The Great Carpet Cleaning Debate: Dry Cleaning vs. Steam Cleaning vs. Hot Water Extraction

One of the most significant steps in proper carpet maintenance is scheduling to have your floors cleaned by a professional. Once you’ve accomplished that task, the next is usually to figure out which type of cleaning method is best-suited to the style of carpet you have. Though your carpet is likely to have come with cleaning recommendations from the manufacturer and your carpet cleaner will make their own suggestion as well, it’s still a good idea to become familiar with the most common techniques used in carpet cleaning since you will have the final say-so in which one is used. There are pros and cons to each kind of procedure, and the effectiveness of one versus another will rely on several different factors.

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Dry Cleaning

There are a couple of options in this category, and despite its name, a dry cleaning isn’t entirely moistureless. It may involve applying a dry foam-like solution (much like dry shampoo) to the surface of a carpet, which is left to dry and break down soil particles so they can be absorbed and then sucked up with a vacuum. The alternative is dry-chem, where a machine is used to spin a cotton bonnet, soaking up the cleaning detergent and soil as it goes. The biggest disadvantage to dry methods is the residue it can leave behind, while the advantage is minimal drying time.

 

Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning uses water that is heated to very high temperatures and ejected into the carpet fibers along with a carpet cleaning agent before being forcefully removed by a high-powered machine. Some are hesitant to use steam cleaning because it generally leaves carpets pretty saturated, which can easily become a breeding ground for mold and mildew growth if not thoroughly dried out with powerful drying equipment. On the other hand, it’s common knowledge that heat is best when trying to kill bacteria and other pollutants.

 

Hot Water Extraction

There is a common misconception that hot water extraction is the same thing as steam cleaning, but there are a few things that separate it as a different technique. Namely, the biggest difference is the temperature of the water used, required to be hot but not warmed to boiling point. However, similar to steam cleaning, this method is able to get deep within the carpet fibers to loosen and extract the dirt, dust mites, allergens and additional contaminants that have been allowed to collect and build up.

 

Steam cleaning and hot water extraction is most often used interchangeably, so it may be necessary to clarify which one your carpet cleaner actually specializes in. The biggest complaint here is the amount of time it can take to dry, but the results are usually well worth it.

 

For as long as people have been getting their carpets cleaned, it’s been debatable which carpet cleaning method is the best, but the answer really comes down to each individual household preference, the type of carpet to be cleaned and the level of deep cleaning that is needed.

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