Hot Water Extraction Cleaning
Hot water extraction or warm water extraction or steam cleaning (“External Extraction”®) is THE BEST WAY TO CLEAN CARPET according to nearly all carpet manufacturers
This method, the best way to clean carpet, is the cleaning method nearly all carpet manufacturers and carpet fiber producers recommend.
This is the only cleaning method classified as “deep cleaning”. All the others are considered “light surface cleaning” or “interim cleaning” because they are incapable of removing soil deep in the pile. Also, all other methods leave large amounts of cleaning agent in the carpet after cleaning.
The maintenance brochure published by the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, Shaw Industries, recommends this method, because its own research indicates that it provides the best capability for cleaning carpet and rugs.
This carpet cleaning method is frequently called steam cleaning due to the fine spray of water used to force dirt out of the carpet which is sucked up by the vacuum slot immediately in front of the spray. Seldom is real live steam used, however. This process consists of spraying a solution of water and detergent into the carpet pile and recovering the water and soil with a powerful vacuum into a holding tank. This can be done from a truck-mounted unit outside the home with only the hose and floor tool brought inside, or by a portable, system brought into the home or office.
From a health standpoint, the truck-mounted system is preferred because the dirty air and humidity are exhausted outside rather than recirculated around the house. Additionally, truck-mounted systems usually are more powerful than portable units and do a much better cleaning job and get the carpet dry more quickly.
With some truck-mounted systems (called PTO’s), the vehicle itself must run in neutral during the cleaning and in many others a separate engine (sometimes with a propane or oil-fired heater) is used to power the unit and heat the water. In both cases, the van MUST be parked well away from the house and positioned so that exhaust fumes do not enter the house. Electric carpet cleaning machines, such as the Bane-Clene systems, do not have this problem.
Depending upon the equipment, temperatures may range from cold tap water to boiling hot water and even super-heated water over 200 degrees F. Of course, with extremely high temperatures, there are dangers of scalding should a solution line break as well as the danger of damaging the carpet fibers.
The choice of the the best carpet cleaning method is extremely important. Some systems leave residues which promote re-soiling and defeat the whole purpose of cleaning. Some methods actually damage the carpet fibers and shorten the life of the carpet. Check with the carpet manufacturer for recommendations.
Carpet Cleaning Frequency
If carpet is cleaned before it becomes too unsightly, the cleaning chore will be easier and more successful. Allowing the carpet to become overly soiled may result in irreversible damage. It is a common myth that cleaning the carpet before it is absolutely necessary will cause it to get dirty faster. This goes back to the days when the shampoo methods were the most common.
Carpet in a typical household should be professionally cleaned every 12 to 18 months depending upon the number of residents, amount and type of activity and whether the carpet is light or dark color.
Professional Carpet Cleaning versus “Do-It-Yourself” Cleaning
The maintenance brochure published by the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, Shaw Industries, recommends professional carpet cleaning over “Do-It-Yourself” because of the potential problems that can occur from using rental and home equipment – such as yellowing, over wetting, fiber tip damage, severe re-soiling, overuse of detergents, etc. Most rental and home units available do not adequately clean and may actually damage the carpet.