How to really save on spring cleaning, including carpets
There is something about spring that just makes us want to pitch out the old, spruce up our place, and have a fresh start. I think it's the sunshine and fresh air. Every thorough spring cleaning routine should contain 3 essential parts:
Save money on your supplies, make a plan to deep clean, and get the carpets cleaned.
First, never pay full price for fresh cleaners and supplies.
This time of year, numerous sales and coupons abound for cleaning necessities. Never pay retail. Plus, you can save a ton buying a simple squirt bottle from the dollar store and making your own all-natural cleaners. Plain mixtures of vinegar and water or a simple paste of baking soda and water (be very gentle on surfaces that could scratch) both are tried-and-true inexpensive cleaners that will cleanse, deodorize and freshen. And never underestimate the power of a few humble drops of dish liquid in hot water.
Next, make a plan to deep clean.
Let's face it, there are plenty of things around the house that rarely get cleaned. Time to tackle them. Think baseboards, window and door frames, light fixtures, and behind and underneath furniture. Just think of actually touching every place in a room and you'll not miss anything. It may seem overkill at first to list every last little task, but it's better in the long run. Not only will you be sure everything got cleaned, you can more easily give family members tasks without overwhelming anyone. Tell a kid to clean every baseboard, window frame and door frame in the house, and it's not likely they will all get done. But tell him to just wipe the baseboards in this room, then ask for another task, and it will.
Finally, get your carpets cleaned.
Whether you decide to pay someone to do it or do it yourself, there are two cardinal rules: Be sure whatever is used for the cleaner will not leave a sticky residue and will dry quickly. Now here's where I might get myself in trouble with carpet cleaning companies, but it must be said. They will tell you that their machines and tools, and even their cleaners, are superior and you'll never have the same results yourself. Sorry, no.
I have a friend that had bad experiences on two separate occasions, using two different professional companies, in two different homes. In both cases, the carpet took a very, very long time to dry (like over 36 hours), and didn't smell much better after the initial scent of the cleaner disappeared – which was very quickly. To top it off, in one home the stairwell never dried properly and she had to hand clean it again numerous times to remove the resulting musty smell. In the other home, she noticed that the cleaner touted to be “green” and “all natural” left the carpet tacky and sticky, resulting in only accelerating the accumulation of dirt and grime.
On the other hand, another friend saved a ton renting a machine and carefully taking her time to clean the carpet herself. It turned out great, dried in the expected timeframe, wasn't sticky, and looked and smelled great afterward.
If saving up to half by renting a machine and doing it yourself is appealing to you, you can save even more money by looking for coupons at the website of the machine's manufacturer or the website of the store where you'll get the rental. You can save yourself a lot of grief by both looking the machine over thoroughly before renting it and doing your homework online before you rent. You want to make sure the machined doesn't already look dirty or have broken components. Online reviews are invaluable to guide you on which machine to rent. Plus, you should be able to find details such as how much cleaner you can expect to go through (affecting your total cost) and how long on average it took reviewer's carpets to dry.
If DIY is not for you, you can still save money getting a deal from a local carpet cleaner or online through the local deals on Swagbucks.com. (They curate deals from Groupon and Living Social, but you'll also earn cash back through Swagbucks when you buy through them.)
Just a caution on buying a special deal through a deal site: What is offered is typically a very basic service and may only be for a certain amount of carpet. Unless you pay to “upgrade”, don't be surprised if the people work as fast as possible, diminishing both the effectiveness of the cleaning and how much water is pulled back out. Every good cleaning company will tell you that for the best results, slow, steady movement of the machine is key. Also be ready for the almost-guaranteed sales pitches to add additional services while they are there. That's how they afford to offer the deals.
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