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Carpet Cleaning Tips for Doing it Yourself

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You can use all the carpet cleaning tricks and strategies in the world to do the job yourself, and guess what? You still won't get your carpet as a professional would with a truck-mount hot water extraction unit (also called steam cleaning). The high pressure hot water and strong suction of a professional cleaning machine just can't be beat. But, on the other hand, who needs perfection all the time? The tips collected here will help you get that carpet clean enough between professional cleanings.

Lesson one: heat helps! Once the temperature of the water is above 118 degrees Fahrenheit, chemical reactivity changes by 100% for every 18 degrees increase. Hot water extraction cleaning (or "steam cleaning") is done at temperatures between 150 and 200 degrees, which is one of the main reasons it is so effective. Is that explanation too technical? Just remember two points. First, hot water extraction, or "steam cleaning" is far superior to "dry cleaning," and second, if you do it yourself, use hot water!

Some rental machines may actually heat the water as it flows to the cleaning wand. If not, just be sure to add the hottest water you can. Check the specifications so you don't damage anything -- some units may not take boiling water, for example. And stop to add fresh water if it is starting to cool.

There are three inter-related factors at work when you clean carpet:

1. Heat

2. Dwell time

3. Agitation

If you can't maximize one of these particular factors, you can make up for it somewhat with the others. In other words, if you can't get your cleaning solution hot enough, let it "dwell" a bit longer in the carpet, and scrub harder. If you have a fragile rug to clean, use less scrubbing or agitation and try for hotter water and longer soaking.

More Tips

Detergent attracts dirt, so it's important to rinse out any cleaning solution thoroughly. That's another reason why hot water extraction gets carpet cleaner than the "dry" methods. The bottom line is that you need to rinse well when you clean your carpet.

A shop-vac can be a great help when cleaning stains. You can't just suck out the stain, but you can repeatedly wash and rinse the area, and suck the solution out each time. It's a more effective method than blotting up the water with cloth, mostly because you won't have the patience to wash, rinse and extract enough times if you're using paper towels or cloth.

Try to keep rugs outside and inside the front door. They'll catch much of the dirt that people bring in on their feet. This doesn't just mean less vacuuming, though. Dirt is like thousands of tiny blades that cut carpet fibers and permanently damage carpet. Damaged carpet stains more easily, and it's harder to remove the stains. It's even better if you take off your shoes in the house.

When you're ready to clean, vacuum first. If you use one of those portable machines, at least get the water as hot as you can. Always dry the carpet quickly, using fans to move the air around. You can't match the results of a good truck-mount hot water extraction unit, but if you follow the guidelines here you can at least lengthen the time between expensive professional cleanings.

How To Remove Carpet Stains | Carpet Cleaning Tips