Wet or Dry Carpet Cleaning

What is best? Wet or Dry Carpet Cleaning

You may ask, Is wet or dry carpet cleaning better? First there is no such thing as totally dry carpet cleaning unless you are just using a vacuum to extract the soil. About 79 % of all the soil that builds up in you carpet can be removed that way. The other soil, that is left after vacuuming, is either tacky, sticky, oily or a stain. Vacuuming is recommended prior to any cleaning, wet or dry.

Regarding vacuuming, most of the time there is:

  • no frequency chart or schedule   Wet or Dry Carpet Cleaning
  • only spot vacuuming or vacuuming as necessary taking place
  • a vacuum in poor condition (bag or canister not emptied or too full)
  • the wrong type of vacuum cleaner is being employed for carpet being maintained

After spending over 9 years chairing the writing of the International Carpet Cleaning Standard, the ANSI IICRC S100, I learned a few things. There are many variables that go into what is the most appropriate cleaning system/method to use.

Lets name a few.

  • What type of fiber, backing or sub-floor are you cleaning over (Wool vs nylon) (Raised Floor or Concrete)
  • What is the frequency of cleaning? The more you clean the easier it is to maintain appearance and building health levels.
  • Is it a requirement to use only Safer Choice, Low Environmental Impact (LEED), Woolsafe or CRI approved cleaning chemicals?
  • Not all eco friendly cleaning agents are efficient or effective cleaners.
  • Building/home usage & number of occupants can often determine systems/methods of cleaning ?
  • What is the carpet cleaning turn over time? (Different in a hospital or hotel than a office building or home.)
  • What is the desired use life and appearance level of the carpet?
  • Are you cleaning wall to wall or just open traffic areas? (It can be hard to get up close to walls & under desks using dry compound)
  • What is your budget? (Dry compound is typically more expensive that hot water extraction..Low moisture or encapsulation is the least expensive)

We learned that with out a doubt you could clean carpets safely, effectively and efficiently using 95% wet or dry environmentally friendly cleaning agents.  About 5% of the spills or stains can not be removed using a 100% eco friendly product. Specialty spot cleaning products are often necessary to get rid of spots and stains of unknown origin.

Wet vs Dry Carpet Cleaning

Regarding wet cleaning, we learned that you could clean carpet faster and more thoroughly if you use a CRI (Carpet & Rug Institute) approved hot water extraction system. Rinsing the carpet fiber with hot water can free it from contaminates and also assist in the health of the indoor building environment. Drying can be enhanced using air movers, fans and/or building HVAC. Typically commercial carpets will dry in a 1/2 hr to 8 hrs and residential can take up to 12. Residential carpets take longer because the pile or loops are thicker and more plush. In my opinion commercial carpets today will dry in less than 2 hours if properly cleaned and adequate air movement exists. For restoration carpet cleaning, when the carpet looks dirty or only cleaning one time per year, use a hot water extraction system/method and you will remove soil and odor causing pollutants easier.

Most industry professionals consider Dry cleaning to be mostly associated with the employment of a dry compound extraction system/method. A dry granular or powdered compound infused with an absorbent or adsorbent medium containing cleaning surfactants and solvents. They can be can be sprinkled out by hand or mechanically spread out and agitated into the carpet followed by either immediate removal or vacuuming after 10-20 minutes. Typically dry compound cleaning is used on commercial carpet. If dry compounds are used with the right frequency water rinse extraction systems may not need to be employed as often. (Dry compounds work great as a spotting agent in your home or business. (See Capture® or Host® in Carpet /Hardware Stores) In some situations it may be necessary to use only a dry cleaning system/method due to the carpet construction, air circulation problem or hard surface transition areas (trip & fall hazards can be created if carpet is moist near a hard surface where there is no way to restrict traffic. ie: carpeted elevator in office building with marble lobby)

Many manufacturers of encapsulating low moisture cleaning solutions attempt to pass their cleaning systems/methods off as a dry cleaning method but they are not. These low moisture products are not totally dry however they are widely used as an interim cleaning systems/methods (interim means between restoration cleaning) in commercial buildings. *Most of the time dry compound or low moisture carpet cleaning systems/methods need intermittent hot water extraction to rinsing all foriegn particulate out. Encapsulant and dry compounds are excellent for extending the need to use a water restoration system/method.

Whether you choose to use an encapsulant or a dry compound, vacuuming up excess or residual particulate is extremely important. Suspended soil, compound or encapsulant build up can cause performance issues that reduced use life, ugly out carpet or cause health related issues.

So when choosing wet or dry carpet cleaning consider a maintenance program that employs the use of each as needed. Do not fall prey to those who bash a wet cleaning or dry cleaning system.

  • When wet or dry carpet cleaning is performed professionally, using water will not create mold or shrink a rug or carpet.
  • Mold does not grow on plastic (carpet fibers) , it needs a food source. Vacuum, Clean & Dry 1-12 hrs.
  • Dry compounds and encapsulants have their place and are effective and efficient when used properly in a maintenance program
  • Make sure your professional cleaner has the training, experience and equipment to use all types of cleaning systems/methods.

** Always follow manufactures recommendations to protect any warranties available

-Doug Bradford, CEO

Eco Interior Maintenance – DC, N. VA, Maryland

Strategic Maintenance Services – Orlando & Central Florida