Ashburn, VA

Average cost for Carpet Cleaning ranges from
$0.20 – $0.50 /sq. ft

The average cost for carpet cleaning is $175 for an average three-bedroom home. Hiring a carpet cleaner, you will likely spend between $0.20 – $0.50 per sq. ft. The price of carpet cleaning can vary greatly by region (and even by zip code). View our local carpet cleaners or get free estimates from pros near you.

How much does carpet cleaning cost?

Author: Daniel W.
Millions of people ask HomeGuide for cost estimates every year. We track the estimates they get from local companies, then we share those prices with you.

Carpets build up dirt, dust, dander, and allergens daily, so they can need a deep clean once or twice a year, depending on the number of pets and traffic, with commercial carpets needing more.

Carpet Cleaning

The longer stains are left in the carpet, the more likely the carpet is likely to be permanently discolored in those areas.

While do-it-yourself cleaning can work well temporarily, the expensive truck-mounted machinery used by commercial carpet cleaning companies can do a better and longer-lasting job because of the power suction it’s capable of.

On average, expect the cleaning to take 2–3 hours and to cost about $0.25 per square foot of carpet or $175 for an average three-bedroom home. The following report covers:

Pricing Factors

Size of home/space

Carpet cleaning companies tend to charge based on either the square footage of the carpet in the home or per room (of standard size. Some large rooms are charged as two rooms). Carpet Zen in Austin, TX, offer a five-room special of $139 for five rooms of steam cleaning. They also have a membership program whereby you can have three rooms cleaned every six months for $16/month, or six rooms and stairs every six months for $41/month. North Country Carpet Cleaning in Escondido, CA, give “per area” pricing and offer various pricing discounts for multiple areas. They also have seasonal specials.

Average Carpet Cleaning Prices

Area Size Average Cost
650 to 1000 sq. feet $99 – $250
1000 to 1800 sq. feet $150 – $450
1800 to 3000 sq. feet $300 – $600

Cleaning Methods

Hot water extraction (HWE)

Very hot water and (sometimes) a cleaning agent are applied at high pressure, via water jet nozzles, with a grooming tool to agitate/scrub the carpet fibers and dissolve the dirt. The chemical reagent—usually an ammonia solution for synthetic carpets or an acidic one for wool—liquifies any dirt and oil-based substances. Simultaneously, the carpet is rinsed with hot water, and water is suctioned back up with an extraction wand. Be aware that the heat of the water can damage natural fiber carpets like wool or velvet, and because so much water is used, efficient water extraction and a long enough drying time are vital to avoid mold growth.

This is the preferred cleaning method of most carpet cleaning companies and claims to remove about 97% of dirt and bacteria. Less water is used than steam cleaning, and drying time is shorter because of the suction power of the machine used, giving it a deep clean. Older carpets with weak backing and natural yarns could shrink after HWE.

Cost will depend on the loops in the carpet and how tightly they are twisted, with Berber being the easiest/cheapest to clean. Cotton and wool carpets can cost 30% more.


Shampoo in the form of a foam is worked into the carpet with rotating brushes and then vacuumed up, but no rinsing is done. The residue foam can remain sticky once it dries, possibly making the carpet even more susceptible to future dirt. Moisture is minimal so drying time is short.

Carpet Cleaning

Dry cleaning

A “dry” (about 10% water based) cleaning powder of solvents and cleaning agents which dissolves and then absorbs dirt is brushed/worked into the carpet fibers and then vacuumed away after 10–15 minutes. The carpet can be walked on after 20 minutes.

This is not a deep clean, but it’s less labor intensive. Furthermore, the chemicals used don’t attract future dirt the way carpet shampoo does, and they don’t do as much damage to carpet fibers.


Somewhat similar to dry cleaning, the detergent is applied as a wet foam by rotary machine, brush applicator, or compression sprayer. The detergent binds and crystallizes/encapsulates the dirt and dries over a period of twenty minutes before being vacuumed up. This method uses less shampoo than regular carpet shampooing and dries faster. It doesn’t work well, however, on heavily soiled carpets.

A benefit of using this type of polymer solution is that the entire carpet is coated with the film, which continues to gather and crystallize future dirt long after the initial cleaning is done.

Bonnet Cleaning

First, a cleaning detergent is sprayed onto the carpet. A pad is immersed in cleaning solution and then attached to a motor so it can spin over the top of a carpet at 100–300 rpm and absorb dirt from the carpet. The pad is repeatedly rinsed or replaced because it fills up with dirt quickly, often every few hundred square feet; and once full, it starts spreading the dirt instead.

This is mostly done in commercial zones on hotel grade carpet for its quick cleaning and fast drying times, but because it only cleans the top layer of carpet fibers, it’s not a deep clean and dirt reappears quickly. Also, the cleaning solution can accumulate in the carpet. Most carpet companies will void your carpet’s warranty if you use this cleaning method.

Carpet cleaning process

  1. Usually a company will have you complete a pre-clean questionnaire over the phone, via an online form, or during an in-home visit before giving a quote. Expect to answer questions about stains, odors, soiled areas, and high-traffic areas.
  2. Remove any smaller pieces of furniture from the rooms to be cleaned, especially items that could fall or be knocked over, like lamps and side tables. Large pieces of furniture will remain in place and be covered, such as beds, entertainment centers, and office desks. Items like coffee tables should not be moved back after cleaning to let the carpet dry out properly first.
  3. Stains and soiled areas will be pretreated.
  4. All carpeted areas will be cleaned.
  5. Some companies will do a final grooming or brush.
  6. Final inspections are welcomed.
  7. Open windows and/or put the AC on high to help reduce the drying time. This could take 2–24 hours depending on the cleaning method used. Some companies will have a Studebaker Fan which can dry the carpet in a 12 x 14 room within half an hour. It draws the dry air from the top of the room and distributes it toward the carpet, dramatically reducing drying time.
  8. Don’t wear shoes indoors during this time and take care to avoid slipping.

Carpet Cleaning

Green Cleaning

Many carpet cleaning companies use green certified, safe, non-toxic cleaning solutions derived from plants. They have no soaps, detergents, solvents, or other harsh chemicals. Look for products that have a Green Seal or an Environmental Choice Program seal. To qualify, products must:

  • Efficiently clean the carpets, prevent resoiling, and avoid impacting carpet color.
  • Set low toxicity limits for water and solutions.
  • Be biodegradable.
  • Not negatively affect the environment.
  • Be low waste.

If you would like to use less water and avoid harsh detergents on your carpets, hire a company like Absolute Carpet & Tile in Austin, TX, that specializes in green cleaning methods and is BBB approved and has liability and property damage coverage; or Town And Country Carpet Cleaning in Brockton, MA, who offer a corrective green package for customers suffering from extreme allergies.

Do-It-Yourself Carpet Cleaning

Some household cleaning products are safe and effective stain removers. Got Carpets? in Atlanta, GA, recommend the following:

  • Use baking soda as a whitening, deodorizing, abrasive cleaner.
  • Vinegar can cut grease and has anti-bacterial qualities – use a 50/50 solution with water to neutralize stains.
  • Borax is an antiseptic and antifungal cleaning agent that deodorizes and disinfects – mix ¼ cup each of salt, borax, and vinegar and leave on carpet stains as an overnight treatment.

Some stains are stubborn and need a cleaning machine with some horsepower to get them out. Renting your own machine can cost from $30/hour from a local home improvement store but may still not remove stains entirely.

Common stains professionals can remove from your carpets and upholstery are coffee, tea, wine, feces, urine, food or protein-based stains, blood, nail polish, rust, chewing gum, red dye stains, soot, juice stains, mustard, ink, soda, and shoe polish. If you have a few stains but have not had your carpets cleaned for a year or more, a full carpet clean is recommended rather than spot cleaning, as the cleaned spots will show up against the background of the dirtier carpet around them.

Additional Cost Considerations

Some companies will charge more for heavily soiled carpets but are willing to tie in the deep cleaning needed at a discounted price if the whole house is done. Express Dry Carpet Cleaning in Rockville, MD, offer a deep clean for up to 1,000 sq. ft of heavily soiled carpet for $190.

Some companies can do a bait and switch by adding costs for entryways and halls after quoting based on a per room cost. Many companies like Heaven's Best Carpet Cleaning in Camas, WA, prefer to charge by the square foot to be more up front and avoid customer disappointment with the initial quote. Heaven’s Best also offers a 20% discount to new customers, and 30% off if the house is vacant.

  • Pet stains and odor removal – pretreatment of heavy, odorous stains before the main cleaning work begins. If pets continue to relieve themselves in those areas, you may need to replace the carpet pad underneath, which can cost up to $300.
  • Chair/loveseat/sofa cleaning – hot water extraction can remove a lot of the dirt and grime from your cloth furniture. $50 and up
  • Stairs cleaning – this can be an extra charge, although River Carpet Care in Antelope, CA, charges a paltry $2 for each stair cleaning.
  • Water damage – be sure the company is certified with the IICRC as a cleaning and restoration expert. This will ensure that there is no water retention in the water-damaged carpet and furniture once they have been cleaned. Restoration companies like 212 Rug Cleaners in Brooklyn, NY, have the tools and equipment, such as air movers and dehumidifiers, to get the job done correctly. Gold Coast Carpet Care in Lincoln, CA, say to always address water damage immediately before it seeps past your carpet pad.
  • Furniture Moving & Removal – Supernova Carpet in Glendale, AZ, say the parts of the carpet that need cleaning will be those not covered by large pieces of furniture—the traffic area—so it’s not necessary to move large pieces. If you do need items like a piano moved, though, expect to pay at least $20/hour more for that before and after move.
  • Teflon treatment – add a stain- and water-resistant coating to the carpet. This puts a barrier between the carpet fibers and any liquid or solid spills. It gives you a 15–20-minute window of time to blot up the liquid. $20 and up or included. Celtic Carpet Cleaner in Fort Lauderdale, FL, give a free Scotchgard treatment with every cleaning.
  • Wicking - Wicking may occur with stains that have seeped into the carpet pad. They may show up within one to two days of drying. A dark spot reoccurs from the dark stain rising up through the pad and the carpet to the surface of the carpet fibers, in which case your carpet cleaning company may need to come back and clean that spot again. Be sure to have a cleaning warranty with the service provider you use to take care of this. Many offer warranties of a few days to a month.

Questions to ask

John’s Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning in Hackensack, NJ, who has been cleaning customers’ carpets for thirty years, says to ask the following four questions:

  1. How much experience does the worker have?
  2. What method is used?
  3. How long will it take to dry?
  4. Are you insured?
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