Carpet cleaning machines cover vacuum cleaners and other machines to give the carpet a deep and thorough clean like a wash. The vacuums that we use regularly remove surface dirt and some can reach deep into the pile or fibers to get some of the ground in dirt out, but they are not really powerful enough to thoroughly clean the carpet. They are useful for maintaining the carpet, but every once in a while the carpet need a good wash to get it really clean. To get that really deep clean we need a different machine. The question the is: Are we better off buying a machine or using the pressionals to do the job for us? To answer this question we need to understand the processes and the equipment involved in cleaning carpets.

There are 2 main types of carpet cleaning methods -wet and dry. Professional carpet cleaners can use either process; household machines generally fall into the steam cleaning category.

Steam Or Extraction Cleaning (Wet)

This type of cleaning is also known as hot water extraction cleaning and is where the carpet is sprayed with a cleaning solution, which is then sucked up by a high power pump. This method uses high temperature water and pressure to enable the cleaning detergent to get deep into the carpet fibers and loosen the dirt. The dirty solution is then sucked up with a pump. This method does leave the carpet wet, the degree of moisture left in the carpet is dependant upon the power of the extraction pump. Many household carpet cleaning machines have pumps that are insufficiently rated to extract enough water. Drying time can be reduced by ventilating the room or using fans.

Dry Carpet Cleaning

Dry cleaning is where an absorbent chemical is sprinkled over the carpet to absorb any dirt and oils, and then vacuumed up. A pre-conditioner is applied to the carpet to loosen any dirt, and then the chemical dry cleaner is added to the carpet. Using a machine with brushes the chemical is forced down deep into the carpet pile. This dry carpet cleaning machine will be used in many directions over the carpet surface to thoroughly work the chemical in. The carpet is left to sit for about an hour, and then a powerful vacuum is used to suck up all the chemical and dirt, leaving the carpet clean and dry. When considering a chemical dry cleaning process, always check whether the chemical is safe around children and pets, if you have them. The main advantage of this type of cleaning is that the carpet is dry.

Carpet cleaning machines fall into 2 distinct categories- commercial and household.

Commercial Carpet Cleaning Machines

The commercial carpet cleaning machines are usually on trucks, which have generators to provide the large power requirements to drive the pumps, motors and heaters. They can be either extraction or dry cleaning or a combination of both. Truck mount carpet cleaning machines have a high capacity for pressure and pumping, they also have the facility to pump the water from the machine, using hoses, rather than requiring a person to manually empty the dirty water. These machines generally have a heater to get the water to a temperature where the cleaning is the most effective. Commercial extraction cleaners have brushes on the head to get further into the fibers to get a more thorough clean. Commercial cleaning machines are best purchased at a carpet cleaning store or through janitorial suppliers.

Household Carpet Cleaning Machines

The vacuum manufacturers have expanded into this market and so these machines are often made to look much like normal vacuums. A household machine generally has a water tank that is filled with hot tap water and detergent. The machine then sprays water into the carpet, which is then suctioned up. Many machines have motors of too little power to properly suck the dirty water out. This can leave the carpet very wet, which will take a long time to dry and potentially stain or allow mildew to form. Most of these machines do not have any form of heating so the cleaning solution is not usually hot enough to reach the cleaning potential of the commercial machines.

Points To Consider

1. What do you need one for? This is probably the most important question to be answered. If you are looking for a periodic deep cleaning for your carpet, you will usually get a superior clean from the professional cleaners. They have high powered machines capable of getting deep into the carpet and extracting the dirt thoroughly. You can choose steam or dry cleaning. The carpet with the steam extraction will likely be dry enough to use the room very quickly. If you need regular carpet cleaning and a deep clean then consider investing in one of the lower end commercial carpet cleaning machines, they will generally have a more powerful motor than the household units and last longer, as well as give you a better clean. These types of machines are priced around $600, and will be a good investment for regular carpet cleaning. If you require cleaning small areas of the carpet frequently and coping with accidents that life throws at us, then the household carpet cleaners will probably work well enough. They are priced from as low as $70 to around $200 and have the advantage of being easily and conveniently available.

2. Look for a machine with the highest power motor/pump you can find. A heater will also help the quality of your clean.

3. Consider carefully the type of detergent to be used on the carpet. Check carpet manufacturer's recommendations for the detergents that can be used on the carpet you have.

4. Check the tools that you will need for the jobs you need the cleaner to do .e.g. upholstery tools for cleaning sofas etc.

In conclusion

For a really good clean; the best result will come from the professional carpet cleaners. They have carpet cleaning machines that are powerful enough the heat the water to a hot enough temperature and then extract the maximum amount of it, leaving the carpet almost dry. But for those small accidents that happen; having a household machine readily available can be invaluable. Whatever you need there is a carpet cleaning machine or service to suit you. Just make sure you find the right machine for the job.