Which Carpet Cleaning Method is Best for Your Home?

The Ultimate Carpet Cleaning Technique Comparison Guide

Which Carpet Cleaning Method is Best?

Keeping your carpets clean is an important part of maintaining your home. The carpets in your home should be professionally cleaned every 12-18 months. More frequent cleaning may be needed depending on traffic, pets, kids, and your carpet’s warranty. When it comes time for cleaning carpets, you have three main options: wet (using steam), dry, and do-it-yourself cleaning.

So which cleaning method is right for you? This article will compare the pros and cons each method to help you devide which is best.

We’ll look at how each method works along with tips for safety and maintaining your carpet.

Read on to learn which type of method is the winner.

Steam Carpet Cleaning (Wet Cleaning)

Steam cleaning, also known as hot water extraction, is the most common professional method used today. This thorough method uses heated water and cleaning solutions to deep clean carpets.

First, a detergent is sprayed onto the carpet to help break down dirt and oil stains. Common detergents used include surfactants and dissolving solvents. The detergent is given time to work on stains before extraction begins.

Next, hot pressurised water is injected into the carpet pile using special equipment mounted on a truck or portable unit. The water and detergent work together to dissolve and suspend dirt particles deep down in the carpet fibers.

Finally, powerful wet vacuum suction immediately extracts out the dirty water. The high suction lifts dirt and stains from the base of the carpet. Multiple passes are made to remove detergent residues and leave carpets clean.

Steam cleaning cleans deepest down into the carpet piles, sanitising the carpets by killing bacteria with hot temperatures.

The steam cleaning method cleans deep down into the carpet. The combination of water and shampoo dissolve and loosen the dirt so it can be removed by the vacuuming.

The Pros

  • Gets carpets very clean by removing dirt deep in the fibers
  • High temperatures sanitize carpets
  • Truck mounted units are extremely powerful
  • Carpet steam cleaning is recommended by carpet manufacturers and professionals

The Cons

  • Provdes only a surface cleaning of carpeted flooring
  • Long dry time – can take 6 hours or more
  • More expensive than other methods
  • Must be done by professionals to get best results
  • Not ideal for frequent cleaning maintenance

Dry Carpet Cleaning

Carpet dry cleaning uses a minimal amount of liquid applied to the carpets. Specialized machines and compounds work together to clean floors rapidly.

This method focuses on the surface of carpets rather than deep fibers. It is convenient for maintenance and high traffic areas.

Dry carpet cleaning uses specialised machines and cleaning compounds with very little water applied. This allows carpets to dry quickly after cleaning.

First, an absorbent cleaning compound containing solvents and detergents is spread across the carpet. The compound adheres to and absorbs dirt particles.

Rotating pads or brushes are then used to work the cleaning mixture into the carpet. This lifts and suspends dirt which binds to the compound.

After letting it dwell for 10-15 minutes, the cleaning compound is thoroughly vacuumed up along with all the dirt it has bonded to. The carpet is immediately ready for use after this process.

The dry cleaning method allows carpets to dry within an hour after cleaning. It cleans the surface of carpets without deep cleaning the fibers.

The Pros

  • Very fast drying time
  • Simple and easy process
  • Lower cost than wet cleaning
  • Good for high traffic areas

The Cons

  • Does not deep clean or sanitize carpets
  • Can leave residue in carpets that attracts dirt
  • May need to be done more frequently for same results
  • Not as thorough as other methods

Dry or Wet Cleaning?

DIY Carpet Cleaning

Many homeowners opt to rent carpet cleaning machines from local hardware stores and do it themselves. This can provide an affordable option compared to hiring professional cleaners.

DIY carpet cleaners come in several types such as upright machines, canisters with hoses, and handheld spot cleaners. They use a combination of water, detergent solutions, and suction.

The machine reservoir is filled with hot water and a measured amount of cleaner. As the unit is pushed across carpets, it dispense the shampoo solution and scrubs with rotating brushes.

Continuous suction then removes the dirty water. Multiple slow passes provide the deepest clean for DIY units. The carpets are left to fully dry before walking on them.

DIY cleaners provide an affordable way to clean on your own schedule. However they lack the power of professional equipment.

DIY carpet cleaning machines are available from hardware stores, grocery stores, and retailers.

Types of DIY cleaning machines include:

  • Canister units – small, portable canister with hose
  • Upright units – upright vacuums with solution tanks
  • Spot cleaners – small handheld spot stain removers

To clean your carpets yourself:

  1. Vacuum carpets thoroughly before using cleaner
  2. Fill machine with hot water and cleaning detergents
  3. Clean according to machine instructions
  4. Allow carpets to fully dry before walking on them

The Pros

  • More affordable than hiring a professional
  • Clean at your own convenience
  • Clean only high traffic areas if desired
  • Remove spots and stains yourself

The Cons

  • Rental units may not be as powerful
  • Takes more time and labor
  • Risk of over-wetting or damaging carpets
  • May not get carpets as clean

Comparing the Carpet Cleaning Methods

Here is an overview table comparing the key pros and cons of each method of cleaning:

MethodProsCons
Wet CleaningDeep clean, sanitize, powerful equipmentLong dry time, more expensive
Dry CleaningFast, easy, low costLess thorough, residue, frequent cleaning needed
DIY CleaningConvenient, customizable, affordableLess power, time consuming, technique risks

When choosing a carpet cleaner, make sure to ask about the chemicals used and if they offer more eco-friendly solutions. Harsh chemicals can damage carpets over time. All methods come with some risks of over-wetting or damaging carpets if not done properly.

Are the Chemicals Safe?

When choosing a carpet cleaning service, it’s important to ask about the specific chemicals used in their process. Certain strong chemicals can be harmful to humans and pets if residues are left behind in the carpet.

Harsh chemicals to avoid include:

  • Butoxyethanol
  • Perchloroethylene
  • Ammonia
  • Chlorine Bleach
  • Phosphates

Repeated use of these chemicals can lead to discoloration, damage, and degradation of carpet fibers over time. They also pose health risks through inhalation or skin contact.

Many companies now offer greener alternatives including detergents with plant-based ingredients, oxygenated cleaners, and non-toxic solvents. Look for cleaning services that use eco-friendly products certified by organizations like Green Seal.

It’s perfectly reasonable to ask your carpet cleaner what’s included in their solutions. Reputable professionals should provide this information and offer alternatives if you have concerns about certain ingredients.

With the right non-toxic cleaning techniques, you can keep your carpets fresh and clean without unnecessary chemical exposures.

Extending the Lifespan of Your Carpet

In addition to regular cleaning, there are some other tips that can maximize your carpet’s lifespan:

  • Use doormats outside entrances to reduce dirt tracked inside
  • Vacuum high traffic areas daily to prevent buildup
  • Spot clean spills and stains immediately to prevent setting
  • Rotate furniture periodically to evenly distribute wear
  • Trim pets’ nails to avoid snags and pulls
  • Lift furniture legs to evenly distribute pressure
  • Follow label instructions for care for your type of carpet

It’s also important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific carpet. This includes the proper method and frequency of professional cleaning services.

Install carpet protector film under furniture legs and wheels to prevent crushing and indentations.

Finally, address any problem areas quickly. Wrinkling or seams coming undone should be re-secured. Identify and remedy the source of recurring stains.

With some extra care and maintenance, you can add years of life to your carpet’s lifespan. Keep an eye out for problems before they worsen and cause permanent damage.

Tips for Maintaining Your Carpets

In addition to periodic cleaning, there are some simple daily and weekly maintenance steps you can take to keep your carpets looking their best:

  • Vacuum frequently – Daily vacuuming keeps dirt from embedding and matting in the carpet fibers. Go over high traffic areas more than once.
  • Spot clean – Don’t let stains sit. Use a spot cleaner to pre-treat and clean stains right away before they have a chance to set.
  • Professional clean yearly – Wet cleaning your carpets deep down at least once a year will refresh carpet appearance and remove any buildup.
  • Use carpet-safe products – Many cleaning products and chemicals can damage carpet fibers. Always check that a product is carpet-safe before using.

Following the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific carpet type is also wise. This will maximize the carpet’s life span.

The Bottom Line

Now that you know the ins and outs of wet, dry and DIY cleaning methods, you can make an informed decision on which option to choose for your home.

The type of carpet cleaning you choose depends on your own needs.

Wet cleaning provides the deepest and most thorough clean.

Dry cleaning offers a faster and low cost maintenance option.

DIY strikes a balance of convenience and affordability.

Schedule professional cleaners at least once per year.

Combine this with daily vacuuming, spot cleaning as soon as stains occur, and safe cleaning products.

Following these best practices will keep your carpets fresh, clean and extend their life!