There are pros and cons for almost all types of carpet and area rug cleaning. Here are the basics:
Hot water extraction/steam cleaning – generally provided by truck mounted equipment, this method provides the deepest clean, the most suction to extract the solution, and leaves the carpet in a more sanitary condition than other processes. The cost is often a bit higher due to the expense of the equipment, can leave residue if not fully extracted, and and requires several hours of dry time, especially if air circulation is limited.
Absorbant pad – carpet must be vacuumed, and chemical spray is applied to an absorbent pad, which is then used to “buff” the carpet surface at 100 to 300 rpm. The pad picks up soils if the carpet is very low pile (e.g. indoor/outdoor), and the cost is reasonably low. The process is also quick. However, the rotary motion is hard on carpet fibers, and there is no suction to pull contaminants out from between carpet fibers.
Dry Cleaning Carpets – a powder with dry cleaning solvent is spread onto the carpet and worked into the fibers with a special machine. The chemical is allowed to “dwell” for about 10minutes, then vacuumed up. The process is simple, non-technical, and fast drying. However, the powder left in the carpet will build up over time, it only reaches the upper third of the carpet, is not not effective on extensive soiling, and does not sanitize the fibers.
Do-It-Yourself Carpet Cleaning Machine – This is inexpensive, but the homeowner does all the work! In addition, the equipment is underpowered, does not achieve sufficient suction or heat to be effective, generally leaves the carpet very wet, and leads to heavy left-over residue, which will result in rapid re-soiling.
Truck mounted hot water extraction is clearly the best way to clean a carpet or area rug for the cleanest, most sanitary result. It is also the very best for removing soapy residue, allowing the carpet to stay cleaner longer. Although it can be more expensive, it is the best value of all carpet cleaning methods.