This annual list of the best carpet cleaning franchises was revised and updated on March 3, 2021.
Carpet cleaning is a valuable service for both homeowners and offices. Regular cleaning helps carpets to last longer. Carpets in businesses in particular accumulate a lot of wear and dirt, and need professional cleaning every one to two years to remove the dirt laid down by foot traffic. With the shift away from industry to a service economy, more people than ever are working in offices, with carpets covering the floors.
This industry covers not only carpets but also upholstery cleaning, and sometimes ventilation and air duct cleaning, and damage restoration in these areas. Companies serve both households and business clients, though they may specialize in one or the other. Around a third of all commercial cleaning work in the US is for offices.
The sheer volume of carpets in US homes and especially offices has led to steady, significant growth for the carpet cleaning industry, especially during periods of higher employment and income, like the five years to 2020. Worth $4.77 billion in 2015, the carpet cleaning industry was worth $5.5 billion five years later, a compound annual growth rate of 2.9%.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the carpet cleaning industry hard. The closure of offices across the United States led to a loss of commercial business, while a lack of discretionary income meant that homeowners didn’t undertake improvement projects such as carpet repairs and dying. This reduced revenues by an estimated 10.5% in 2020, to $4.5 billion.
Though it’s been very damaging in the short term, the pandemic may be beneficial for carpet cleaning businesses in the medium term. Vaccinations and government spending are expected to create a huge boost to the economy post-COVID, with a swift and coordinated recovery. Higher sanitization requirements and an increased concern about infectious diseases will create greater demand for cleaning services of all kinds. More frequent and deeper cleans of working spaces will provide improved business for carpet cleaning companies, with the addition of sanitization to regular cleaning work. Demand for disinfection of high-touch surfaces may provide an opportunity to expand the range of services offered.
This is a relatively easy industry to get into as a small operator starting up. Four out of five firms consist of only one person, so you don’t need to build up a large staff to get started. Carpet cleaners are expected to provide a warranty covering the work they do, but while there are industry organizations, there is no regulation, minimizing the bureaucracy around entering the sector.
The high turnover of working relationships means that there’s plenty of opportunity even in areas with established carpet cleaning businesses. The US commercial cleaning industry loses up to 55% of its customers each year, primarily because of poor quality work or not showing up for appointments. A reliable, high quality carpet cleaning company can hoover up the customers its competitors are losing, and so quickly grow a good client base.
The Top Carpet Cleaning Franchises of 2021
1. Chem-Dry Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning
Chem-Dry Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning has been the industry leader in residential and commercial carpet cleaning for decades thanks to the years the founder spent experimenting to come up with the best process to get results in less time.
A big claim to fame of Chem-Dry’s Hot Carbonating Extraction process is that it uses 80% less water than regular steam-cleaning methods, which also means carpets are dry in just a couple hours instead of a couple days, which can be enough time for mildew and mold to develop. Chem-Dry’s process is also completely non-toxic (no phosphates or detergents) and doesn’t leave any kind of residue behind that can actually hold dirt and require more frequent cleaning.
Other services offered include upholstery, tile, stone, granite, and grout cleaning, pet urine and odor removal, and water damage restoration.
Founded by Robert Harris in 1977 and franchising since 1978, the number of locations has held relatively steady since 2013 and currently stands at 3,577 (up by one from the previously reported total), of which none are company-owned and 1,637 are located outside the US.
2. Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning
Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning positions itself as the “greenest” carpet cleaning service for homes and businesses, first by saving as much as 58 gallons of water per house compared to other techniques because it relies on the natural cleaning power of oxygen as a purifying agent. It also claims that the carpets it cleans are dry in about an hour.
Every time customers book a carpet cleaning service through the company’s website, Oxi Fresh donates a portion of the service fee to Water.org, a charity that helps people who don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. Other cleaning services offered by the chain include those for tile and grout, upholstery, and rugs.
Founded by Jonathan Barnett in Denver, Colorado in 2006 and franchising since then, the number of locations has steadily expanded in recent years from 235 in 2011 to the current total of 423 (up from the previously reported total of 385), of which six are company-owned and seven are located outside the US.
3. Stanley Steemer Carpet Cleaner
Stanley Steemer Carpet Cleaner is a family-owned chain that makes its own cleaning equipment and cleaning products to clean the carpets of both residential and business customers. It has staked its reputation on consistently delivering superior results with 24/7 responsiveness, well-trained technicians (background-checked, drug-tested, never contracted), and a customer satisfaction guarantee.
Besides carpet cleaning, the chain also offers other services, including tile and grout cleaning, upholstery cleaning, leather cleaning, oriental rug cleaning, hardwood floor cleaning, air duct cleaning, boat and RV cleaning, natural stone cleaning, area rug cleaning, and 24/7 water damage restoration. For those with allergic sensitivities, Stanley Steemer claims to remove 94% of common allergens from anything it cleans.
Founded by Jack Bates in Dublin, Ohio in 1947 and franchising since 1972, the number of locations has declined slightly during the last eight years from 286 in 2012 to the current total of 269 (same as the previous year), of which 55 are company-owned and all are located in the US.
Zerorez provides both residential and commercial carpet cleaning with a “no residue” commitment. While other companies on this list claim something similar, Zerorez had made it a central distinguishing characteristic of its market positioning, starting with its name.
It accomplishes its work without soap or harsh chemicals, relying instead on a patented method it calls Powered Water. Basically, it takes the customer’s own water and runs it first through a softener to remove anything that might inhibit cleaning, then runs the softened water through an electric generator, which heightens cleaning power by splitting some of the hydrogen from the oxygen so it can bond with sodium. These hydroxide molecules are what do the heavy lifting in cleaning. The result is a superior clean with no residue left behind.
Founded in 2001 and franchising since 2003, the number of locations has expanded in recent years to the current total of 62 (up from the previously reported total of 56), of which four are company-owned and all are located in the US.
milliCare is different from the other companies on this list as it only serves commercial customers, not residential homeowners. It can provide floor and textile cleaning services to any type of business or industry facility. The chain is careful in taking enough time to really get to know the client’s cleaning needs, and if an annual cleaning plan can be collaboratively established, then milliCare will show up according to schedule without the client needing to make contact first.
The “textile” part of its cleaning services can include lobby and reception furniture, task seating, lounge seating, conference furniture, waiting room furniture, panel fabrics, draperies, wall coverings, and more. In addition to carpet and textiles, milliCare also provides 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 on hard-surface floors.
This company says it uses 99.5% less water than the competition because of its dry care technology of water-activated dry polymers that bind to dirt and other debris in carpets that is then pulled out by vacuuming.
Founded in 1967 and franchising since 1996, the number of locations currently stands at 61 (up from the previously reported total of 56), of which none are company-owned and 12 are located outside the US.
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.