Hot Water Extraction VS Encapsulation Cleaning: What’s the Best Way To Clean Carpets?

Hot Water Extraction VS Encapsulation Cleaning: What’s the Best Way To Clean Carpets?

Posted by Angela Maida on Aug 17th 2022

When a professional cleaning contractor visits a client’s home or business for the first time, they’re looking for stubborn stains, carpet quality, hidden odors, and debris that has become embedded into the carpet fibers. Most commonly, contractors use a truckmounted or portable extractor to clean residential carpet or encapsulation cleaning for commercial carpet. So which method is better? Read on to learn more.

What Is Steam Cleaning?

Steam-cleaning, also known as hot water extraction cleaning, is a carpet extraction method that removes at least 97% of dirt and bacteria buildup from carpeting. It provides an effective carpet extraction using significant amounts of hot water. It’s the only method that reaches the pile layer—the lowest layer of carpeting—and gives it a thorough cleaning.

Steam cleaning is an excellent option for dealing with stubborn stains, spills, and ground-in spots. Additionally, it enables a full flushing extraction process to flush away all the contamination that's built up in the carpet.

How Hot Water Extraction (HWE) Cleaning Works

Steam-cleaning requires certain equipment, such as a truck mount or portable extractor. Carpet contractors spray on a carpet-cleaning detergent mixed with hot water and then use the truckmount or portable to rinse and extract the dirty water. With a truck mount, commercial carpet-cleaning chemicals cqan be pre-sprayed, or used in the rinse water as an extraction detergent. With the strong vacuum, the truck-mount method sucks up excess moisture and chemicals as it works throughout the carpet, which is very effective for deep-cleaning. It’s also useful for larger surface areas, providing a heavy-duty deep clean.

As for portable extraction, it uses the same method as a truck mount, but it’s more portable, lower cost for business start up, and easy to maintain. However the production rate of a portable extractor is not as advanced as a truckmount machine.

Benefits of HWE Cleaning

The hot water and chemical mixture used for steam-cleaning penetrates deeper into the carpet fibers to pull out debris and gunk. This method effectively removes stains, dirt, and debris while loosening stubborn particles. Steam-cleaning is an excellent solution if all other cleaning attempts don’t work.

Because steam-cleaning completely rinses out the carpet fibers, it won’t leave any cleaning residue behind. Therefore, there won’t be any smells or residues to cause flare-ups in individuals or families who live with allergies or sensitivities. Lastly, it will remove pet dander odors stuck to the carpet fibers.

Disadvantages of "Steam" Extraction Cleaning

Steam-cleaning does come with a few downsides. One of the first disadvantages of steam-cleaning is the drying time. Because of the excess moisture left behind, the carpet can take up to 4-16 hours to dry correctly. So technicians may have to do multiple dry wand passes and/or bring in fans to speed up the drying process.

What Is Low Moisture Encapsulation Cleaning?

Low Moisture Encapsulation cleaning, also known as dry-cleaning, VLM, Encap, or Bonnet Cleaning, involves using encapsulation chemical solutions to remove dirt from the carpet. The service often uses “dry” shampoos, and it uses significantly less water than steam-cleaning. Compared to a typical vacuum-cleaning routine, it offers deep-cleaning power by using a compound cleaning agent to pretreat fibers, release the bond between soil and carpet, and then surround the dirt so that it doesn't re-attach itself to the carpet. It’s effective for spot treatment in a client’s home and provides a quicker, more affordable option for specific cleaning situations.

How Encapsulation Works

Encap cleaning comes with a variety of methods for carpets and stains. It uses chemical solutions that get agitated into the carpet with either a rotating brush or a bonnet machine to clean out stains and bacteria. One method is using a dry foam, where the technician applies shampoo and leaves it to dry. After letting it sit for enough time, they can then vacuum up the dry crystalized shampoo. There are also bonnet pads, which use a method similar to that of dry foam. The only difference is that as the machine runs over the carpet, the damp bonnet lifts and absorbs the shampoo-dirt residue.

The last two dry-cleaning methods are oscillating pads and dry compounds. With oscillating pads, the technician will spray a balanced pH solution onto the carpet and leave it to dry. The solution reacts by loosening dirt; then, an oscillating machine deep-cleans the carpet. As for dry compounds, they use biodegradable materials spread over the carpet. They absorb dirt before getting vacuumed up to remove the debris.

Benefits of Encap Cleaning

As we mentioned above, encap cleaning comes with various methods for different cleaning purposes. It works great for clients who need spot treatment, quick dry times, and it’s also ideal for clients on a budget. Some cleaning chemicals also protect the carpet fibers to prevent future unexpected stains.

Additionally, due to less moisture, chemical cleaning requires less drying time. After the room is treated, the carpet only needs 30-60 minutes to dry. It’s an excellent option for routine maintenance service.

Disadvantages of Low Moisture Cleaning

One of the most significant drawbacks of low moisture cleaning is the residue it can leave without any flushing. We highly suggest at least one HWE cleaning for every 3-4 Encap cleanings to minimize buildup in the carpet fibers.

Final Thoughts

Is hot water extraction or encapsulation cleaning better for carpet-cleaning? It depends on the client and what they need to have done. HWE will work if the client needs their entire carpet deep cleaned of stains spills, pet accidents, etc. However, if a client needs spot treatment, has a limited budget, or just wants a routine maintenance clean, encap cleaning might suit them better. Technicians should perform a walkthrough with the client before scheduling the appointment, as it will help them better understand what the client needs, in order to bring the proper equipment to the job.

Clean Pro Supply provides reputable cleaning supplies and equipment for every cleaning business. If you need professional equipment or cleaning solutions, visit our shop today.