Benefits of regularly scheduled carpet cleanings range from financial benefits to health benefits, here just a few:
- Regular cleanings can extend the useful life of your carpet and improve its appearance.
- Getting your carpets cleaned can reduce indoor allergens like dust, mold and pet dander.
- Effective cleaning methods can sanitize your carpet too, ridding it of harmful germs and bacteria growth.
As a consumer it can be confusing shopping for a good carpet cleaning service , one of the biggest mysteries is the difference between all of the different kinds or methods of carpet cleaning that are on the market now. We decided to try and untangle the technical side of carpet cleaning and dig into how these pro’s work their magic.
“Steam” Cleaning (Hot Water Extraction)
This widely used technique employs a machine that sprays hot water and carpet shampoo onto your rug and then sucks it back up as it goes. These kinds of carpet cleaning machines are the ones that do-it-yourself homeowners often rent for a day to clean their carpets on their own. There is no actual steam involved in the process unless you count the steam coming up from the hot water into the air on some machines.
Hot water extraction can be a very hygienic, thorough cleaning process as long as the person running the machine knows what they are doing. An inexperienced tech might leave the carpet too wet which can foster the growth of mildew, mold and bacteria. Additionally if the detergent solution is left on the carpet that can become a sticky dirt magnet, requiring another cleaning to fix. What could be worse? If you have a really bad tech or a malfunctioning machine you could end up with sitting water in your carpet pad and subflooring; could cost you thousands in property damage. Just one more reason to consider leaving the carpet cleaning to professionals with insurance!
Professional carpet cleaners that employ the hot water extraction cleaning method may use portable machines but most use “truck mounted” systems for added power and efficiency. Hoses are run from their truck mounted hot water extraction unit into the the room(s) where the cleaning will be performed.
The carpet may be pre-treated with stain removing products and may also be “pre-vacuumed” and “pre-groomed” which is basically a process of agitating the carpet fibers to loosen dirt particles, making them easier to extract. These are just a few of the steps that professional carpet cleaners often take before beginning to clean with hot water extraction.
After the cleaning the damp carpet can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours to dry. The drying process can be speeded up by varying degrees through the use of fans, heaters, dehumidifiers or even central air.
Dry Extraction Methods
After learning about the dangers of carpet getting too wet you might be thinking about going with a dry cleaning method for your carpets. It’s important to note that most dry extraction methods do include a certain amount of moisture along the way, but still drastically less than with the hot water extraction method.
There are several types of dry extraction carpet cleaning methods that are in use today. Here we will look at several of them:
Dry Foam Cleaning
This is a good example of a “dry” cleaning method that is not truly dry. Foam is created by the dry foam machine by adding a mixture of water and carpet shampoo, the foam is then applied to the carpet and may be pushed down into the carpet through agitation. After the carpet dries (can be one or two hours) the foam residue is vacuumed up along with the dirt that it has loosened.
Dry Compound Cleaning
This is about as dry as it gets, the dry cleaning compound is sprinkled on the carpet and then typically there is an agitation process either manually with a brush or with a machine. The cleaning compound is then vacuumed up along with the dirt that bonded to its particles.
This carpet cleaning method is relatively new and pretty high tech. Special polymers are spread on the carpet that capture dirt and turn it into a solid dry residue which is then vacuumed up easily for an immediately clean, dry finish for the carpet.
Considered a dry method only because there is no water rinse in the process carpet shampoo machines apply a detergent or “shampoo” to the carpet, usually agitating as they go with rotating brushes and then are allowed to dry. Vacuuming the following day removes the shampoo residue along with the dirt.
Carpet shampoo has come a long way, it used to leave a sticky sort of residue that would attract dirt and require more frequent cleanings but today the synthetic shampoos are much less likely to do that.
Bonnet (Absorbent Pad)
This machine looks like a floor buffer and functions in a very similar way. Cleaning solution is applied to the carpet and to circular pad on the bottom of the machine. The machine is then run over the carpet to agitate the fibers and bring ground-in dirt to the surface.
Not strictly a dry cleaning method, Bonnet method uses a small amount of water or alternately club soda to get the job done.
The absorbent pad method is best left to the professionals because it can be very easy to apply to much pressure or allow the absorbent pad to get too dry and this can result in pile distortion, where it looks like you have craters in your carpet!
Benefits of the Bonnet method include good potential for tough stain removal and faster drying times (often an hour.)
Now that you know all about the wide array of cleaning methods available today, hopefully you will e better prepared to choose the carpet cleaning method that is right for you!