Carpet Cleaning Tips for Doing it Yourself
By Steve Gillman
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
2. Dwell time
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.
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
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
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Carpet Cleaning Tips