Daily vacuuming is the most important cleaning activity, but deep extraction cleaning must be performed to remove stubborn or embedded soil. The Carpet and Rug Institute recommends that carpet be cleaned a minimum of every 12 or 18 months before it shows soiling. Use a cleaning method recommended by the carpet manufacturer to maintain their warranty.

Carpet should receive regular deep cleaning to maintain its good looks. A carpet cleaning professional may be hired or carpet cleaning equipment may be purchased or rented for do-it-yourself cleaning.

The fiber system used should be the primary factor in selecting a cleaning method. The majority of carpet manufactured today is constructed with synthetic fibers such as nylon, polyester, or olefin, and may be cleaned with most cleaning methods.

There are five accepted methods for cleaning carpet made from synthetic fibers. Rely on the carpet manufacturer's recommendations. 

The five carpet cleaning methods are: 
Shampooing 
Dry foam 
Bonnet (Dry Cleaning) 
Dry Powder 
Hot Water Extraction (Steam Cleaning) 
Let's start with the oldest form of modern carpet cleaning first:

SHAMPOOING

Shampooing is the use of a motorized circular brush in which foaming cleaning products are introduced to the surface of the carpet and are then scrubbed into the carpet. This method has very good agitation and is best suited for low pile commercial carpet or low cut pile carpet that is highly soiled. This method, unless it is used with some other type of carpet cleaning, has no extraction in the cleaning process but rather relies on vacuuming after the shampoo dries. Because of it's high aggressiveness, and the large amounts of cleaning product residue it leaves, this method is not recommended for most cut pile residential carpet. It also can have long drying times associated with it.

DRY FOAM

This method is very similar to shampooing in that it relies on the aggressiveness of the brushing action, which is usually counter rotating cylindrical brushes. The difference is that the solution is whipped into a foam and applied right before the brushes instead of a liquid as in shampooing. This does allow for faster drying times. Although some DRY FOAM machines have a built in vacuum they still rely on the cleaning product drying to a flaky residue that the dirt adheres to and being sucked away by a vacuum cleaner. This method has the same weaknesses as Shampooing with the additional one of not being able to deep clean.

BONNET (Dry Cleaning)

In this type of cleaning sometimes referred to as 'Dry Cleaning', the cleaning product (sometimes mixed with carbonated water) is misted onto the carpet in the form of a spray. Next, a circular rotating buffer with an absorbent pad attached is run over the carpet. The soil attaches itself to the pad and the pad is changed with a clean one after becoming dirty. This method has the advantage of drying very quickly because of the small amount of moisture used. It generally does a good job of cleaning the top l/3 of the carpet pile that is visible to the eye. But does little to remove the heavier grit and sand that damages carpet over time. Because there is no flushing action or extraction, there is very little deep cleaning. This method may be considered as an interim cleaning between more effective deep cleanings.

DRY POWDER

With this method, a dry product (powder or ground corn cobs that have been soaked with a solvent chemical) is broadcast over the area to be cleaned. Then either a circular brush or cylindrical rotating brush is used to force the dry cleaning product in contact with the soil. After the carpet dries, which is surprising fast, a through vacuuming is required to remove the product and loosened soil. This method has the fastest drying times of all carpet cleaning methods and has the advantage of being able to be walked on almost immediately after cleaning. Similar to the Bonnet method, dry powder cleaning does a fairly good job of cleaning the top 1/3 of the fiber that is visible if it is not heavily soiled. Again, it does very little to remove the heavier soils in the base of the fibers. It's weakness is the extraction cycle. If not vacuumed with a powerful commercial vacuum, large amounts of the cleaning product can remain, and over a period of time build up and cause considerable problems later on.

HOT WATER EXTRACTION

Hot water extraction is sometimes referred to as 'Steam Cleaning'. Actually this is a misapplied term, for real steam is too dry and hot to clean carpet properly. In this method, hot cleaning solution is sprayed under pressure onto the carpet and is immediately extracted with a vacuum source. The dirty solution is collected in a recovery tank and is usually poured into the sanitary waste system. The advantage of this system is that is has the ability to flush out large amounts of soil and contaminants in carpet. It is the most preferred method by all of the major fiber producers, such as Dupont, Monsanto and Allied Signal, as well as the carpet manufacturers like, Shaw, Mohawk, World, and Queen. Because this method removes more contaminants than the other carpet cleaning methods, hot water extraction is favored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is the preferred method of the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).  Most higher quality carpets that have extended appearance and texture retention warranties require this type of cleaning every 18 months in order to retain the warranty coverage.


NOT ALL HOT WATER EXTRACTION MACHINES ARE EQUAL

There are three basic types of extraction machines. They are:

Residential/Rental. These machines are fine for spills and maintenance of lightly soiled traffic areas. But they lack the power needed to do the deep cleaning required to get out the grit that lies deep in your carpet pile and to maintain carpet manufacturer warranties. 

Professional portables. These machines are many times more powerful than residential units. The number and size of vacuum motors and pumps plus heat exchangers differentiates one from another in terms of performance. The most powerful machines may have two power cords. A really good job can be done with these units. if the operator has excellent training and takes his or her time. Sometimes portables are the only way the carpets in some locations can be cleaned. 

Truck mounted units. These machines have large independent engines or run off the motor of the cleaning van. They can develop up to 1000 pounds of pressure (though normally carpet is cleaned at only 300 lbs. of pressure). They also heat the water to 180 or more degrees and have very powerful vacuums. These machines are expensive but they can leave the carpets drier in many cases when used properly.

 In order to determine the amount and type of cleaning services needed, have a representative of the cleaning firm come to your home to make a visual inspection. The cleaning professional can inspect the carpet for problem stains or excessively soiled areas that may require additional attention. Obtain a written agreement for all work to be performed. Under normal circumstances there should be no extra charge for activities, such as moving furniture, preconditioning, and routine spot and stain removal. 

Beware of pricing that is "too good to be true." Professionals charge only for services that are authorized in writing before cleaning begins. Most cleaning is based on the total number of square feet to be cleaned. Many firms do have cleaning specials; however, pricing by the room or low prices quoted over the phone may have hidden restrictions or mandatory add-ons. A reliable firm will tell you the steps that they are going to use to clean your carpet and provide a written agreement before the work is started. Should you question the need for any required add-ons, contact the carpet manufacturer for assistance.






What is the carpet drying time?  The carpets are slightly damp after cleaning, and can be walked on with clean non-marking shoes in about 30 minutes. Normal soiled carpets usually dry between 4-6 hours after cleaning.

  What is the black around the carpet edges?  This is called filtration edges. It is caused by an air gap between the wall and the sub-floor. Sometimes the filtration edges can be removed depending on how long they have been there.

What is the proper way to spot clean?  Spot cleaning can be done by spraying a mild diluted detergent on the spot, and then blot the spot with a clean white damp towel ( DO NOT RUB! YOU WILL DAMAGE THE CARPET FIBERS) Rinse out the towel and repeat as necessary.

What does TEFLON®  Carpet Protector do?  TEFLON® puts a water resistant shield on your carpet, that helps prevent it  from absorbing spills that can turn into permanent stains. TEFLON®  can be applied after cleaning. Carpet protector is highly recommended if you have children or pets.

How do I pick the best carpet cleaner? Perhaps the best way to select a carpet-cleaning professional is through references from friends and family. A glowing endorsement can provide great peace of mind. If you don’t know anyone with recommendations, request references from the company. A reputable cleaning professional should have available a list of satisfied clients or businesses that uses his services. Also, the local Better Business Bureau can act as a reliable source of information on the cleaning company’s history.

How can I keep my carpet cleaner for a longer period of time? Vacuuming twice a week will help prevent soil buildup. Door mats and regular changing of AC filters also prevents soil buildup.
  Frequently Asked Questions
  





  Misconception 1 
    You should wait as long as possible before cleaning your carpet. 

No. Dirt is an abrasive - like sandpaper. Every time you step on the carpet, you grind dirt into your carpet fibers. This cuts your carpet, just as if you had used a knife, causing it to wear out faster. A dirty carpet will not last nearly as long as a clean carpet. And while vacuuming helps by itself, its simply not enough. The longer you wait to have your carpet cleaned, the more damage you do to your carpet and the faster it wears out.

   Misconception 2 
   The only reason to clean carpets is to get out the dirt.

No. As you probably know, outdoor air contains pollens, fungus, bacteria, air pollution, cigarette smoke, car exhaust and hundreds of other chemicals. When you and your family members come into your home, you carry those pollens, bacteria and chemicals in your hair and on your skin, clothing and shoes. Not surprisingly, all those chemicals, pollens and bacteria wind up you guessed it in your carpet. 

If you have allergies, asthma, emphysema, or other breathing problems one major source of your problem could be the pollens fungus, and chemicals in your carpet. 

In addition, as you may know tobacco smoke contains over 4000 different chemical compounds, 43 of which cause cancer. And even if you don't smoke, those chemicals get on your shoes, you track them in to your home and you leave them in your carpet. 

If you're sensitive to cigarette smoke, you might fmd that you'll breath easier after you hire a company to get those harmful chemicals out of your carpet. 

So in addition to getting rid of dirt another important reason to clean your carpet is to get rid of pollens fungus, bacteria, chemicals and the tars and residue from tobacco smoke. 


   Misconception 3 
   One method of carpet cleaning is as good as another.

No. You can choose from two primary methods: Dry cleaning or hot water extraction. First, I'll explain dry cleaning. 

Many people believe that dry cleaning your carpet is like dry cleaning your clothing. This is not true. All carpet cleaning methods use water in one form or another. Here are the three methods of dry cleaning carpet. 

When a carpet cleaner uses dry foam, he applies shampoo to your carpet, allows it to dry, and then sucks the dried shampoo into a vacuum. Can you imagine applying shampoo to your hair allowing it to dry and then removing the shampoo from your head with a vacuum? This method can leave a residue in your carpet, which is one reason dry foam is not very effective. 

The dry-chem method is similar to dry foam. The major difference is that when dry-chem is used, the company sets a large cotton bonnet on your carpet. Using a machine, the bonnet spins from side to side, absorbing the dirt that's in the carpet. After the bonnet is saturated with dirt, another cotton bonnet is applied. Bonnet cleaning is like trying to use a large towel to rub the dirt out of your carpet. Like dry foam, its not very effective. 

The dry-compound method spreads an absorbent mixture that looks like wet sawdust all over your carpeting. Then the machine brushes the mixture into the carpet, which in theory causes dirt to absorb into the mixture. When the mixture has dried, a vacuum cleaner sucks the material out of the carpeting. Because the carpet is not rinsed in any way, this method is not very effective. 

The second carpet cleaning method is called hot water extraction. This is a fancy way of saying that a hot water cleaning solution under high pressure is forced into the carpet and then sucked out of the carpet. This method is also referred to as steam cleaning even though steam is not used. 

Not surprisingly, Hot Water extraction cleans much better because it heats the water to a higher temperature and shoots the cleaning solution into the carpet at higher pressure which breaks up the dirt, bacteria and pollens. Then the machine uses high suction to draw the dirt out of the carpet. This is the method my company uses. No question, the most effective way to clean carpeting is with hot-water extraction.    

Methods that use cold and even warm water remove dirt -but are not as effective as the hot-water method. Some people believe that hot water damages your carpet, but this isn't true. By washing and then rinsing your carpet with hot water, we clean your carpet completely in the same way that the person who showers and then rinses off the dirt and soap will be much cleaner than the person who takes only a sponge bath. 


   Misconception 4 
   Having the right equipment is all a company needs to clean your carpets properly. 

Not true. Many companies own hot-water cleaners - but a large number of employees don't know how to use them. You probably know someone who bought the newest computer on the market but didn't learn how to use it for a year or more. The same is true with carpet cleaning machines. The company may own good equipment, but the employees may not know how to use it correctly. This is why it's important that you choose your carpet cleaner carefully. 


   Misconception 5
   The company that offers the lowest price is the company you should hire. 

Maybe --but not always. Here are two important points to consider. 

Point #1: The price you see offered may not be for the services you want performed. 

Before you select a company, decide what you want to accomplish. If you want the carpet cleaner to remove only some of the dirt, you can choose from hundreds of companies that use small shampooers or other cleaning methods. Or, you can even rent a machine at the store and do the job yourself. 

On the other hand, if you want your carpet thoroughly cleaned --if you want to remove the harmful dirt, bacteria, pollens, chemicals and tobacco residues --then you need to hire a company that uses a hot water cleaner. This is the only way to assure that your carpet remains healthy and free from dirt, disease-causing bacteria, and harmfull chemicals. 

So remember that the price you see offered may not be for the services you want performed. 

Point #2: The price you see advertised may not be the price you pay. 

Many homeowners have learned that the low price they saw advertised was not the amount they were charged. 

And if you've ever hired a carpet cleaner, you too may have been the victim of false or misleading advertising. You probably learned the hard way that some carpet cleaners offer a cheap price --usually between $10 and $15 per room --and then pressure you into paying a lot more once they get inside your home. Some of them may even use bait and switch tactics. 

As in all businesses and professions, the carpet cleaning industry has its share of bad apples. I take no pleasure in telling you this, but some are unethical --and, sadly, a few are dishonest. By their misleading advertising and false promises, they cast a dark shadow on our entire industry. 

Then you'll find other carpet cleaners --professionals like me who work hard to earn your trust and respect


    


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   5 MISCONCEPTIONS ON CARPET CLEANING
   5 MISCONCEPTIONS ON CARPET CLEANING