Homeowners often don’t realize that shampooing isn’t necessarily the best method of cleaning carpets in their home, and that they have more options for rug cleaning than ever before. Some carpet cleaning methods involve a light and affordable rug cleaning, whereas other methods are a better choice for removing tough stains and ground-in dirt and debris.
The best method of cleaning carpets is usually steam cleaning, which removes over 90% of dirt and bacteria from carpeting. Dry cleaning carpeting is also effective for ensuring carpets are ready for foot traffic as quickly as possible.
To ensure that you keep your home’s carpets and area rugs as well as all other flooring materials in good condition and looking their best, note a few important differences between carpet cleaning methods as well as some tips for keeping floors as clean as possible. You can then discuss your choices with a carpet cleaning company near you when it’s time to have your carpeting and floors cleaned by a pro!
Different Carpet Cleaning Services
Note the most popular carpet cleaning services you might choose for your home so you can better understand the pros and cons of each choice:
- Hot water extraction or steam cleaning uses hot water applied to carpet fibers with a high-pressure wand. The hot water and pressure both work to dissolve thick dirt, mud, dust, and other debris from carpeting, allowing it to be extracted easily. Steam also “fluffs up” matted carpet fibers so that your home’s carpeting looks fresher and feels softer underfoot.
- Carpet shampooing uses specialty detergents applied with lots of water, just like shampooing your hair! Rotating brushes might scrub the shampoo into the carpeting and help loosen dirt and debris. Clean water is used to extract the shampoo, until the carpets are clean and free of residues.
- Carpet dry cleaning uses a special powder detergent or similar chemicals, applied with a small amount of water. A rotating brush pushes the powder into the fibers and a specialty extraction tool then removes the detergent along with trapped dirt and debris.
- Foam cleaning carpeting or encapsulation is often used for especially filthy carpets. A specialty foam is applied to carpeting where it then begins to bubble and expand; this expanding foam traps dirt and debris, bringing it to the carpet’s surface. Steam extraction then removes the foam and trapped dirt.
- Bonnet cleaning uses a specialty carpet cleaning machine with a type of thick towel or bonnet over the front. This bonnet rubs rug shampoo along the surface of carpet fibers, and the shampoo is then extracted along with trapped dirt and debris that a vacuum often can't remove.
What Is the Best Carpet Cleaning Method?
There is no “best carpet cleaning method” that suits all types of rugs and that addresses all forms of dirt and stains, and all rug cleaning methods have pros and cons. Consider a few advantages and disadvantages of the most popular carpet cleaning methods so you can better decide on the right choice for your home.
- Hot water extraction is an excellent choice for those with allergies or sensitivities to detergents and shampoos. Steam also kills bacteria, germs, mold, mildew, and other irritants, another benefit for those with sensitive sinuses! However, it’s challenging to remove all traces of water after a carpet steam clean, so carpeting may not be ready for foot traffic for several hours after cleaning.
- Shampooing carpets is effective for removing stubborn stains but require thorough, proper extraction. Sticky detergent residues left behind after shampooing will trap and lock more dust and dirt along the surface of carpeting, so that a home’s rugs might look dirty very soon after shampooing.
- Carpet dry cleaning is preferred for offices and busy homes with families who cannot wait for a carpet to dry! However, the detergents and chemicals used for dry cleaning carpets can be somewhat pungent so proper ventilation is vital, and this carpet cleaning method might be a poor choice for those who have allergies or breathing difficulties.
- Bonnet cleaning removes only surface dirt from carpeting, a disadvantage for floors needing a deep clean. The advantage of bonnet cleaning is that this method is fast and affordable. Consider bonnet carpet cleaning if your carpets are not especially filthy or matted down and if you need light carpet cleaning on a consistent yet affordable basis, to ensure your home’s rugs always look their best.
DIY Carpet Cleaning Mistakes to Avoid
To ensure your home’s carpets are cleaned thoroughly yet safely, call a carpet cleaning company near you! Carpet cleaning contractors have the tools and expertise needed to clean tough stains and ground-in dirt without damaging rug fibers. However, if you decide to clean the rugs in your home on your own, note some common DIY carpet cleaning mistakes to avoid:
- Avoid using too much pressure when brushing or scrubbing a carpet. Pushing a rotating brush into carpet fibers can pull those fibers loose so that the carpet looks threadbare or fuzzy.
- Extract all traces of shampoo, detergent, foam, and carpet cleaning chemicals thoroughly. As said, residual detergents are sticky and trap and lock dirt against carpet fibers, so it’s vital to take the time needed for proper removal of carpet cleaning agents.
- Use fresh water with each application of the steam or extraction wand and don’t rush through a carpet cleaning. Allow the steam to penetrate carpet fibers and ensure you continue to remove dirt and detergents until the water in the tank is clear.
- Avoid walking on damp carpets as this can crush the carpet fibers and make the rugs look flattened and worn.
- Don’t overlook the need for lots of ventilation during and after shampooing or steam cleaning, to help carpeting and its underlying padding dry thoroughly. Added ventilation will reduce the risk of mold and mildew developing due to trapped moisture under your home’s rugs. Open windows and bring in fans and a dehumidifier if you have one, to remove excess moisture.
How to Clean Tile Floors
When scheduling a professional carpet cleaning for a home, you might also have the cleaning professional tackle floor tile and other surfaces. A professional clean is more thorough than an everyday mopping and will remove ground-in dirt, mud, and other residues. For everyday cleaning in between professional visits, note some tips on how to clean tile and other common flooring surfaces:
- Avoid harsh abrasives on ceramic tile, as this causes etching and other damage. Use an all-purpose cleaner and rinse with a fresh mop thoroughly, and then dry the floor to avoid trapping more dirt and debris along its surface.
- Flagstone and slate flooring tiles are best cleaned with a specialty buffing or floor polishing machine. Stone floors also need occasional stripping and resealing, to keep out dirt and mud.
- Never use hot water or solvents on linoleum flooring, as many such solutions are damaging to the coatings used to seal linoleum. Use a cleaner meant for linoleum tile in particular and ensure the water used during cleaning is cool or lukewarm, never hot.
- Marble tile is porous but needs buffing to retain its overall shine. Use fabric softener diluted in water to clean and polish your marble floors, and be sure you have those stone slabs resealed as needed.
Simple Tips for Keeping Carpets Clean
Regular professional carpet shampooing is the best option for keeping a home’s rugs clean and pristine, but note some practical yet simple tips for ensuring your home’s floors are in their best condition in between professional cleaning:
- Trim your pet’s nails and claws, not just to reduce the amount of dirt they might track over a carpet but to avoid pulling on carpet threads and fibers. Loosened threads allow for more trapped dirt and debris, so trimmed nails can result in cleaner interior carpeting!
- Invest in an air filter or air purifier for the entire home, or at least for the rooms you use most. An air purifier will trap and lock airborne dust and dirt so that this debris cannot settle onto carpeting, keeping your floors cleaner overall.
- Check the window and door screens of your home. If the mesh of those screens is very wide with large openings, invest in screens with smaller mesh, to keep airborne dust and other debris out of the home.
- Have your home’s exterior surfaces power washed regularly. Built-up dirt, dust, and other debris outside the home can eventually become airborne and make its way inside, settling onto carpets and other flooring materials.
- Change the furnace filter at least every year, if not more often throughout the year, and have the home’s ductwork cleaned professionally as well. Dirt and dust settle into a home’s ducts and then get blown onto carpeting, and an old and clogged furnace filter won’t trap as much airborne dust and debris, also allowing it to settle onto the floors.
- Never assume that regular vacuuming somehow damages carpets, as daily vacuuming removes dirt and dust that otherwise mats down fibers and causes extensive wear and tear on rugs. Invest in a powerful vacuum cleaner and use it every day to keep carpets looking their best between professional cleanings!
Does cleaning carpets ruin them?
Improper use of scrub brushes and using too much harsh shampoo and detergent can damage carpet fibers; however, ground-in dirt and other debris also flatten carpet fibers so that it eventually needs replacing rather than cleaning.
How do you deep clean a carpet by hand?
The best method of cleaning carpets by hand involves blotting a stain with a white rag saturated with white vinegar. Vinegar dissolves many types of food stains, pet stains, and other debris. A thorough rinse with another wet rag should remove all traces of stains.