Best Steam / Deep Cleaner for Carpets?


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Old 12-06-05, 04:35 PM
TigerSoul
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Best Steam / Deep Cleaner for Carpets?

Evenin', folks. I posted this thread in the Lounge of one of the car-boards I moderate and was directed here by one of our members. Apologies if this has already been addressed -- I did not readily find it in a search and wasn't sure if the carpet forum or "stain removal" forum would be the most appropriate.

Tons of house parties and inconsiderate friends are starting to leave my house carpet looking horrible.

I've got a Dirt Devil "Easy Steamer." It sucks in ways that I didn't know sucking was possible -- and that's not a compliment. I'm currently having to use it to drench each individual stain...then leave the piece of garbage humming away on top of the stain for 15-30 minutes at a time. Even then, it does not get it all out.

I know, I know...hardwoods or laminate are the way to go, especially with my allergies. I simply don't have 5 grand laying around to do it, and I've been told that you shouldn't do hardwood floors "as you go", because the tones of each stain of the wood change with each batch -- even if you order the exact same product from the exact same manufacturer.

Epinion seems to say that Hoover with the rotating brushes is the way to go. Anyone here have some personal experience?


Craig
 
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Old 12-07-05, 07:27 AM
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Hire the job done. DIY carpet cleaning machines lack sufficient power to extract water and chemicals from the carpet - as you put it, they don't suck. In our rental units, tenants are actually forbidden in the lease from cleaning their own carpets, it must be professionaly done. It's a DIY website, but once in a while the answer is 'don't do it yourself.' This has been one of those times.
 
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Old 12-07-05, 06:29 PM
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The carpet and rug institute recommend a professional steam cleaning once a year. The do it yourself models have been blamed for many replaced carpets.

www.carpet-rug.com
 
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Old 12-08-05, 09:21 AM
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i have those machines in our rental inventory, and they are great for touch ups but in now way does a 120 volt twin vac unit move the cubic feet of air that a 20 hp gas powered pro unit will. vacum is vacum you can only get so much on this planet so it comes down to water injected and water removed. diy'ers tend to inject too much and the machine can't pull it out of the backing let alone the padding.
 
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Old 12-14-05, 10:43 AM
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agreed..diy machines are OK for spotting..not for whole areas...professional equipment is the way to go..you can rent portys that are decent..but you would still need the right commerical agents to clean with and their are many different methods to clean....ie: HWE, Bonnet, Encapsulation
 
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Old 12-15-05, 12:37 PM
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I find it very hard to believe that commercially available extractors - such as those from Bissell and Hoover - are responsible for shortening the life of carpets rather than extending them. It wouldn't benefit either company to cause frequent replacing of the carpets - if this were the case, it would likely be the carpet manufacturers that would create the extractors.

As somebody who entertains frequently, has four ground-loving pets, and frequently gets dirty, let me give you some practical solutions for carpeting.

1) Be realistic about your carpet's wear. Carpets have a finite lifespan and they will get dirty. You will spill things on them - especially things that will stain. You will not keep it perfect. Get a good vacuum and do not let dirt sit on the carpet.

2) A good extractor will renew your carpet well enough. Depending on your needs, once a month is usually good enough. Pretreat stains with appropriate spot cleaner and a scrub brush. I know carpet manufacturers tell you not to scrub stains, but most of the time it's the best way to remove a stain. With a reasonably soft brush and some experience, you can remove stains without really affecting the pile. Reapply Scotchgard if your carpet has it.

What causes carpets to be replaced? The majority of the time, it will be normal wear and tear. Walking on the carpet wears it out. Moving furniture wears it out. Did I mention walking? Unless people have 6 kids and 6 pets, stains are generally far less of an issue than wear and tear. Most stains can be removed. Wear is usually permanent. I'm not telling you to scrub away, but be practical. Commercial steam cleaning is usually good, but if it's required frequently you're doing something wrong. (The CRI probably has its own interests in mind. People who are exterminators frequently suggest preventative maintenace. People who clean gutters and repair roofs frequently suggest preventative maintenance. People who repair automobiles frequently suggest preventative maintenance. As you well know, a lot of these things can be totally unnecessary. I'm not talking about basic maintenance like vacuuming (or oil changes).)

Is a professional cleaning once a year worthwhile? In your situation, it might be. I would recommend trying an extractor. For $200 you can get a fairly high-end consumer model, and you can try it out. If you don't like it, take it back. (Make sure wherever you buy it has a decent return policy.)

In my experience - and everybody else I know who owns one - consumer extractors have only prolonged the life of cut-pile carpeting. Just follow the instructions.
 
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Old 12-15-05, 06:35 PM
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Where to start. First, carpet manufacturers tell you not to scrub carpet for two reasons: 1, it wears the carpet faster and 2, it can spread stains. Blot, don't scrub.

Second, DIY carpet cleaning machines lack the necessary power to extract dirt, water and cleaning chemicals from the carpet. Leave too much water, you can have mold. Leave dirt behind and what was the point of cleaning the carpet in the first place? Leave cleaning chemicals behind and your carpet quickly becomes dirtier than ever because these chemicals attract dirt, that's their job.

As for preventive maintenance being unnecessary most of the time - I don't think I even need to comment on that one.
 
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Old 12-15-05, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by J.M.C.
Where to start. First, carpet manufacturers tell you not to scrub carpet for two reasons: 1, it wears the carpet faster and 2, it can spread stains. Blot, don't scrub.
Try blotting a ground-in stain. Blotting works on wet stains - on dry stains, it will often get you nowhere. Light scrubbing works fine and will not wear the carpet significantly. Basically, what I mean is that if you scrub the same portion of carpet enough to cause significant wear, you ought to have some type of floor protection there. My rabbits are litter-trained, but I still have their 'areas' protected with hardboard over the original carpet and cheaper 6x9 carpet remnant rugs over that. The carpet underneath, after years, is like new. The 6x9 is disposable, and can be replaced.

Originally Posted by J.M.C.
Second, DIY carpet cleaning machines lack the necessary power to extract dirt, water and cleaning chemicals from the carpet. Leave too much water, you can have mold. Leave dirt behind and what was the point of cleaning the carpet in the first place? Leave cleaning chemicals behind and your carpet quickly becomes dirtier than ever because these chemicals attract dirt, that's their job.

As for preventive maintenance being unnecessary most of the time - I don't think I even need to comment on that one.
Most carpet extractors are not designed to act as a vacuum. They are designed to pick up liquid. If you follow the instructions that are basically identical across carpet extractors, you will have no problem. Vacuum before using the extractor. Do not overwet the carpet - this is often repeated in bold type in the instruction booklet. Operate the machine as instructed. Stop sucking up water when you get little to nothing out of the carpet. It should dry within a few hours. Do routine maintenance on the extractor and use it as instructed and it won't lose suction to the point where it won't draw out the cleaning solution.

And you clearly missed my point on preventative maintenance being unnecessary. That which is absolutely necessary is well known. Having your carpets cleaned professionally every year is really only necessary if you take poor care of your carpet to begin with. No professional (and certainly not the CRI) will tell you it's unnecessary - it's their job. I, for example, would get absolutely minimal benefit out of getting my carpets professionally cleaned even once. Those who vacuum regularly and take care not to treat the carpet as if it were basically a concrete walkway won't get much benefit.

There is a difference between usually necessary maintenance (such as changing oil in a car) and "free money" maintenance such as various fluid system flushing, "preemptive" bulb changing, wiper blades, and so on. I have had far too many people try to sell me things I don't need - and advertise them as "good maintenance." I've replaced motor mounts in my car - and strut mounts - and had a shop tell me THE NEXT DAY they needed to be replaced.

People will take advantage of you.
 
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Old 12-15-05, 08:06 PM
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Dry cleaning is the best way to clean!
 
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Old 12-16-05, 06:41 AM
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This has turned into quite a debate and I think readers deserve some credentials:

Daniel Wachtel is a carpet and floor expert and he quotes the carpet and rug institute.

Docduck is a cleaning expert who specializes in floors and carpets.

I manage 43 residential rental units and 13,000 square feet of commercial office space.

I am not familiar with flopshot, airman or flintsilver, I will let them post for themselves.
 
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Old 12-16-05, 07:54 AM
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There are many different ways to clean carpet: Preventative maintenance is going to get you a long way. But as suggested above you are going to spill stuff...the carpet is going to get soil in it that can not be removed by vaccuming. The carpet is going to wear...regardless of weither it is cleaned every day or never.

Carpet will only last so long..That is a given. What the main point is thou..

What does that carpet look like during that time? That is what regular cleaning and spot cleaning will do for you. Extend the usable life of your carpet. If your carpet is full of bad spots/stains and odors. Than it is no longer practical to keep it. Residential extractors, in my thoughts, lack the power to really do the cleaning needed. The reason why they lack the power can be summed up to the point that companies need to keep these machines reasonable cheap. You cant put the best equipment in a machine and keep it cheap most of the time.

Dry cleaning carpets works well...in some applications. BUT regular spot cleaning is still needed. Dry cleaning is basicly only going to clean the surface of the carpet. If done reguarly enough thou..it can maintain a carpet the same as extraction..to a point. I have used every method of cleaning carpets...bonnet, encapuslation, extraction, and serveral others.

Each carpet and situation is different...each budget is different. For example
olefin carpets are oil based...thus will attract oil based spots...this also means they repel water to a degree...so if you extract a olefin carpet and do not get the main percentage of water out of it...it will wick back soil to the surface. So, sometimes dry cleaning will work best.

Nylon carpets: are made with a acid dye process...thus acid dyes will tend to set in nylons and require special spotting. High pH agents will cause nylons to brown.

Wool carpets...if the carpet is wet too long it will yellow...and it can be damaged by high pH cleaners. Acidic cleaners work well on these

These are just a few examples. In the end, do you need your carpets cleaned every year? Thats up to your condition and standard you want to maintain. The CRI reccomends this, because they have found this is the main average spand between cleanings to maintain a reasonable condition. In the commercial field we clean carpets..monthly...this is what it takes to maintain a reasonable condition.

Just some FYI
 
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Old 12-16-05, 08:26 AM
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I'm a homeowner with a lot of DIY experience - especially with carpet. I'm what most people would call a "neat freak" while my lifestyle and my pets generally are harsh on my carpets. This means I've spent more than my share of time analyzing how to keep the carpet looking its best in a relatively harsh environment.

I'm also a very skeptical consumer. I do not consider the Carpet & Rug Institute unbiased; their member companies almost universally serve to benefit from their recommended policies. They do give good advice - I do not doubt that. What I doubt is the necessity of professional steam cleaning for the average homeowner.

This does not necessarily apply to rentals - rental carpet will wear considerably faster because, well, it's a rental. In my experience, security deposits do little to dissuade people from abusing their carpets. Residential rentals probably are taken a little bit better care of, but for commercial office space I'd be willing to bet that taking care of the carpet is probably the last thing the renter cares about. For rentals, I do not doubt that it is probably beneficial. (In my last rental, where I lived for a year, the carpet was not cleaned with a truck-mounted extractor because it was deemed unnecessary.)

The original question was what extractor would be good. Given the situation, a professional steam cleaning would be a great idea. Start fresh - or as fresh as you're going to get it. Then, regular extractor use combined with regular vacuuming would serve to extend the carpet's life. Nobody's suggesting the consumer models are in any way superior to professional cleaning. In some cases - and I believe this is one of them - consumer models can be more practical.
 
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Old 12-16-05, 05:17 PM
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The Carpet & Rug Institute does EXTENSIVE testing before it will endorse a method or machine. It's like getting the FDA to approve a new drug. Rental extractors WILL shorten the life cycle of your carpet, as most of the damage is unseen because it effacts the backing of your carpet (which, by the way is what holds it together) primarily. The backing begins to deteriorate because of too much moisture being left in the carpet, fibers begin to come loose, mostly in traffic areas because of the foot-tension that the fibers can no longer stand up to and those area begin to thin.

Forget the DIY steam cleaners. They are still made because people still buy them, NOT because these companies are on a mission to prolong the life of your carpet. Pay to have your carpets professionally cleaned once a year. Preferrably a low-moisture system, but steam is fine AS LONG AS your carpet is completly dry within 2-3 hours. Do this and your carpets will last much longer. They will NOT wear as fast and they'll continue looking their best for years to come.

As for credentials: I now own a Stone Repair/Restoration company, working exclusively with natural stone. Prior to that, I was in the carpet cleaning industry for 15 years, held several certifications with the IICRC and was very well trained and experienced with all five recognized methods of carpet cleaning.
 
 

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