pre-inspection, your carpet cleaning professional near you will walk through your home to get a lay of the land. They’ll tell you about the process they’re going to use and point out any areas of concern or where they might need to concentrate, like high-traffic paths or stains.

2. Dry Vacuum

professional dry vacuuming  carpet
Photo: Pixel-Shot/ Adobe Stock

Dry vacuuming your carpets before the actual cleaning removes loose debris and dirt that have built up over time. If you have pets, this step is crucial. The carpet cleaners usually have a more powerful industrial vacuum than a commercial home vacuum, so it really sucks up everything.

3. Move the Furniture

When your pro does their walk-through, they’ll point out any furniture that should be moved before they start the actual deep-cleaning process. Usually, companies include moving furniture like couches, chairs, tables, and smaller pieces in their pricing, but they might charge more for larger items like beds, dressers, and armoires.

4. Pre-Treatment

woman spraying carpet cleaner
Photo: Syda Productions/ Adobe Stock

Before getting started on larger areas, your carpet cleaning pro will spot-treat areas they pointed out during the pre-inspection. They’ll usually use a stronger solution on any stains that might be built in and tougher to remove with just a once-over. 

Then, they’ll go over the entire carpet with an emulsifier and let that set to break down dirt in high-traffic areas. Emulsifiers raise the dirt to the surface of the rug, making it easier for the machine to suck it up, and need around 10 to 15 minutes to work.

5. Agitation

Agitation is a process pros use to ensure their cleaning chemicals get into all the nooks and crannies of your carpet fibers. It also further dislodges the dirt the emulsifier couldn’t bring up to the surface. Your pro will either use a grooming rake for deep pile carpets or a machine with rotating brushes for rugs not as dense. Agitation also helps speed up the chemical reaction process that cleans the carpet.

6. Extraction and Rinse

professional steam vacuum cleaner
Photo: Oksana/ Adobe Stock

Extraction and rinsing are critical in the cleaning process because they involve one of the key elements of getting stuff clean: heat. High temperatures accelerate chemical reactions, so when your pro rinses the carpet, they use water that’s up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit

This won’t damage the carpet, so don’t worry—even wool rugs can stand up under this heat. The machine the carpet cleaners use to rinse will suck up the water and cleaning solution, and high temperatures will help the carpet to dry more quickly.

7. Neutralizer

Depending on the cleaning solution they use, some carpet cleaning companies will apply a neutralizer once they’ve rinsed the carpet. Neutralizers keep the rug from feeling sticky, leaving a soft, clean feeling behind.

8. Post-Cleaning Spot Treatment

Once the carpet has been cleaned and rinsed, your carpet cleaning pro will inspect again to see if any nasty stains are still stuck even after the pre-treatment and cleaning. They usually go over these spots again to remove anything the treatment missed by using a special solution to get them out.

9. Protector/Deodorizer

carpet with deodorizer
Photo: Pixel-Shot/ Adobe Stock

A carpet protector will help shield your carpet from future stains, hopefully making your next cleaning faster. Most carpets come with a protector when you buy them, but they gradually wear off over time as the rug gets more used. Also, if there’s any lingering odor—common in homes with pets—the cleaners will apply a deodorizer. Protectors and deodorizers sometimes come with an extra cost, so ask your pro about them when you’re getting quotes for the job.

10. Drying

The next step in the process is drying. Carpet cleaning companies have industrial-strength blowers to dry your rugs as quickly as possible, and they’ll usually place one in each room that they cleaned. Complete drying takes about 8 to 12 hours, and the company will come back the next day to pick up the dryers. This isn’t something all companies automatically offer, so ask about them when you talk to your carpet pro.

11. Grooming and Final Inspection

After your rugs have dried, the next possible step is grooming or raking. This isn’t a step all companies offer, but if yours does, your carpet cleaner will go over your rug with a special carpet rake to help the protector bond with the carpet fibers. 

At the end, your pro will do one more walk-through of your home to ensure they’ve hit all the spots you wanted and that you’re satisfied with their work.

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