Does the method of carpet cleaning really matter?

There are several carpet cleaning methods. The main types of cleaning available are hot water extraction (otherwise known as steam cleaning), dry cleaning / encapsulation, bonnet / absorbent pad cleaning and shampooing.

Hot Water Extraction:

This method uses a cleaning solution and hot water, using high pressure,  it is applied to your carpet and then immediately sucked out. It is the only method that cleans your carpets of dirt, harmful bacteria, fungus, chemicals, pollens, tobacco residue and dust mites.

Hot Water Extraction can be done using truck mounted equipment (a unit mounted in a truck outside the home or business where only the hoses and cleaning wand are brought inside) or a portable, self contained unit brought in to the facility.
A truck mounted unit cleans more effectively than a small portable or rented machine and produces better results because it heats the water to a very high temperature and uses higher pressure then a portable machine can achieve. The heat/pressure combination breaks up the dirt, bacteria, chemicals and pollen trapped in your carpet. Then the machine produces a powerful vacuum to draw and extract the dirt, water and cleaning solutions out of your carpet in to a waste tank in the truck. STEAMPRO Carpet Cleaning has always used truck mounted equipment and we have the newest state-of-the-art equipment.

Some people mistakenly believe that hot water damages your carpet, but this isn’t true. Most carpet is made of plastic fibers and is not harmed by this method of cleaning. By washing and then rising your carpet with hot water, it cleans your carpet completely – in the same way that the person who showers and rinses of the dirt and soap will be much cleaner than the person who only takes a sponge bath.

Shaw Industries, the world ‘s largest carpet manufacturer recommends hot water extraction cleaning. They advise the use of truck mounted units over portables. In 2008, Shaw specified that to uphold their carpet warranty, carpets must be professionally cleaned every 18-24 months by an IICRC Certified Firm and Technician.

Bonnet or Absorbent Pad Cleaning:

This method is also commonly referred to as dry cleaning or carbonated cleaning; however water is used, so it’s not a true dry cleaning method. It is similar to some of the other methods described below, except a large cotton bonnet is placed on your carpet with a floor polishing buffer machine on top to “buff” the chemicals and dirt out of the carpet. The rotating motion causes the bonnet to absorb “some” of the dirt and applied chemicals from your carpet. This method is like trying to use a large cotton towel or mop to rub the dirt out of your carpet and is not very effective. In addition the rotating pad can cause damage to your carpet fibers if not done properly.

Dry Cleaning or Encapsulation:

In dry cleaning methods, virtually no water is used. In this method, moist absorbent compound (containing small amounts of water, detergent, and solvent,) is sprinkled over carpet or worked into the carpet with a machine. The purpose of this cleaner is to attract and absorb soil. Mechanical agitation from a brush works the cleaner through the carpet. The product then needs to be thoroughly vacuumed out of the carpet.

This method offers a surface cleaning to the top of the carpet fibers which are coated with the chemicals and then vacuumed away. Residue is often left behind which will attract dirt, just as in the shampoo method (below) because the carpet is not rinsed.


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. Can you imagine applying shampoo to your hair, allowing it to dry and then removing it from your head with a vacuum?

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, for a while. It will eventually give the carpet a yellow cast and the yellow cannot be removed.

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