Carpet Steam Cleaning Facts
Why is residential and commercial steam cleaning the superior, safest, and preferred method of carpet cleaning, and how does it compare to other methods?
What is external extraction?
“Hot Water Extraction”, or “Steam Cleaning”, the Extraction cleaning procedures are what nearly all carpet manufacturers in addition to carpet fiber manufacturers recommend as cleaning method for soiled floor coverings.
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. 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. Other methods leave large amounts of cleaning agent in the carpet after cleaning.
The 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 is done from our truck-mounted unit outside the home with only the hose and floor tool brought inside. Truck-mounted systems usually are more powerful than portable units and do a much better cleaning job and get the carpet dry more quickly.
How long will it take my carpets to dry?
Normally between 4 and 8 hours. It all depends on what type of carpet you have, the humidity, air flow, and level of soiling.
What do I need to do before the technician arrives at my house?
Please have all furniture (couches, tables, chairs, beds, ottomans, etc.) moved off of the flooring you wish to have cleaned. Our technician will only help move furnite within reason.
Are there any risks to my health?
The truck-mounted system is preferred because the dirty air and humidity are exhausted outside rather than re-circulated around the house. Furthermore, if you happen to suffer from indoor allergens, getting your carpets professionally steam-cleaned can actually help benefit allergy sufferers. More often than not, thing such as dust, dust mites, pet dander and other allergy-prone factors that get trapped in carpets, especially if their thick or plus. Unfortunately, most vacuum or consumer-brand carpet cleaners don’t manage to get down far enough down to where allergens may be lurking, which is where steam cleaning can truly help. While products like raved-over handheld vacuums can be valuable in keeping carpets relatively clean, there are some dirts that can only be prevented through professional carpet steam cleaning.
How does steam clean differ from shampooing my carpets?
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. The problem is that they dry to a soft, sticky residue which will cause re-soiling. Because of the re-soiling problem, carpet shampoos will frequently also has an anti-re-soiling additive such as a resin to reduce this re-soiling tendency.
It really all depends on the type of job you need doing – for different reasons, it may be better to choose a small and quiet vacuum cleaner. For flats especially, you don’t want to keep your next-door neighbour awake with a big vacuum cleaner, and so the smaller version is probably the way to go!
Foam shampoos are actually very poor detergents and simply bury the dirt, they frequently also contain high levels of optical brighteners which take invisible ultraviolet light and convert it to visible light, thus making the carpet appear cleaner and brighter than it really is, for a while. It will eventually give the carpet a yellow cast and the yellow cannot be removed.
The Rotary Shampoo method can damage the carpet, especially cut pile (which is what most residential carpet is).
How does steam clean differ from ‘dry cleaning’ or ‘carbonated cleaning’?
This method is sometimes called “chem-dry”, “bonnet method”, or “dry cleaning”, which is a misnomer, since water is used. 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.
The maintenance brochure published by the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, Shaw Industries, suggests not using this method, especially on cut pile, due to pile distortion and fiber damage. This method has very limited capability for soil removal and leaves much of the detergent in the pile since it employs no real extraction. As a result, rapid re-soiling often occurs. Another disadvantage is that the spinning bonnet may distort the fibers of cut pile carpet, fuzzing the pile and leaving distinct swirl marks.
Sometimes, carbonated water is used to (in theory) give better soil suspension and bring down the pH. Check with your carpet manufacturer because many leading carpet mills recommend against this method of cleaning. Make sure you review your warrenty information, as bonnet method may void the warrenty of your carpet.
Can you get the pet odors out of my carpet?
Pet odor is a very common problem that could be much more complex than on first impression. Pet urine can easily soak through the backing of the carpet into the padding underneath. In more severe cases the urine can penetrate into the sub-floor beneath the padding. This creates a problem that is multi-layered. The urine also provides for the growth of bacteria. This in turn contributes to a worsening of the odor problem and can contribute to permanent color loss of the carpet fiber. To eliminate this problem, the urine must be removed or neutralized from each of the layers affected. If the contamination is limited to only the face yarn of the carpet then the cleaning itself may effectively remove the odor. In more severe cases a urine neutralizer may be applied. In the most severe cases, replacement of the carpet padding, treatment of the under-side of the carpet and the sub-floor may be required. Even replacement of the carpet, however, can not guarantee complete removal of the odor. So while we can try, it is not guarenteed, it all depends on the degree to which your carpet is contaminated.