Carpet cleaning, need some input
I'm debating on renting a carpet cleaner to clean my carpet. Carpet is 4 years old but is in very good shape (no kids, pets, ect). It barely shows any wear, but I'm doing some furniture re-arranging so I thought maybe this is a good time to clean the carpet since it's never been cleaned.
Figured I'd rent a carpet cleaner for the weekend and clean it, but I'm wondering if I should even bother since it's not in that bad of shape, although I'm sure it's full of dust. I've also heard stories of carpet cleaners pulling your carpet too hard and leaving you with waves and crap in the carpet.
I'd rather do it myself than pay someone, any input, what kind to rent or if I should even bother with it.
whether to even bother is strictly your call, we don't live or visit there so what do we care, I can't see it from my house.
I've been told that the self rentals don't compare to the truck mounted units used by the pros. I also was told that laundry detergent works better (or just as good) than the carpet shampoo they sell with the rental.
Actually, I'd have the pros do it. they have the spot cleaners and can knock out a whole house in a couple of hours and the price is very reasonable.
When someone tells me: "I don't know the first thing about something.", I take the time to wonder what that first thing is. In the case of cleaning carpets, the very first thing to know is that SOLID soils are very much harder to remove from wet surfaces than from dry surfaces.
Next time you're at the beach, try cleaning sand off of wet feet (to put your socks on) as opposed to dry feet. You'll find that cleaning sand off of wet feat is like fighting with a black bear, whereas cleaning sand off of dry feet is MUCH easier.
And, it's exactly the same with carpet.
A good quality vaccuum cleaner in good running order will remove the dust from your carpet FAR BETTER than a carpet shampoo'er simply because the vaccuum cleaner doesn't get the carpet WET! Once the carpet is wet, the surface tension of the water will keep the dry solid dirt stuck to the carpet pile very much like glue. Since a vaccuum cleaner doesn't wet the carpet pile, IT should be your tool of choice to remove dry soils (like dust) from your carpet.
In fact, even the owner's manuals for these "toy carpet shampoo'ers" made by Bissell, Hoover, Eureka and others will tell you to vaccuum the carpet normally before using their toy carpet shampoo'er on it.
So, in a nutshell: You use a vaccuum cleaner to remove dry soils from carpet. You use a carpet shampoo'er (or extractor) to remove dried up liquid stains from carpets.
In fact, if you know where the dried up liquid stain is (and you can usually tell cuz dust and dirt will stick to the drying liquid, making the carpet appear darker in colour), you can do as good (if not better) a job using just these two tools to remove the dried liquid spill:
The garden variety wet/dry vaccuum cleaner will have as much, or more, suction than a rented carpet shampoo'er, and the spray bottle will allow you to spray on a cleaner that will dissolve the dried liquid. Typically water is all you need for water based stains, but other stains like ink and blood will require a special cleaner in the water to help dissolve the stain.
Once the stain is dissolved in the cleaner, you can remove it from the carpet simply by pressing the suction hose of the wet/dry vaccuum cleaner directly against the carpet.
Carpet shampoo'ers are best used in bars and restaurants where it's not knows what kind of liquid was spilled on the carpet, or where.
PS: about me: I own a small 21 unit apartment block and I own a TMI carpet extractor with a 100 psi pump and two 3 stage vaccuum motors piped in parallel. That's typical of what professional carpet cleaning contractors use.
Your typical Hoover canister vaccuum cleaner will have a single stage vaccuum motor that's lucky to be able to life a column of water 30 inches high.
Your typical wet/dry vaccuum cleaner, car wash vaccuum cleaner and rental carpet shampoo'er will have a two stage vaccuum motor that will draw a column of water about 60 inches high at sea level.
Your typical entry level professional carpet cleaning equipment will have a three stage vaccuum motor that will lift a column of water about 90 inches high at sea level.
My carpet extractor has two 3 stage vaccuum motors piped in parallel and will lift a column of water 113 inches high at sea level (according to it's specs).
Your typical truck mount unit will have 6 two or three stage vaccuum motors piped in parallel and all driven by a gasoline engine, and will suck a golf ball through a garden hose.
The quest for suction comes from the blindingly obvious fact that the more soiled soap solution you can get out of the carpet, the cleaner the carpet will be when it dries.
Both Rug Doctor and Easy Off recommend using 1 to 2 fluid ounces of their carpet soap per gallon of soap solution. That means, 5 to 10 ounces for a machine with a 5 gallon solution tank.
My TMI extractor has a 5 gallon solution tank, but the Chem-Spec Formula 77 that I use calls for only 1 to 2 fluid ounces of soap for every 5 gallons of cleaning solution. That means, that Chem-Spec calls for about 1/5 of the amount of soap that RugDoctor or Easy-Off recommend.
And, because professional extractors will have more powerful vaccuum motors than rental machines, you can bet that the professional equipment will remove MORE of the soiled soap solution from the carpet than a rental machine.
So, if you follow RugDoctor or Easy-Off's advice, you'll spray way more soap on your carpet than a pro would, and you'll suck up much less of that soap solution (cuz a rental machine will only have ONE two stage vaccuum motor whereas the pro's equipment will have several of them).
And, as that carpet dries, the residual soap that remains behind forms a sticky film on the surface of the carpet fibers. Dirt sticks to that soapy film, making normal vaccuum cleaning ineffective at removing dirt and dust from the carpet.
In fact, about the only way of removing the dirt sticking to the soapy film on a carpet is to shampoo the carpet again. And, of course, the homeowner renting the carpet shampoo'er is going to be impressed with how much dirt the carpet shampoo'er has removed from the carpet (judging by the colour of the water in the recovery tank), that he's likely going to start using a rented carpet shampoo'er on a regular basis.
It doesn't cross that homeowner's mind that the real reason that shampoo'ing the carpet removed so much dirt was because the carpet was sticky with residual soap to begin with. If the homeowner had not followed the rental machine's instructions, he would have had far less of a soap film on his carpet to begin with, and normal vaccuuming would have removed most of the dirt that is now in the carpet shampoo'er recovery tank.
So, if you feel compelled to rent a carpet shampoo'er, then:
A.) please don't follow RugDoctor or Easy Off's recommendations to use 1 to 2 gallons of their carpet soap per gallon. Instead, buy your gallon of carpet soap from any place listed under "Janitorial Equipment & Supplies" in your yellow pages phone directory, and follow the dilution instructions on that gallon.
B.) If you do follow RugDoctor or Easy Off's instructions to use 1 to 2 fluid ounces of soap per gallon of cleaning solution, then make a final pass over the carpet with just clean water in the solution tank to remove most of the residual soap from the carpet.
In fact, it'd be best to do that final cleaning with a cup of vinegar in the 5 gallons of solution tank water. The reason why is that carpet cleaning soaps are naturally alkaline in nature, whereas most foods are slightly acidic in nature. The acidic food is attracted to the alkalinity caused by the residual soap in the carpet pile. By putting a cup of vinegar in the final 5 gallons of pure water in the shampoo'er's solution tank, any residual alkaline soap in the carpet will be neutralized, and the residual acidity left behind on the carpet pile will help prevent future food spills from sticking to the carpet pile.
This is one subject I consider myself to be very knowledgeable about, so if you were confused by anything, please post again and outline what you're confused about.
You can do better removing stains from a carpet using a wet/dry vaccuum cleaner and a spray bottle than hiring some professional monkey with a truck mount vaccuum unit in his van.
Thanks for the reply, it has a lot of good info. I've pretty much ruled out calling a monkey with a truck mount vacuum. My main thing now is...should I really even mess with cleaning it. There are virtually no stains....I'm only considering cleaning it because it has never been cleaned (4 years old) so I'm guessing that it's full of dust that my regular vacuum may not be picking up. Thoughts??
I actually answered your question last night, but when I hit the "Submit Reply" button, I got a message saying that the first post of all new members would only be posted after being approved by the forum moderator. I guess they get too much advertising and spam on these boards.
MOST PEOPLE don't know the first thing about cleaning carpets with a carpet shampoo'er. That first thing is that getting a carpet wet makes it more difficult to remove solid soil (like dust) from the carpet. So, using a carpet shampoo'er to remove solid soils (like dust in your case) is very much like putting in a hearing aid and turning it off. The shampoo'er gets the carpet wet and that makes it harder to remove solid soils from.
Think of your experience at a beach. Sand will stick to wet feet but not to dry feet. That's cuz the surface tension of the water holds on to the sand grains and keeps them clinging to your wet skin.
It's exactly the same thing with shampoo'ing a carpet. If you get the carpet wet, the dust will stick to the carpet, making it more difficult to remove.
You use a VACUUM CLEANER to remove solid soil (like dust) from carpet. A good quality vaccuum cleaner will remove solid soil from carpet much better than any carpet shampoo'er will, even a truck mount unit, and that's simply because as long as the carpet is dry, the vaccuum cleaner simply has to overcome the force of gravity to get the dirt into the filter bag.
You use a CARPET SHAMPOO'ER to remove wet or dried liquid spills from a carpet.
(Terminology note:) A "carpet shampoo'er" has some form of mechanical agitation of the carpet pile. A "carpet extractor" has a pump and vaccuum motor just like a shampoo'er, but doesn't have any form of mechanical agitation. Most carpet cleaning contractors use extractors instead of shampoo'ers. That's because you really don't need to vibrate the carpet pile to lift dissolved liquids out of a carpet. With a vaccuum cleaner that vibration is important to allow solid soils to be released from the carpet, but it's not important for removing liquids from the carpet.
So, the very first thing to know about cleaning carpets is that if you're wanting to remove solid soils, getting the carpet wet is only going to make that job more difficult. You want to use a vaccuum cleaner to remove solid soils from a carpet. You only use a carpet extractor or shampoo'er to remove dried liquid spills from a carpet.
MOST people are under the misconception that carpet shampoo'ers clean carpets better than vaccuum cleaners, and that just isn't true. Each tool has it's own use; one for solid soils, the other for liquid soils.
If there aren't any liquid spills on your carpet, then cleaning the carpet with a good vaccuum cleaner is the best way of cleaning it.
Great explanation...sounds like I just need to get a good quality vacuum. Everything you said makes perfect sense. Just the answers I was looking for.
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