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Do it Yourself Carpet Cleaning

Most carpet manufacturers discourage do-it-yourself (DIY) carpet cleaning because of problems that may develop as a result of improper procedures. However, homeowners perform approximately 42% of all carpet cleaning. It is perfectly acceptable for a consumer to perform cleaning of their own carpet. No manufacturer's warranty can be voided by do-it-yourself cleaning. However improper carpet cleaning can void warranty. Several problems may develop as a result of DIY carpet cleaning procedures. The homeowner should be cognizant of these problems and follow directions carefully. Failure to follow these directions carefully could encourage mold and mildew growth or backing separation. The two most common problems associated with do-it-yourself carpet cleaning methods are overwetting and excessive use of detergents.

Ideally, the carpet should be dry within eight (8) hours. Carpet that is allowed to remain wet for more than twelve (12) hours may develop mold and mildew growth. If the carpet is over saturated, a wet pick-up vacuum may be used to remove excessive moisture. Fans should be used to speed drying time. The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system should be switched to the “on” position until the carpet is completely dry.

Excessive use of detergents is another common problem experienced by do-it-yourself carpet cleaning systems. Increasing the detergent beyond the recommended solution strength does not enhance carpet cleaning effectiveness. Using a concentration stronger than the recommended strength may leave excessive detergent residues in the carpet. These residues may allow the carpet to resoil more rapidly.

Other common problems associated with do-it-yourself carpet cleaning methods are; Improperly formulated carpet cleaning solutions (many may contain chemicals that destroy stain resist treatment), many contain bleaching agents, some solutions may contain optical brighteners (fluorescent dyes that actually dye the fiber), some do-it-yourself carpet cleaning systems may distort the pile fiber if improperly used. A laundry detergent should never be used as a detergent. Most laundry detergents contain optical brighteners.

There are five methods of recognized carpet cleaning, but only three are suitable for consumer use. In addition, if professional carpet cleaning is performed, only these three methods should be used. Rotary bonnet and rotary shampoo can be very aggressive on cut pile residential fabrics and their use should be discouraged. See professional cleaning methods.

Hot water extraction

This is among the most popular methods for consumers who clean their own carpet. There are many popular steam cleaner (hot water extraction) units available to consumers for this purpose. Hoover and Bissel both make popular extraction units, but cleaning results are highly variable based on carpet cleaning procedures and the degree of carpet soiling.

For consumer equipment, cleaning results can be enhanced by selecting a high quality detergent prespray (or traffic lane cleaner) and applying the detergent directly to the carpet fiber using a pressurized (pump-up) garden sprayer.

Detergent should be allowed to remain on the carpet fiber for 5-7 minutes (dwell time).

Agitate (scrub) the detergent and pile fibers to loosen soil. This agitation enhances cleaning results.

Use the consumer hot water extraction equipment with clean water only to rinse the detergent from the carpet fiber and extract emulsified soil and detergent. Leaving detergent in the carpet pile can lead to rapid resoiling. Use drying fans to speed the drying time of the carpet.

Dry Powder Cleaning

Another popular method for DIY carpet cleaning is dry absorbent compound or dry powder cleaning. This cleaning method is not a restorative maintenance cleaning method an is intended to be used several times yearly to maintain carpet appearance, rather than attempting to restore appearance after appearance has degraded.

This method uses an organic material or powder, which has been saturated with detergents and dry solvents. Popular brand names include Host and Capture. Powder is applied to the carpet fiber, agitated with a pile lifter or other mechanical agitation, and then vacuumed to remove the powder with attached soil particles.

Dry Foam

This is another method of consumer cleaning, but this method may provide limited results except in the case of rental equipment. A shaving cream-like foam is applied to the carpet fiber, worked in with brushes and vacuumed clean.

Rotary shampoo and rotary bonnet are typically not recommended for consumer use due to the high degree of skill required for these methods and the risk of damage to carpet.

For more detail on each of the carpet cleaning methods visit our area on professional cleaning methods

Did you know?

42% of all carpet cleaning is performed by do it yourself carpet cleaning methods. Do it yourself carpet cleaning is easy and can reduce carpet wear. Proper carpet care using proper carpet cleaning procedures, while do it yourself cleaning will extend carpet life.

In This Section
Do It Yourself Carpet Cleaning Methods
Steps for Do It Yourself Carpet Cleaning
Selecting Cleaning Equipment
Three Pre- and Post-Cleaning Tips
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Dos and Don'ts for Tackling Tough Carpet Stains
Tips for Wool Carpet Cleaning
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