Carpet Cleaning Methods


There are many types of equipment and carpet cleaning methods.

Here is a look at, some of them.


Vacuum Cleaner – More important than most realize. 74 – 79% of soil in a carpet is dry soil that needs a vacuum to remove it. Some will argue that brushes are required on vacuums. The theory is to loosen soil. However, there are Carpet Mills that prefer brushless vacuums. Their concern is possible carpet fiber distortion.

Hot Water Extraction (sometimes called steam cleaning because of visible vapor) – This  is one of the most often preferred carpet cleaning methods of carpet mills. (Look up Shaw warranties) The machine sprays a solution out of jets on a cleaning wand and immediately sucks or extracts it up.

Portable equipment, (approx 4’ tall by 3’ square) is available, that has a fresh water and waste tank. They are sometimes, preferred for, high rise cleaning or any situation where long lengths of “truckmount” hoses aren’t possible. Those wanting to keep equipment costs lower may use portables, as they are much less expensive than “truck mounted” machines to buy. Operating them will take longer. Time is money.

Truckmounted hot water extraction is the same principle as portable, except a much larger machine is installed on a truck, with vacuum and solution hoses, that can be stretched out several hundred feet to the point of cleaning. These machines are more powerful than portables and are used more often, than other procedures.

Bonnet Cleaning – This is a “floor scrubber” type machine that has a gripper on the bottom to hold a fluffy circular pad. The carpet is, usually, sprayed with a, low residue, cleaner made for bonnet cleaning. The pad spins, agitating the cleaner and soil, while at the same time absorbing it.

Rotary Shampoo – This method can be very effective where severely soiled carpet is found. It, also, uses a “floor scrubber” type machine, but this time there is a circular brush attached to the bottom, rather than a pad. A tank is, usually, attached to the machine which contains the carpet shampoo. A handle is pulled and shampoo is released through a tube and allowed to flow through holes in the brush while it spins. The carpet gets a good scrubbing. Low residue shampoo can be used and left behind or the cleaner may decide to rinse with an extractor.

Encapsulation – Rather than coating the fiber to keep soil from re attaching,  Encapsulation, coats the soil particles, with a polymer, to keep the soil from re attaching or sticking to the fiber. It’s, usually, a neutral cleaner, agitated with rotary (circular) or cylindrical (counter rotating) brush machines. This method, often, has ingredients that keep soil from wicking up to the top of the carpet fiber, during drying.

Dry Cleaning – A powder with dry solvents embedded in it can is distributed onto the carpet, agitated into the fibers with brush machines and extracted up with strong vacuums, after the damp powder dries.


Each of these carpet cleaning methods has it's place.


              Dennis Klager

                 IICRC Instructor




Copyright 2012 by Dennis Klager