the real answer is, all of them..
Don’t buy into the “our method is best” advertising you’ll find all over the Internet and Yellow Pages.
Comparison of Carpet Cleaning Methods
There are four basic methods for cleaning carpet:
* Carpet Shampooing
* Dry Powder Method
* Bonnet Cleaning
* “Hot Water Extraction/Steam
Carpet Shampoo Method
The theory in the shampoo method is to generate a lot of foam in the carpet, allow this foam to dry, have the resulting residue attract the soil, and vacuum up the residue and soil the next day.
Because of historical past resoiling problems, carpet shampoos will frequently also have an anti-resoiling additive such as a resin or polymer to reduce this resoiling tendency.Today’s carpet Shampoos (often called Encapsulation Solutions) offer terrific results with no resoiling what so ever if done correctly.
Three primary types of machines are used for this process:
* Cylindrical Foam
* Dual Cylindrical Brush
* Rotary Shampoo
The Cylindrical Foam Shampoo machine uses an air compressor to create dry foam before the foam is applied to the carpet and the carpet is then agitated with a revolving cylindrical brush which combs the foam through carpet pile. This method will leave dirt trapped in the carpet pile. Carpet must be thoroughly vacuumed before and after cleaning.
The Dual Cylindrical Brush machine usually has an onboard shampoo tank that disperses the cleaning agent across the carpet as the brushes work it into the pile. Embedded debris is usually “dug” out of the carpet at the same time. Post vacuuming is a must. Matted or distorted pile can be rejuvenated with this method.
The Rotary Shampoo method uses an ordinary rotary floor machine (the same kind used for stripping wax), sprays shampoo onto the carpet from a dispensing tank, and a rotary brush whips the detergent to a foam. Post vacuuming is needed as well to remove dried shampoo and soil.
Dry Powder Method
In this method, dry absorbent compound (containing small amounts of water, detergent, and solvent,) is sprinkled over carpet or worked into the carpet with a machine. This purpose of this cleaner is to attract and absorb soil. Mechanical agitation from a brush works the cleaner through the carpet.
These products usually contain an absorbent carrier, water, detergent, and solvent. The theory is that the liquids dissolve the soil and this soil/detergent/solvent mixture is absorbed into the carrier and is then vacuumed up. They are often used with a detergent prespray in heavily soiled areas.
The absorbent cleaner most commonly is organic, but may also be polymers. The compound is supposed to absorb the dislodged soil and is then vacuumed away. Carpet must be thoroughly vacuumed before and after cleaning.
Very thorough vacuuming should be used to ensure that most of the carrier comes out of the carpet. With the extremely fine powder types, indoor air quality can be reduced. If a white powder starts appearing on shoes and cuffs of pants, too much was used and it was not thoroughly vacuumed up. A common problem is for this white powder to reappear after wet extraction cleaning.
This cleaning method has the advantage of no drying time for interim maintenance, since little water is used. This makes if a common maintenance cleaner.
Host®, Capture®, Love My Carpet®, Arm and Hammer®, and Carpet Fresh® would be included in this category.
Bonnet Method / “Carbonated Cleaning”
This method is sometimes called “dry cleaning”, which is a misnomer, since water is used.
Bonnet Shampooing is simply an adaptation of hard floor spray buffing to carpets.
This method for carpet maintenance consists of the use of a rotary or oscillating brush adapted with a stiff brush or drive block designed to drive wet, damp or dry pads. The carpet can be sprayed with the cleaning solution and/or the pads can be soaked in the cleaning solution and squeezed lightly before placing the pad under the driving brush.
Sometimes, carbonated water is used to (in theory) give better soil suspension and bring down the pH. Companies using this method frequently use “scare” tactics to convince consumers that extraction cleaning or steam cleaning will destroy the carpet.
This method is best for light use commercial glue down carpeted areas where children and bare feet will not come in contact with the carpet. Used as a interim cleaning method it can keep your business flooring looking good between more thorough Extraction cleanings.
This method is often called “Hot Water Extraction” or “Steam Cleaning” and is the cleaning method nearly all carpet manufacturers and carpet fiber producers recommend.
This is the only cleaning method classified as “deep cleaning”. All the others are considered “light surface cleaning” because they are incapable of removing soil deep in the pile. Also, all other methods leave large amounts of cleaning agent in the carpet after cleaning.
The maintenance brochure published by the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, Shaw Industries, recommends this method, because its own research indicates that it provides the best capability for cleaning.
This method is frequently called “steam” cleaning due to the fine spray of water used to force dirt out of the carpet which is sucked up by the vacuum slot immediately in front of the spray. Seldom is real live steam used, however. This process consists of spraying a solution of water and detergent into the carpet pile and recovering the water and soil with a powerful vacuum into a holding tank. This can be done from a truck-mounted unit outside the home with only the hose and floor tool brought inside, or by a portable, system brought into the home or office.
From a health standpoint, the truck-mounted system is preferred because the dirty air and humidity are exhausted outside rather than recirculated around the house. Additionally, truck-mounted systems usually are more powerful than portable units and do a much better cleaning job and get the carpet dry more quickly.
With some truck-mounted systems (called PTO’s), the vehicle itself must run in neutral during the cleaning and in many others a separate engine (sometimes with a propane or oil-fired heater) is used to power the unit and heat the water.
Depending upon the equipment, temperatures may range from cold tap water to boiling hot water and even super heated water over 240 degrees F.
The choice of the proper cleaning system is extremely important. Some systems leave residues which promote re-soiling and defeat the whole purpose of cleaning. Some methods actually damage the carpet fibers and shorten the life of the carpet. Check with the carpet manufacturer for recommendations.
Carpet Cleaning Frequency:
If carpet is cleaned before it becomes too unsightly, the cleaning chore will be easier and more successful. Allowing the carpet to become overly soiled may result in irreversible damage. It is a common myth that cleaning the carpet before it is absolutely necessary will cause it to get dirty faster. This goes back to the days when the shampoo methods were the most common.
Carpet in a typical household should be professionally cleaned every 12 to 18 months depending upon the number of residents, amount and type of activity, and whether the carpet is light or dark color.
Professional Carpet Cleaning versus “Do-It-Yourself” Cleaning:
The maintenance brochure published by the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, Shaw Industries, recommends professional carpet cleaning over “Do-It-Yourself” because of the potential problems that can occur from using rental equipment – such as yellowing, overwetting, fiber tip damage, severe resoiling, overuse of detergents, etc.
Most rental units available do not adequately clean and may actually damage the carpet.
Make sure to hire a cleaning company that offers all of these methods. In some cases it takes a combination of two or more methods to achieve the best results. The best “Multi Method Cleaners” in Santa Cruz, Aptos, Scotts Valley or Capitola are, you guessed it.. Connoisseur.