Wednesday, 7 January 2015

What is carpet shampoo and does it work?

Carpet shampoos have a foaming agent in them that, when sprayed over the carpet, are intended to foam through the carpet fibers and break down the dirts bond with the fibers.  Anionic detergents in carpet shampoos are used to break the electrostatic bonds that the dirt has created with the carpet fibers.  The foam is then worked into the carpet before being left to dry and vacuumed away, or suctioned away with water.

Cylindrical Foam machine: This device produces dry foam using an air compressor.  This is then worked into the carpet with the cylindrical brush, the foam is left to dry, and then the carpet needs a thorough vacuum.  The issue is that much of the dirt stays stuck in the fibers, and this process does not draw up the debris from deep within the carpet.
The Rotary machine:  The foam is sprayed onto the carpet before the rotary brush agitates the shampoo into a foam, working it into the fibers.  This works the solution into the fibers more successfully, however there is massive potential for carpet damage - carpet fiber manufactures discourage the use of such machines as they believe the brushed will damage the carpet fibers, particularly cut pile carpets - which are the most common carpet type.  There is also a common issue with over wetting of the carpet, leading to problems such as shrinkage and mold.

Portable home use carpet cleaner

Portable carpet cleaners has two functions.  Firstly, by holding a button in, you release the hot water and shampoo solution to wet the carpet whilst it is agitated by the rotary bristles. Then, upon release of the button, the moisture and any loosened dirt are sucked back into the machine.  There is a major issue with over wetting the carpets if the machine is not strong enough.  There is also a high tendency to over mixing the shampoo meaning a lot of residual shampoo is left in the carpet.

The major issue with all carpet shampoos is the residual solution left on the fibers, this tends to be a sticky residue that will cause faster resoiling.  To counter this issue some carpet shampoo makers include resin in the shampoo as an "anti-resoiling" agent.

Another commonly used additive in carpet cleaning shampoo is "optical brightener", this attaches to the carpet fibers and works by converting invisible ultraviolet light into visible light so that the carpet appears brighter....because carpet shampoo is not very effective at actually removing dirt this is a cunning way to make the carpet appear cleaner for time.  This chemical, however, eventually yellows the carpet which is a permanent stain.

What do the professionals say?

Professional carpet cleaners tend to stay away from carpet shampoos, and the types of machinery described above.  Most professional carpet cleaners now opt for the Hot Water Extraction system.  Most choose to use little or no chemicals as the pressure and heat of the hot water extraction system works so effectively at removing the dirt lodges within the fibers - even down in the depths of the carpet fibers.  The powerful system quickly extracts the dirt and moisture so that the carpets dry more quickly.

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