Which Carpet Cleaning Method is the Best?
There are several different methods that are commonly used to clean carpets today. I believe that there is a time and a place for every method of carpet cleaning, but hot water extraction stands out as the most effective to making your home a healthier place to live. The cleaning methods that I will tell you about are: Dry Foam, Absorbent Pad (Bonnet Cleaning), Dry-Absorbent Powder, Hot Water Extraction with a portable extractor, and Hot Water Extraction with a truck mounted unit.
Dry Foam: This method generally uses an encapsulation cleaning agent that is applied to your carpet with a scrubbing machine that produces foam. Once the foam has been applied and dries, it is vacuumed off with a vacuum cleaner. Encapsulant cleaners crystallize the soil that it comes into contact with, and adds a protective layer to the carpet fibers that works like an onion peel where dirt flakes off through normal vacuum cleaning. This method does work to get rid of many dirts and soils, but without the use of hot water and full extraction it does not sanitize carpet. This method is more of a maintenance cleaning method to be used in commercial applications and in between hot water extraction cleanings.
Absorbent Pad (Bonnet Cleaning): This method is very similar to the Dry Foam Cleaning method. Instead of brushes, this method uses an absorbent pad or cotton bonnet attached to a floor polishing buffer machine which ‘buffs’ the carpet. The buffing motion of the machine causes the bonnet to absorb dirt from your carpet. This method is also best used to maintain an acceptable appearance for your carpet in between hot water extraction cleanings and in commercial applications.
Dry, Absorbent Powder: In this method, a moist, absorbent powder is spread on your carpet, and brushed into the base of the carpet yarns. Once the powder has been allowed time to set up, it is vacuumed up. Once again, with the absence of a rinsing agent, this is not a highly effective way to clean the carpet in your home. If you would like to compare this with cleaning in general, think about this: When you want to clean yourself, would you get in the shower or rub a powder all of your body?
Hot Water Extraction: This method is the only method that uses all of the elements of the CHAT cleaning method. CHAT stands for Cleaning Agent, Heat, Agitation, and Time.
- The cleaning agent is forced into the carpet under high pressure.
- The water that is being used to rinse the carpet is heated to the point of steam and is the most sanitary ways of cleaning.
- The cleaning agent is agitated into the carpet with a brush which ensures proper coverage of the cleaning agent.
- Pre-spraying the cleaning agent on the carpet allows the proper dwell time, so that dirt, soil, and other contaminants can be broken down by the cleaning agent.
Hot water extraction is the only method that is recognized by many carpet mills to ensure a carpet maintains the manufacturer’s warranty. According to a technical bulletin by Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, “the hot water extraction system, which research indicates, provides the best capability for cleaning”
There are two different ways to provide hot water extraction: truck mounted and portable. The truck mounted extraction is done by a large machine that is mounted to a truck outside of the facility with only the hoses and a wand brought inside. Portable extraction units are small units that are wheeled into the facility and plugged into standard outlets.
Truck mounted units are much more effective due to the fact that the water is heated to a higher temperature, the water pressure is able to be set higher and the vacuum power is much higher. This method, without question, is the most powerful cleaning method and the most effective way to remove dirt, soil, bacteria, pollutants, and other contaminates from your carpet.