Heat helps! Above 118 degrees fahrenheit, every 18 degrees higher changes chemical reactivity by 100%. Hot water extraction cleaning is done between 150 and 200 degrees. Is that too technical? The point is not only that hot water extraction, or "steam cleaning" is far superior to "dry cleaning," but that if you do it yourself, use heat!
Actually, there are three inter-related factors at work when you clean carpet. Heat, Dwell Time, and Agitation. To some extent, if you can't maximise one of them, you can make up for it with the others. In other words, if you can't get the cleaning solution hot enough, let it "dwell" a bit longer in the carpet, and scrub harder.
Secret Carpet Cleaning Tips
Detergent attracts dirt. This is why it's important to rinse out any cleaning solution thoroughly. This is another reason why hot water extraction gets carpet cleaner than the "dry" methods. The bottom line is that you need to rinse well when you clean carpet.
One way to clean stains is with the use of a shop-vac. No, you can't just suck out the stain, but you can repeatedly wash and rinse the area, and suck out the solution each time. This is a more effective method than blotting up the water with cloth, mostly because you won't have the patience to wash, rinse and extract enough times using paper towels or cloth.
Another little secret of the carpet cleaners is putting rugs outside and inside the front door. They can catch much of the dirt that people bring in on their feet. This isn't just about less vaccuuming, though. Dirt is like thousands of little blades that cut carpet fibers. The damaged carpet stains more easily then, and it's harder to remove the stains. An even better practice is to take off your shoes in the house.
Ready to clean? Vaccuum first. Then, if you use one of those portable machines, at least get the water as hot as you can. Dry the carpet quickly, using fans to move the air around. You can at least lengthen the time between expensive professional cleanings, by using these carpet cleaning tips.
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