Carpet cleaning is a science in itself. Not all carpet stains, scratches, scuffs, and tiffs can be fixed with a universal carpet cleaning method. If you often wonder, “Do different types of carpets need different types of cleaning?” Yes, you do! And, it is not just with different types of carpets. Sometimes the same carpet may require two or more types of carpet cleaning services to be fixed properly.
If you are new to the carpet cleaning industry and looking for a reference guide that lists different types of carpet cleaning techniques in detail, then you are at the right place. We have tuned our internal obsessive housekeeper, researched everything from IICRC’s standard reference guide for professional carpet cleaning to seeking insights from cleaning industry experts for drafting this blog about different types of professional carpet cleaning.
The science of carpet cleaning involves much more than different types of cleaning methods. In order to get a carpet sparkly clean, the first thing you need to do is evaluate the carpet itself. Identify the construction, color, age, traffic patterns, and soiling conditions of the carpet. Only then, you can decide upon an ideal cleaning method that consists of different aspects like chemistry, temperature, pre-conditioning, water flow, speed of tool movements, and the number of repetitions.
Different types of carpet construction
Carpets can be broadly classified into five major types: woven carpet, tufted carpet, modular carpet tiles, flocked carpet (flotex), and fibre bonded carpets. Let us take a closer look at each carpet type to understand its characteristics and learn things to know about cleaning specific types of carpet.
1. Woven carpet
According to Haider R’s, Carpet the Captive, traditional woven carpets like the Pazyryk Carpet date back to the 5th Century BC. Albeit their labor-intensive nature and expensive price range, even today woven carpets have a market of their own. The most well-known woven carpet ranges of today are either Axminster or Wilton.
Axminster-type woven carpets include a large number of colors in the design. Due to a large number of colors present in the design they are often coated with latex for the oomph factor.
Axminster carpets with 100% wool composition or 80% wool and 20% nylon composition present problems with colorfastness which professional cleaners must be wary of.
On the other hand, Wilton carpets retain a huge volume of soils almost close to the weight of their pile. When it comes to multicolored Wiltons nearly ⅔ of the soil will be trapped in the backing. This is caused by the macro-occlusion effect produced by multi-colored yarns in the design.
Simple vacuuming is never enough for heavily soiled Wiltons.
You always need to perform some aspect of pile lifting and cleaning even before you attempt wet cleaning.
2. Tufted carpet
The speed at which tufted carpets are produced makes it cheaper than woven carpets. Its comparatively lower manufacturing costs is the reason why it is the most commonly used carpet in both commercial and residential areas. Of all the carpets manufactured around the world, the tufted variety represents a bit over 90%.
Similar to Wiltons, dense pile tufted carpets retain a lot more soil and weight nearly equivalent to the weight of the pile. Due to the macro-occlusion caused by the design some form of pile lifting and cleaning is recommended for high traffic areas like corridors, hallways, and entrances. In their domestic range, some carpets are fitted with cheap foams.
Professional cleaners need to be cautious while cleaning foam-backed tufted carpets as wet cleaning results in water penetration into the carpet giving rise to unacceptable drying times, the risk of mildew and development of unpleasant odors.
3. Modular carpet tiles
In the early 1950s when carpet tiles came into existence, they were primarily used in the contract market. However, their relatively low purchase and installation costs coupled with their durability made sure that they were installed excessively in residential as well as commercial scenarios.
Amongst the different types of carpet cleaning services, jet washing or pressure washing is the most commonly used type of carpet cleaning method.
In cases of heavy foot traffic and highly soiled carpet tiles, they need a pre-spray on the carpet with a treatment of dry carpet crystals or powders. Pile lifting is required in this type of carpet for removing the deep-seated dirt.
4. Flocked carpet (Flotex)
Flocked carpets were initially used in areas which were susceptible to abnormal staining like psychiatric wards. However, today these carpets are now commonly used in domestic and commercial kitchens making Flotex the most preferred variety for such areas.
These types of carpets respond well to spray and hot water extraction. Their durable nature makes flotex strong enough to withstand highly mechanical stain removal techniques like scraping.
Since piles of these carpets are short and dense, normal bonnet cleaning techniques don’t work here. Also, residential and commercial cleaners need to stay away from instances where there is a high frictional force between the carpet and the machine.
5. Fibre bonded carpets
Fibre bonded carpets were originally created in the 1960s by processing textile wastes and synthetic materials. Now, they have grown to become the most obvious choice for heavy contract usage in places like schools, offices, and community centers which demand soft yet durable carpets.
Fibre bonded carpets are a pain to clean. If they have been allowed to get particularly filthy, then spray extraction is the only way to get them clean.
However, they have a tendency to let streaking appear during the spray extraction process. What’s more, some varieties tend to be unstable dimensionally, leaving the risk of bubbling up or shrinking under wet conditions.
Determining the soiling conditions of the carpet
Soiling is an often overused term when it comes to cleaning. However, there’s more to soiling than occasional sand substances that get trapped in the backing or at the bottom of the pile.
Soiling can be of different types. It could be gritty, like sand; it can be oily and greasy like butter or mayonnaise; or it may be a dye like fruit juice which requires drastic treatment to extract the color from the fibre. The table listed below outlines various types of soiling conditions of the carpet and how they can each be treated.
|Grit||Sand, dust, dirt, fine particulate matter like dust mite faeces, cigarette ashes, and even construction materials||These are firmly held by the fibre surfaces. And, in heavy foot traffic scenarios they settle down on the bottom of the pile.
|Can be usually removed by vacuuming the carpet regularly. Sometimes fine particles may demand detergent action in addition to suction.|
|Grease and oil||Butter, mayonnaise, chewing gum, tar, toner of carbon copier, glue, and engine oil or cooking oil spillages.||Looks rather shiny and although it doesn’t look bad initially, it could worsen over time and become a magnet for passing dirt.||These are generally sticky and require a detergent and agitation to remove from the carpet.|
|Dyes||Food colorings and juices, hair dyes, ink from pens, beetroots and other colored vegetables, red wine, and nail polish
|Most liquids that we use on a day to day basis contain food colorings which can dye the carpet fibre to a different color.
|These types of stains need the use of an oxidizing agent or solvent to remove the color out of the fibre.
|Water-based substances||Food stains like gravies and curries, blood, bodily fluids, beverages like tea, coffee, and soft drinks||Tends to look bright and alarming. While it often has a distinct texture at times it tends to appear solid.||Often it is removed by just flushing with water. Some stains may need water-based carpet spotting detergent|
7 different types of carpet cleaning services
Now that you have a hold on different types of carpets and soiling conditions, we can finally move on to different types of carpet cleaning methods. These types of cleaning services are found to be effective when use appropriately. There are seven different methods to clean your carpets perfectly, they are:
Hot water extraction
Absorbent powder cleaning
1. Dry vacuuming
Dry vacuuming is also known as dry soil removal is the most commonly used technique to clean carpets. While some believe it is a prerequisite that needs to be performed before wet cleaning, that is not really the case. Sometimes it follows as an essential step after wet cleaning or shampooing.
Dry vacuuming is the process of using a vacuum cleaner to extract the dust that has settled down in a carpet.
The periodic, time-consuming task of vacuuming an entire area is called full vacuuming. Cleaning only the areas of carpet where people walk is called traffic vacuuming. Taking the effort to vacuum under the edges of furniture and under tables is called detail vacuuming. Cleaning only areas where there is visible soil or litter is called spot vacuuming.
2. Hot water extraction
Hot Water Extraction (HWE) is the process of flushing out or rinsing soils suspended deep within the carpet by spraying a solution and detergent into the carpet pile. The solution and soil are then recovered by the extractor or vacuum slot. Many cleaning experts claim that HWE is the best method for deep cleaning.
It is often called steam cleaning due to the occasional steam that escapes incidentally from the hot water used. This method is especially great for cleaning carpeted stairs as opposed to any other common types of carpet cleaning.
When choosing this method professional cleaners need to be mindful of a few things such as maintaining a uniform angle between the wand and the floor. If not, it will lead to uneven results. Also it is crucial to not give any unnecessary pressure or tension on the solution pressure tubing. For, it could develop a leak at the end especially if the tubing is connected through a pinched cylinder clip.
3. Bonnet cleaning
Bonnet cleaning or bonnet buffing is one of the best types of carpet cleaning systems that have been around since the early eighties. It got its name from the usage of bonnets or pads to collect dust from the carpet. These bonnet cleaning machines transfer surface soil from the carpet to the bonnet by operating in conjunction with a rotary mechanical operating unit.
It is perfect for periodical maintenance cleanings and interim carpet cleaning scenarios with light to moderate soiling conditions. It is also an excellent option for instances where a low-moisture yet quick-drying carpet cleaning procedure is preferred.
4. Absorbent powder cleaning
Absorbent powder cleaning, also known as dry cleaning, is the process of sprinkling an absorbent compound over the carpet and into the pile. This cleaner attracts and absorbs soil and other dirt particles in the carpet. This type of carpet cleaning is often complemented by either a thorough vacuuming of the carpet or mechanical agitation using a brush.
This type of carpet cleaning service is used to clean light to mild soiling conditions. Since there is no water involved in the treatment, there is no need for a drying time. Upon choosing this method, it is critical to ensure a thorough vacuuming or suction, because any inert components that remain in the pile may end up causing airborne dust or even result in white shoe syndrome.
Encapsulation is a low-moisture cleaning method that dries quickly. It is the process of using crystalline polymers to remove soils and dirt while eliminating the chance of sticky residues. Once released across the carpet, the polymers surround soils, dirt, and loose detergents on the carpet fibre like a capsule.
Within a short span of time, those encapsulated particles become brittle, making it easy to remove them with normal vacuuming. Since all the detergent is removed thoroughly with a simple vacuuming session, any chances of rapid resoiling are prevented.
Agitation is the process of using a mechanical brush to physically scrub dirt and soil out of the carpet. It is also used as a complementary procedure to other types of carpet cleaning like absorbent powder cleaning and encapsulation. It is often used to achieve uniform spraying and distribution of cleaning chemicals and crystalline polymers.
Sometimes, a really stubborn stain can be broken down easily with just a little amount of agitation. However, irrespective of the fact why you choose agitation, it is better to exercise caution and avoid excessive brushing. Otherwise, it may damage the pile in the form of piling, fuzzing, and even untwisting. Wool carpets especially don’t react well to agitation techniques.
No matter how many different types of professional carpet cleaning come into play, shampooing will always be the top choice when the carpet is visually filthy. Only adequate shampooing can bring back an adequate amount of shine in a heavily soiled carpet.
There are two major types of shampooing and they differ from one another only in the usage of chemicals. Dry foam shampooing is the process of using chemicals to produce voluminous almost dry foam to clean a carpet. The other method wet shampooing uses a different set of chemical mixtures to produce drastically less amount of foams when compared to its precursor.
Although its popularity has gone down drastically, it has its own set of advantages. For instance, shampooing consumes relatively less water than hot water extraction. Since it generates more mechanical action, it enables effective removal of fine particulate soil. What’s more, carpets that have been recently shampooed are visibly better.
While carpet cleaning can look like a mammoth task at times, it can be a child’s play when you know the science behind it. We hope this blog answered all the questions you had in mind about carpet cleaning.
Know of any other types of carpet cleaning services or carpets that we need to add to the blog? Feel free to drop a comment and let us know. This list is definitely not final and we’ll be more than happy to add more carpet cleaning techniques to this list.
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