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Steam Cleaning

By Michael Hilton

The hot water extraction method or steam cleaning, as it is more popularly called, is the most popular method of carpet cleaning used by carpet cleaners today. It is a relatively easy method to learn and it provides a number of very useful benefits.

Many carpet manufacturers have begun to recommend the use of hot water extraction as a part of their regular carpet cleaning regimen. This method does an excellent job in extracting soil from deep in the carpet pile and can be very effective in removing other contaminants. Studies have shown that hot water extraction can remove as much as ninety-nine (99) percent of the contaminants found in some neglected carpets. The hot water extraction process uses a combination of high water for agitation, hot water to increase reaction time, and a wide array of carpet cleaning solutions to make the task easier. Each unit is equipped with a vacuum unit to extract these soils and carpet cleaning solutions once the carpet has been cleaned. The hot water extraction process has undergone constant design changes over the past several years and equipment is now state-of-the-art. A wide variety of equipment is available. From truck-mounted units that can provide high water temperatures and water pressure of up to one thousand (1000) pounds per square inch (p.s.i.), to portable units, which are ideal for businesses and homeowners.

Application

The hot water extraction method has numerous steps involved in the process. Between mixing chemicals, wand stroking techniques, and learning the proper method of holding the wand for maximum soil extraction, the hot water extraction method may appear to be the most difficult method to master.

Hot water extraction utilizes a push-pull stroke for effective carpet cleaning. The hot water sprayer is located on the rear of the extraction wand. When the rearward thrust is made hot water is injected into the carpet pile where it is extracted a split second later by the extraction cup. The forward stroke is used to remove excess moisture and any remaining soil. For heavily soiled areas continuous back and forth motions can be used to increase the temperature of the area to assist in soil removal. A smooth, effortless back and forth motion should be used for increased stamina and effective carpet cleaning. For faster drying and more effective carpet cleaning results, these procedures can be repeated without depressing the water injection lever. This will remove excessive moisture and additional soils.

The following procedures should be used for hot water extraction:

  1. Thoroughly vacuum the area to be cleaned using good vacuuming techniques.
  2. Apply a quality pre-conditioner and allow ten to twenty minutes dwell time.
  3. Agitate the area with manual or mechanical agitation for improved carpet cleaning results
  4. Mix appropriate chemicals according to the manufacturers' recommendations. Increasing the concentration will not enhance carpet cleaning results.
  5. Use appropriate wand stroking techniques.
  6. Use air movers to speed drying time.

Hot water extraction (HWE) or steam cleaning, as it is more popularly known, can be used on almost all types of carpet. This method utilizes the largest amount of carpet cleaning solution and the highest temperatures to effectively remove soil. A pre-conditioner should be applied to the fiber and allowed 10-20 minutes to loosen soil. Hot water extraction uses a pressurized water flow mixed with a detergent solution that is injected into the carpet pile. This hot water is instantaneously removed from the fiber using a powerful vacuum. Multiple passes may be used for improved carpet cleaning effectiveness. Normal drying time is 6-12 hours. The carpet should never be allowed to remain wet for more than 12 hours. Additional passes will speed drying time as well as the use of fans and other ventilation.

Did you know?

Many believe steam cleaning or hot water extraction is the best carpet cleaning method available. Studies 99% of all dust mite allergen found in carpet is removed with one steam cleaning.

About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.

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