How long does carpet cleaning take?
Professional vs DIY solutions.

Are your thinking about hiring a carpet cleaner? Would you like yo know how long a carpet cleaner takes? Keep reading!

Tony Gonzalez Profile Picture

Tony Gonzalez

January 28, 2020

How Long Does Carpet Cleaning Take? Thumbnail Share How Long Does Carpet Cleaning Take? on Pinterest

Table of contents


If you've never hired a carpet cleaner and would like to do so, you're probably thinking how long does a cleaning company take to clean your carpets?

Or perhaps you want to buy (or rent) a steam carpet cleaner and would like to know how many days you should rent it for.

There's a lot of factors like the method that the company might be using, how dirty a certain room is, or how many piece of furniture the cleaners have to move around. But we've surveyed over 50 carpet cleaning companies and over 100 of their clients and can safely say that on average it takes 25 minutes on average to clean a 12'x12' room (144 sq feet) the right way.

That's a little over the average beedroom in a USA apartment (132 sq feet), and a little under the average bedroom in a home (219 sq feet).

But that's an over simplification! If you want to read more on how long a company should take (or how long you'll take if you diy), keep reading!

Beautiful living room

Professional Cleaning

In order to know how long it takes to do professionally clean a carpet, we interviewed over 50 carpet cleaning companies and over 100 of their clients. We do this annually as part of a process to find the best carpet cleaners in every major US city. If you want to take a look at the best carpet cleaners in your city, click here.

There are 5 cleaning methods (you can read all about the 5 methods and which one you need here). But in residential cleaning, the Hot Water Extraction method (aka Steam Cleaning) is the one that's used the most by a landslide. So we specifically asked how long it took the to clean a carpet using this particular method. Just so you know.


Ask in advance!

Many clients forget to ask the carpet cleaning company how long it's going to take. That send the signal to the company that it doesn't matter how long they take.
If you ask how long it's going to take, they might send a bigger crew just to make you happy!

What companies say vs What clients say

We discovered that there's a huge perception difference between how long companies claim they take and what clients say they take.

However, when we further investigated and asked some of the clients for specific time frame to back how long the cleaning took (like a phone call that happened during that time, or the time the company called to say they had arrived, etc.), we found out that clients perceptions are not as accurate as they inicially though they were.

This might have happened because having your carpets cleaned is an inconvenience. And since the carpet takes some time to dry, many clients were saying that the cleaning took longer than it actually did.

These were the final results:

(Please keep in mind that it can vary greatly depending on how dirty the carpet is).

Professional carpet cleaners take between 15 to 20 minutes to unload the hoses and all the equipment they'll be using, and inspecting the carpet to see what they are up against. They then take 25 minutes on average to clean a 12'x12' room. That means that they clean around 5,75 square feet per minute. That includes removing the furniture, but not the drying.


Beware of very fast carpet cleaners!

Some carpet cleaning companies claim on ad (both online and offline) that they can clean your whole house carpets in under 1 hour. If you see such a claim, stay away! If they do get it done in time, it's not done properly.
It's ok if they take a little longer, as long as they do it right.

If you want to know how long it will take for your carpet to dry, or when you can walk on it, keep reading and we'll answer those questions too.

Using a Home Carpet Steam Cleaner

If you want to clean your rugs yourself with a steam carpet cleaner it will depend on what carpet steam cleaner you're using, your experience using it, etc.

I'm going to assume that if you're reading this post, this is actually your first time cleaning a carpet with a carpet steam cleaner (or else you'd know how long it takes).

On average, it takes someone 60 minutes to clean a room. But that includes vacuuming before you use the machine (which you should), and removing all the furniture by yourself. If you have someone there to help you, you can reduce this time a lot.


Be careful with trols

There are a couple of professional carpet cleaners that have gone all over the internet saying on Quora, Facebook and other sites that you should not use these machines because they have very bad reputation and that they won't clean as well.
That is 100% not true. They just want to convince people to buy their services. But these machines do work. And they work amazingly well.

Bissell Steam Cleaner Carpet

If you're in the market for a steam carpet cleaner, I would advise you to check our post on the best carpet steam cleaners of 2021. These are amazing machines. I said it in the past, and I'll say it again. Owning one of these is the wisest investment a carpet owner could make. It will save you a lot of money in the long run!

Or maybe check out this particular model. You just can't go wrong with this one:

Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner Machine:

(check price on Amazon)

Other frequently asked questions

How long does a carpet take to dry after cleaning?

This is a question we often get through our Ask an Expert section. And since it's many people ask us right after the "How long does carpet cleaning take" question, we figured we could answer both on the same post.

There are multiple factors that can influence the amount of time a carpet takes to dry completely (if you want to know when you can walk on it or how long to put your furniture back, we've answered those questions later on this same post). Mostly the weather (or season) and the carpet thickness.

On average, a carpet will take around 2 hours if you clean your carpet youself using a carpet steam cleaner. If a professional had it cleaned, it will take roughly between 6 and 10 hours. Althouhg... on both cases, the drying could take up to 24 hours.

That's a lot of time... I know...

But you can do a couple of things to accelerate the process. If you're in the winter turn on the heat (at least) to 70º Farenheit. If you're on the summer, turn on the air conditioning. I know this might sound counter intuitive, but the air conditioning helps reduce the moisture and the carpet will clean sooner than opening the windows.

You can also use a dehumidifier, ceiling fans or a fan heater to try to clean it fast.


Don't over wet your carpet!

The number one mistake people make when cleaning their carpets is to over wet them. If you over wet your carpets it will take longer to dry. So please, follow the machine's instructions and don't walk too slowly!

Can you walk on a carpet after cleaning?

Another question we get all the time is how long until you can actually start walking on the carpet. I'll make it easy for you:

- Golden rule: wait 6 hours on average

- Adults: 30 minutes (with white socks).

- Children and Pets: at least 6 hours.

So grab a cup of coffee, and be patient!

Relax a little bit

This is more important than people actually think because a wet carpet can be stained way more easily than a dry carpet. If you walk with your shoes on, the dirt from your shoes won't just remain on the top layer of the carpet. Since it's wet, the soil slips and falls to the deepest part of the carpet. And that will be harder to clean the next time.

How Long should you wait to put furniture back?

As a rule of thumb, you'll have to wait for 24 hours before you can put your furniture back where it was. And there are no exceptions to this rule. You want to wait 24h whether you cleaned the carpet yourself or you called a professional.

You might be wondering why so long (given than you can walk on it in just 6 hours).

Because furniture stays on the same place. And it's so heavy, that it can make a mark on the carpet.

How do professionals do it then?

They put the furniture back way sooner because they use waterproof furniture protectors. And you could purchase these yourself too! They are very inexpensive and will help a lot:

Furniture Socks

(check price on Amazon)

Why did brown spots appear after my carpet cleaning?

What you're probably looking at is called "Carpet Browning". It's caused most of the time because of excess of moisture.

Carpet Browning

This happens because when the carpet is drying, the moisture deep inside the carpet (bottom 2/3rds of the carpet) soaks up dirt and soil. When the moisture evaporates, it brings up the dirt to the top layer of the fibers. And thus, it becomes visible to us.

As a matter of fact, you might see this effect on areas that were heavily stained a long time ago.

This isn't very hygienic. And it's extremely frustraiting to see those brown stains right after cleaning your carpet!

But don't worry, you can take care of the problem. We have a post called What is carpet browning (and how to avoid it), where we explain everything you have to do to clean it up.


And there you go! You already have information you were looking for!

Remember that if you want to clean your carpet yourself, you can check out our post on the best carpet steam cleaners. And if you want to hire a professional, we've already reviewed and selected the best in your city! Take a look here.


Tony Gonzalez Picture

By Tony Gonzalez

Carpet Cleaning and Installation

I'm Tony and I consider myself a carpet cleaning expert! I've tried the 5 most common professional cleaning methods myself, and I've reviewed thousands of carpet cleaning & installation companies. I'm currently exploring the DIY Cleaning and Installation world. It's not that hard and it's a lot of fun!

Posted in:

Tony Gonzalez Picture

Tony Gonzalez

Carpet Cleaning and Installation

I'm Tony and I consider myself a carpet cleaning expert! I've tried the 5 most common professional cleaning methods myself, and I've reviewed thousands of carpet cleaning & installation companies. I'm currently exploring the DIY Cleaning and Installation world. It's not that hard and it's a lot of fun!


You may also like:

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Exclusive offers and content for our members!