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What is Hot Water Extraction Carpet Cleaning

July 13, 2018

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What Is Hot Water Extraction Carpet Cleaning

Residential and commercial carpeting should be professionally cleaned on a regular basis, not just to improve the carpet's overall appearance, but to also extend its lifespan. Ground-in dirt, mud, and other debris can ruin carpet fibers, making them matted down, discolored, and otherwise damaged so that the carpeting then needs replacing.

Hot water extraction carpet cleaning refers to a variety of carpet cleaning processes that involve hot water or steam, versus dry cleaning methods. These hot water processes may also include shampoo or detergent, or they may use hot water by itself.

To better understand if a hot water extraction carpet cleaning is the best choice for your home, note a few standard methods of cleaning carpeting, and the pros and cons of each of these processes. You can then discuss these choices with a carpet cleaning professional and ensure your residential or commercial carpeting is always in its best condition.

What is carpet steam cleaning?

For some carpet cleaning processes, steam or pressurized hot water is the only thing applied to the carpet fibers. This steam or hot water loosens dirt and debris that are trapped in carpet fibers so they can then be extracted, along with the water itself.

Steam carpet cleaning without any shampoo or detergent has many advantages:

  • Steam is a very gentle method of cleaning, which is suitable for expensive carpeting or rugs made with delicate silk fibers.
  • Plain steam or hot water cleaning takes much less time than applying and removing shampoo, so you can return home or open your office again very soon after the cleaning process.
  • Avoiding shampoos or detergents is an excellent choice if anyone in the house or commercial building has allergies, breathing disorders, or any sensitivities to perfumes and similar chemicals.
  • Plain steam cleaning is safer for homes where children and pets are close to the carpet fibers themselves! Your children and four-legged friends won't breathe in shampoo fumes and won't get any detergent residue on their hands, feet, paws, or noses when you choose steam cleaning.
  • Steam loosens carpet fibers, causing them to "fluff up," much like how steaming a garment will smooth out wrinkled areas. Matted carpeting is then restored to its original appearance and even high-traffic areas and sections of carpeting that are indented, such as from heavy furniture, will look like new.

The disadvantage to using steam or plain hot water is that it might not offer a thorough cleaning for filthy carpets. If your carpeting has areas of caked-on mud, pet stains, food stains, and the like, you may need to use some shampoo, even if it's just in those trouble spots, to get those carpets completely clean.

How are carpets shampooed? 

​Shampooing carpets also involves a hot water extraction method, but for this process, carpet shampoo is mixed in with this pressurized hot water. This shampoo or detergent then penetrates those carpet fibers to lift and loosen dirt and debris. More pressurized hot water is then spread over the rugs and extracted, so that the shampoo, the water, and all that dirt and debris is removed.

In some cases, this water and shampoo mixture is applied with a wand or hose that shoots the pressurized water into the carpeting, and which then extracts it. However, for filthy carpeting, or to remove stubborn stains, a machine with a brush attachment may be used. This rotating brush pushes the shampoo deeper into the carpet fibers and helps to loosen even more dirt and debris.

Shampooing with a hot water extraction method has many advantages over other carpet cleaning options:

  • Shampoo or detergent will remove dirt and debris that won't come out of carpet fibers with a simple steam cleaning. Carpets may then be more sanitary overall.
  • Steaming a carpet may not remove odors, such as from pet accidents or mildew under the carpet padding.
  • The deeper cleaning offered with shampooing can return carpeting to its original color. Carpeting may appear lighter, and its color may be more consistent, even in high-traffic areas.
  • Because shampooing will remove more dirt and debris from carpet fibers, it may be a suitable cleaning method if someone in the home has allergies to pet hair and dander, pollen, or other irritants that may be trapped in the carpeting.

What is bonnet carpet cleaning?

Bonnet carpet cleaning is a light, surface shampooing that is often faster and more affordable than deep cleaning methods. With bonnet cleaning, a wand or brush is covered with a type of cloth or bonnet, which is then rubbed over the carpet's surface while water and shampoo are applied.

<Bonnet cleaning doesn't allow the shampoo to penetrate deeply into the carpet fibers so that this method won't clean the carpet as thoroughly as an actual shampooing. However, bonnet cleaning is recommended for delicate rugs or for when you only need a quick, light cleaning of the carpet's surface.

Since bonnet carpet cleaning is often more affordable than deep shampooing, you can even schedule to have it done more often throughout the year, so your home's carpeting doesn't get matted down with dirt and other debris. Your carpet then always looks its best, but for far less money than having it shampooed every few months.


What is carpet dry cleaning?

​Just like your clothes, carpeting can be cleaned with certain chemicals that don't require water for them to be applied or removed, or which need only a small amount of water during the cleaning process. Some of these dry cleaning methods are called encapsulation, and these use a powder that contains a type of carbonation so that when the powder is applied to carpets, it creates bubbles and begins to fizz!

The chemicals in the dry cleaning solution trap or encapsulate dirt, dust, and other debris in the carpeting, and the bubbling action pulls that debris to the surface of the carpeting. The cleaning solution is then extracted, taking that dirt and debris with it.

Other dry cleaning methods don't involve this encapsulation but use a powder that is sprinkled onto carpets, and then rubbed into the carpet fibers with a brush or cloth. For especially dirty carpets, a rotating brush might be used this cleaning, to push the chemicals into the carpet fibers.

Once the chemicals are rubbed into the carpeting, they are then extracted, along with the dust, dirt, and other debris they capture. Deodorizes may also be added to these powders or dry cleaning solutions, to help neutralize odors.

One advantage to carpet dry cleaning is that the small amount of moisture used during the process allows carpets to dry much more quickly than when they're cleaned with a hot water extraction process. This faster drying time might be critical if you live in a very humid environment, which makes it difficult for carpets to dry quickly, or if you're an environmentalist, concerned about your consumption of fresh water in general!

The downside to dry cleaning carpets is that this method may not be as useful for removing ground-in dirt and debris, and may not be the best choice for carpeting with tall fibers. The chemicals used for dry cleaning may not penetrate those thicker piles of carpeting, and without steam and hot water, matted fibers may not be fully restored.

Carpet brooms for everyday cleaning

​While it's not the equivalent of carpet shampooing or dry cleaning, using a carpet broom or rake on your flooring in addition to everyday vacuuming can help keep those carpets clean. A carpet broom or rake is shaped like a push broom, with thick bristles that you pull or rake across the rug.

<The thick bristles of this broom trap and pull up pet hair, human hair, dried mud and dirt, and other such debris that might not be removed by a vacuum cleaner. Just like raking leaves, you can pull all that debris into one spot and then remove it, for a cleaner carpet.

The raking action of a carpet broom also pulls up carpet fibers, so that high-traffic, matted areas are restored. The carpet also feels softer underfoot. Since there is no water or detergent used, you don't need to wait for carpets to dry, and you also don't need to worry about shampoo chemicals bothering your sinuses.

The downside of a carpet broom is that it's useful for removing dirt and mud, but it may not address stains and odors in the carpet. You can buy a carpet broom or rake at most home improvement stores and manage this job yourself, or find a carpet cleaning company that offers to rake your home's carpets as needed.

How to choose the right carpet cleaning method

With all these options available, how do you choose the right carpet cleaning method for your home or office? Naturally, your carpet cleaning professional might offer suggestions on what would work best for your home or office, but note a few factors to consider as well.
  • How much dirt is trapped in the carpets? If you live in an area that gets lots of rain or snow, all that moisture outside usually means more mud that gets tracked inside! Also, in a residential home, pets are likely to be dragging more mud into the house, and if your commercial building receives lots of packages, that means hand trucks with dirt and mud on their wheels running over your flooring! For carpets that are likely to be very dirty, invest in a quality shampooing with hot water extraction.
  • For carpets in high traffic areas, steam cleaning will restore those fibers and make them seem fuller and softer again. You may not realize that carpet fibers are matted down, but if you have lots of people in your home or entertain often, or if your commercial building sees lots of foot traffic every day, consider a steam cleaning to restore the overall pile and nap of the carpeting.
  • Do you want to have carpets cleaned often throughout the year, such as before special events, or after the flooring has suffered particular abuse, such as around the holidays, an open house at the office, and the like? If so, bonnet cleaning can be an affordable option that may not offer a very deep clean, but which will make your carpets look their best while also removing surface dirt.
  • Do you have babies who play on the home's flooring? A steam cleaning without shampoo can be gentler on their sinuses and their skin than any cleaning method that involves chemicals or detergents.

Common myths about cleaning a carpet

One common misconception that people have about carpet cleaning is that the process somehow makes carpets get dirty faster than before. A floor may trap dirt when a homeowner shampoos their carpets and doesn't do an adequate job of extraction, meaning that they fail to remove all traces of shampoo from the carpet properly.

If shampoo is not adequately extracted from carpeting, a residue is left behind that will be a bit sticky, so it then attracts more dirt. In other words, it's not the shampooing itself that makes carpets get dirty again, but leaving some shampoo behind! To avoid this, rely on professionals to shampoo your carpeting, as they will be sure to remove all traces of detergent.

Another myth about carpet cleaning is that it causes fibers to come unraveled so that carpets start to "pill" or look threadbare. This damage is also often the result of a poor cleaning job, and not the shampooing itself. Using a heavy brush on delicate fibers or specific cuts of carpet pile may cause damage to the carpeting, but a hot water extraction applied with a wand should protect those fibers and avoid this damage.

The last myth or misconception to consider is that it takes carpets hours, if not even days, to dry after hot water extraction. During the extraction process, however, the water in carpet fibers is removed, so that carpets may be a bit damp but ready for everyday foot traffic soon after shampooing.

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