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The Best Way to Clean Carpet


If you remove your shoes in the house and vacuum often you can stretch out the time between deep cleanings quite a bit. But eventually you'll want to get that carpeting professionally cleaned. So what is the best way to clean carpet?

The carpet manufacturers are almost unanimous: Hot-water extraction, which is also called "steam cleaning." Shaw Industries, the world's largest carpet manufacturer, for example, recommends only hot-water extraction for cleaning their products. Truck-mount units are preferable, since portable units don't have the same suction power and heat. You can dry-clean your carpet as well, so a discussion of both methods follows.

Dry Cleaning Carpet

There are several variations of this method. It's worth noting that none of these involves rinsing your carpet when finished. One uses a foam that dries in your carpet and is then vacuumed up. It is debatable whether all the residue can be extracted.

Another variation uses a large cotton bonnet that spins. This is supposed to absorb the dirt in your carpet. Obviously, there are some questions as to how deeply this method can clean your carpet.

This video provides a good example of just how effective steam cleaning can be. Just look at the difference in that carpeting after one pass of the wand:

Finally, there is a compound that looks like wet sawdust. A machine brushes this into your carpet, where the dirt adheres to it. When it is dry, it is vacuumed out.

The primary reason these methods are used may be that the equipment needed costs thousands of dollars less than hot-water extraction equipment. Now let's look at the best method...

Why Steam Cleaning Is Best

The best process is properly called hot-water extraction, but it produces a lot of steam, and it is the surest way to get that carpet clean down deep. A good truck-mount hot-water extraction unit forces hot water into carpet under high pressure, and then sucks it (and the dirt) out thoroughly. The method has the following advantages:

The high heat used kills a lot of bacteria, fungus, mold, and dust mites, making it the healthiest way to clean carpet.

It doesn't leave residue (if done correctly). Detergent residue can attract dirt, which can damage fibers.

High pressure cleans carpet more deeply.

A strong vacuum also cleans carpet more deeply, pulling more dirt (and leftover cleaning solution) out of the fibers.

Heat helps! Above 118 degrees Fahrenheit, every 18 degree rise changes chemical reactivity by 100%. Hot water extraction cleaning is done at 150 to 200 degrees. If that sounds too technical, just remember this; truck-mount hot water extraction (steam cleaning) is the best way to clean your carpet.

How To Remove Carpet Stains | The Best Way to Clean Carpet