Avoiding Sketchy Carpet Cleaning Companies and How To Deal With a Poorly Done Cleaning

Have you ever dealt with a carpet cleaning company that didn’t do what they said they would? We get emails and phone calls all the time from customers who have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous or otherwise clueless carpet cleaning companies. They sell customers a bill of goods, only to come up far short of expectations and then refuse to fix the problem or offer a refund.

In this article, I’m going to call out a few common issues we see. I’ll also offer some advice on how to avoid dealing with a low-quality carpet cleaning company as well as what to do if you’ve already been taken advantage of by one of them.

Common Carpet Cleaning Company Types to Avoid


fishing rod and reel bait and switch

The Low Cost / Bait and Switch Hack

The old adage “you pay for what you get” could never be more important than in the carpet cleaning industry. Choosing a quality, reputable company is always going to produce better results. Yes, you’ll pay a bit more, but you can expect fair, honest service and noticeably better results.

Companies that charge bargain basement prices usually have the following reasons for doing so:

  • They have a fast and incomplete process. Expect these types to be in and out of your home in minutes, blasting through rooms with reckless abandon. Instead of taking their time and doing quality work, they make their money on volume. They’re often solo operators trying to fit in 4 or 5 jobs in a day by blowing through them.
  • They’re brand new to the business and don’t feel confident in charging what they should be. Do you want inexperienced hacks cleaning your carpet?
  • They are running junky equipment and don’t feel confident in charging appropriately.
  • They have an aggressive or sneaky upselling pitch. “If you want us to add the cleaning solution to our water, that’s going to be extra”. Or “Our maximum room size is 100 sq. ft. This room is 250 sq. ft. so it counts as 3 rooms”.



dog in hooded sweatshirt (pet urine specialist)

The Sketchy Pet Urine “Specialist”

This morning I received and email from someone asking for advice. Here’s a snippet of that email: I contacted a cleaning company and specifically asked for heavy duty extraction of dog urine and shampoo of the carpet. He told me that was his specialty (…) In the weeks after he cleaned them, the smell has gradually gotten worse, to the point it’s like being hit in the face with a wall of odor when you open the door, it’s horrible.”  

The world of carpet cleaning is filled with fly by night operators and companies that have no idea what they are doing and consequently shouldn’t even be selling a carpet cleaning service. Unfortunately, while certifying bodies exist (like to IICRC, of which we are a certified firm), many customers don’t know to look for a certified firm when choosing a carpet cleaning company.

Where this becomes most obvious is during carpet pet odor removal. Proper removal of pet urine requires special solutions, special application methods, advanced training, and the ability to pull back the carpet to assess the damage and later to re-install that area. The clueless operator will simply clean the carpet just like he normally would.

Without breaking down the urine deposits in the carpet and pad, allowing for rinsing and extraction, the result is going to simply be activation of the urine. Thus, the carpet ends up smelling WORSE than before it was ever “cleaned”. At MSS Cleaning Denver Carpet Experts, we follow a 3-tier process for pet urine removal, depending on the severity of the issue.

Tier 1

The first tier is for small pet urine issues, a small accident here or there. Often a specialized pre-spray is effective at this level.

Tier 2

The second tier is for heavier but still isolated pet urine issues where areas of the carpet are saturated. Here, we flood the carpet area with a bucket of specialized urine neutralizing solution and then extract it with a flood extractor, getting deep into the padding. We then thoroughly clean the whole area.

Tier 3

Lastly, for a large area that has been hit with significant pet urine, often the most cost-effective method is to replace the carpet padding and then clean the top and bottom of the carpet before reinstallation.  


old beat up carpet cleaning equipment and van

Old, Junky Equipment

If the van and equipment your carpet cleaning company uses looks like it’s from the 80s, well it probably is. Even equipment that was state of the art 15-20 years ago doesn’t touch the modern equipment of today. Modern machines create more consistent heat, water   pressure, and vacuum. Take into consideration maintenance, too. Old beat up equipment is going to lose suction, heat, and pressure.

A Quick Story

A few years ago, we hired and employee who remarked at how nice it was to have trucks that produced hot water. Confused, I asked what he meant. He informed me that the company he was working at before (which is a relatively well known company in the area) had equipment that was so old and in such a state of disrepair that the heating mechanism to heat the water for the cleaning didn’t work and they’d been cleaning with nothing but cold water for over a year.

Try doing your dishes with cold vs. hot water and you should get an idea of how important hot water is to clean things properly! No surprise, this company offered bargain basement pricing.  

Fake reviews left on mobile phone

Clearly Fake Reviews

As a company that works hard for reviews from our customers, it’s always frustrating to see companies with piles of clearly fake reviews. We always recommend reading through reviews a bit before hiring and contractor.

Do you notice a strange pattern where 10-20 reviews all happened during the same few days and then they didn’t get another review for 6 months after that?

How about reviews from names like “Brad Pitt”?

Another thing to look for is repeats of the same words and phrases and obvious “keyword stuffing” where fake reviews are trying to manipulate search engines or the fake review writers are too lazy to come up with original content.

Look for companies with many reviews, a good variety in the reviews, and reviews that don’t look blatantly faked.  

uide unscrupulous companies to do the right thing.

Confused and disappointed woman

Improper Equipment

A few months ago, I was walking through the Denver Country Club neighborhood, when I witnessed a “carpet cleaning company” someone had hired pulling a Rug Doctor out of the back of their minivan. If you hire someone and they show up with a $500 piece of equipment (that they likely bought very used), turn them away.

The same goes for bonnet cleaning, antiquated shampooing methods and encapsulation cleaning. Hot Water Extraction (commonly incorrectly referred to as “steam cleaning”) done with modern, truck mounted equipment is what you’re looking for.

The exception to this is in places like a high rise where hoses can’t reach. In this case, quality portable equipment (NOT a Rug Doctor) is called for.

Improper Carpet Cleaning Process

At the bare minimum, residential carpet cleaning should include pre-spraying, agitation, and extraction with quality equipment. While our process is significantly more thorough, the above three steps should be the bare minimum of what to expect from a decent carpet cleaning.  


What to do if You’ve Already Been Taken Advantage of?

If you hired a company that did an awful job, our first recommendation is to call them up and complain. A quality company should walk the job with you when it’s complete to make sure it’s looking great. They also should have no problem with returning to fix reappearing stains, lingering pet odor or other issues.

If they refuse, ask them for your money back. If they still refuse, write them a negative online review on the major review platforms so that at least you can tell other would-be customers to steer clear. Sites like Google, Yelp, BBB and Ripoffreport.com are all fine places to post.

If the review prompts them to come out and remedy the issue or issue a refund, perhaps at that point you can consider taking down your negative review.

Smart companies understand that a positive reputation means growth and a negative reputation leads to business decline. Let the power of your words help other would be consumers avoid a company you had a poor experience with.