Even if you take great pride in keeping your home or place of business clean, your carpet will eventually need to be professionally cleaned. Dust and allergens will build up in your carpet over time and it is difficult to avoid accidental stains.
Domestic carpet cleaners are ineffective at removing stains and debris from the deeper layers of carpet. To give your carpet a thorough clean, a commercial carpet cleaning service is required. Which type of cleaning service should you use — dry carpet cleaning or steam cleaning?
Each method has certain advantages and disadvantages. To help you decide on a carpet cleaning technique, the Steamex experts explain how each method works and discuss pros and cons.
What Is Steam Carpet Cleaning?
Despite the name, steam cleaning does not actually use steam. It uses a carpet cleaning method called hot water extraction. A carpet cleaning machine pushes hot water into the carpet then immediately removes it, extracting dissolved dirt and debris. Cleaning detergents can be added to the hot water to make it more effective at dislodging stubborn stains and debris.
Smaller steam cleaning units plug directly into a building’s power supply and can be moved from room to room. Larger commercial operations often use steam cleaning vehicles, passing hoses into the building.
Carpets may need to be preconditioned with an alkaline agent before being cleaned, to assist in the removal of stubborn stains. The solution is sprayed onto the carpet and lightly scrubbed with a brush. It is then rinsed out and the carpet and has its pH neutralized before steam cleaning begins.
Pros of Steam Cleaning:
- There are many experienced providers of steam cleaning. By using an experienced company, like Steamex, you know that your carpets will be cleaned professional, efficiently and thoroughly.
- There are fewer chemicals involved. Most commercial steam cleaning companies use commonly found detergents to clean carpets. There are no unusual or potentially toxic chemicals being used.
- You can perform green cleaning with a steam cleaner. Some providers offer a green cleaning service, where common household substances like white vinegar and pure soap are used to perform the carpet cleaning. These substances are 100% natural and completely biodegradable.
Cons of Steam Cleaning:
- The carpets will be wet. After steam cleaning, your carpets will be wet for anywhere between 1 to 12 hours (longer if you perform it yourself). The precise time it takes for your carpets to dry will depend on the temperature, humidity and sun exposure inside your property. While you can still walk on your carpets during this time, it can be inconvenient for busy private residences or businesses.
- Steam cleaning can remove manufacturer-installed stain protection. Certain types of Carpet stain protection will be removed when exposed to water or detergents. You may have to reapply some form of carpet protection to your carpets after they are cleaned.
- Some stains require multiple applications. Pet stains and chemical stains can be very difficult for steam carpet cleaning to remove. Multiple applications may be required.
- Steam cleaning may be unsuitable for older carpets. If your property has older jute-backed carpets or carpets with natural fibers, steam cleaning can cause the backing to shrink. This may result in wrinkles appearing on the carpet.
- Stains may reoccur while drying. If your carpet stains were caused by an aggressive mold, mildew or fungus, it might reoccur while drying. To ensure this does not happen, the carpet should be dried as quickly as possible by performing the cleaning during the day, heating the building, opening windows to let a breeze enter and using fans.
What Is Dry Carpet Cleaning?
Dry carpet cleaning refers to “very low moisture” carpet cleaning systems. Typically, a slightly moist absorbent compound is deposited evenly over the carpet. It may be pushed into the carpet pile for deeper cleaning. The compound absorbs stains in the carpet and dirt.
After a short period, the chemical compound is vacuumed up or picked up with special pads, leaving the carpet immediately dry. The chemical compound works by attaching itself to oily dirt particles, making it easier for the vacuum or pads to pick them up.
Dry carpet cleaning took a giant leap forward in the 1990s when scientists developed polymers that could encapsulate soil particles. When dry cleaning techniques were previously used, if any of the chemical compounds were left in the carpet, the dirt they contained would eventually reabsorb into the carpet.
The polymers can crystallize the dry carpet cleaning detergents, helping to ensure they were all picked up by the vacuum cleaner.
Pros of Dry Carpet Cleaning:
- Almost no drying time. Carpets can be used immediately after the cleaning process has been completed — important for busy homes or businesses.
- Simple and fast to perform. It is straightforward to clean a carpet using this technique, however care must be taken to apply the chemical cleaners correctly.
Cons of Dry Carpet Cleaning:
- The chemicals used can be harsh. Some dry cleaning processes use strong chemicals. These chemicals may cause an offensive odor in a property or an adverse reaction in people who have a chemical sensitivity
- Not a deep clean. Dry carpet cleaning cannot penetrate into the deepest layers of the carpet as hot water extraction can.
- The cleaning compound can be left in the carpet. It is easy to leave some of the cleaning compound in the carpet accidently. In the best-case scenario, this compound will simply release its dirt back into the carpet. In the worst-case scenario, the chemical compound may damage your carpet over time.
- It can cause excessive dust build-up over time. The powdery chemicals can remain trapped in the carpet and it may not remove the dust in the lower levels of the carpet. If this is the only cleaning method used, dust and allergens may build up over time.