If you have spots or stains that you can’t remove, or obvious wear in high-traffic areas, you may be considering steam cleaning your carpet. Once you begin looking for a professional cleaner, however, you will see that each boasts that its cleaning method is the best. In some cases, you may be better off using a company that promotes dry cleaning methods and in others you may need a steam cleaner. Both dry and steam-based carpet cleaning methods have advantages and disadvantages.
Hot Water Extraction Steam Cleaning
The most common method of professional carpet c leaning is hot water extraction, known commonly as steam cleaning. Companies use water heated by large water heaters in their trucks to heat a solution of water and carpet shampoo. This is sprayed into the carpet until it is saturated, then extracted by a vacuum. This method removes most stains, and kills dust mites and removes their dander. Steam cleaned carpet, however, can take up to 8 hours to dry and the cleaning may leave some residual shampoo in the carpet that causes it to appear dirty faster in the future.
Vapor Steam Cleaning
Some companies use vapor steam extraction, which is a more modern method of steam cleaning your carpets. These technicians use much hotter water, typically headed to 240 to 260 degrees. This creates steam, which is sprayed into the carpet fibers without using shampoo. This high-pressure steam loosens dirt, but cannot remove some stains. The carpets are then vacuumed to remove all the loosened particles. After cleaning, the carpets may take up to 2 hours to dry.
Foam Dry Cleaning
Even “dry” carpet cleaning methods use water, but the drying time is greatly reduced with these methods. Foam dry cleaning uses machines with rotating brushes to push a foam carpet shampoo into the fibers. It is then removed using a high-power vacuum. Carpets cleaned with the dry foam method generally dry in under an hour. Like steam cleaning, most stains are removed but some shampoo residue may be left behind. In addition, the brushes may damage fragile carpet fibers and reduce the life of your carpets.
Dry Cleaning with Granules
The driest of the professional carpet cleaning methods currently available is dry cleaning your carpets with granules. Companies who use this method have machines with rotating brushes that apply the granules. They are worked into the carpet where they loosen dirt. Both the granules and the dirt is then vacuumed. This method does not kill dust mites or mold, and may damage carpets. It, however, has no drying time and removes many stains as well as traditional steam cleaning .
Once you have narrowed the list to 1 or 2 cleaning methods that best suit your needs, check with friends and online for the best carpet cleaning companies in your area. The customer reviews and service descriptions will help you to decide which company will work best for you. According to The Carpet Buyer’s Handbook, all residential carpets should be professionally cleaned every 12-18 months in order to extend their lifespan, and commercial carpets should be cleaned more frequently.