Various Carpet Cleaning Methods

Multiple carpet cleaning methods exist, each with its own benefits and issues. Most systems produce satisfactory results when used by a conscientious, well-trained technician.

Hot water extraction. Hot water extraction, commonly referred to as steam cleaning, employs a heavy-duty hot water extraction system, usually truck-mounted. After a thorough vacuuming to remove dry soil, a detergent is applied using a portable sprayer and then agitated into the carpet with a soft brush. After about 15 minutes, the technician will rinse the carpet with a high-pressure jet of clean, hot water, which immediately gets pulled back into the reservoir along with the dirt, grease, and oils that were released from the carpet. A properly steam-cleaned carpet will typically dry within 12 to 24 hours. A common problem is that stains sometimes reappear when water carrying the stain wicks back up individual carpet fibers during drying. This can generally be avoided if the technician applies an anti-wicking powder. Always use a certified technician with several years of experience.

Encapsulation cleaning. Most encapsulation carpet cleaning is performed on commercial carpets, but the method is gaining ground in residential carpet cleaning. After the initial vacuuming, encapsulation cleaning solution is applied to the carpet with an oscillating carpet-brush machine. The cleaning solution bonds to the soil in the carpet and holds it in tiny crystals that dry very quickly. The carpet is then vacuumed again, and all the cleaning crystals are carried away along with the trapped dirt. This method is considered ideal when carpet has to be dried immediately. However, it is less effective on carpets with high concentrations of oils or grease.

Dry powder/dry extraction systems. A technician applies a medium of soft, synthetic particles or microscopic sponges mixed with solution or detergent. A special machine works the medium into the carpet fibers. As the particles or sponges pass over and through the fibers, they collect dirt. The dirt-containing medium is then vacuumed up. These systems require more technician time than the others and are therefore more expensive.