The Three Main Carpet Cleaning Techniques: An Honest Comparison

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20 Oct The Three Main Carpet Cleaning Techniques: An Honest Comparison

Whether you considering the possibility of cleaning your own carpets or hiring a professional to do it for you, you might be wondering what the different carpet cleaning techniques actually are, and how they work. 

Different methods of carpet cleaning, you ask? Yes, there are several methods ranging from simple DIY techniques to powerful industrial solutions. What’s more, not all of these methods achieve the same level of deep cleaning. Results can vary significantly based on both the technique used and the skill of the individual doing the cleaning. 

Here are the main carpet cleaning techniques and how they stack up. 

1. Shampoo

This method is not quite like the process of shampooing your hair in the shower. A special carpet shampoo is worked vigorously into the carpet, until a good amount of foam has been generated. The foam is then allowed to dry and bond to the various particles and residues stuck in the carpet. When the carpet is vacuumed (often the following day), everything comes out. At least in theory. 

The theory in the shampoo method is to generate a lot of foam in the carpet, allow this foam to dry, have the resulting residue attract the soil and vacuum up the residue and soil the next day.

The shampoo method is relatively easy even for people who have never tried to clean carpets, but it has the following disadvantages:

In order to generate the amount of foam needed, carpet shampoos contain chemicals that often leave sticky residues behind. 

Many commercial carpet shampoos contain chemicals that artificially brighten the carpet, meaning that it’s actually not as clean as it looks.

Repeat shampooing over the course of months and years can fade carpet and even give it a yellowish appearance due to the chemicals involved. 

The machines used to shampoo carpets (both cylindrical and rotary) can damage carpet fibers

2. Dry Cleaning

There are actually three specific methods of dry cleaning carpet, but covering them all in detail would be a blog post unto itself. Generally, “dry cleaning” methods make use of carpet cleaning machines that use either no moisture at all or a minimal amount of moisture to clean the carpet. The machine works a powdered compound in order to attract imperfections and bond to them. A special spray is often used before hand to prep all or some of the carpet, depending on how soiled it is. Mechanical agitation from a brush works the cleaner through the carpet.

It is possible to hand-clean carpet using a dry cleaning method, but this is very labor-intensive and generally does not achieve a very deep cleaning. Machines are therefore the method of choice for dry cleaning.

One big advantage of this methods is, of course, that the carpet does not need any time to dry, since it was never really wet. It’s also generally a more robust method of cleaning than shampooing. However, there are drawbacks. The machines used in this type of cleaning can damage the pile and fiber of many types of carpets, and the results typically don’t last very long since the method of extracting imperfections from the carpet (after applying the chemical agents) is not very effective. 

Several large carpet manufacturers actually recommend not using dry cleaning methods to service your carpets because of the damage that can occur. 

3. Truck-mounted hot water extraction

So what do carpet manufactures recommend? Every single one will tell you that truck-mounted hot water extraction is the Rolls Royce of carpet cleaning techniques due the deep cleaning it achieves and the safe, gentle way it works. 

Basically, the machinery involved is part of a service vehicle and does not enter the home. Hoses connected to the machine are the only equipment that comes through the door. The hose does two things. It applies a special cleaning solution to the carpet, and sucks it up almost instantaneously—along with the many particles and imperfections that have accumulated. In other words, the carpet is inundated with powerful solution that loosens imperfections, and everything is immediately sucked up by a powerful vacuum into a tank on the vehicle parked outside. 

The advantages:

Imperfections in the carpet are transferred directly out of the home, giving them no chance to circulate in the air and re-settle

The nature of truck mounted systems is powerful and effect, yet does not upset the fiber or pile of the carpet

The cleaning process is less intrusive as heavy equipment does not have to enter the home or business

Carpet manufacturers unanimously recommend this method of cleaning

So what type of carpet cleaning is best?

Obviously, truck-mounted hot water extraction is the way to go for a truly deep cleaning that doesn’t leave chemicals in your carpet, and doesn’t harm the carpet itself through the action of the machinery. Dry cleaning systems can be good for DIY maintenance in between professional cleanings, and can deliver good results if done correctly and not too frequently. Shampooing may be the only option in some cases, but it’s generally a less-effective way to get your carpets clean. 

Thoughts? Comments? We’d love to hear from you in the space below, or call us to discuss your carpet cleaning techniques and needs.

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