Carpet Cleaning Methods: Things are not always what they seem!

Expectation: a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future! And carpet cleaning is no carpet cleaningexception to the rule!

When we pay for carpet cleaning services, we derive an expectation that when all is said and done, at the very least our carpets will become stain-free and malodor-free.

Let’s be honest, when we are paying the pros, we don’t really care what method they choose to employ, just as long as we are guaranteed ‘fresh’ indoor environments in the end, correct? After all, it’s their job, so they should know, yes?

So, just like most things in life, there are multiple ways to accomplish any feat, and carpet cleaning is no different. The best method to employ is relative to the job at hand, and ‘one size does not fit all’ in this instance!

Therefore, the ‘superficially’ straight forward question, ‘Which carpet cleaning method is the best?’, does not have a straight forward answer because each scenario has to be analyzed independently and tackled with a customized method, considering the relative factors.

Factors impacting an ideal customized carpet cleaning experience:

Extent of the Stain:
– Is it big or small?
– Was it absorbed by the carpet quickly?
– Did you try to blot it out and ended up causing it to spread further?
Nature of the Stain:
– Is it a pet stain and/or odor? If so, then special treatment is definitely required to rectify this predicament. As discussed in a previous article ‘Breaking the Cycle: The Chemistry of Pet Urine Odor Removal’ pet stain and odor removal requires more than traditional carpet cleaning methods. Bio-enzymatic cleaning technology is required for an effective and long term solution.
– Some stains are more stubborn than others. So what caused it? Did you spill your wine? Or a gallon of oil? Chocolate maybe?
Nature of Carpet/Fabric Composition: What is your carpet made of?
– Wool?
– Is it synthetic?
– Does it have long or short piles?
Common Sense
– For instance, in a commercial/office building which has high traffic areas, it wouldn’t make sense to use a water based method would it? A dry cleaning method would probably be ‘in order’.

These factors are all essential because the last thing you want is to clean a carpet but destroy its fibers or cause discoloration in the process. In order not to solve one problem at the expense of another, it is imperative that every little detail is taken into account prior to any carpet cleaning attempts.

Let’s take a look at a few of the various methods.

Hot water extraction method

Also known as steam cleaning, the hot water extraction method is carried out using portable or vehicle equipment, which is used to spray water and detergent on the carpet. It is one of the more effective methods because the solution liquefies dirt, water is heated to high temperatures before being injected onto/into the fibers, and then the hot water is extracted. One advantage of this method is that it deep cleans the carpet as it removes dirt. The downside of this method however, is that it requires a long drying period before the carpet can be used again. Ideally, you should allow a 24 hour drying period before you take a step on it.

Dry cleaning method

For fast drying and excellent results, the dry cleaning method is the preferable way to go. Although special cleaning agents are typically sprayed over the carpet, the real secret of deep cleaning lies hidden within the powerful brushes. Even though this is a relatively effective method, it does not provide the optimum deep cleaning experience. Another disadvantage is that although the powder used can absorb soils, it can also be trapped among piles and dust buildup can occur over time.

Foam carpet cleaning

This method is similar to the dry cleaning method in that the foam used does not wet the carpet entirely. Drying times are therefore not very long, and ideal. The foam is typically worked with special rotating brushes, which can technically take all the credit because it is their agitation of the fibers that loosen and remove embedded soils. One major disadvantage to this method is that it is primarily superficial as the brushes cannot reach beyond the carpet’s surface.

Bonnet cleaning method

This is mostly recommended for carpet maintenance since it only cleans the top fibers and doesn’t remove soils at the bottom parts. Once the carpet is vacuumed, a chemical solution is sprayed and left to create a reaction. Then a bonnet or absorbent pad is placed on a special rotary machine and used to distribute the chemical solution over a greater surface area, attracting soils in the process.


This is the latest dry carpet cleaning method and one of the most effective ones because it involves both crystallizing and cleaning agents along with a special machine, which agitates the fibers. Soils are encapsulated and vacuumed when turned into crystals. The downside of this method is that it cannot efficiently remove grease.

Traditional Carpet Cleaning (Shampoo Method)

You probably noticed that we left out the traditional carpet (shampoo) method. Well, that was actually done on purpose because currently, the hot water extraction and recent encapsulation methods have substituted this rather antiquated method.

DIY versus Pro Carpet Cleaning

What could possibly go wrong with DIY?

Errm, let’s see…..
– Utilizing the wrong type of brush(es), poor quality machines, low capacity machines and having insufficient knowledge and expertise could all lead to the ultimate demise of your beloved carpet. You see, too much foam or water for instance, implies excessive moisture which technically implies a new potential headache as a result of potential mold infestation (if the carpet is not dried rapidly and efficiently etc.)
– ‘Just for kicks’, take a look at one of our previous articles titled 5 Not-So-Obvious Reasons to have your Carpets Cleaned…Professionally!

The Bottom Line

If you ever have to choose between DIY versus Pro Carpet Cleaning Services, choose Pro!