Updated February 20, 2019.
Each year, more than 11 billion square feet of carpeting and area rugs are installed in the United States, and it all needs to be cleaned on a regular basis, which is why the carpet cleaning market is worth nearly $5 billion. Entrepreneurs who want to grab a piece of that action have a small but surprisingly solid list of business concepts to examine more closely with these top 5 carpet cleaning franchises of 2019.
Franchisees will need to work hard at building up a pool of loyal customers who actively refer new customers. The reason why this has to be a priority is because there are many independent companies out there offering cut-rate pricing but delivering sub-standard results. By contrast, the reason these five companies are so successful is because their cleaning methods and technologies deliver superior results.
Three out of the five companies on this list have achieved rankings on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500. Ironically, the company that is not part of the Franchise 500 is the one that’s been around the longest. Then again, this might just show that the old-timers of carpet cleaning franchises are being challenged by more recent market entrants.
Here are the 5 best carpet cleaning franchises of 2019:
1. Chem-Dry Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning
Chem-Dry Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning is by far the largest residential and commercial carpet cleaning franchise in the world. Years of experimentation by founder Robert Harris yielded a better way to get carpets cleaner than other companies at the time using his safe, non-toxic Hot Carbonating Extraction process.
One of the company’s distinguishing competitive advantages is that its method uses 80% less water than most steam-cleaning techniques, so customers never have to worry about being left with soggy carpets that take forever to dry or run the risk of mold and mildew gaining a foothold. A carpet cleaned by Chem-Dry is typically dry in 1-2 hours rather than 1-2 days. It’s the fizz of the carbonation that helps break up dirt so it can more easily be removed from carpets.
Carpets cleaned by Chem-Dry also need less frequent cleanings because unlike some companies, there is no film or residue left behind that can attract and hold dirt. Chem-Dry achieves its clean without phosphates or detergents, making it an eco-friendly carpet cleaning solution.
Additional cleaning services the company offers include upholstery, tile, stone, granite, and grout cleaning; pet urine and odor removal; and water damage restoration.
This company currently ranks #73 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list, a significant improvement from last year’s ranking of #137. Founded in 1977 and franchising since 1978, the number of locations has held relatively steady since 2013 and currently stands at 3,553, none of which are company-owned and 1,516 of which are located outside the U.S.
2. Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning
Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning has made great strides in the residential and commercial carpet cleaning market despite being the proverbial new kid on the block. It markets itself as the greenest carpet cleaning service available, which it backs up in part by noting that its oxygenated cleaning products mimic how nature has relied on oxygen as a purifying agent.
Its products are so effective that its cleaning technique requires much less water than more traditional methods (to the tune of saving 58 gallons of water per house), resulting in its claim that carpets cleaned by Oxi Fresh will be dry in just one hour.
The company’s carpet cleaning machines also lift the pile of the carpet to help loosen and dislodge dirt, whereas equipment with other companies can end up compressing the carpet.
When customers book their cleanings online at the Oxi Fresh website, the company donates $1 to water.org, a charity started by Matt Damon and Gary White to help the 844 million people around the world who don’t have access to safe water.
Additional services include cleaning tile and grout, upholstery, and rugs.
This franchise ranks #353 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list, a significant slip from last year’s #275 ranking. Founded in 2006 by Jonathan Barnett in Denver, Colorado and franchising since then, the number of locations has steadily expanded over the past nine years from 169 in 2009 to the current total of 364, of which eight are company-owned and another eight are located outside the U.S.
3. Stanley Steemer Carpet Cleaner
Stanley Steemer Carpet Cleaner is the longest-lived home and commercial carpet cleaning franchise on this list, having been founded by Jack Bates all the way back in 1947. The company has stuck to its founding principles ever since, including consistent quality with guaranteed customer satisfaction, 24/7 responsiveness, top-quality equipment, highly-trained technicians who are professionally screened and never subcontracted, and a geographic scope that can reach 95% of the U.S. population.
The company’s recognizable yellow vans are packed full of equipment to not only clean carpets, but also tile and grout, upholstery, leather, hardwood floors, air ducts, and natural stone. It also offers 24/7 water damage restoration and sells its own line of cleaning products for home and office use.
Stanley Steemer is certified asthma- and allergy-friendly, noting that its cleaning services remove 94% of common household allergens from carpet, tile, grout, and hardwood. Customers can also add on a professional-strength carpet protector that boosts a carpet’s ability to resist soiling, lengthening the time between cleanings.
The company has been sponsoring the 30-lap Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Model race held in April each year at the Rockford Speedway in Rockford, IL.
Founded in 1947 and franchising since 1972, the number of locations has declined slightly during the last eight years from 302 in 2009 to the 2017 total of 269 (the last time the company reported location data), all of which are located in the U.S. and 63 of which are company-owned.
milliCare is the only company on this list that exclusively serves commercial customers with its floor and textile cleaning services. It handles a full range of industries, including airports and transportation hubs, educational facilities, government buildings, healthcare facilities, hospitality buildings, law firms and legal businesses, and retail establishments.
The company prides itself on taking the time to listen to and assess a prospective customer’s needs as well as work with their budget and schedule to get the job done efficiently and effectively. Customers can also have milliCare put together a customized annual care plan that once approved means the cleaners will show up and do the job without the customer needing to call first.
Its textile care services can include cleaning lobby and reception furniture, task seating, lounge seating, conference furniture, waiting room furniture, panel fabrics, draperies, wall coverings, and more. The company also offers tile and grout care, entryway systems that help prevent dirt being tracked into a building, protective care services for carpets and textiles, and performance coatings for hard-surface floors.
The chain claims that its cleaning methods use 99.5% less water than its competitors thanks to its dry care technology that uses a water-activated dry polymer that bonds to dirt and other debris in carpets that is then vacuumed up.
This company slipped off Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list this year in spite of it having been ranked #215 last year. Founded in 1967 and franchising since 1996, the number of locations currently stands at 57, a loss of 20 locations from last year’s total of 77. Of the current locations, none are company-owned and 14 are located outside the U.S.
Zerorez has made “no residue” carpet cleaning its main selling point. Other chains on this list also claim to not leave behind any residues that actually attract dirt in a way that requires more frequent cleaning, but Zerorez is the only one to make this its central marketing message and has even enshrined it in the company’s name (Zerorez = zero residue).
Its cleaning method doesn’t use soaps or harsh chemicals. Instead, it utilizes a patented solution called Powered Water – soft water that has been zapped with electricity.
The company vehicle will hook up to a home’s outdoor water supply, running what is essentially tap water through a softener that takes out any heavy metals or other elements that might adversely impact the cleaning process. The softened water is then put through a generator that splits the hydrogen atoms away from the oxygen atoms so the hydrogen atoms can then bond to sodium ions added to the water to form hydroxide molecules that do the heavy cleaning work. The “powered water” cleans as well as any detergent but with none of the residue typically left behind.
This company ranks #367 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 2001 and franchising since 2003, the number of locations has expanded in recent years to the current total of 51, all of which are in the U.S. and only one of which is company-owned.
An Important Note About Our Methodology
The franchises on this list were ranked according to the number of units in the franchise system. If you are a prospective franchisee searching for franchise opportunities that meet or exceed certain performance benchmarks for sales, profits, and return on investment, please check out this list of America’s Most Lucrative Franchises.