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Selecting a Cleaning Method

By Michael Hilton

The selection of a carpet cleaning method can be confusing. Each retailer, carpet cleaner, and salesperson may have a different recommendation regarding the best carpet cleaning method available. The carpet industry recognizes five cleaning methods for carpet. These methods include dry absorbent compound, dry foam, hot water extraction, rotary bonnet, and rotary shampoo. The carpet manufacturer should be consulted to determine which of these five methods is recommended. Many manufacturers may offer various warranties that may be voided if an improper cleaning method is employed.

One question that is often asked by consumers is "How often should carpet be cleaned?" The typical homeowner should have the carpet cleaned a minimum of every 12-18 months. However, carpet cleaning should be performed before the carpet appears soiled. Most soil has razor-like edges that cut carpet fibers. When cut by these soils, these fibers take on a hazy or soiled hue. Cleaning will not remove the soiled appearance caused by this scarring, due to permanent damage to the fiber. Regular extraction cleaning, prior to the visual appearance of soil, and regular vacuuming can reduce the amount of fiber damage caused by soiling.

Another concern that many consumers have regarding carpet cleaning is the concept that once the carpet has been cleaned, the carpet will become soiled more quickly. In many cases the carpet retailer reinforces this concern. This concern stems from the early solutions used to clean carpet. During the early years of carpet cleaning "true soaps" were used for cleaning. These soaps were formulated using coconut oils and other natural ingredients. The coconut oils attached to soil particles, which were then removed when the soap was extracted. These early soaps were very difficult to remove and the soaps often remained in the carpet. These soaps continued to capture soil particles, causing rapid resoiling.

Detergents and Synthetic Ingredients

Today's carpet cleaning detergents are specially formulated using synthetic ingredients. These detergents are specially designed to maintain a stronger attraction with water molecules. When the water is removed, these detergents are more likely to be removed with soil particles attached.

This is not guaranteed, of course. Many synthetic detergents utilize oily solvents needed to break down oily soils. These oily solvents have an enormous tendency to resoil. After testing dozens of carpet cleaning solutions, we found only two that produced no resoil potential. OdoSolv spot lifter and prespray and another enzyme product available only to professional cleaners. Each of these products is one of the best cleaners available for general cleaning and spot removal and they a resoil potential of zero. In other words, once they have been applied, you should expect the soiling rate to be equal to plain water. No other detergent that we have tested can make this claim.

The typical homeowner should have their carpet cleaned a minimum of every 12-18 months. However, carpet cleaning should be performed before the carpet appears soiled. Most soil has razor-like edges that cut carpet fibers. When cut by these soils, these fibers take on a hazy or soiled hue. Carpet cleaning will not remove the soiled appearance caused by this scarring, due to permanent damage to the fiber.

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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