With so many cleaning products on the market, finding the best way to clean carpet can be daunting and confusing. But the best method for cleaning carpet is steam cleaning (hot water extraction) not only to get deep-clean results but also to achieve other benefits. Other methods of cleaning are not superior to the amount of dirt released during the hot water extraction process. There are also special techniques for keeping white and coloured carpets shining like new.
Steam Cleaning or Hot-Water Extraction
Steam cleaning is the best way to clean carpet, as the hot water extraction combined with the cleaning solution removes dirt more deeply, getting to the root of the problem. The name "steam-cleaning" is misleading as there is no steam, but instead hot water that is applied to the carpet.
A steam cleaning service can be hired, which can be a better option than doing it yourself. Professional services are familiar with different carpet materials and fabrics and so know how much water and solution to use and which cleaning solution will best clean the stains specific to your carpet. Professional services are better than home steam vacs because the truck-mounted hot water extraction unit that professionals use forces the hot water under a higher pressure than the home faucet methods, loosening the dirt more thoroughly and effectively. Another great advantage of the truck mount is that all the dirt and oil that is vacuumed from your carpet is deposited directly in the holding tank so you have nothing to spill or empty after the carpet is cleaned.
Instead of hiring a professional service, you can rent a steam cleaning machine like Rug Doctor or buy a home-use steam cleaning machine, such as Bissell Steam Vacuum or Hoover Steam Vac. Reviews on Epinions show that these machines work well in removing old stains.
The water in these steam cleaning machines usually reach about 47.8 degrees C, which alone helps loosen particles and ingredients that have bonded to the carpet fabrics. The best temperature to steam clean is about 65.5 to 93.3 degrees C. The hot water is combined with a cleansing solution that scrubs away stains, and then the area is vacuumed to suck away all dirt and particles.
Not only is steam cleaning the best method for cleaning carpet, there are many advantages. First, the high temperature kills bacteria, fungus, dust mites and mould, making the carpet fresh, especially for those with allergies. Steam cleaning does not leave a residue, unlike store bought spray foams such as Resolve that attract dirt and can damage carpet fibres.
Other "Steam Cleaning" Methods
Steam cleaning carpet is usually associated with using a hot water extraction. However, that is just one of five ways of steam cleaning carpet, although the traditional way of steam cleaning is considered the best method for carpets. These other methods may be a good option when traditional steam cleaning can be costly or inconvenient.
Foam Cleaning One common method of cleaning carpet is to apply foam or a cleansing powder that is semi-moist on the stain until it dries and then vacuum the residue. However, it is unlikely that the foam or powder alone can loosen all the dirt particles, especially for old stains. Also, applying foams or powders only adds to the dirt and oils on the carpet because the vacuum may not have the suction power to extract all the dirt.
Shampoo Cleaning A cleaning shampoo is applied to a buffer machine similar to the one used for hardwood floors. The buffer rubs the carpet with the solution, but there is no extraction to suck up the dirt. So essentially the buffer spreads the dirt around, making it appear that the carpet is cleaner.
Bonnet Cleaning Another way to clean carpet is using a spinning cotton bonnet. The cotton bonnet is first dipped in a shampoo solution and then placed at the bottom of a buffing machine. The high spinning action is meant to loosen the dirt and absorb the stain through the cotton yarns. When one side of the bonnet becomes soiled, you can rinse it out and turned over to continue cleaning. After the carpet is dry, the area is vacuumed. This method is better than the shampoo method because the bonnet absorbs the dirt, unlike the buffer, which has the ability only to spread solution. Although better than the shampoo method, it is not superior to hot water extraction because whatever cleaning is done is through the absorption of the bonnet, rather than the suction of the steam cleaning vacuum, which is more powerful.
Dry Cleaning Finally, there is also a dry cleaning solution available. A powder is poured on the carpet and kept for 15 minutes. Then a buffer containing two rotary heads is run over the carpet to get the powder deeper into the carpet. The area is then vacuumed to suction whatever dirt the powder attracts. Once again, not all the powder gets removed from the vacuum, and the powder simply does not have the power to remove old, dried-on stains.
Special Tips for White and Colored Carpet
Trying to keep white carpet white can be challenging; thus it is recommended to deep-clean white carpet every 12 months instead of waiting until seeing the first signs of soiling. If the white carpet is in a high-traffic area where shoes are continuously walking on it or near the kitchen where cooking oils and residues stick to the carpet, then every 6 months is recommended. Because dirt and stains cannot always be seen on coloured carpet, deep cleaning is needed only once every 18 months.
When not using steam cleaning for white carpet, look for cleansers that say "deep clean." This gets below the top fibres in the carpet, because a white carpet that is cleaned only by the top of the fibres can make the carpet look as though it is off-white in colour.
Even if your carpet is white, using bleach is not recommended, as it could result in a blotchy appearance.