Steam cleaning carpets is an excellent way to remove stains and accumulated, deep down dirt and to restore carpets to a lovely appearance. Though vacuum cleaners work best on surface dirt, crumbs, and soil, dirt and dust that settles deep into the carpet fibers can be difficult for a vacuum to remove. Because carpet steam cleaners use hot water along with cleaning solutions, they are capable of reaching the deep down dirt that may have adhered to the carpet fibers themselves. Most homeowners are very surprised by the dirty, muddy-looking water that is removed from a carpet during steam cleaning.
Carpets that receive normal wear should be cleaned at least twice per year, but a carpet that is rarely walked upon could probably be allowed to go a full year before cleaning. The carpet should be vacuumed thoroughly before beginning to steam clean. Since a carpet cleaner is not designed to suck up large crumbs, hair, and debris, as much as possible should be removed with the vacuum beforehand.
Before steam cleaning carpets, it is helpful to apply a pretreatment to stains and heavy traffic areas. These treatments are applied and then left for several minutes before cleaning the area normally with the steam cleaner. Some commercial pretreatments are specially formulated to remove pet stains and odors. Professional cleaners offer a variety of other treatments to remove stains like lipstick, wine, tomato sauce, oil, and grease.
Household solutions that may fight stains on carpet include club soda, hydrogen peroxide, and vinegar. Some homeowners have reported great success using these items, but care should always be exercised before using any solution on carpet or upholstery. Solutions that contain bleach or ammonia should never be used because of potential damage to carpet dyes and fibers.
The hottest possible water straight from the tap should be used to fill the steam cleaner’s reservoir. Hotter water results in a more thorough clean. Some carpet cleaners have a water heating feature that raises the water temperature to a preset level before releasing it into the carpet. Very hot water should still be placed in the tank, however, to minimize the amount of electricity the machine needs to operate.
The heat from a steam cleaner kills dust mites, viruses, bacteria, fungi, and many allergens. Those with allergies will benefit from more frequent steam cleaning, perhaps every three months, to reduce the number of allergens and mites in the carpet and on upholstery.
Steam cleaning does not actually involve steam, though sometimes the hot water releases bursts of steam during the cleaning process. The effectiveness of a carpet cleaner comes from its use of very hot water and cleaning solutions. The pressure of the water released from the cleaner actually dislodges dirt that has become embedded deep within the carpet fibers and allows it to be sucked up by the machine.
Normally, one pass to apply cleaning solution to the carpet is sufficient. At least two, though preferably more, passes to extract the water back out of the carpet should be completed, however. Extracting more water from the carpet will allow it to dry faster. Excess water left in the carpet is almost impossible to dry and will cause odors and possibly mildew.
Steam cleaning carpets leaves them looking fresh and can reveal colors that have been hidden by dinginess. Performing the job correctly will clean the carpets more quickly and efficiently and will enable you to achieve a more complete clean. Periodically cleaned carpets are not only more attractive, but they are healthier for the family because of reduced allergens and microbes.