The carpet cleaning service industry in the U.S. is both very large and very competitive. Further, it is less oriented toward offices or business spaces, and more toward homes, than some might expect. A full 80% of the industry is on the residential side.
This review will look in particular at three of the contenders:
1 COIT is the Burlingame, California-based carpet cleaning and restoration service that’s been around since 1950.
2 Chem-Dry, of Logan, Utah, boasts a “proprietary hot carbonating extraction cleaning process.”
3 Stanley Steamer, of Dublin, Ohio has certainly the most ubiquitous broadcast advertising presence of the three.
Wet versus Dry
Which is the best? Well, each service works through and with local franchisees, so any complete comparison has to take place for a particular locality.
But some of the issues that separate these industry leaders are national in scope. One of these is the matter of hot water extraction versus “dry” extraction. The use of hot water, as by both Steamer and COIT, generally is best for extracting dirt out of the carpet. The steam doesn’t do the cleaning: the water and detergent do that, but the simple fact that water has to be heated to 2120 Fahrenheit to produce steam means that the process generates enough heat to kill 99.9% of spores.
On the other hand … Chem-Dry’s adherents contend that wet extraction leaves moisture behind and that in turn leads to mildew or mold in the carpet and its more rapid deterioration.
Problems with Chem-Dry
Some customers who have used Chem-Dry have been delighted with the immediate effect upon their carpets, that is, with the disappearance of stains, but have also observed that the stains can come back, they can re-appear as if by a magic trick, within a month.
There is also the issue of which service is “greener.” Many homeowners are concerned about the chemicals employed in the cleaning process. Of course, even pure water is a “chemical,” as are the detergents used by steam cleaners. But the solvents employed by dry cleaners are often thought especially harsh.
Equivocal Praise for Stanley
A recent comparison article in The Wall Street Journal found that Stanley Steamer was the least expensive of the five services they tested. Furthermore, the Journal’s reporter complimented the franchise (in Atlanta, Georgia) for moving large objects about without extra charge and for taking “special care not to scratch the hardwood floor.”
She also said that the technician “declined to clean a large woven mat because he said the steam would damage the fibers.”
The consumer website TopTenReviews.com gave COIT its “gold award.” It gave Stanley Steamer its silver. Chem-Dry came in fourth (behind bronze-winning USA Clean Master).
The website praised COIT’s CoitGuard, and the odor absorbers that the technicians employ to eliminate smells, especially pet odors. It was also more impressed by COIT’s satisfaction guarantee than with those of the competitors, because of the “specific guidelines” inherent in the COIT guarantee. Also, it found COIT’s customer service quite impressive.