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Five Carpet Cleaning Methods used by Carpet Cleaners

Last Updated: April 9, 2024

Written by Karen Norman
Carpet Cleaning Methods - Five to choose from

Carpet Cleaning Methods – Which is Best?

Are you puzzled by the different carpet cleaning methods? Let us help you choose. 

There are five main carpet cleaning methods. They are:

  • Hot Water Extraction – Steam Cleaning
  • Carpet Shampooing
  • Dry Carpet Cleaning
  • Encapsulation Carpet Cleaning
  • Bonnet Carpet Cleaning

These different professional carpet cleaning methods can make it confusing as to which to select. 

Yet some of these carpet cleaning methods can be as beneficial as steam cleaning in certain circumstances, and so we have described them here so that you can make an informed decision as to which method to pick for your carpet cleaning service.

Invariably, factors such as cost, depth of cleaning, drying times and level of disruption during the cleaning service play a part in the decision-making process. Each of the following cleaning methods has its advantages and disadvantages. Read on to decide which process is right for you.

Hot Water Extraction – Steam Cleaning

Hot Water Extraction is commonly known as Steam Cleaning. More often than not, when people think of carpet cleaning, they default to steam cleaning, as it is one of the most well-known carpet cleaning methods. While other carpet cleaning methods are available, steam cleaning is the preferred method for many and the process used by Dang Good Carpet and Furnace Cleaning.

It is often the preferred method for carpet manufacturers as it does not damage the carpet fibres and rarely leaves a residue.

Ironically, hot water extraction is not really about steam, although you will often see steam coming from the carpet cleaning wand during the injection and extraction processes. First, carpets are pre-sprayed using natural and environmentally friendly cleaning products. In addition, sometimes the carpets are agitated too, to loosen the grime and dirt further.

Once the pre-spray has worked, hot water extraction begins. Water is injected into the carpet at very high temperatures in hot water extraction. Simultaneously, the hot water is removed using high-pressure extraction. One of the most effective ways of extraction is by using a Truckmount System.

Truckmount equipment is extremely powerful. It creates good suction, and the temperatures are very high, which helps to kill bacteria, dust mites, odour, and mould. However, sometimes a truckmount system is not practical, especially if the carpet to be cleaned is above the second-floor level and cannot be reached by Truckmount.

Then a portable unit is needed. Both portable and truckmount equipment use similar processes, although the portable unit may invariably take extra work to achieve the same results. They both extract wastewater into a dirty water tank.

Steam Cleaning is effective for Residential and Commercial Carpet cleaning. It has the advantage of being a deep restorative clean, and it is a gentler and safer clean for carpets. However, to be most effective, it requires the work to be done by an experienced, trained technician. One disadvantage is that the moisture could result in Carpet Wicking. Stains are not always visible on the surface of the carpet and moisture can result in wicking as the carpet dries. However, an experienced carpet cleaning company will have remedies should that situation occur. 

The process can be a little noisy and, consequently, somewhat interruptive, which means some commercial properties may want this done outside of office hours and will need to allow drying time.

Another significant advantage of Steam Cleaning is that the carpets will stay cleaner for longer than some of the other methods mentioned here. Take a look at another video of two crew members demonstrating hot water extraction.

Play video

The above video demonstrates why we believe the Steam Cleaning Method is the best for most situations. 

Steam Cleaning is one of the most common and most popular carpet cleaning methods. It is officially called Hot-Water Extraction and is considered by many to be one of the best carpet cleaning methods to choose from. Nevertheless, there are other carpet cleaning methods to consider.

Carpet Shampooing

Carpet Shampooing is one of the older carpet cleaning methods, but it is still used today, especially commercially. Industries such as in the hospitality industry find it useful for carpets that get a lot of foot traffic but need to continually appear visibly clean.

A cleaning shampoo, a foam-like chemical substance, is brushed onto the carpet using a rotary floor machine. Stiff bristles spin the foam into the carpet. Rotary equipment is not as gentle as steam cleaning equipment and is not suitable for delicate carpets or rugs.

Once the foam has dried, which can take some time, a wet vacuum is used to remove the foam. However, a sticky residue can be left, damaging the carpet and attracting dirt again much quicker.

However, carpets can seem brighter and cleaner in the short term, at least for a while. Carpet Shampooing is often seen as the least effective carpet cleaning method, yet it may be considered a cleaner approach than simply vacuuming.

Dry Carpet Cleaning

Dry Carpet Cleaning is sometimes referred to by one of the following names:

  • Dry Extraction Cleaning
  • Dry Powder Cleaning
  • Absorbent Compound Cleaning

Essentially a Dry Compound is distributed evenly over the carpet with specialized scrubbing equipment which uses rotating brushes to open up the carpet fibres. The compound then attaches to the dirt in the carpet fibres.

Once the compound has done its job of drawing out the dirt, an industrial vacuum is used to remove the compound mixture, along with its accompanying dirt.

Dry Carpet Cleaning is a newer technique well suited to commercial locations. It is more appropriate for those who do not want the carpets to be damp after cleaning. A small amount of water is used, but it is considerably less than that used in steam cleaning.

The other advantage is minimal downtime for business staff occupying the buildings where the cleaning is taking place. Dry Carpet Cleaning is not necessarily considered a deep clean, but it is suitable for quick maintenance clean-ups.

Unfortunately, the powdered compound may build up in the carpet over time and could leave odours that trigger allergies. Therefore, it is often considered a less environmentally friendly method, but with that said, some organizations have come out with greener products that make that argument null and void.

Encapsulation Carpet Cleaning

Sometimes encapsulation is thought of as dry carpet cleaning, but it differs in that it uses an encapsulating chemical. The encapsulating chemical is a kind of foam that crystalizes and then gets vacuumed up.

Some consider encapsulation Carpet Cleaning to be an interim carpet cleaning method suitable for maintenance.

The process uses encapsulation polymers. In an article called: “Putting Carpet Cleaning Polymers to the Test” by CleanLink, they say that encapsulation polymers act as a ‘vehicle’ for isolating dirt from the fibres through crystallization, so the dirt can easily be removed from the carpet.

Vacuuming both before and after is crucial. After pre-vacuuming, the carpet is pump sprayed with the encapsulant, and then a machine with counter-rotating brushes is used to lift the fibres.

This method has the advantage of low moisture and fast drying times, but every few cleanings, it is advisable for the carpet treatment to be followed up with hot water extraction to ensure a deeper clean.

Sometimes this method can be confused with Bonnet Cleaning, but Bonnet Cleaning is only surface cleaning, whereas encapsulation goes somewhat deeper. Just not as deep as Hot Water Extraction (in our opinion).

Bonnet Carpet Cleaning

Bonnet Carpet Cleaning refers to carpet cleaning using a Bonnet machine. A Bonnet machine uses a rotating absorbent cotton pad – a device with a bonnet if you will. In some ways, the process is similar to carpet shampooing, but it focuses on the carpet surface, giving it a kind of polishing.

Bonnet Cleaning is suitable for routine maintenance in commercial properties with a lot of pedestrian traffic that needs regular light cleaning.

The rotating bonnet is saturated in a cleaning mixture before being spun over the top layer of carpet about 1/8 inch deep. The Bonnet pad will need frequent changing to prevent re-soiling of the carpet.

While this is not dry cleaning, it is not exactly wet cleaning either. Some even talk of pre-spraying the carpet first and then using dry bonnet pads. Either way, the process uses a minimal amount of liquid. It is a fast-drying surface clean which helps alleviate the appearance of dirt and gives the carpets a fresh, clean look.

Yet to be truly clean, the carpets may need sanitizing too, and dirt may remain deep in the carpet fibres. Hotels often use this method to avoid disturbing their visitors as they navigate the corridors to their rooms.

What are the Best Carpet Cleaning Methods?

The best carpet cleaning methods are subjective. It will depend on what you are trying to achieve. For example, are you looking for an interim carpet cleaning to temporarily enhance the carpet’s appearance? Or are you looking for a thorough deep carpet cleaning – such as steam cleaning?

Bear in mind that whatever you see on the surface, carpets can entrap a lot of hidden dirt and pollutants, even if not immediately apparent.

It would be wise for businesses that have carpeted buildings to choose both frequent carpet maintenance and deep restorative carpet cleaning such as steam cleaning now and then.

Likewise, households may want to consider who is likely to be sitting or playing on their carpet and choose a method that will give them the confidence that their carpets or rugs have indeed been truly deeply and comprehensively cleaned. That said, all these methods have their place, and the maintenance methods can often be cheaper.

Before ruling out Steam Cleaning as not within your budget, take a look at our various carpet cleaning deals.

Or simply give us a call to learn more.

Call: 403-984-3680

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