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Common carpet cleaning methods

Carpet cleaning professionals use a wide range of cleaning methods when tackling dirty rugs and carpets. Cost, degree of carpet soiling, environmental conditions and fiber type typically influence the selection of a carpet-cleaning method. Here are the benefits of the four most common professional carpet cleaning processes used today.

1. Steam cleaning. Also known as hot water extraction, steam cleaning is a common method of cleaning carpets. In this method, hot water is heated to boiling and injected into the carpet under pressure. The hot water effectively loosens the dirt, and the carpet-cleaning machine immediately draws moisture and dirt away. Heavily soiled carpet often requires the use of detergent. Steam cleaning is effective in removing odors and killing bacteria and dust mites. There are few drawbacks to this method, other than drying time.

2. Carpet shampooing. Carpet shampooing is the original carpet-cleaning method used by professional cleaners. In this process, a foamy chemical is distributed on the carpet and scrubbed in with a motorized circular brush. This method works best for heavily soiled, low-pile carpet. Since no extraction process is involved, the carpet must be thoroughly vacuumed to remove soil and residue. Many carpet-cleaning professionals recommend steam cleaning as more effective than carpet shampooing.

3. Carpet dry cleaning. The dry-cleaning method uses virtually no water. A technician sprinkles a small amount of an absorbent compound over the carpet and uses a mechanized brush to work it through the carpet, dissolving soil. The soil and residue are then drawn up by a commercial vacuum cleaner. The dry-cleaning method dries carpet more quickly than any other cleaning method. Easily damaged natural-fiber carpets, such as sisal and hemp, benefit from the dry-cleaning process.

4. Bonnet cleaning. Though this method of carpet cleaning is sometimes referred to as a dry-cleaning method, it really is not. Bonnet cleaning uses a cleaning product, occasionally mixed with carbonated water, and spreads it as a mist over the surface of the carpet. A circular rotating buffer or "bonnet" with an absorbent covering is run over the soiled area. When the covering becomes soiled, it is replaced with a clean one. While the top one-third of the carpet is cleaned, soil which has settled to the bottom of the pile remains behind. This cleaning method should be viewed as a temporary measure between more intensive cleanings.

Fortunately for Chicago residents, there is no shortage of professional carpet cleaners in the Windy City. Sign in to Angie’s List to read trusted consumer reviews on highly rated carpet cleaning companies in the Chicago area.


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Choosing carpet over other flooring option certainly offers its share of benefits. Keeping carpet clean though is an unavoidable part of adding it to your home. Proper maintenance extends the life of carpet and allows the floor covering to serve as an aesthetically pleasing part of the home.

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