STEAM CLEANING vs. DRY CLEANING of carpet
THE GREAT DEBATE - STEAM CLEANING vs. DRY CLEANING of carpet
Over the past twenty years or so, there has been a lot of discussion and debate whether carpets should be steam cleaned or dry-cleaned. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods, and I want to present this in a non-biased way.
Back in the early days of steam cleaning, or more precisely “hot water extraction” cleaners only had portable extraction units available, such as Rug Doctor and similar units which can be rented at grocery stored and tool rental facilities. These machines, as well as many modern-day portables, are wonderful for spotting and small areas, but tend to over-wet and leave too much soap residue in carpet due to their weak ability to extract.
In the early 1970’s truck mounted steam cleaning began to be used widely in both residential and commercial applications. However, in its early stages, many cleaners were poorly educated in cleaning techniques. A combination of very high alkaline cleaning solutions, too-high pressure and/or volume of water used, and weak extraction systems resulted in many carpets sustaining more damage than benefit. Sometimes carpets took several days to dry; some carpets shrunk, wrinkled, or delaminated, depending on the type of yarns and primary secondary backing which were used.
These problems led many carpet-owners to look for alternative methods of cleaning their floor coverings. There are several types of dry cleaning available, some using foam, some using carbonated water, some with cotton bonnet attached to a rotary machine. The dry cleaning methods are generally less dangerous to the carpet’s health and well-being, and most will allow the carpet to be dry within a few hours.
Thru the 1980’s and 90’s many advancements were made in steam cleaning equipment, cleaning chemicals, and most importantly, training and certification of cleaning technicians. Unlike plumbers, electricians, masonry contractors, etc, carpet cleaners are not regulated, nor required testing or licensing. You may see a large number of cleaners in the local phone book or advertising circulars, and only a fraction of which are educated and certified in the areas they profess to know about. In addition, I have heard many horror stories of steam carpet cleaners who have done unethical things like charging homeowners to apply Scotchgard or Teflon when in fact they applied only water.