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Carpet Cleaning Methods – How To Choose the Right One

carpet cleaning methods

Carpet Cleaning Methods – How To Choose the Right One

What are the differences in carpet cleaning methods? And why should you NOT use them in your house?

1. Absorbent compound – It uses a granular carrier, which is uniformly distributed and when dried, the carpets are vacuumed to remove residues. The compound is designed to attach to soils and is worked into the fibers with counter rotating brushes. The carrier is either cellulose or polymer based. Most companies that use this process use the polymer based product, as the cellulose brand has been shown to cause mold growth as shown in the petri dish during laboratory testing. This process has the slowest production rate and is the most expensive.

2. Bonnet carpet cleaning methods – A detergent solution is applied to the carpet and a pad attached to a floor machine is worked over the carpet to remove surface spots, a method which dries very quickly. Has a very fast production rate and is one of the least expensive methods.

3. Dry foam – Another minimal moisture method where a dense foam is produced through mechanical aeration and distributed via the mechanical brush. The excess foam and suspended soil is extracted using a wet vacuum typically incorporated into the same machine. Fast production rate.

4. Shampoo – A shampoo is distributed into the carpet and agitated with a mechanical brush. The shampoo is removed by either a wet or dry vacuum. Fast production rate.

5. Dry encapsulation – This is a new interim method that has begun to rapidly replace all of the others. This method has far superior results than all the other methods, even when used with HWE cleaning. Dry encapsulation involves shampooing the carpet with mechanical brushes and the chemical used modifies the soil to make it invisible to the naked eye. The chemical used dries to an ash and is vacuumed away more so than any other interim method. It still leaves a residue, but when followed up with HWE the carpet is cleaner than with any other interim method, even when the other methods are followed with HWE. This method has the highest production rate, where one person can clean 6,000 to 10,000 square feet within an hour using one gallon of concentrated chemical. This process works best when allowed to dry for 24 hours before vacuuming, but the facility can be used during the drying time. Although this system, as well as all other interim methods, failed the CRI SOA testing because they do not extract soils, the residue that is vacuumed up later releases from the fibers far better than any other interim method. The ash residue does not re-soil as quickly as the other interim methods.

6.  Hot Water Extraction-(HWE) this method, when used with a truck mounted system, is what is recommended for most carpets, and is required by some carpet manufacturers to comply with the warranty requirement.  Truck mounted hot water extraction is also known as “steam cleaning” because the water gets so hot that steam can be seen coming off the carpet wand and the carpet itself.  HWE generally consists of using a pre-treatment agent to loosen the soil and oils from the carpet fibers, which is followed by hot water extraction, a rinsing process using powerful jets of hot water that are forced through the carpet fibers, then quickly extracted using high powered vacuum pressure, leaving the carpet fibers clean and fresh.  Carpets will dry in a 30 minutes to a few hours depending on the extraction head used.  There are traditional carpet wands, rotary extractors, and other HWE equipment that has been developed over the past few years that make the cleaning even more effective and gives faster drying times.   Hot water extraction can be done with portable equipment, but it is not as effective as using a truck mounted unit, because portables cannot get the same type of heat or vacuum power.  Portables are generally used in high rise situations, or areas where use of the truck mount is prohibited somehow.

In conclusion, although the 5 interim carpet cleaning methods failed to clean according to the industry standard of clean, which is currently being revised with the new S 100 standard, they were never intended to pass this standard of clean. The standard of clean was written mainly for residential carpet, and the S 100 standard specifically calls for HWE for all residential carpet cleaning.


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The problem arises when people try to start a carpet cleaning business and are not properly trained. Manufacturers and suppliers of both equipment and chemicals are not qualified to train people how to clean carpets. While they may have studies regarding their products, their findings are usually from in house testing, and are not third party certified. Any manufacturer will claim their products are the best, but the studies they are using to back up their claims have not been completed by an unbiased third party.

Call someone who knows about all the different carpet cleaning methods, so they can discuss which one is best for your needs, not just their wallet. The professionals at Accent American Inc have over 30 years experience, and have used and tested all of the methods for carpet cleaning.

"Accent American is smart, fast and responsive, and they helped make my home look perfect again!"

- Patrick H. - Tampa, FL