Steam Cleaning vs Dry Cleaning of Carpet
The Great Debate:
Over the past twenty years or so, there has been much debate about whether carpets should be steam cleaned or dry-cleaned. There are advantages and disadvantages to both cleaning methods, and we want to address this in an unbiased manner.
- 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 stores and tool rental facilities. These machines, as well as many modern-day portables, are great for spotting and small areas, but they tend to leave too much water and soap residue in the carpet, due to their weak extraction ability.
- In the early 1970’s, truck mounted steam cleaning started to be used widely in both residential and commercial settings. However, in the beginning 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 improvement. Sometimes carpets took several days to dry; some carpets shrunk, wrinkled, or delaminated, depending on the type of yarns and 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 gentler to the carpet’s composition, and most will allow the carpet to be dry within a few hours.
- Throughout 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 to be tested or licensed. You may see a large number of cleaners in the local phone book or advertising circulars; however, only a tiny fraction of those listed are educated and certified in the areas they profess to know about. In addition, we have heard many horror stories of steam carpet cleaners who have done unethical things such as charging homeowners money to apply Scotchgard or Teflon when, in fact, they applied only water.
Therefore, we at Pro-Care, believe strongly in the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Our firm is certified by the IICRC, which is the most widely recognized body of certification for carpet and upholstery cleaners.
Now, back to the discussion over steam cleaning vs. dry cleaning. It is our firm position that steam cleaning is the best method of cleaning to use in the vast majority of situations. We have not yet seen another method superior to steam cleaning. However, the faults of steam cleaning, such as prolonged drying time, especially in the humid seasons, can be exchanged for a form of dry cleaning, which we deem to be less effective in getting your carpet clean. We have,over the years, used three different types of dry cleaning as well, and we continue to offer the cotton bonnet system as an alternative. However, unless your priority is to have carpets dry within an hour or two, you will find steam cleaning to be much more effective in getting your carpet clean.
Finally, Pro-Care Carpet Cleaning has recently added the DriMaster system as a “Best of Both Worlds” option, steam cleaning that dries in 1-4 hours. This system is the best choice when you need to use the carpets soon after they’ve been cleaned, but is intended for less soiled carpets.