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What Is the Best Carpet Cleaning Method for Your Home?

January 24, 2020

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Homeowners today are often surprised to discover that there are many carpet cleaning methods available for their home, and that traditional carpet shampooing services aren’t always the most recommended process! Various carpet cleaning methods might be more effective for especially filthy rugs, or safer and gentler for delicate carpet fibers.

Traditional carpet shampooing is excellent for very dirty carpets while carpet steam cleaning kills mold and allergens. Bonnet cleaning is used for lightweight cleaning while dry cleaning is preferred in humid areas and environments.

While many homeowners might ask a carpet cleaning professional to simply choose whatever method they feel is best, and certainly a rug cleaning company can offer recommendations for your home in particular, it’s also helpful if you understand a bit more about those various methods. Knowing their differences ensures you make the best choice for your home’s floors and your budget, and will also know what to expect by way of thorough and effective cleaning!

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What Are the Various Residential Carpet Cleaning Methods?

It might be helpful to first note some added details about various residential carpet cleaning methods, and then some pros and cons of each method.

  • Hot water extraction, or steam cleaning carpet methods, uses very hot water applied with high pressure methods to rugs. This hot water or steam agitates carpet fibers, loosening dirt as it’s then dissolved by the steam. The process might start with the application of a cleaning solution or detergent, and might also include scrubbing with a specialty carpet brush.
  • Shampoo carpet cleaning involves wetting the rugs and applying a shampoo or detergent. A scrub brush might also be used, to separate carpet fibers and loosen dirt. The shampoo and dirt are then extracted with warm water and a specialty wand.
  • Encapsulation uses a specialty shampoo in the form of a powder. The powder traps or encapsulates dirt and debris, and these materials are then extracted with a specialty wand.
  • Bonnet cleaning is very lightweight, only cleaning the surface of carpets and not deep along the base of fibers. Bonnet cleaning starts with a cleaning wand covered in a type of towel, or bonnet, which rubs detergent into the surface of rugs. Another bonnet or towel is used to then remove that detergent and trapped dirt and debris.
  • Dry carpet cleaning might start with any number of products applied with little or no water. These cleansers attach to dirt, agitate carpet fibers, bubble to the surface of the carpets, or otherwise allow a carpet cleaning professional to remove the dirt and detergent together.

Pros and Cons of Various Residential Carpet Cleaning Methods

There is no easy answer as to the best carpet cleaning method for your home, but you might note some pros and cons of these favorite processes. You can then make a better decision as to what is best for your home, given the condition of carpets, your budget, and other such factors.

  • Hot water extraction or steam cleaning might not remove caked-on layers of dirt, oil, and other such heavy stains and thick filth. In humid areas, carpets might also take far longer to dry than you prefer!
  • The advantages of steam cleaning is that hot water kills germs and bacteria while steam “fluffs up” or restores the nap of carpets, for an improved look and softer feeling underfoot. Steam is also an excellent choice for those sensitive to harsh and heavy shampoos and other cleaning chemicals.
  • Shampoo carpet cleaning loosens especially heavy dirt and oils, making it a good choice for restaurants and other commercial buildings. Carpet shampoo cleaning might also be used for entryway runners and area rug cleaning, as if these materials are especially dirty.
  • The disadvantage of carpet shampoo cleaning is that it uses copious amounts of water for cleaning and extraction. Carpets might remain wet for hours, and using water for cleaning is considered by some to be a costly and unnecessary waste of this resource. It’s also very difficult to remove all traces of shampoo, which then becomes sticky over time, attracting even more dirt than before!
  • Encapsulation is an excellent form of carpet cleaning but not might remove thick layers of dirt, mud, oil, and other such tough residues.
  • The disadvantage of bonnet cleaning is that the process doesn’t pull up dirt and debris trapped deep in carpet fibers. This lightweight cleaning method also doesn’t remove thick dirt, mud, and oil.
  • As bonnet cleaning is lightweight, it’s also more affordable than other carpet cleaning methods and might provide all the cleaning needed for lightly trafficked carpets and those that only need gentle cleaning.
  • Choose dry cleaning for carpets if you live in a humid environment. Dry carpet cleaning also offers a thorough and effective clean, although not always being strong enough to remove thick dirt and grime.
  • One disadvantage of dry cleaning carpets is that various chemicals used in this process might be bothersome to a person’s sinuses or leave strong, lingering odors behind.

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How Much Does Carpet Cleaning Cost?

Many carpet cleaning contractors quote their services by the square foot, often between $40 and $70 per 100 square feet of carpeting. Many carpet cleaning contractors also add fees for especially soiled carpets, stain pretreatment, and odor neutralizing services.

Area rug cleaning might be priced differently; heavily soiled entryway runners, for example, might be more tedious and therefore more costly to clean. Delicate, decorative area rugs or especially expensive antique or oriental rugs might also need special care during the cleaning process, so fees are adjusted accordingly.

A carpet cleaning professional might also offer other services such as carpet dyeing, to change the color of carpets or restore their original colors. Tile and grout cleaning services also ensure kitchen and bathroom floors are as clean as your freshly shampooed carpets!

Is Professional Carpet Cleaning Worth It?

While a homeowner might be willing to live with carpets that are less than spotless, note that regular carpet shampooing or other such cleaning prolongs the life of carpets! Over time, carpet fibers become so matted down by dirt and debris that no amount of steaming or shampooing will restore the carpet’s nap, or the dirt becomes so embedded in carpet fibers that it simply won’t come out. When that happens, it’s time for new carpet installation.

Neglecting needed carpet cleaning might also allow mold, mildew, and other irritants to develop and spread along carpet backing or its underlying padding. These irritants might reach the walls, subflooring, and framework of the home. Not only does mold damage a home’s framework but it’s also unhealthy and even downright dangerous for occupants!

While you might also think that you can rent a carpet cleaning machine and manage your own steaming and shampooing, this can also be a mistake. Efficient cleaning and thorough water extraction are also challenging, and it’s not unusual for homeowners to leave their carpets overly damp after the cleaning process. Damp carpets increase the risk of mold and mildew growth and can create a musty, unpleasant odor.

Managing heavy carpet cleaning equipment is also typically more challenging that people realize, and steam cleaning can be downright dangerous without proper protective clothing. For all these reasons, it’s often best to invest in professional carpet cleaning as needed, rather than neglecting this work or attempting it on your own.

How Often Should a Carpet Be Cleaned?

Most homes with average foot traffic might opt for carpet cleaning every 18 months to two years; however, you might also opt for annual carpet shampooing if there are lots of occupants in the home and especially if those occupants have four legs! Pets and children especially tend to drag dirt in from outside, while even indoor cats track litter around the house. Pets also shed fur and dander which then gets ground into the home’s rugs.

You might also consider more frequent rug cleaning along with odor neutralizing if your home’s carpets might trap odors for any reason. For instance, even if a smoker goes outside to light up, smoke might get trapped in their clothes and then settle into the home’s rugs.

Cooking with garlic, onions, and other such pungent foods can mean unpleasant odors in the carpeting! Smells from nearby production facilities and garages also get trapped in residential homes, so consider more frequent carpet shampooing and odor neutralizing services as needed.

Signs It’s Time for Carpet Cleaning in Your Home

In some cases, a dirty carpet is obvious; you might easily see spots and stains and worn areas along hallways and in front of doorways. However, it’s also good to consider carpet cleaning if rugs feel scratchy and flat underfoot. Carpet fibers might be matted down with dirt and debris, and a thorough shampooing will bring those rugs to life again.

It’s probably also time for carpet cleaning if you notice unpleasant odors in the home but can’t trace them to linens, bedding, and other such sources. Those odors might be trapped in carpet fibers or padding underneath carpeting and rugs.

When homeowners begin to have breathing difficulties or asthma flare-ups, this might also be due to a dirty carpet! Dust and dirt gets airborne when you walk over the carpeting, and this is often bothersome to your sinuses. If you notice a dry and dirty feeling in the air, consider professional carpet cleaning methods for your home.


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