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Flooring and Carpeting/Carpet and upholstery cleaning


Can you tell me what the difference is between professional carpet cleaning done with shampoos v. Chemicals v. Steam .  I will be having both  carpets and upholstery cleaned  so please stipulate whether your preferred method differs depending on which of these is being cleaned.

Thank you for your time

With regard to the carpet cleaning:
    Shampoo, normally means using a portable rotary brush machine that has an attached solution tank filled with water based carpet cleaning shampoo on the carpet. Sometimes this method is followed by an attached or separate portable machine that shoots a jet spray of clear water as a rinse combined with a vacuum to suck up the residue.
    Steam cleaning is a hotter water based detergent solution made for carpet that also shoots a jet spray of the solution into the carpet and also vacuums it up at the same time. Truck mount steam units have stronger suction than portable shampoo or portable steam units and, in my experience, usually do a better job. I much prefer the water based methods mostly because the majority of your everyday soil contaminants are water soluble.
    Your use of the word "chemicals" probably refers to a dry cleaning or solvent solution. I much prefer the water method, mostly because the majority of your everyday soil contaminants are water soluble. Overall, I have never seen better results with dry cleaning carpets than I have with water based methods.
    By the way, ALL carpet cleaning solutions contain chemicals, just as water itself is a chemical substance (cannot be broken down into a simpler substance).
    Caveat: You may want to try to find out what your carpet manufacturer recommends as to a cleaning process so as not to void any warranties. Some may recommend the dry cleaning process. If so, you will need to get a professional to have it done correctly. If they recommend a wet cleaning (shampoo, steam) then the trick here is to clean it as dry as possible. If you cannot find out the manufacturer's recommendations I would use a water based method, e.g.; steam. If there are spots that do not come out, then a solvent could be used (check for color fastness first).

With regard to upholstery cleaning:
    Check the platform of your furniture (where the seat cushion rests) to see if there are any tags that state cleaning procedures. A "W" code means water based, so either shampoo or steam, an "S" means solvent so it must be dry cleaned, an "X" means it cannot be cleaned using any solution and must just be brushed or vacuumed. Note: you can use a solvent on any "W" code, but you cannot use water on an "S" code. Again I prefer water based cleaners if possible. On a "W" code I always start with water based cleaners and then use a solvent if there are spots or stains that do not come out. If your furniture does not have codes, a professional should still know what to use by examining the fabric.

If you have further questions let me know.  

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R Adams


Certified Installer 1966-1976, Certified Carpet Cleaning Instructor 1976-1985, Certified Commercial and Residential Floor Inspector since 1985 is available to answer questions on problems with carpet or other flooring, and carpet cleaning. I can guide you as to whether you may have a valid claim against a manufacturer/installer/dealer/cleaning company.


Floor covering Installer 1966-1976 Carpet Cleaning Instructor 1976-1985 Floor Covering Inspector 1985- present

Floor Covering Inspector Training School; FCITS Floor Covering Inspection Technical Services; FITS Certified Claims Inspectors Association; CCIA

Hartford Courant

B.S. Chemistry 1971 A.S. Physical Science 1969 Armstrong Certified Installer 1972 3M Certified Carpet Cleaning Specialist 1976 FCITS Certified in Carpet and Hard Surface, Commercial and Residential

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