CARPET AND UPHOLSTERY CLEANING
A STUDY OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF
We would like to take a few moments to talk about the many different kinds of carpet/upholstery
cleaning systems that are used by cleaners. This section will discuss the most commonly used
systems in your area for residential carpet/upholstery cleaning.
Carpet and upholstery:
Steam cleaning is a term used for a water extraction type cleaning system. For the most
part this system doesn't produce true steam temperature.
However, there are a few systems
(the DRI-STEAM® system being one),
that utilize a constant maximum steam temperature,
upwards of 250°. The rest of these systems are hot water extraction.
The heated cleaning solution is then pressurized, atomized and applied to the cleaning
surface. There is also a vacuum action taking place at the same time. It is necessary,
though, to vacuum over the same area again without the solution being applied to remove any
excess moisture from the carpet or upholstery.
Water has been proven to be the best "vehicle" for suspending, holding, and allowing for
removal of soiling from the surfaces to be cleaned. However, one of the most common drawbacks
to this cleaning system is the inability of the technician to realize the seriousness of
It may also be necessary to concentrate the cleaning effort on heavily soiled areas, not just
make one pass over the surface.
With the advent of the truck mounted steam cleaning systems, the heavy equipment can now stay
out in the truck and the techncian only need bring hoses into the house. These extraction
systems offer the most power in this type of cleaning system. However, the technician can become
overconfident when using this truck mount and hurry too fast over the cleaning surface, leaving
excessive moisture and residues along with it. This leads to a quick re-soiling of the carpet
within just a few days, because the excessive moisture left behind contained suspend soil.
When the surface finally dried, a wicking action occurs which draws any particles of soiling to
the top of the face yarns of the carpet or upholstery. When this occurs, it looks as if the
carpet or upholstery had never been cleaned. This is caused when the technician is in too
big of a hurry.
So the bottom line is that it takes time to do the job correctly.
When done correctly, this system cleans the deepest and leaves virtually no
residue. Drying times will vary, depending on the density of the carpet face yarns, humidity
within the house, and soiling condition. We have drying times as low as one hour, and some up
to 6 hours. However, you can walk on the freshly cleaned carpet if you have something on your
feet that is not soiled.
Carpet and upholstery:
Dry cleaning usually pertains to systems such as Host® or Capture®, which require a dry
chemical powder be applied to the surface to be cleaned. It is then worked in with mechanical
action, such as brushes, and then vacuumed. This cleaning system does not deep clean like hot
water/steam extraction, but it is fine for interim cleaning. The problem with the dry cleaning
is a lot of residue is usually left in the carpet, unless the technician goes over and over the
surface many times. Even then, the manufacturer recommends a hot water/steam extraction done by a
professional cleaner periodically on areas that are dry cleaned by this method.
The good news is there is no drying time. For someone who needs to use their carpet fully
right after it is cleaned, this system is the answer.
Carpet and upholstery:
The dry foam machine generates foam by forcing air into a tank filled with water and shampoo.
The high velocity air whips the solution to form a shampoo head on the top of the water surface.
Then this shampoo is directed to the carpet and agitated by brushes to clean the surface. Some
of these machines, like the one we have, also have the ability to vacuum (extract) the cleaned
surface. This machine can also be used to clean upholstery.
This machine has a very fast drying time.
The shampoo machine usually has a large diameter brush that rotates over the carpet surface.
The machine also dispenses shampoo onto the carpet, but this machine can't control the solution
like the dry foam machine can, so the shampoo gets the carpet wetter. There is no means of
extracting the carpet with this type of machine. Some companies then hot water extract the
remaining soils and residues. If you use the shampoo machine we recommend extracting afterwards.
Again, the problem with this system is the tendency to leave quite a bit of residue on the carpet
This is the ultimate cleaning machine. It attaches directly to a truck mount for a supply of
steam and high vacuum. This machine has 5 spray jets and 5 wand vacuum heads all rotating
at 360°, blasting away the dirt with true steam, and vacuuming the carpet from all possible
angles. We have found this machine will restore carpet that otherwise was destined to be
Yes, we have one of these !!!
This machine is similiar to a shampoo machine. In fact, it is the shampoo machine with the brush
removed and a drive pad installed in its place. A solvent cleaning solution is applied to the
carpet and then the bonnet is attached to the drive pad and the machine rotates. The dirt
from the carpet sticks to the pad, but it is necessary to rinse, wring out and replace the pad
quite often. I have even found it necessary to have several pads along while cleaning.
Failure to do this results in poor performance of removing the soil from the carpet.
This system is for surface clenaing only, and will not deep clean as there is no vacuuming
The carbonated system uses a fizzing action to break up the soiling from the carpet fibers.
Then mechanical action agitates the carpet and a final pass of vacuuming (only sometimes) takes place. This
system does not clean as deeply as steam cleaning, but on an interim basis it is OK. There also
seems to be a considerable amount of residue left behind to re-attract new soiling quickly. The
carpet doesn't look as "shinny clean" as when done with a steam extraction machine.
Carpet, upholstery and draperies:
Solvent cleaning requires the technician to pre-vacuum, then apply the solvent directly to the
carpet, upholstery or draperies. Next the entire surface must be vacuumed. The solvent used should not
be harmful to breathe. If your cleaner is going to solvent clean, ask him/her for an MSDS
(Material Safety Data Sheet) on the product so you can be sure it is safe to use in your home.
This cleaning type, especially for upholstery, is done because it is likely to have no adverse
effect on the fabric. The drawback is that it doesn't clean very well at all, and to top it
off, a lot of cleaners charge extra for this type of cleaning (go figure).
I would only use this if the fabric wasn't very soiled.
PERFECTION primarily uses its DRI-STEAM® truck mount for most cleaning. We have found this system does an absolutely complete job, whether cleaning carpet or upholstery. We also have the following systems available:
- Dry Foam
- Dry Cleaning
Host® and Capture®, carpet only
- Rotary Jet Extractor
- Spin Bonnet
- Solvent Cleaning
Carpet, uphoplstery, and draperies
Which system is the best? I prefer DRI-STEAM®. However, the bottom line is the
training and attitude of the person doing the cleaning. It also takes some time to do the job
right, so this is not something the technician can hurry through.
That's all for now. Let us hear from you :-)
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