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Your Carpet Cleaning Options

Last Updated Mar 5, 2013 · Written by Rob Schneider

If your carpet needs a good, deep cleaning, it's always a good idea to call in a professional local carpet & uphostery cleaning service, but who should you call? What about spot cleaning and light cleaning? Can you effectively do these jobs yourself and save? Knowing you carpet cleaning options will help you choose the best professional service or the right tools and products to use for DIY carpet cleaning.

Carpet Cleaning Methods

Carpet cleaning is more complex than meets the eye. In order to effectively remove ground-in dirt and grime, any carpet cleaning system must be able to penetrate deeply and extract materials vacuuming alone cannot remove. Dry carpet cleaning and carpet steam cleaning are commonly used terms, but neither is entirely accurate. This is what you need to know:

Dry Carpet Cleaning Methods

  • Carpet shampoo is often called a "dry" method because it leaves very little moisture behind. The method accomplishes this by using a "shampoo" with very high levels of foam and little moisture. After application with a cylindrical or rotary carpet cleaning machine, the carpet should be left to dry overnight and then vacuumed to remove any shampoo residue.
  • Absorbent cleaners or chemicals are used in another "dry" method. The absorbent is also called a "carrier" because it carries soil with it when the floor is vacuumed after application. Absorbent cleaners also contain some moisture as well as solvents and detergents, which are also absorbed by the carrier.

Wet or Steam Cleaning Methods

While it is true that carpet cleaning machines that use water as their principle cleaning agent do often produce steam, it is not actually the steam that does the cleaning. Today, professional carpet cleaners prefer to use the term "hot water extraction" or "encapsulation" to more accurately describe their services:
  • Hot water extraction is what we commonly call steam cleaning. It requires the use of a carpet cleaning machine that heats water and forces it into the carpet as brushes agitate the carpet fibres to dislodge and remove soil. Solvents and chemicals are also usually used in order to help dislodge ground in debris.
  • Encapsulation or "low moisture encapsulation" is a newer carpet cleaning method that involves using very hot water and special chemicals that "encapsulate" or trap dirt, grease and grime. What "encapsulation" really does is convert sticky, oily substances into crystals, which can then be effectively vacuumed. It is considered to be a low moisture system because the super-heated water vapours evaporate very quickly.
Many modern carpet cleaning companies use truck mounted systems that have many advantages over older carpet cleaning machines:
  1. They are able to heat water to a higher temperature.

  2. Truck mounted carpet cleaners can force cleaning solutions more deeply into the carpet.

  3. They can extract soil at a higher pressure than other systems.

  4. Air is dispelled outside of the house rather than indoors.
Most carpet suppliers recommend having a professional service deep clean your carpets for you once a year or every 18 months at most. In between, you can use a dry method or a carpet cleaning machine rented from a good equipment hire shop. Regular carpet cleaning will not only keep your carpets looking like new, it will also help prevent them from wearing out prematurely. When you look at it this way, you can see why professional carpet cleaners call their services an investment rather than an expense.
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