Many homeowners have rented a portable carpet shampooer, and had a go at carpet cleaning, no doubt seeing various results. There are definite downsides to this method of cleaning. What is the optimum water temperature? What P.S.I. should the water be at? What flow are the spray jets? How fast do you move the portable in order to not soak the carpet? How much lift (vacuum power) do you need? Should you use the detergent/chemical cleaners supplied with the portable? These are a few questions that a professional will be able to answer, and a novice likely will not. Lack of experience is definitely a problem, but so is the equipment on the market available for rent. The little rentals cannot compete with a professional’s truck mount. A good truck mount costs about $45,000, and an exceptional machine $95,000. Is it logical that a $1,400 machine will provide a quality job like a truck mount? The idea of saving some money by doing it yourself sounds good, but simply will not produce the desired results. Besides, who has the time, energy or desire to learn a trade just to save a few bucks? Having your carpets professionally cleaned can be viewed as a burden by some, when it could be seen as beneficial, regular maintenance. Why? Not only does professional carpet cleaning at regular intervals make your carpet look its best, it also comes with other valuable benefits.
Extend The Life Of Your Carpet
Carpet cleaning doesn’t just improve the appearance of your carpets; it will lengthen their life as well. All the tracked in dirt and soil doesn’t just look bad, it wears your carpet out over the years. Think about what soil does to any non living matter when buried, it naturally decomposes things. So if soil is left in the carpet, it will obviously break down backing and adhesives, thus shortening the life of the carpet. This may be why many new carpet manufacturers require regular cleanings if you want your warranty to remain valid. The cleaner your carpet stays, the less warranty claims they’ll have to pay for carpeting that doesn’t hold up past warranty. This also translates into saving money by replacing carpet less often.
The other, often overlooked, aspects of regular carpet cleaning are the health benefits. Much of the dust in your home is shed human skin. Parasites like dust mites can easily live in a home that has an ample supply of their primary food source. Besides that, carpet cleanings are integral to having good indoor air quality for your home. Your carpet acts as an air filter, and dust, pollen and other particulate matter sticks to carpet. When the carpet gets cleaned, the unwanted matter is removed and you are left with a clean “filter”. With regular vacuuming and scheduled carpet cleaning, air quality will be better. This is especially important for those who have allergies, asthma, hay fever or other respiratory concerns. (See the attached “Foot Traffic Emissions Analysis” study at the end) Another health concern that carpet cleaning helps with is what gets tracked in from out of your house. In November 2008, NBC’s Today Show aired a segment on the things that get tracked in on shoes, transferred to carpet and then spread throughout the house by the brushes on your vacuum. This included germs and bacteria like E Coli. If you have small children crawling or playing on the carpet, it can be a little scary. Even if this problem may never affect your household, it does make a good case for thorough steam cleaning and not wearing shoes in the house anymore.
Why Hire a Professional Conclusion
Having a professional clean the carpet in your home is going to provide the best, longest lasting results. It may cost a little more than doing it yourself, but the saying “you get what you pay for” is pretty reliable. So whether you want to save yourself the work and hassle, or you want to make sure your carpet is its cleanest; it makes sense to hire a professional.
Dry Cleaning and Hot Water Extraction are the two basic methods of carpet cleaning. Each have some variations.
Dry Cleaning Method
Dry cleaning methods typically use chemical cleaning solutions and aggitation (scrubbing). There are three dry cleaning methods.
1) Dry Foam: A shampoo solution is applied to the carpet and allowed to dry. Then it is vacuumed up, bringing the dirt with it.
2) Dry Chemical: After a cleaning solution is applied to the carpet, a floor machine spins a large cotton bonnet from side to side to absorb dirt in the carpet. After the bonnet is saturated with dirt, it is replaced with a new, clean bonnet and the process continues.
3) Dry Compound: An absorbent mixture resembling wet sawdust is spread over the carpet. A machine brushes the mixture into the carpet to absorb the dirt. When the mixture dries, it is vacuumed out, taking the dirt with it.
The pros to dry cleaning methods are quick dry times (typically a few hours) and quick job times. The cons to these carpet cleaning methods include residue left behind, quicker resoiling due to residue, no rinsing, and no deep cleaning. It is also much more dificult to find green products for these methods of carpet cleaning.
Hot Water Extraction Cleaning Method
This method is also known as steam cleaning. Hot water extraction forces a hot water based cleaning solution into the carpet under high pressure, and then vacuums it back out of the carpet along with the dirt.
1)Portable Extraction: The carpet is cleaned by a small machine using hot tap water and powered by the electricity in the house. These are rented to do-it-yourselfers, and some professionals also use high grade portable units.
2)Truck Mount Extraction: This uses a large cleaning machine mounted on a truck or van. The water is heated to a higher temperature and is shot into the carpet at a higher pressure than is possible with portable machines. They also generate more lift (suction) than portables which allows more soiled water to be extracted and faster dry times.
The pros to hot water extraction are deep cleaning, ability to rinse leaving little or no residue, green products for this method are more abundant. The cons? With the right truck mount, it’s hard to find any. Although this method can take twice as long as dry methods. The quality of the cleaning can be limited by underpowered equipment however. This means that old or entry level equipment will not clean as well and produce longer dry times.
Carpet Cleaning Methods Conclusion
Notice that there are two basic benefits to dry carpet cleaning, fast dry time and short job time. Fast dry time is very desirable because people want to get back to normal activities in the house as soon as possible. Short job time is nice, but mostly benefits the cleaner, since he can move on to the next job faster thus making more money. The other benefit to the cleaner is there is a minimal amount of investment to perform this type of cleaning. Another problem with this method is the difficulty of finding truly “green” cleaning products. Overall this is not the best option for the customer; it does not result in deep cleaning, and is often done with harsh chemicals and detergents which leave residue that create fast re-soiling.
Hot water extraction on the other hand takes a little longer, but does a much more thorough job. If excellent equipment is used, dry time can be just as fast as dry cleaning methods. Most carpet cleaners, regardless of method, are using chemical products to clean, but at least hot water extraction offers the ability to rinse. This way the cleaning agents can be removed, leaving very little residue. Very hot water, and high P.S.I. can be produced, and powerful vacuum blowers can extract the dirty water. Hot water extraction is, without a doubt, the best option for the customer.
Dry method cleaning companies could argue otherwise, but think about the logic. If dry methods worked as good as steam cleaning, why would any company buy a $45,000-$95,000 truck mount if they could do the same job with $3,500 worth of equipment? Manufacturers would soon stop making truck mounts, and everyone would use dry methods. This is not to say that dry method cleaners are untrustworthy people or that they aren’t providing some value to their customers. It’s just hard to argue that this service is better. Its intended design is more for commercial interim maintenance, not cleaning residential carpet.
So where there is a place for dry cleaning methods, the best cleaning is going to come from hot water extraction from a professional’s truck mount. The next task is to find the right company.
Any trade has appropriate tools for the job. The better the tools, the easier the job, but more important, the better the job gets done. A truck mounted, hot water extraction unit can’t be beat, but most of the units on the road are a bit under powered. The more powerful the truck mount, the hotter the water and the better the suction. It is obvious that the hotter the water, the easier it is to clean. But a powerful vacuum system has major benefits for the consumer. Fast dry time! Who wants wet carpet for 12 to 24 hours? A large vacuum blower motor can mean 1 to 3 hour dry time. There is also a very low risk of mold when the carpet dries fast. The benefit never mentioned is that fast dry time equals cleaner carpet. Think about it, the concept is to apply pre-sprayed cleaners. Then spray hot, high pressure water on the carpet and immediately after, extract the dirty water. If a company leaves the carpet wet for 24 hours, they did not extract enough of the dirty water. Eventually the water evaporates and leaves behind the dirt that did not get extracted. A powerful system is necessary for the best carpet cleaning. This is the reason that Eco Clean has chosen to use the Vortex system. It is the most powerful carpet cleaning machine in production. It can produce water temperatures exceeding 280 degrees, and has the largest blower (vacuum motor) in the industry.
What Type of Cleaners Should They Use?
For many consumers, this is the most important question. There are literally hundreds of cleaners to choose from. Many have been around for a long time, back when harmful chemicals were generally acceptable. Many cleaners are still using these products, but others are choosing to go “green”. There are more than enough quality, safe, and effective cleaners on the market. The reason the chemical cleaners still exist is because they are typically cheaper than the “green” cleaners, people are used to using them and they work. Ask the carpet cleaner what products they use, what is in them, do they have MSDS sheets, do they have any “green” certifications, are they free of solvents and polymers? A professional should be able to answer these questions. Then there is carpet protectant. The two big names that most everyone uses are Scotchguard by 3M and Teflon by Dupont. These are not safe products, they have chemicals in them that are known to be harmful, even cancer causing. Eco Clean uses a water based protectant, and every ingredient in it has a green rating, certified by the Synapse Handbook of Green Chemical Raw Ingredients 2nd Edition 2004. Many people are sensitive to chemicals and need a company committed to using safe products. This is why Eco Clean uses a product line that is Green Seal certified, Environmental Choice certified and Envirodesic certified. We also use Bio-Kleen products, to learn more visit their website at biokleenhome.com. Eco Clean is committed to using safe, non chemical and non detergent cleaners. We take pride in being a true “green” company, from our environmentally safe products and practices, to recycling and running on bio-diesel.
Other Things to Consider
The best equipment and cleaners are essential to a good job, but a technician has to know how to use them for it to benefit the customer. A professional cleaner needs to know the delicate balance of water temperature, P.S.I, flow, vacuum lift, and the proper use of all of his additional equipment. He needs to know what cleaners and techniques to use for each situation, whether it is urine, vomit, food stains, flooding and other challenges in the field. Proper training and years of experience can make this a science.
One final note: Ask questions. A professional should be able and willing to answer most anything a customer would think to ask. Be wary of carpet cleaning companies who are not happy to answer your questions. Some companies rely on customers to not know the difference between services or products. Know what you are paying for. Know what kinds of products they plan to put on the floor that your kids play on. If green cleaning is important to you, find out if all of their products are green. Some companies will carry a green product so they can market themselves as green, but then use a harmful protectant right after doing “green” carpet cleaning. Do they charge to move furniture? Do they charge for vacuuming before cleaning, how about pre-spray, spot treatment or difficult stains? Do they have set pricing, or are they planning on up-selling you once they get to the job? Many of the big name national companies live to up-sell once on the job.
This may all seem like a lot to consider just for carpet cleaning, but an informed decision is always better than guessing. And everyone wants to get the most for their money. We hope that this has been helpful. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us.