Understanding Common Carpet Cleaning Methods

There’s more than one way to clean a carpet. If you want to keeping your carpet at its best, a little understanding of the different methods used by professional carpet cleaners will help you choose the right one. Let’s take a look at the carpet cleaning options you’re likely to find:

Hot Water Extraction

Sometimes called steam cleaning, hot water extraction is the most common method employed by carpet cleaning professionals. In this process, the carpet is generally sprayed with a mixture of hot water and detergent; this solution loosens soil, allergens, and staining materials. Then a powerful vacuum is used to pull the soil, water, and detergent out of the and into a holding tank. Because this method effectively removes dirt and grime, many carpet manufacturers recommend this technique.

Hot water extraction methods can vary, however, depending on the cleaning company. Olympia’s Meridian Chem-Dry, for example, doesn’t use an application of detergent; instead they opt to use a carbonated solution which allows a lighter application and doesn’t leave a soapy residue. Some companies also use truck-mounted systems, which are more powerful than portable systems. The extra power results in more effective removal of soils, oils, and other residues; truck-mounted systems also leave less moisture behind after cleaning.

Dry Cleaning

Rather than relying upon steam or water, this method employs a highly-specialized absorbent compound. This compound is sprayed on, and then brushed or scrubbed into the carpet. Once there, the compound attaches itself to soil, grime, and other staining materials. In addition to being designed to latch onto soil, these compounds are also engineered to easily vacuum away. Dry cleaning is gaining in popularity because no drying time is involved – and because this method doesn’t stress (and break down) carpet fibers.

The most popular variation of dry cleaning is called dry encapsulation. In this method, specially designed polymers are sprayed or brushed into carpets where they can attach to soils. After latching onto soils, these polymers dry, crystallize, and harden; in this form, the polymers can be easily extracted from the carpet.

Spin-Bonnet Cleaning

Another carpet cleaning method you might encounter involves using a spin-bonnet, or buffer, to apply the cleaning solution. In this method, cleaning solution is applied to the carpet or onto an absorbent bonnet. Then the bonnet is pressed into the carpet, while oscillating or spinning to capture dirt and grime.

This method has fallen out of favor in recent years, as it has several drawbacks. Unlike hot water extraction or dry cleaning, spin-bonnet cleaning places a lot of stress on carpet fibers; this can cause premature wear. Bonnets also become less effective as they absorb more soil; if the bonnet is not changed as frequently as needed, excess soil will be left behind on the carpet. On the plus side, this method requires relatively little moisture in order to work.

Let’s summarize: For the most thorough clean, but a bit of drying time, hot water extraction is a great way to go; you should also keep in mind that this method is even more effective when truck-mounted systems are used. Dry cleaning methods are a solid choice when carpet wear or dry times are important factors for you. As for spin-bonnet cleaning – like carpet shampooing before it, this method is losing ground to newer and better solutions.