If you want to know how to get carpets really clean.... you first need to understand what a clean carpet is.
Clean = Free of Unwanted Matter.
So to get a carpet really clean you need to remove unwanted matter. What is unwanted matter? Unwanted matter is anything foreign to the carpets original construction. For instance outdoor soil, skin dander, dust, bacteria, lint, food and drink spills all fall under this category.
Some of this unwanted matter that settles in your carpet is visible and some is invisible. It many times is the invisible stuff that creates asthmatic issues for people, floating around until it settles. Pre-vacuuming and hot water extraction is the method most recommended by industry professionals.
• Carpet plays the role of an air filter: carpet traps dust, pollen and other particles, taking them out of the breathing zone until they can be removed easily by vacuuming. -CRI/The Carpet and Rug institute. Visit www.carpet-rug.org to learn more.
So what does this mean? It means that when you clean your carpet, just because it appears clean, that does not necessarily mean it really is. For instance, spots that quickly reappear often do so because either they were not fully removed or because excess detergent residue remains in the carpet. This sticky residue will attract dirt. Causing new carpet consumers and often even sales people to say "hold off cleaning your carpets as long as you can.. because after you do, they get dirty faster".
So far from the truth..." If carpet cleaning is done professionally or cleaned closely following do-it-yourself directions, carpet can not be over-cleaned..they can only be cleaned improperly. (over wetting, over use of cleaning solutions or not rinsing out spotting agents)"
Odors in carpets from pets ,water damage, mildew or general use can often mean that foreign substances like spoiled milk, bacteria, mold or mildew is present in your carpet or padding. These odors sometimes can be difficult to remove or even find. Many use black lights to reveal pet urine accidents. Odors usually come from "Biofilms" (sticky microbe friendly habitats) that support rapid microbial growth. Excessive moisture left in carpet (more than 12 hrs) or even high humidity over an extended time may add to your odor issues.
So you can hire a professional to clean your carpet or you can do it yourself using a rented or store purchased machine. These do it yourself machines have improved over the last several years due to industry testing done by CRI Seal of Approval Program. Most of them have a rotating brush along with pretty decent suction or lift. Key is: Take your time, follow directions, do not over use cleaning solutions and dry as quickly as possible.
No matter what type of cleaning products or systems you use it is important to remove as much settled cleaning detergent residues as possible and dry the carpet quickly. Professional or home fans or HVAC can accelerate this process.
-Doug Bradford, CR, LEED AP, SCI- Eco Interior Maintenance CEO