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Rug and Carpet Cleaner Job Description, Career as a Rug and Carpet Cleaner, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: None

Salary: Median—$15,320 to $24,420 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Rug and carpet cleaners use chemical solutions, soap and water, and a variety of hand brushes and mechanical equipment to clean rugs and carpets. Carpets are usually sewed together and tacked to the floor. They are cleaned in a customer's home. Rugs usually do not cover an entire floor. They are often cleaned in a rug cleaning plant. Most rug and carpet cleaners work for firms that specialize in cleaning rugs and carpets for homeowners, business firms, and other customers. Some rug and carpet cleaners work for building maintenance firms. Others are employed by large establishments, such as hotels and apartment complexes.

When workers clean carpets in a customer's home or business, they first decide on the proper chemical solution and cleaning method to use, depending on the general condition and fiber content of the carpet. Then they apply the chemical solutions to the carpet to break down dirt and stains. Most cleaners use steam vacuums or mechanical circular scrubbers to extract the dirt. The carpet then dries naturally. Some methods require only an hour; others need six to eight hours.

Rug and carpet cleaners also examine floor coverings for stubborn stains that were not removed by the vacuum machines. They select the right type of stain remover for each kind of fiber and for each kind of stain. They work the stain remover into the rug or carpet until the stain is removed.

Rugs cleaned at a plant are usually fed into rug cleaning machines that scrub, rinse, and partly dry them. To finish drying, rugs are often hung in a heated room. Once the rugs are dry, rug cleaners may use a special machine to raise the pile. Other techniques may be used to help the rug keep its shape and resist soiling.

Rug cleaners sometimes clean delicate rugs by hand. They may repair and rebind edges using scissors, a knife, and needle and thread. Some rug and carpet cleaners also clean upholstered furniture. Workers are required to measure rugs and carpets and give customers estimates for the cleaning.

Education and Training Requirements

Many employers prefer to hire high school graduates. Interested individuals can learn rug and carpet cleaning on the job. An informal training period under the supervision of an experienced worker lasts about six months. Trainees learn about the different cleaning solutions and rug fibers, how to identify and treat stains, and how to use and maintain equipment.

Getting the Job

Job openings for rug and carpet cleaners are often listed in newspaper classifieds and job banks on the Internet. Interested candidates can also apply directly to rug and carpet cleaning firms, to building maintenance firms, and to businesses that employ their own rug and carpet cleaners, such as hotels. State and private employment agencies may also be helpful in finding a job.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

In large rug cleaning firms, experienced workers can become supervisors. Some workers open their own businesses. This requires an initial investment, but it is often possible to get a loan or rent the necessary equipment.

The employment outlook is good through the year 2014. As the demand for construction increases, so will the demand for carpet cleaners. There will also be jobs to replace workers who leave the field. However, some of the demand will be offset by people using home cleaning products or renting the necessary equipment to do the job themselves.

Working Conditions

Rug and carpet cleaners generally work forty hours a week. They may have to work some evening and Saturday hours. Because much of the work is done in customers' homes and businesses, working conditions vary. Workers usually drive to job sites in trucks provided by their employers. Rug and carpet cleaners who work in rug cleaning plants may find the heat and noise unpleasant. Certain chemicals used in cleaning rugs and carpets have unpleasant odors and may irritate the skin. Workers must use these chemicals with care. Rug and carpet cleaners often lift heavy machines and rugs. Workers who meet and talk with customers should be friendly and courteous.

Where to Go for More Information

Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration
8229 Cloverleaf Dr., Ste. 460
Millersville, MD 21108
(800) 272-7012

The Carpet and Rug Institute
730 College Dr.
Dalton, GA 30720
(706) 278-3176

International Fabricare Institute
14700 Sweitzer Ln.
Laurel, MD 20707
(800) 638-2627

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings are higher in the spring and summer than in the slower winter months. Rug and carpet cleaners earn a median salary of between $15,320 and $24,420 per year. Trainees usually begin at the minimum wage and receive regular increases. Employers generally provide benefits that include paid holidays and vacations and health insurance. Self-employed workers must provide their own benefits.

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