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The Best and Worst Carpet Cleaning Methods

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Spring Cleaning is more than just about tidying up, it’s about getting rid of all the dirt that’s accumulated over winter.  Even if you vacuum every day, cleaning your carpet is essential for getting rid of dirt and allergens that your vacuum can’t reach.  In fact, even though your carpet may look clean, a square yard of carpet can hide us much as a pound of dirt.  Make sure you have the right equipment and know the different techniques to get your carpet fresh and clean.  Carpet cleaning is an important part of any spring cleaning regimen, but spring isn’t the only time of year to do it.  Actually, it’s recommend that you deep clean your carpets at least once or twice a year and up to six times a year if smokers, young children or pets are present.  Reduce the cost of your carpet cleaning by using an equipment rental company.

Hot Water Extraction

The best carpet cleaning technique is the hot-water extraction method. It’s the method recommended by most major carpet manufacturers and used by professional carpet cleaning services.  This is also the only method classified as “deep cleaning.”  Other types of carpet cleaning are considered “light surface cleaning” or “interim cleaning” because they don’t remove soil deep in the carpet.  These other methods also leave large amounts of cleaning agent in the carpet. Regular deep-cleaning not only removes allergens, dirt, and grime, but can add years of life to your carpet by removing abrasive grit that harms carpet fibers.

This method is usually called “steam cleaning” because of the fine spray of water used to force dirt out of the carpet.  This process consists of spraying a solution of water and detergent into the carpet and recovering the water and soil with a powerful vacuum into a holding tank.  Most equipment rental companies have portable systems that can brought into the home or office.

Carpet Absorbent Cleaners

This carpet cleaning method is also known as “dry cleaning” because little to no water is used.  This method uses a dry, absorbent compound, which contains small amounts of water, detergent, and solvent.  The compound is sprinkled over the carpet or worked into the floor by a machine.  As the compound works its way into the carpet, it attracts and absorbs soil.  Theoretically, the small amount of liquids in the compound dissolve the soil, and the compound is then vacuumed up.  Most absorbent cleaners are organic, but there are some that may contain polymers.  The carpet must be thoroughly vacuumed before and after cleaning.

Using carpet absorbent cleaners has a few positives and negatives.  On the downside, very thorough vacuuming should be done to make sure that most of the compound comes out of the carpet.  Sometimes compounds with extremely fine powder can reduce indoor air quality.  If a white powder starts appearing on shoes and cuffs of pants, too much was used and it was not thoroughly vacuumed up. This method does have the advantage of not having any drying time because little water is used, and some equipment rental companies do rent these products.

Carpet Shampoo Method

This method involves using shampoo to generate a lot of foam in the carpet.  When the foam dries, the leftover residue attracts the soil, allergens, and bacteria.  The residue is then vacuumed up along with all of the dirt.  Sodium lauryl sulfate or one of its relatives is one of the most commonly used foam in carpet cleaners.  Sodium lauryl sulfate and its relatives are very stable foam and fair detergents.  The problem with these shampoos is that they dry to a soft, sticky residue which causes resoiling.  These resoiling problems result in carpet shampoos frequently adding an anti-resoiling additive such as a resin to reduce the resoiling.

Carpet cleaning shampoos are very poor detergents and only bury the dirt.  Frequently, these shampoos also contain high levels of optical brighteners that take invisible ultraviolet light and convert it to visible light, which makes the carpet appear cleaner and brighter than it really is.  Over time, these additives can also create a yellow cast on the carpet, which cannot be removed.  Because of the resoiling problem, using shampoo to clean your carpet is inferior to a hot-water-extraction method.

Bonnet Method

Sometimes called “carbonated cleaning,” the bonnet method is like buffing a carpet.  Essentially, this method consists of using a rotary or oscillating brush with a still brush or drive designed for wet, damp, or dry pads.  The carpet is either sprayed with a cleaning solution or the pads can be soaked in a cleaning solution.  Carbonated water is also used to theoretically to give the soil better suspension. 

Most carpet manufacturers recommend against the bonnet method because of carpet distortion and damage. This method also has very limited capability to remove soil and detergent from the carpet because there’s no real extraction process.  This method can also distort the fibers of the carpet and leave swirl marks because of the spinning bonnet.

Get the right tools for the job from Time Equipment Rental and Sales in Rapid City! Check out our selection of carpet cleaning and flooring items.  Contact us for more information, or come swing by 311 N. Campbell Street, Rapid City, SD 57701.

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