It is a growing trend that Singaporeans are putting carpets to accessorize our homes. We had acquire finer taste and demand more in our standard of living. It is no wonder why that companies like Crate & Barrel, Hip Van who sells quality designer furnishing are so popular in Singapore. Just look at their rugs section, they look like big pieces of art isn’t it?
Now while we invested in such beautiful carpets for our homes. Like many things in life, they gets old and need to be maintained. But what is the best way to clean and maintain our carpets? I will go ahead and share with you the most popular types of carpet cleaning methods that are available in the market today.
1) Hot Water Extraction Carpet Cleaning ( “steam cleaning”)
While traditionally, it is also popular known as Carpet steam cleaning, it is a little misleading because often, no steam is involved. How Hot Water Extraction works is as the name suggest, hot water are used in the process of cleaning. The typical cleaning process involve preconditioning the carpet surface, agitating and loosening the soil, debris and dirt in the carpet. Then the high pressured hot water is spray on the carpet and extracted by a high powered vacuum at the same time, thus washing and removing the dirt and debris effectively.
It is the one of the most common and effective method in the market. It is a thorough cleaning process, and the high water temperature also sanitizes the carpet, which means bacterias and allergy causing pest like dust mites are killed effectively. This method is especially suitable for families with young kids or people who allergy issue.
Not all carpets can be cleaned using Hot Water Extraction Method, due to nature and color of the carpet. Silk carpet is one good example that this method cannot be use. Silk is a very delicate material and hot water can damage the fabric and discolor it. As this method also uses quite a bit of water during the cleaning process – If not done properly, the carpet will be left too damp and may cause odor and mold growth and whole other set of headaches. Thus good ventilation and dry process is critical.
As this method is a rather thorough and tedious process; and the extraction and drying process goes hand in hand, it is best to left be done by professional carpet cleaners, who have the experience and good tools to find the right balance to make the cleaning process effective.
2) Carpet Shampooing
Carpet shampooing is one of the earliest modern carpet cleaning method and is a popular cleaning method that cleans first with rotary machines and then wet vacuuming.
It was a popular and widely accepted method until the 1970s when encapsulation technology was introduced. The method is somewhat similar to Hot Water Extraction (which is a later technology) except that no additional clean water were sprayed to rinse and extract dirt from carpet simultaneously. The problem with this method is it leaves behind excessive moisture and soap residues after cleaning, causing the carpet to take a long time to dry, often 2-3 days. And the carpet becomes sticky after it is dried, making it appears ‘dirtier’ after cleaning. As a result, the carpet has the tendency to be quickly soiled after cleaning. This why carpet wet shampooing method becomes less popular after hot water extraction method was introduced.
Today some older generation carpet cleaning companies are still using this method but many times when people talks about carpet shampooing, they aren’t talking about the tradition carpet shampooing that we used to know. It is usually with a combination of the water extraction or other methods.
3) Dry Carpet Cleaning
Also known as Dry Compound Cleaning, is a type of Very Low Moisture Cleaning Method (VLM). The method isn’t totally dry, it involves using a cleaning solvent to dissolve and absorb dirt to the compound. After a short drying time, a vacuum system is used to suck way the debris. Though the process sound easy and convenient, and a lot of times you will hear the dry carpet cleaner saying the solution is biogradable, it’s anti allergy – it is not exactly so.
First the process is more complicated than it sounds, the compound has to be worked into the carpet using a specialized brushing machine. While the carpet may look clean and dry quickly, and from a professional stand point – this method indeed save a lot of time and drying headaches, it is not as effective as hot water extraction method.
The common problem with dry carpet cleaning is that the compound itself is very difficult to remove after the cleaning and the residue is often associated with allergies. Don’t get me wrong, the carpet will look cleaner and even feel cleaner, but the tiny residues that cannot be easily seen by the eyes are often trapped in the carpet. Though the compound maybe claim to be biodegradable, anti dust mite, anti allergy etc – The fact that the residue of the compound is often trapped in carpet after cleaning thus causing allergy problems. And due to the nature of the compound, it may cause discoloration of the carpet.
Another limitation of dry carpet cleaning is that it cannot remove odor or stains. It is like taking a dry powdered bath without taking a shower, yes you feel clean after being powdered all over, the fragrance of the powder may even cover the odor.. but is it as effective as actually taking a bath?
Wow.. is dry carpet cleaning that bad..? Not really, it still have it’s advantages. In my opinion, dry carpet cleaning is great for place where it’s fast moving with high volume of people. Yes it is perfect for commercial settings like cafes, shopping malls where is always busy and cannot afford much down time. However for homes and families, especially with children, elderly and people with eczema and allergy problems, you may want to avoid this method for the sake of your health.
Encapsulation is also a type of VLM cleaning system. It uses specialty detergent polymers to bind dirt to their molecules, forming tiny crystals which turns into powder when it dries. The cleaning process involves spraying the encapsulation chemical onto the carpet using rotary or cylindrical brush machine. After the encapsulated soil and dirt particles crystallizes, the dirt particles were loosen and released from the carpet fibre. Then finally is removed by normal vacuuming or brushed away.
Like the above mentioned dry cleaning method, it is faster and dryer method. It is also considered more environmentally friendly compared to traditional carpet shampooing as the residue breaks away from the carpet fibers easily and thus leaving behind less chemical residue.
While encapsulation cleaning is well received and has shown good cleaning results, like dry cleaning method, it has its limitations and is not effective in giving thorough cleaning especially for heaving soiled carpets.
5) Dry Foam Cleaning
Again it is not completely dry since the foam is 90% air and 10% liquid, it involves applying a cleaning foam agent to the surface of the carpet and vacuumed out immediately. This type of cleaning is suitable for water sensitive fabrics that cannot be cleaned with water based cleaning methods. A specialized machine is required to get the job done.
6) Bonnet Cleaning
Bonnet cleaning is a popular method in hotels because it is fast to clean and dry as little water is used, thus preventing down time and inconvenience to the guests of the hotel. The operator first applies a mist of detergent to the bonnet, which is a round buffer, the bonnet then scrubs with the chemical in a rotating motion. It works like a floor buffer, with an oscillating pad that attracts the dirt and is rinsed repeatedly.
The process of bonnet cleaning requires some serious skills. One, enough detergent must be applied to keep the bonnet lubricated or it will ruin the pile. And if it is too moist, it will leave residues behind resulting in the condition of the carpet to be worse than before. The bonnet also needs to be replaced frequently as the cleaning will be ineffective once it is filled with grime.
One major flaw of bonnet cleaning is that it does not really clean the carpet at all. The carpet may look ‘clean’ on the surface but it is not deep cleaned. This is due to the fact the bonnet cleaning only cleans the surface, 1/8th of an inch deep. Dirt beneath the carpet is not dealt with and will resurface quickly. That said, it is still suitable to be used on thin and sturdy carpeting – ideal for commercial offices and shops where low down time is critical. Sanitization is recommended to be complemented with this cleaning method for more effective results.
In a nutshell, hot water extraction is most ideal for effective deep cleaning result. However, there is no one best carpet cleaning method per se. Every cleaning method has it’s pro and con. Depending on the carpet material, who’s using it and for what situation, any cleaning methods can be the perfect method. On the wrong type of carpet, one method may damage the carpet tile. It is more important to engage the knowledgeable and reliable carpet cleaning company who understands your concern and suit your needs.
Not sure what type of carpet cleaning is best for you? Feel free to contact us for a free consultation.