Never heard of the hot water extraction method of carpet cleaning? That's not surprising. Companies such as Stanley Steemer have propagated the more popular term of "steam cleaning" to describe this method instead. To be honest, it doesn't matter what you call it. What you need to know as a homeowner is that hot water extraction is by far the best carpet cleaning method on the market.
Don't Take Our Word for It
If you have any doubts, just look to the carpet industry itself for clues as to which method is the best for your carpets and upholstery. There is a reason that almost every major carpet manufacturer recommends (and more increasingly requires for warranty reasons) that you use hot water extraction to maintain the cleanliness of your home carpeting. And there is also a reason that almost every major carpet cleaning company, from Stanley Steemer on down the line, chooses hot water extraction as their method of choice.
How It Works
The term "steam cleaning" is really a misnomer when it comes to describing how hot water extraction works. In truth, there is little or no steam involved as a primary cleaning material. Instead, hot water and cleaning agents are propelled into your carpet pile at high pressure, where they loosen up dirt, soil, and grime. In almost the same motion a high-powered vacuum removes the hot water, and all the dirt and stains in your carpet along with it.
Bigger Is Better
As you shop around for steam cleaners to clean your carpet, keep in mind that there are a variety of systems available to you as a homeowner to choose from. Portable household units are popular and can be rented at most grocery or hardware stores. They do a decent job of cleaning your carpets, and are cheaper than hiring a professional, but aren't as efficient as more powerful truck mounted units. Stanley Steemer is a testament to the superiority of this second type of set-up with their fleet of familiar cleaning vans. Truck-mounted units inject the water and cleaning agents into your carpet at a much higher pressure, meaning they clean deeper than other systems. And their vacuum systems for removing the water and dirt are equally superior, doing a better job of removing both moisture and cleaning agents from your carpet pile. All this adds up to cleaner carpets and less frequent cleanings when you're all said and done.
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When to Call in the Cleaners
To be honest, this is where most homeowners make their biggest mistake when it comes to carpet maintenance. It's common practice to wait several years until your carpet barely resembles the original product before you call in the big dogs. If you want to maintain clean carpets, and extend the life of your carpets, you really ought to bring in a professional carpet cleaner on an annual basis. The daily beating your carpet takes includes tracked in dirt, spills and stains, pet traffic, and even the presence of pest infestations such as fleas and mites. The more often you clean with hot water extraction, the less you'll have to worry about the presence of all these things as you watch your family spend time on your well maintained, and beautifully clean carpet.