3 Techniques Only Professional Carpet Cleaners Know

3 Techniques Only Professional Carpet Cleaners Know

Posted by David Belliveau on Oct 19th 2021

From an outsider’s perspective, carpet cleaning might seem simple. All you need to do is pour a chemical solution onto the carpet and scrub it in...right? Well…not exactly…

Professional carpet cleaning is much more intricate than that. There’s extensive chemistry involved. Operators must know how this chemistry works, and how each product can be used to maximize cleaning efficiency and effectiveness. There are also a number of cleaning techniques for cleaning carpets. Here are three techniques commonly used by professional carpet cleaners, noting several pro’s and cons to each...

Steam Cleaning AKA Hot Water Extraction

Steam cleaning, also known as Hot Water Extraction, or wet cleaning, is one of the most common carpet cleaning techniques. During steam cleaning, hot water is injected into the carpet at high pressure. The hot water penetrates the carpet fibers and breaks down dirt and bacteria. Generally, a cleaning detergent or solution is used alongside the hot water as a “prespray” to emulsify soil and remove deep or stubborn stains. Finally, the water (along with the dirt and soils) is vacuum extracted from the carpet.

The steam cleaning method is effective at eliminating soils, spots and stains, odors, residues, dust mites, and bacteria. It leaves carpets sparkling clean. One downside to this method is that it can take several hours to dry after cleaning.


Another technique professional carpet cleaners know is encapsulation cleaning, also known as dry shampoo cleaning or very low moisture cleaning (VLM). Encapsulation is a method that uses very little water. It uses synthetic foam detergents that contain both cleaning and crystallization agents. The detergent is worked into the carpet with a brush, pad, or bonnet machine. There, the agitation of the detergent emulsifies the soil, breaking the soil away from the carpet fibers. Then as it dries, the solution crystallizes into a powder and traps, or encapsulates, dirt and other substances in the carpet. Once the foam crystallizes, the resulting powder is vacuumed up by janitorial staff during maintenance, preferably using vacuum machines with beater bar brush heads.

Encapsulation is a popular method because it cleans carpets thoroughly, doesn’t cause dust to accumulate, and doesn’t require much dry time. However, encapsulation isn’t as effective at removing greasy and oily dirt and soils as hot water extraction. 

Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning, unlike steam cleaning, doesn’t involve water at all. Dry cleaning entails spreading an absorbent compound that binds to dirt and other substances over the carpet and then working it into the fibers with a mechanized brush or a counter-rotating brush machine (CRB). The absorbent compound is left to sit for a minimum of ten minutes. During this time, the compound absorbs the dirt and soils from the carpet fibers. To complete the job, the compound is vacuumed up with a high-suction vacuum.

A huge benefit of dry cleaning is that there’s next to zero dry time. It’s also safe to use on delicate carpet materials such as sisal and hemp. The main downside of dry cleaning is that it isn’t the most effective cleaning method. The absorbent compound doesn’t reach particularly deep into the carpet fibers. It can also cause dust buildup, which can lead to respiratory problems in those with allergies or asthma.

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