Types of Carpet Cleaning


and general information you need to know about carpet cleaning and cleaners:

Carpet Shampoo Method

The theory in the shampoo method is to generate a lot of foam in the carpet, allow this foam to dry, have the resulting residue attract the soil, and vacuum up the residue and soil the next day. Carpet shampoo products must have the following characteristics which dictate their ingredients:

  1. Very high foam levels to reduce wetting.
  2. Very stable foam.
  3. High lubricity to reduce damage to the carpet fibers from the brushes.
  4. Dry to a non-sticky residue.

Therefore, a carpet shampoo must contain a very foamy chemical. The most common ingredient is sodium lauryl sulfate or one of its relatives. Look at the ingredient statement on your hair shampoo bottle it will say "Contains sodium lauryl sulfate" or some similar wording. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and its relatives exhibit very high and very stable foam and are only fair detergents. The problem is that they dry to a soft, sticky residue which will cause re-soiling when not completely rinsed out. Because of the re-soiling problem, carpet shampoos will frequently also have anti re-soiling additives such as a resin to reduce this re-soiling tendency.

Because shampoos are actually very poor detergents and basically simply bury the dirt, they frequently also contain high levels of optical brighteners which take invisible ultraviolet light and convert it to visible light, thus making the carpet appear cleaner and brighter than it really is. This will eventually give the carpet a yellow cast that may become permanent. Two primary types of machines used for this process are the cylindrical foam and rotary brush shampoo machines.

The Cylindrical Foam Shampoo machine uses an air compressor to create dry foam before the foam is applied to the carpet and the carpet is then agitated with a revolving cylindrical brush which combs the foam through carpet pile. This method will leave dirt trapped in the carpet pile. Carpet must be thoroughly vacuumed before and after cleaning.

The Rotary Shampoo Method

This uses an ordinary rotary floor machine (the same kind used for stripping wax); sprays shampoo onto the carpet from a dispensing tank, and a rotary brush whips the detergent to foam. Most carpet mills and carpet fiber producers discourage the use of rotary brushes on carpet because of the potential damage that can occur. Over wetting is common with this method which can cause jute straining, shrinkage, and odor.

Shampoo methods are inferior due to poor cleaning plus re-soiling problems. The Rotary Shampoo method can damage the carpet, especially cut pile (which is what most residential carpet is).

Carpet Absorbent Cleaners

This method is often called "dry cleaning" since virtually no water is used.

In this method, dry absorbent compound (containing small amounts of water, detergent, and solvent,) is sprinkled over carpet or worked into the carpet with a machine. This purpose of this cleaner is to attract and absorb soil. Mechanical agitation from a brush works the cleaner through the carpet.

These products usually contain an absorbent carrier, water, detergent, and solvent. The theory is that the liquids dissolve the soil and this soil/detergent/solvent mixture is absorbed into the carrier and is then vacuumed up. They are often used with a detergent pre spray in heavily soiled areas.

The absorbent cleaner most commonly is organic, but may also be polymers. The compound is supposed to absorb the dislodged soil and is then vacuumed away. Carpet must be thoroughly vacuumed before and after cleaning.

Very thorough vacuuming should be used to ensure that most of the carrier comes out of the carpet. With the extremely fine powder types, indoor air quality can be reduced. If a white powder starts appearing on shoes and cuffs of pants, too much was used and it was not thoroughly vacuumed up. A common problem is for this white powder residual to appear after wet extraction cleaning. Due to this problem Sunshine Carpet Cleaners recommends avoiding this option for carpet cleaning or maintenance.

Bonnet Method / "Carbonated Cleaning"

This method is sometimes called "dry cleaning", which is a misnomer, since water is used. Bonnet Shampooing is simply an adaptation of hard floor spray buffing to carpets.

This method for carpet maintenance consists of the use of a rotary or oscillating brush adapted with a stiff brush or drive block designed to drive wet, damp or dry pads. The carpet can be sprayed with the cleaning solution and/or the pads can be soaked in the cleaning solution and squeezed lightly before placing the pad under the driving brush.

The maintenance brochure published by the world's largest carpet manufacturer, Shaw Industries, suggests not using this method, especially on cut pile, due to pile distortion and fiber damage. This method has very limited capability for soil removal and leaves much of the detergent in the pile since it employs no real extraction. As a result, rapid re-soiling often occurs. Another disadvantage is that the spinning bonnet may distort the fibers of cut pile carpet, fuzz the pile and leaving distinct swirl marks.

Sometimes, carbonated water is used to (in theory) give better soil suspension and bring down the pH. Companies using this method frequently use "scare" tactics to convince consumers that extraction cleaning or steam cleaning will destroy the carpet, which is not true. Since this type of cleaning is quick and easy, many cleaners try to dupe customers into this type of cleaning at a premium price. Don’t fall for this tactic.

Check with your carpet manufacturer because most leading carpet mills recommend against this method of cleaning and might void your warranty.

Steam Extraction

This method is often call "Warm Water Extraction", "Hot Water Extraction" or "Steam Cleaning" and this is the cleaning method nearly all carpet manufacturers and carpet fiber producers recommend.

This is the only cleaning method classified as "deep cleaning". All the others are considered "light surface cleaning" because they are incapable of removing soil deep in the pile. Also, all other methods leave large amounts of cleaning agent in the carpet after cleaning.

The maintenance brochure published by the world's largest carpet manufacturer, Shaw Industries, recommends this method, because its own research indicates that it provides the best capability for cleaning.

This method is frequently called "steam" cleaning due to the fine spray of water used to force dirt out of the carpet which is sucked up by the vacuum slot immediately in front of the spray. Seldom is real live steam used, however. This process consists of spraying a solution of water and detergent into the carpet pile and recovering the water and soil with a powerful vacuum into a holding tank. This can be done from a truck-mounted unit outside the home with only the hose and floor tool brought inside or by a portable system brought into the home or office.

From a health standpoint, the truck-mounted system is preferred because the dirty air and humidity are exhausted outside rather than re-circulated around the house. Additionally, truck-mounted systems are more powerful than portable units and do a much better cleaning job and get the carpet dry quicker.

Depending upon the equipment, temperatures may range from cold tap water to boiling hot water and even super heated water over 212 degrees F. At Sunshine Carpet Cleaners our truck mount system has a propane hot water heater that ensures that we will have all the true steam (212+ degrees) that we need. Most local truck mounts have a heat exchanger which does not produce the heat required for steam. Even our portable cleaning units have built in electric hot water heaters to ensure the best cleaning possible.

General Comments

The choice of the proper cleaning system is extremely important. Some systems leave residues which promote re-soiling and defeat the whole purpose of cleaning. Some methods actually damage the carpet fibers and shorten the life of the carpet. Check with the carpet manufacturer or Sunshine Carpet Cleaners at 305-971-3754 for recommendations.

The high heat and professional chemicals used by qualified carpet cleaners such as Sunshine Carpet Cleaners have side benefits of a healthier lifestyle. Your carpet is the largest filter in your home. It picks up dirt, dust, hair dander, dead skin, oils, dust mites and other small and microscopic insects and germs, pet by-products, spilled foods, and who knows what other “things” and odors!! It just makes sense to clean that filter often. With a good carpet cleaner using high heat, proper chemicals and extraction you may just breathe and sleep better.

The company that you should use is Sunshine Carpet Cleaners for your carpet cleaning needs. We never use “bait and switch” or scare tactics to get your business. We discuss your cleaning needs, the costs and options you have, prior to starting. We will do a walk thru with you when completed to ensure you are satisfied with our results. We always offer to deodorize your carpet for free with any cleaning.

Sunshine Carpet Cleaners is a locally owned and operated business that covers Monroe, Miami-Dade, and Broward Counties. We are an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), and the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).

Carpet Cleaning Frequency

If carpet is cleaned before it becomes too unsightly, the cleaning task will be easier and more successful. Allowing the carpet to become overly soiled may result in irreversible damage. It is a common myth that cleaning the carpet before it is absolutely necessary will cause it to get dirty faster. This goes back to the days when the shampoo methods were the most common.

Carpet in a typical household should be professionally cleaned every 6 to 12 months depending upon the number of residents, amount and type of activity or use. Frequent vacuuming of at least weekly will help keep your carpet cleaner and will last longer than not vacuuming. Dirt logged in between the fibers actually damages the carpet so vacuuming and getting a professional cleaning frequently to maximize the life of your carpet is essential. Some carpet colors hide dirt better than others, but this does not mean that they don’t need to be cleaned as often as other color carpets.

Professional Carpet Cleaning vs. “Do-It-Yourself” Cleaning

Most rental units available do not adequately clean, due to low pressure, low heat and low suction, and may actually damage the carpet. The type of carpet cleaning solutions used for specific types of carpet is generally not available to the average consumer nor is the knowledge. This also gives poor results as some chemicals should not be used on some carpet fibers.

The maintenance brochure published by the world's largest carpet manufacturer, Shaw Industries, recommends professional carpet cleaning over “Do-It-Yourself” because of the potential problems that can occur from using rental equipment - such as yellowing, over wetting, fiber tip damage, severe re-soiling, overuse of detergents or improper detergents, etc. In the long run paying a little more up front for a professional now, will save a lot more later, not to mention less aggravation, less work, less risk and much, much better results.

Call Sunshine Carpet Cleaners at 305-971-3754 for premium carpet cleaning services in

Miami, Coral Gables, Florida Keys, Florida City, Homestead, Cutler Bay, Pinecrest, Hialeah, Kendall and surrounding areas.