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Steps for Do It Yourself Carpet Cleaning

By Michael Hilton

While there is no standardized carpet cleaning frequency for every home, we recommend regular extraction, before your carpet becomes excessively soiled. Some areas may require monthly extraction, while limited-use areas only may require a yearly extraction. Ultimately, localized use, soiling conditions, and the quality of daily carpet care will determine the frequency of periodic carpet cleaning. Regular carpet maintenance limits the need for expensive carpet cleaning.

The following should be considered when cleaning carpet:

  1. Operate heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system during carpet cleaning.
  2. Utilize fans or air movers in conjunction with HVAC operation to expedite drying, when environmental conditions exceed 65% relative humidity.
  3. Limit traffic on wet carpet to limit soil tracking, soil wicking and slip fall accidents when stepping off of wet carpet onto a hard surface flooring.
  4. Never use any product that contains optical brighteners or bleaching agents.
  5. Select carpet cleaning products with a pH of 4 - 10
  6. Select carpet cleaning products that do not leave oily residues. Evaluate residue by diluting and pouring the solution into a pie plate. Place the pie plate in direct sunlight and allow evaporation. Evaluate unevaporated residue for oily or sticky consistency.
  7. Always keep Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) available during carpet cleaning.
  8. Never use detergent concentrations stronger than those recommended by the detergent manufacturer.

Following is the recommended carpet cleaning procedure for the care of residential carpet products:

Prevacuum the area to be cleaned, taking care to remove as much dry particulate (insoluble soil) as possible. Water extraction is performed to remove water-soluble soil that cannot easily be removed with daily vacuuming. Detergents, used in the carpet cleaning process, attempt to emulsify these non-water soluble particulates, thus reducing carpet cleaning effectiveness.

Following thorough vacuuming, apply an alkaline prespray detergent or odosolv directly to the face fiber. Prespray detergents typically require 8-10 minutes of dwell time to begin emulsifying and suspending soil. Extracting the solution before allowing adequate dwell time will reduce carpet cleaning effectiveness.

Agitate the area with a pile rake or mechanical agitation. NEVER USE A ROTARY BONNET for mechanical agitation. Agitation will assist the detergent solution in lifting soil from the fiber and dramatically enhance carpet cleaning results.

Extract the detergent solution and attached soil particles using an extractor with fresh water only. Do not use a detergent solution in the extractor tank. Many of these solutions leave oily residues or detergent residues that expedite resoiling.

After thoroughly rinsing, continue to extract the area using "dry" strokes (no water injection) until suitable moisture removal is attained. Under no circumstance should any carpet product be allowed to remain wet for more than 12 hours.

Other considerations:

It is not uncommon in heavy soiling situations for soil to reappear within 24 hours following drying. These instances almost always can be attributed to excess dry soil left in the pile fiber, prior to applying prespray. If soiling reoccurs, vacuum the area using multiple vacuum passes and repeat the above procedures. If soiling returns after the second extraction, select a dry extraction compound such as Host or Capture. Apply the compound to the (dry) carpet pile, agitate, and then vacuum.

Soiling that reoccurs more than 24 hours following carpet cleaning often may be attributed to detergent residues that were not adequately rinsed. Evaluate detergency by pouring water onto pile fiber and briskly agitating with a spotting brush. Look for foaming or other signs of detergent residue. If detergent is present, continue to extract these areas until detergent is thoroughly rinsed. In severe situations, an acid rinse, such as white vinegar, may be applied as a prespray or added to the extractor rinse tank to neutralize detergent residues.

Some interim carpet cleaning methods, such as the Host dry powder system, have been proven effective in maintaining desired appearance levels and improving the quality of overall care of your carpet between extraction carpet cleanings. These interim methods should be used to extend the time between extractions and not as a replacement for water extraction. Host can be used on a regular basis in carpeted areas that butt against hard surfaces. These areas always appear to be soiled because of track off from hard surfaces. It is a good idea to clean these areas monthly to maintain appearance levels.

Urine can be located with the use of an ultraviolet (black) light. Use Odosolv on all urine stains.

Did you know?

Recommended carpet cleaning frequency should occur every 12 months. Regular extraction cleaning, daily carpet care, periodic cleaning, immediate stain removal and entry mats are necessary to maintain new carpet appearance.

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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