How does professional carpet cleaning work?

Before you decide on a professional carpet cleaning service, familiarize yourself with the carpet cleaning methods used by professionals.
Carpets are wonderfully comfortable on the feet. They are warm in the winter and can highly compliment the decor of any room in your home. Nevertheless, one must ask the question, "Does my vacuum cleaner really get all the dirt and dust out of such a luscious floor covering?" The answer is obviously, "No." An unattended carpet can quickly become a disaster area. Carpet cleaning consists of two basic categories: light surface cleaning and deep cleaning.

Light Surface Carpet Cleaning
  1. Wet Shampooing - A professional carpet cleaner will apply shampoo to your carpet with a buffer machine. The machine operator must be careful not to damage your carpet with the rotary discs on the buffer. After the solution dries in one to several hours, as much of the residue as possible is vacuumed up. The disadvantages to this method are that you'll have to wait for the carpet to dry and that some residual dirt and shampoo will inevitably remain at the end of the process.

  2. Dry Cleaning - There are several different methods to "dry cleaning" carpets. Some are completely dry methods, and others involve using wet cleaning solutions that dry very quickly.
  • Absorbent Powder - In this method, a professional sprinkles a solvent onto your carpet and allows it to set for a short time. He or she will work the powder into your carpet with a buffer machine. With no drying time, as much of the residue as possible is vacuumed up. This method, unfortunately, will also leave some residual dirt and residue in your carpet.

  • Bonnet - Professional carpet cleaners will often use a buffer machine with a bonnet attachment that is dipped in cleaning solution that contains carbonated water. As they work the machine over your carpet, the bonnet absorbs the dirt. Once the bonnet is saturated, it is replaced with a clean one. The advantage here is that most of the dirt in your carpet leaves with the soiled bonnets.

  • Dry Foam - This is pretty much the same process as the shampooing method of carpet cleaning, except dry foam is used instead of shampoo. The obvious advantage here is that there is no drying time. There may be some leftover solution, but that is easily vacuumed up after cleaning. In fact, some cleaning machines will have a vacuum built in just for this purpose.

Deep Carpet Cleaning with Hot Water Extraction

The dry cleaning methods above are great for a quick cleaning of the top 1/3 of your carpet. However, to ensure your carpets are thoroughly cleaned, have them professionally deep cleaned at least once every 12 -18 months. This will help prolong the life of your carpet.

There's only one method available for a genuine cleaning of this type: external (or hot water) extraction. This method is commonly referred to as steam cleaning, although no actual steam is used. Advances in this technology have made it the safest, most popular, and most thorough method of carpet cleaning available. A floor wand shoots a pressurized combination of solution and hot water into your carpet that is immediately vacuumed into a holding tank.

While a portable, rentable unit utilizes the tap water and electricity of the household, a truck-mounted system is self-contained and exhausts all the dirty air and humidity directly out of your home. A truck-mounted unit will also provide higher pressures and hotter temperatures for a deeper clean that will let your carpet dry faster. Be sure to ask any potential carpet cleaners to if they use the preferable truck-mounted system.

Professional Carpet Cleaning Prices

Another big consideration with professional carpet cleaning is price. Some things to take into account when comparing prices for carpet cleaning services are:
  • Most companies charge per square foot of carpet and by the number of rooms and floors. Prices vary, but typically, you can expect to pay from 15 to 30 cents per square foot for a home that has 5,000 square feet or less of carpet. If you have a home with more than 5,000 square feet of carpet, a cleaning should run you less than 15 cents per square foot. The less carpet you have, the more you'll pay per square foot. This is standard because the carpet cleaning company still has to drive to your house, set up the equipment, etc.

  • Inquire about the different methods of carpet cleaning. Find out what types they typical use, what they recommend for your particular needs, and what the different costs are for each carpet cleaning method.

  • Ask about additional costs for removing tough stains and odors and prices for cleaning staircases and area rugs. Keep in mind that rug-cleaning costs may vary depending on the material.

  • Think about any other services you might want in advance. For example, does your upholstery need cleaning? If so, it should be cheaper to go ahead and do it while you have the cleaners there if you can afford it.

Now that you're aware of the different carpet cleaning methods available, you can compare the services and prices of professional carpet cleaners quickly and easily on

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