Carpet Cleaning Methods
A thorough carpet inspection is always a good start and helps:
determine which method is best suited for the job
identify any potential problems or limitations
discuss client expectations
Whichever carpet cleaning system is selected, a proper vacuuming is fundamental.
Approximately 79% of all carpet soil can be removed with vacuuming alone. Unfortunately, this vacuuming step is often overlooked with many carpet cleaning services.
With the emphasis on "healthy" cleaning, it is imperative that as much of the dry soil be removed through vacuuming. The vacuum system should filter down to .1-.5 microns or ideally utilize a "HEPA" filter.
What are the dry carpet cleaning methods?
The term dry cleaning brings to mind a kind of waterless cleaning system. Much like a dry cleaner would use to "dry clean" clothing.
The dry cleaning method is better described as low moisture carpet cleaning. It's considered "dry" because the carpet can be cleaned and then quickly brought back into use.
The dry carpet cleaning methods are:
Absorbent Powder/Dry Extraction Cleaning
This method utilizes an absorbent medium (sponges or powders) which has been impregnated with water and small amounts of detergent and solvent to absorb and control the soil once loosened, holding it for removal by vacuuming.
The sponges/powder is worked into the carpet with a counter rotating double brush machine which also acts to revive the carpet pile during cleaning.
The advantages include less streaking and wick-backs of soil, and carpet can be back in service immediately.
The disadvantages of this method include a residue buildup of the absorbent sponges or powder which can be seen at the base of the carpet pile. This method may be limited in its ability to clean heavily soiled carpet.
Some popular cleaning system names of this method include Host and Capture.
Bonnet Pad Cleaning
This cleaning in this method is accomplished by spraying a cleaning solution over the face of the carpet pile. The carpet is then buffed with absorbent pads (bonnets) attached to a floor machine.
The absorbent pads absorb the carpet soil. When the bonnets quit absorbing soil the pads are rinsed, changed or turned over to finish the job.
The advantages of bonnet cleaning are seen in this system's ability to quickly clean large areas which dry fast. A good system to use for a maintenance program which requires minimal operator skill.
The disadvantages of this method is the lack of deep cleaning action. Not the best system for heavy soil removal since there is not any rinsing action.
This is one of the oldest carpet cleaning methods and utilizes a rotary floor machine equipped with a solution tank and a shower feed brush. The carpet is scrubbed while a shampoo solution is fed through the shower feed brush.
Due to the scrubbing action of the cleaning process the carpet pile can get distorted. The carpet pile should be set or groomed before the carpet dries to avoid an uneven appearance. A thorough dry vacuuming is then performed to remove loose soil and crystallized detergent residues.
The advantages to this method are excellent agitation and deep cleaning that produces good overall cleaning results. With low equipment and chemical cost, this system is very economical to use.
The disadvantages are pile distortion from improper scrubbing or incorrect brushes. A high level of operator skill is needed for best results. Residues from improper chemical usage can cause rapid re-soiling.
This is one of the newer "dry" carpet cleaning methods. This system uses a cleaning chemistry which contains both a detergent and a "crystallizing" polymer.
Utilizing the agitation from a floor machine, the detergent works to suspend the soil which is then encapsulated by the polymer and dries to a crystal. This crystal is then vacuumed away.
The advantages of this method is the lack of dirt attracting residues, the carpet stays cleaner longer. No rinsing is required. Large areas can be serviced quickly and is cost effective
The disadvantages of this method is its ineffectiveness on grease impacted carpet. Poor results are seen with insufficiently pre-vacuuming the carpet, using inferior quality encapsulating products or equipment which does not scrub deep enough.
Dry Foam Shampoo
This carpet cleaning method is a version of the shampoo method. Special equipment equipped with a foam generator whips the shampoo liquid into a foam before it is applied to the carpet. It earns its name "dry" from the low amount of liquid used (10% liquid and 90% air).
Most dry foam equipment utilizes reel type brush systems for agitation. Some dry foam equipment is also equipped with a vacuum recovery system to extract the soiled foam solution.
The advantages include low moisture usage resulting in fast drying times, and the ability to cover large areas in short periods of time. This is a good method for surface appearance management in commercial maintenance programs.
The disadvantages are moderate level of soil removal and the need for periodic hot water extraction when this cleaning system is used on a regular basis.
The above listed dry carpet cleaning methods are most commonly used in the commercial carpet cleaning arena but could be used in a residential setting as well.
Are all the best carpet cleaning methods dry?
Of all the carpet cleaning methods available, the one which is used for restorative commercial carpet cleaning and the majority of residential carpet cleaning is hot water extraction, also known as steam cleaning.
Hot Water Extraction
This method can be performed by equipment which is either portable (the machine itself is brought inside the job location) or is truck mounted (the machine is mounted inside a van or truck) and hoses are run to the area to be cleaned.
The cleaning process works by injecting hot cleaning solution under pressure into the carpet fibers followed by immediate extraction. Proper "pre-conditioning" of areas of heavy soil accumulation is an important step in the steam cleaning process.
This cleaning method works best when the carpet is pre-conditioned, agitated and then rinsed.
Although the modern truck mounts can offer more heat and quicker drying times than a portable, the portable machine has the ability to go where the truck mount cannot. Excellent cleaning results can be achieved with either equipment choice.
The advantages of the hot water extraction method is high rates of production and relatively low chemical cost. Recognized as the most efficient method for soil removal by carpet manufacturers and fiber producers.
The disadvantages include longer drying times, high level of operator skill, and high equipment and maintenance costs.
Each method of carpet cleaning whether dry or wet has advantages and disadvantages. Each system can provide good results on its own if operated as designed. Some methods may be combined for increased cleaning efficiency.
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