Michigan State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500397

Carpets Cleaning - General Information

Eventually carpets need some type of cleaning to remove soil that sticks to the fibers. How often depends on amount of use and soil carpet gets; some areas will need cleaning before other. Basic methods are: dry absorbent powder, foam, shampooing, and hot water extraction (sometimes called steam cleaning or extraction). Each method has advantages and disadvantages. Costs in dollars, time, and energy vary, as do skill needed to do a good job. Always vacuum thoroughly before starting cleaning method.

Here are some general precautions for all methods:
-Pretest before using (see "Carpets-Pretesting Cleaning Products")

-Protect the carpet from rust stains by putting aluminum foil, wax paper, or plastic wrap under furniture legs, until carpet is dry.

-Follow the cleaner and equipment instructions as directed.

-Do not overwet the carpet. Excess moisture can cause shrinkage, streaks, or mildew.

-Keep mechanical action to a minimum to avoid carpet damage or streaks.

Hot Water Extraction
Hot water extraction sometimes is called steam cleaning although no steam is used in the process. A hot water and detergent solution is sprayed onto the carpet under pressure to flush out the dirt and soil. This solution is immediately extracted by the vacuum action of the machine.

-excellent for cleaning moderate to heavily soiled carpet
-can observe when the solution is soil free
-drying time somewhat less than with the shampoo process

-some possibility of overwetting
-most expensive of the four methods
-equipment is heavy and bulky


This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus with reference from Nebraska Extension bulletin Carpet Care, Cleaning and Stain Removal.

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MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing,MI 48824. This information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

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