Steam extraction carpet cleaning VS Dry Cleaning of Carpets

Steam Cleaning – What is the process?

Steam Cleaning is the process of injecting Hot water and Steam into the carpets fibers and the vacuuming up the hot water and moisture.

Steam Extraction cleaning is a diverse method and can be adapted to incorporate several different approaches.

Different approaches may include using cleaning solutions in the form of a liquid spray applied to the carpets first – this is a pre conditioner or pre-soak solution.

A pre conditioner is generally a blend of products which help to break down soils, dirt and stains in the carpets fibers. After applying the pre conditioner, a steam cleaning or Hot water extraction machine is used to flush out the cleaning solutions and remove the soils along with it. Using a pre conditioner, means the operator does not need to include cleaning shampoos or chemicals in the Steam/Hot water used to flush out the soils in the carpets.

This process leaves little or no chemicals in the carpets after the clean. There are no residual cleaning shampoos or chemicals left in the carpets to contribute to re soiling or the process which means carpets may get dirtier faster after cleaning.

The steam/Hot water may have a textile rinse added, this is an acetic solution which aids the removal of detergents such as shampoo and other DIY chemistry from the carpets, thoroughly rinsing out chemical and cleaning residues. The textile rinse fully evaporates after the carpets dry leaving the Carpets pile free of soils, chemicals and indoor air pollution.

The Steam Cleaning machines used for the Carpet cleaning process vary widely as do the tools used to extract the steam and soils from the carpets.

Vacuum machines may be a portable type. These machines are essential for High rise apartments, Commercial buildings or Buildings with closed door security policy. Portable vacuums are limited to the amount of vacuum which can be produced as well as heat to develop constant steam. Because they are electric they are limited to how much power can be run through a single 15amp power point.

However, portable Steam cleaning machines have come a long way in recent years with mainly American, Canadian, Italian and Australian manufacturers competing to develop machines that clean more efficiently and leave carpets drier.

Truck Mount machines usually petrol and sometimes diesel powered platforms produce heaps of steam and heat and excessive vacuum power.

Truck mounted carpet cleaning machines work very well for residential properties up to three levels high and for commercial premises with one or two levels high. They however do require access to the building with a vehicle and do not suit buildings with limited access, no available parking spot or where buildings have security concerns and the building entry point must remain closed and secured.

Truck Mounted VS Portable – Which is better?

Many companies which have invested in truck mounted machines claim cleaning carpets with portable machines results in a substandard job and carpets will take longer to dry. They claim truck mounts remove significantly more soil from carpets than a portable machine ever will.

However this claim does not hold water in reality. Portable equipment has advanced significantly meaning the water injected is hotter and the vacuum capacity is much stronger.

In reality, the difference between a truck mounted machine and a portable system rests on the operator. A good carpet cleaner does not blame his tools for a result that falls short of satisfaction.

We have seen plenty of results from carpet cleaners with large capacity truck mounts which could easily have been improved upon with a mainstream portable machine.

It is much better to check the reputation and training of the individual operator rather than compare the equipment they market, although of course a customer expects to get proficient well maintained equipment so the best work quality can be delivered. Not all portables or truck mounts are equal.

What are the benefits of the Steam Cleaning method?

  • Minimal Chemical residual
  • More soil removal from deeper in the pile
  • The only fully restorative method according to AS/NZS 3733:1995 Standard
  • Carpets will Not get dirty faster after cleaning or require more maintenance
  • Better stain removal potential
  • Very gentle on carpets including wools and cotton
  • More commonly approved by carpet manufacturers and product warranties
  • Proven track record for decades in New Zealand
  • Most insurance agents refer to Steam cleaning companies

What are some draw backs from Steam Cleaning Carpets?

  • Equipment can be more noisy and disruptive
  • It involves more equipment VS Dry cleaning Methods
  • May need to allow for additional drying time

Dry Cleaning – What is the process?

Dry cleaning involves several different methods.

All dry cleaning methods are generally intended to use less water resulting in faster drying and all dry cleaning methods are generally faster, more quiet operating machines.

Dry cleaning methods are universal and can be used in all Carpet cleaning sectors including commercial offices, gyms and residential properties.

Methods include

Dry shampoo extraction method

This system uses a wet vacuum to apply a low moisture shampoo to the carpets surface.

The shampoo is cleaning solution rich which quickly removes soils adhered to the carpets. The shampoo system is more concentrated with less water, the shampoo along with emulsified soils are removed with a wet vacuum machine. Due to less water used, the carpets dry fast and surface soils are removed. The Shampoo has a special crystalizing effect so residual shampoo left in the carpets will not attract soil after the cleaning and is not sticky

Micro Encapsulation Method

Micro Encapsulation method is the most modern form of Dry Cleaning Carpets. Micro Encapsulation is a special formulation of water based soil emulsifiers with anti-soiling properties. Micro Encapsulation is always used with an agitation machine either with an oscillation machine with brushes or a microfiber or cotton pad or a counter rotating brush machine.

Due to the advanced formulation combined with machine agitation, this method cleans deeply into the carpets fibers. When used with a microfiber or cotton pad, residual soils in the carpets are transferred to the pad and removed.

The Encapsulation chemical uses Ionics to attract loose soils into the chemical which it then encapsulates and isolates them into a polymer. Residual soils remaining in the carpets after the clean are easily removed with vacuuming with a commercial or domestic vacuum on a routine basis.

Micro Encapsulation often has inbuilt soil retardant qualities which help keep the carpets appearing cleaner for longer as re-soiling is more easily removed during routine vacuuming.

Carpets cleaned with Micro Encapsulation method often dry very quickly, sometimes as little as 20 minutes.

Dry Cleaning with Carbon Dioxide

Carbonated Dry Cleaning has been a method used for decades. Originating in the United States this method was developed to clean carpets with minimal equipment and fast drying times. Carbonated Dry Cleaning is sometimes recommended by manufacturers of water sensitive fabrics, such as Linens or fabrics which are subject to dye loss when they become wet. This is sometimes with fabrics which have been hand dyed using organic non man made dyes.

The chemistry used with this method is not limited to carbonated solution and it uses several chemical formulations for soil removal and stain reduction. The carbonated solutions acts as a chemical agitation of the soils adhered to surfaces encouraging them to release for easy removal.

The remaining carbonated solution evaporates for faster drying, the active molecules in the carbonation encouraging drying by moving moisture molecules trapped in the carpet around causing organic drying times to decrease.

Soil emulsifying cleaning solutions and stain reduction chemicals normally dry to a dry particulate state similar to a fine invisible powder.

What are the benefits of Dry Cleaning Methods?

  • Less water used results in faster drying times
  • Less equipment required to complete the cleaning
  • More cost effective for commercial carpets
  • Less disruptive, Less noise, often can be completed during staffed hours
  • Can significantly improve carpet appearance
  • Sometimes safer for sensitive fabrics
  • Excellent maintenance method between annual Steam Cleaning
  • Meets Surface cleaning bench mark according to AS/NZS 3733:1995

What are some draw backs when Dry Cleaning Carpets?

  • Removes less soils during the cleaning process
  • Leaves cleaning solution in the carpets after completion
  • Can Not reach as deep into carpets pile to remove soils
  • Uses more chemistry to compensate for less heat and water

Which method is best for Carpet Cleaning in Auckland?

Both Dry Cleaning and Steam Extraction Cleaning have their place and can both achieve outstanding results.

Where convenience is of primary concern, but your carpet requires a good clean to remove marks and sharpen its appearance but drying times should be optimal, then Dry Cleaning may be attractive.

If general sanitation is a concern and you prefer a more chemical free carpet then the Steam Extraction cleaning is optimal, this method removes more soil with a more complete flushing and extraction action.

Bear in mind, No dry cleaning method meets AS/NZS 3733:1995 bench mark for restorative cleaning and for this reason dry cleaning in general is used as an interim maintenance method in between Steam cleaning which should take place between 6 – 18 months.

Methods such as Micro Encapsulation has improved dry cleaning standards and many property managers and hotels use this method primarily during vacancies.

If you have a high quality wool carpet, it is best to discuss your needs with a professional before selecting a preferred method.

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