What’s the Best Method for Cleaning My Carpets?

carpetYou love the warm, plush feel of your carpets. You love how they bring the room together. A lot of research went into choosing a type and color—not to mention a lot of money.

Carpet is a big investment, and it’s no wonder people want to make sure the cleaning is done properly. Carpet needs periodic deep cleaning in order to restore the fibers, remove dust and allergens, and prolong the overall lifespan of the carpet. It’s been proven that when carpet cleaning is neglected over a period of months or years, the carpet will need to be replaced much sooner. That means another big investment.

But deciding to have your carpets cleaned is only the first step. Perhaps even more important is how you do the cleaning. Do you simply run a vacuum over it and call it a day? Do you rent a carpet cleaning machine from your local hardware store and attempt a deeper cleaning yourself? Do you hire a professional carpet cleaning company?

Let’s assume you’re going to 1) Rent a machine and use it yourself, or 2) Hire a professional to do the job. Either way, you’re still faced with the question of what cleaning method to use—and yes, there are several. Different types of machines and techniques will have different affects on your carpets, and it’s important to understand the differences if you want to protect your investment, lengthen the lifespan of your carpet, and make it look brand new after a cleaning. Here are three common

So what are the most common types of carpet cleaning, and what are the key differences?

1. Shampooing the carpet

You’ve probably seen this method at some point, or even tried it yourself. A machine is used to lather special carpet shampoo into the pile. This is usually left overnight to dry. When you vacuum your carpet the following day, all of the dried shampoo is supposed to come out—along with all of the impurities.

Does it work? Well, yes and no.

Shampooing your carpet does achieve some level of cleaning, but it also typically leaves residue as the vacuum cannot remove all the dried foam. Then there’s the question of brightening agents. Many shampoos make your carpet look clean by using artificial ingredients that brighten up the appearance of your carpet—much like a hair dye to cover up those gray strands—when in reality, it isn’t that clean. The ingredients in carpet shampoo can also erode and discolor many types of carpet with repeated use.

2. Using a dry method

There are several carpet cleaning machines on the market which, contrary to shampoo methods, do not use an excessive amount of foam or water during the cleaning process. The cleaning agent used is powdery, and special sprays are applied beforehand to aid the cleaning process. The machine then works the cleaning solution into the carpet.

Today, this is usually considered a superior method of carpet cleaning when compared to shampoo. It doesn’t leave so much residue, and the carpet is not left damp (which poses its own problems). The level of cleaning is often deeper as well.

One big pitfall here is the potential damage caused by dry cleaning machines. Many companies that make carpets warn against using dry cleaning carpet machines, as the action of the mechanism has been known to damage carpets. Some carpet warranties are even voided when these machines are used. However, they remain a popular option—especially for DIY carpet cleaners.

3. Truck-mounted hot water extraction

Saving the best for last, truck-mounted hot water extraction is widely considered the gold-standard. It’s not just the companies using the technology, either. Carpet manufacturers universally recommend this method of cleaning, and some even require it in order to preserve the warranty on their carpets.

The machine used in this cleaning process is mounted to a vehicle which is parked near the home. Special hoses attached to the machine are brought into the home to carry out the cleaning operation. The hose uses a gentle cleaning solution on the carpet, which penetrates the fibers and is sucked back into the hose almost instantly. There is no dampening or drying process to worry about—the imperfection in your carpet are treated and pulled out immediately, without damaging the pile. Fortunately with carpet cleaning, the most effective and powerful cleaning method is also the most gentle.

Choosing the right method for you

Many people choose to rent machines (whether shampoo-based or dry) to clean their carpets. This has been done for years, and it’s certainly possible to be happy with the results. But if carpet manufacturers are to be believed, hot water extraction from a reputable carpet cleaning company is the best way to protect your investments and clean your carpets well without causing damage over time.

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