How to Clean a Carpet: “What Now!” circa 1960 Monsanto & National Institute of Rug Cleaning
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“On carpet cleaning. Nice sequence of late 1950s-early 1960s teenagers dancing in living room, making mess.”
Public domain film from the Prelinger Archive, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).
Carpet cleaning, for beautification, and the removal of stains, dirt, grit, sand, and allergens can be achieved by several methods, both traditional and modern… Sanitary Maintenance magazine reports that carpet cleaning is widely misunderstood, and chemical developers have only within recent decades created new carpet-care technologies. Particularly, encapsulation and other green technologies work better, are easier to use, require less training, save more time and money, and lead to less resoiling than prior methods.
Within the USA, the professional carpet-cleaning industry is primarily educated and unofficially governed by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)… It accepts five basic dry and wet professional cleaning methodologies…
Hot water extraction vs steam cleaning
Although there is an industrial cleaning process that is in fact steam cleaning, in the context of carpet cleaning, “steam cleaning” is usually a misnomer for or mischaracterization of the hot water extraction cleaning method. The hot water extraction cleaning method uses equipment that sprays heated water (not steam), sometimes with added cleaning chemicals, on the carpet while simultaneously vacuuming the sprayed water along with any dislodged and dissolved dirt. Many carpet manufacturers recommend professional hot water extraction as the most effective carpet cleaning method. Actual steam could damage manmade carpet fibers or shrink natural fibers such as wool.
The primary advantage of the hot water extraction cleaning method is that effective cleaning is possible using only hot water, or hot water with very dilute detergent solutions. This avoids the problems associated with detergent residues…
The primary disadvantage of the hot water extraction cleaning method is that 100% of the water used cannot be removed. If poor water extraction is achieved, in conditions of high humidity, mold growth could occur…
In high-pressure hot water extraction (“steam cleaning”), after preconditioning, with alkaline agents such as ammonia solution for synthetic carpets or acidic solution (such as vinegar solution) for woolen carpets, and agitation with a grooming brush or an automatic scrubbing machine, a pressurized manual or automatic cleaning tool (such as a wand) passes over the surface several times to thoroughly rinse out all preconditioner, residue, and particulates. If an alkaline detergent is used on a woolen fibre, use of an acetic acid solution will restore neutral fiber pH. The acid rinse thus neutralizes the alkaline residues, and can contribute to softening cleaned fabrics.
The steam-cleaning system uses detergent-based solutions. The surface is saturated, typically taking 12-24 hours to dry. Some carpet-cleaning solutions are carbonated to dissolve organic material more effectively…
Many dry carpet-cleaning systems rely on specialized machines; dry carpet-cleaning machines include those manufactured by Brush and Clean, Host Dry, and Whittaker System. These systems are mostly technically “very low moisture” (VLM) systems, relying on dry compounds complemented by application cleaning solutions, and are growing significantly in market share due in part to their very rapid drying time, a significant factor for 24-hour commercial installations. Dry-cleaning and “very low moisture” systems are also often faster and less labor-intensive than wet-extraction systems.
Heavily soiled areas require the application of manual spotting, or of pretreatments, preconditioners, or “traffic-lane cleaners”, which are detergents or emulsifiers that break the binding of different soils to carpet fibers over a short period of time, commonly sprayed onto carpet prior to the primary use of the dry-cleaning system. One chemical dissolves the greasy films that bind soils and prevent effective soil removal by vacuuming. The solution may add a solvent like d-limonene, petroleum byproducts, glycol ethers, or butyl agents. The amount of time the pretreatment “dwells” in the carpet should be less than 15 minutes, due to the thorough carpet brushing common to these “very low moisture” systems, which provides added agitation to ensure the pretreatment works fully through the carpet…