Carpet cleaning is not something you hear about in the news all the time, so when it comes time to get your carpet cleaned, most people don’t know enough about the various carpet cleaning methods to be able to understand what they’re getting themselves into. This article will describe briefly the major ways that professional carpet cleaners get their job done.
The most popular method is the so called steam cleaning method. This is a bit of a misnomer because there is no steam involved in the method. The term of art in the industry is “hot water extraction” or HWE for short, but there is in fact a little steam that rises from the hot water. This method involves spraying the carpet with a cleaning solution and passing a nozzle with a jet of hot water injecting the hot water into the carpet and having the dirty water sucked up by a water extracting vacuum. HWE is popular and effective, but it’s not the only game in town. Dry times are considerable in relation to other methods (2 – 6 hours).
Shampoo cleaning involves applying a shampoo to the carpet, then using an agitator machine to work the shampoo into the carpet. Afterward the carpet is allowed to dry and the shampoo absorbs the dirt so it can be vacuumed up. Shampoo cleaning has it’s defenders, but it’s not a particularly common method, mostly because other methods have superceded it. Expect at least 3 hours dry time.
One method that is rather controversial is called the dry cleaning method, which involves sprinkling a powder that supposedly attracts dirt to it like a magnet, and is then vacuumed up. There is no moisture at all involved in this method so when they say dry they mean it. This is a product that is also available in popular store brands and for upholstery cleaning. Frankly, the jury is still out on this one as far as effectiveness. Some people swear by it. Others say it’s almost worthless.
The final major method is called Very Low Moisture or VLM or sometimes LM. This method involves spraying a solution onto the carpet and allowing a set time. The carpet is then agitated with a machine that looks like the professional floor buffers you see in commercial buildings. As the solution dries, it crystallizes, and is them vacuumed up. VLM has become popular in recent years as the chief rival to HWE because it is versatile and fast. Dry times are typically 1-2 hours.
You should ask what type of method your professional carpet cleaner uses before you commit to the job.
Written by, Derek Beyer.