Effective Carpet Cleaning Methods

Before you jump into getting your carpets clean I wanted to kind of go over a few methods of cleaning that are on the market and available to you. There is actually five methods of cleaning carpets. Some of them kind of overlap but we’ll just kind of go through the five and I’ll kind of tell you what we what we believe is the best at the end.

cleaning red stains out of white carpet
Carpet Cleaning Maintenance Methods

Overview of Different Types of Carpet Cleaning Systems

Maintenance Cleaning

The first five or the first four actually are a considered light maintenance or maintenance type of cleanings. So just know that the first four that I am going to cover right now are considered maintenance cleanings and that’s not by us, that’s by the IICRC which is the Institute of inspection and cleaning restoration certification. The IICRC have been around for a long time and they’re the ones who have tested all the methods. What they do is send it to the labs and all that good stuff in conjunction with the CRI. So this is not us saying this, but it is a third independent party that tells the industry what they speck out and what they believe.

In turn, they tell the carpet mills what they believe is the best method to cleaning different types of carpets. So it’s kind of a chain of events. It’s not like one guy telling the rest of the industry “here’s how it works”. This knowledge is from a collective type of Industry consensus. Now let me be upfront, I’m not bashing any carpet cleaning methods. So the guys who are out there thinking that I’m knocking their methods, I’m not. In fact, we use all the carpet cleaning methods. We’ve used every single method on earth, even including beyond the five that are recognized! So let’s just go over the first four first and then we’ll kind of wrap it up at the end with the fifth.

Dry Compound

First is a dry compound. It comes in a box and inside the box is a foil bag. Inside the foil bag is a powder which is rumored to made there’s rumor that it’s made from corn cobs that are ground up and impregnated with some kind of detergent. It is intended to be sprinkled over the carpeting and on high-traffic areas. There’s also a spray that you put on top of that and let it dry for 5-10 minutes. Then you simply vacuum it up well. Many believe that this carpet cleaning service is not aggressive enough to clean the contaminants that are in your carpeting.

According to industry consensus, the first four methods only clean the top third of the carpet fiber. Granted, the top third of the fiber, unless you have urine stains or spills, the top third may just be all you need to have clean. If you do your carpet cleaning often, you know every two or three months, then perhaps only the top surface needs to be cleaned. In our experience, most people wait a year to get cleanings, some more frequently because of pet dogs and cats. So just know that the top third of the carpet fiber is to be considered as maintenance cleaning.


The next cleaning method is called encapsulation. This method is frequently related to another method called dry foam absorption. With this particular method, you put in a product and scrub it in with a machine and then vacuum it. Whether you call that a foam cleaning or encapsulation cleaning, it’s really a matter of what’s in the product. Encapsulation means that the soil is being covered by a liquid polymer. When it’s dried and vacuumed the liquid polymer is attached to the soil and is pulling that out as you vacuum. We actually use that in a lot of maintenance accounts. We’re not so thrilled with it in residential accounts but it is a good type of maintenance style cleaning.

Bonnet Method

The next one is Bonnet where a machine is brought in like a scrubber. There’s a pad that goes underneath the scrubber that is usually made of cotton synthetic materials or a blend. Some of them have a red strip in it or a green strip and the theory goes that the product is put into a tank on the machine and then scrubbed into the carpeting. The soil is attracted to the pad. It would be similar to taking a white towel and just scrubbing the carpet aggressively by hand with a product that soil sticks to the pad. The problem is that most pads are not rotated often enough leading to a carpet that’s not completely clean.

The next one is shampoo. This is a system that isn’t really used much anymore unless it’s in conjunction with hot water extraction. The same type of system that we’d use on the bonnet is used except for they use brushes generally on the bottom of a shampoo system. The machine is filled with a product of cleaner and water and then it’s scrubbed over with brushes on the carpet. During this process the soil gets agitated enough so that it gets loosened and then when it’s dry the vacuum picks up the debris. This system is a hybrid between encapsulation and the Bonnet system, however this is the system that was used in the 60s and 70s.

The true shampoo method there’s nothing else to do with it. You scrub it in and you leave. The problem is that a huge residue forms and it is comparable to like you taking a shower and not rinsing off the soap. You jump out of the shower and then you dry off so you never get rinsed and the soap is still on you. Now you’re drying yourself off. That in my mind is the way that a Bonnet system works.

Restorative Cleaning

floor restoration in office building
Restoration Cleaning of Carpets and Hard Floor Surfaces

Hot Water Extraction

Okay so that’s the four methods of maintenance cleaning. The one method of restorative cleaning is called hot water extraction, sometimes referred to as steam cleaning. There is a slight difference between true steam which is boiled and pressurized so that the steam comes out right away. In a truck mount or a portable situation for your carpet cleaning specifically, it’s called hot water extraction. So just know that when you hear steam carpet cleaning, were referring to hot water extraction but we also have a steaming system.

For example, if we’re doing light furniture, some types of really thin rugs or if we’re doing corner cleaning on buildings that have been smoke damaged. This live system is perfect for that but it’s not for carpet. Hot water extraction can either be truck mounted or portable. A truck is what we use but we also have portables.

On most residential properties we’re going to use a hot water extraction off the truck. A pre-spray is used first on heavily soiled and stained areas. It is then agitated with a groomer and then is rinsed out with high pressure that is at an angle. Imagine this is the angle of the jet that goes down there right at the end of that is a vacuum. As the spray goes down, right behind there is a vacuum that is pulling that water back up. This enables us to get way down deep into the carpeting. That way no matter who does your carpet cleaning the last thing you want to do is have them go through this carpet this pad or the backing of the carpeting with their cleaning method because that’ll soak the carpet. It will also make it hard to dry and end up staying wet for days. You don’t want that. This is what we do to differentiate ourselves from others, performing extra drying strokes when we’re done with our hot water extraction. Also, we will use air movers and speed dryers to make your carpet dry to the touch when we leave.

Generally, the first part we start at might be completely dry by time the last part we end with! Some spots might be slightly damp to the touch but don’t worry, it generally dries within a few hours.

Now you know about the different cleaning methods from maintenance cleaning to restorative method for residential. Most carpet cleaning methods will use the restorative method. Hot water extraction as we have used it to conquer the toughest areas. The biggest concern is the slow drying by using other methods. Using extra drying strokes and fans are required. I hope that helps you out give. Give us a call when you’re ready for carpet cleaning again.

Call 1-855-277-8904