It's typically recommended that residential rugs and carpets in a commercial facility be professionally cleaned every year, if not even more often. It might also be advised that you have your floors deodorized and sanitized with each visit.
Since hardwood floors can be a bit costly, you might wonder if professional carpet cleaning works and if it's necessary for your flooring, especially if your carpeting doesn't look very dirty. You might also wonder why you shouldn't merely rent a machine from a home improvement store and tackle this job yourself!
To better understand why professional carpet cleaning can be necessary for keeping carpets clean and for extending their overall lifespan, it can be helpful to know a few basics about how carpeting itself is made. It can also be useful to learn more about the different carpet cleaning methods that most professionals offer, so you can then decide which process would be right for the rugs at your home or office.
Carpets and rugs are made with yarn that is attached to a backing. This yarn is called the carpet's pile, and it can be made from wool, cotton, silk, nylon or other artificial materials, or a blend of these fabrics.
Each strand of yarn is usually twisted and heat-treated during its manufacture. This process helps the material to maintain its shape and strength, so the thread used for carpeting is much stronger and more durable than the materials used for gloves and scarves!
The backing of carpet is often made of latex, which creates a durable, stretchable surface. This stretching is part of the process of installing wall-to-wall carpeting, so the rugs don't bunch up and create literal bumps and wrinkles along their surfaces.
Wall-to-wall carpeting is also typically installed over an additional foam or latex padding referred to as an underlay. This underlay makes carpeting soft underfoot, while also helping to absorb noise and vibrations.
To create the surface or pile of carpeting, a piece of yarn is sewn onto the carpet backing through a process called tufting, which is similar to standard sewing. Hundreds of needles push the thread into the carpet backing so that a loop is formed. The back of this loop may be heat treated or otherwise glued so that it sticks to the carpet's backing.
Different styles of carpeting are created by varying this tufting method. For example, the top of the yarn's loop might be cut after it's sewn onto the carpet's backing. Cut loops can feel softer and look fuzzier than closed loops.
As another example, if a loop of yarn is very tall, the carpet will feel plusher, and it may also absorb more noise and vibration. Tall loops or pile may also show more footprints and marks from a vacuum cleaner.
Berber carpeting, on the other hand, has a very short loop, so that the carpet feels dense and not as plush. This style of rug also won't show so many marks on its surface, so it's often used in high-traffic areas, such as offices and other commercial buildings.
A design, such as a waffle weave or checkerboard pattern, might be created along the carpet's surface by using varying lengths and styles of pile. Also, a rug with fewer tufts of yarn might be cheaper to manufacture, but it might look and feel somewhat thin and threadbare.
Twisting of carpet pile can also affect the feeling of a rug underfoot. As an example, shag carpeting is made with long strands of cut pile that are purposely spread out across the surface of the carpet, and which are also tightly twisted. The openness of this design and the twisted ends of the yarn allow the strands of this type of rug to sink under your feet, creating a soft feeling and a somewhat irregular look to the carpet's surface.
Now that you know a bit more about how carpets are made, this can help you understand how and why carpeting tends to get so dirty, and why vacuuming alone isn't enough for a thorough cleaning. Understanding how carpets get dirty can also explain why professional cleaning is needed, and why it might even prolong the life of rugs.
The style of a carpet can affect how much dirt it holds, and how useful it is to vacuum those rugs. For example, twisted fibers may trap more pet hair, human hair, and the like, in all those twists. A household vacuum isn't powerful enough to remove debris twisted in carpet fibers.
In the same way, carpeting with very tall pile may also be holding more dirt than other styles of rugs, and a household vacuum doesn't have enough suction to remove debris that's been pushed to the bottom of that taller pile. Carpets with a denser weave may also trap more dust and dirt between those strands of yarn, so they also tend to get dirtier faster than rugs with a looser design.
The material of carpeting can also affect how quickly it gets dirty, and how easy it is to clean. For example, artificial fabrics such as nylon tend to repel water, so carpets made with these types of materials won't hold mud as much as other fabrics. Cotton, on the other hand, is very absorbent, so cotton carpets may tend to catch dirt and then get dirtier, faster, than other rugs.
Environmental factors can also play a part in how often carpets need cleaning, and in how effective a standard vacuum will be for that cleaning. Rugs in an area with lots of dust and dirt in the air will get dirty faster since that dirt and soil needs to settle somewhere! If you notice that the surfaces inside your home or commercial building tend to get very dusty, very often, there is a good chance that the carpeting is also holding large amounts of dust.
Note, too, that regular household dust is very light, and easy for a vacuum cleaner to remove. Dust that is created by building or road construction, or by production facilities, is often more substantial and more difficult for a standard vacuum to extract. A home or business near construction sites or production facilities may then have dirtier rugs that cannot come clean with ordinary vacuum cleaners.
What makes professional or commercial carpet cleaning so much more useful than standard vacuuming? Is a professional or commercial carpet cleaning needed if you invest in a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner, such as those used by janitors and housekeepers?
To better understand why and how professional carpet cleaning is so useful for cleaning rugs of all sorts, and even more so than any commercial vacuum cleaner, it's good to understand a few basics about those various carpet cleaning methods. This information can also help you decide on the best way of cleaning your rugs at home or the office.
There are a few reasons why these types of professional carpet cleaning methods are more effective than vacuuming alone, even if you use a professional, heavy-duty vacuum with lots of suction.
One reason for this added effectiveness is that shampoos and detergents stick to dirt, so you remove more debris from the carpeting when you use any cleaning agent, versus vacuuming alone. This dirt includes debris that might get twisted around carpeting yarn, such as animal hair or human hair.
Note, too, that dirt and dust that get ground into tall carpeting fibers cannot be removed by the suction of vacuuming, just because those fibers are in the way! Household vacuums don't have enough suction to remove dirt from along the carpet backing when it's behind tall carpet fibers. Encapsulation, which bubbles that dirt to the surface of carpeting, or steam, which loosens the soil, so it's easier to remove, can mean a deeper clean for rugs with high and thick fibers.
Vacuum cleaners also do not have enough suction to restore the nap, meaning the height, of the carpet pile. When a professional carpet cleaner injects steam or hot water into the fabric used for carpet threads, this process can make those fabrics seem taller and fluffier. In turn, matted down rugs, or areas of dented carpeting, are restored to their original height.
Vacuum cleaners alone also cannot sanitize carpets. Rugs in a residential home may have stains from pet waste and vomit, and a carpet in a commercial building may be stained from dropped foods or spilled beverages. These stains and their resultant germs and bacteria cannot be removed with the suction of a vacuum, even a heavy-duty model used by janitors! However, shampoos and detergents can clean and remove germs, bacteria, and other such contaminants from a rug.
Deodorizers can also be added to the detergents used for cleaning carpeting, or during a final rinse and extraction process. These deodorizers don't just mask odors, but they remove the cause of those bad smells.
This deodorizing treatment, too, is especially necessary for homes with pets, as well as locations where the carpets are exposed to cigarette smoke, cooking oils, production and automotive fluids and greases, and the like. These odors are nothing to ignore; living or working in an area with lots of bothersome smells can mean headaches and fatigue. A high-quality deodorizer for the carpets can then make your entire home or your commercial building smell fresh and clean.
Carpet padding that has gotten wet may also be holding mold and mildew, and this padding cannot be adequately cleaned with a vacuum alone. Steam cleaning or shampooing will reach that padding and help to wash away mold from the bottom of carpet padding so that it doesn't spread to the building's subfloor and doesn't create a bothersome odor.
Along with getting carpets cleaner than you could with any vacuum, note a few additional benefits of having rugs professionally cleaned or shampooed:
Another benefit of professional carpet cleaning is that this might remove stains you don't even see in the rug! Some stains may not be visible because their color matches the carpet, or they may be set very deep in the carpet fibers so that you can't see them on the surface of the rug. You may also not realize that a foul odor in your home or office is due to stains in the carpet, but a professional cleaning will remove these and ensure the carpet is as clean as possible.
Some home or commercial carpeting may also have a warranty that will cover the cost of replacing that carpet if it should get damaged, but that warranty may require that you have the carpets professionally cleaned on a regular basis. Check the paperwork or receipt for when the carpet was installed, or the manufacturer's website if you cannot find your receipt, to note if should have those rugs cleaned regularly to maintain that warranty.
Since many professional carpet cleaners use a rotating brush with shampoo or detergent to clean carpets, and these machines are easy to rent at a home improvement store, why not try to manage this job yourself? There are a few reasons why it's good to always rely on the services of a professional when it comes to carpet cleaning and some common mistakes that homeowners and even custodial staff often make when trying to manage carpet cleaning on their own.
Consider some additional reasons why you always want to leave carpet cleaning to a professional. For one thing, a professional rug cleaner will know how to check carpet padding and backing for potential mold growth and will ensure carpets are cleaned through to their padding, where mold might be growing. A light cleaning can be useful for some rugs, but lighter cleaning methods won't remove mold, mildew, ground-in pet stains, spilled beverages, and other such contaminants that have reached the carpet's underlay.
Store-bought deodorizers may merely mask carpet odors with heavy perfumes so that the carpet odors will be noticeable again once those perfumes wear off or get vacuumed away. These deodorizers can also be very bothersome to the sinuses, and especially for those who have allergies, asthma, and other breathing disorders.
Carpet cleaning can be more difficult than many people realize; tanks of water are heavy and typically need to be lifted to be emptied, often more than once during the cleaning process. The steam used for cleaning rugs, along with the shampoo used for cleaning, can spread and then damage walls, furniture, and other nearby surfaces. It can also be dangerous to get too close to that steam, as it may burn skin or sinuses.
Carpet cleaning machines are also hefty and cumbersome and can be difficult to manage correctly. They also take some skill to control, as you need to apply pressure to reach the bottom layer of the rug's pile, but don't want to use so much weight that you damage those fibers!
It's typically recommended that you have your rugs professionally cleaned every year, as mentioned, but it's good to increase this schedule if rugs in your home or office are prone to being especially filthy. However, you may not know your floors need additional cleaning just by looking at them!
Remember, too, that it's good to have carpets professionally cleaned if you're thinking of putting your home or commercial facility on the real estate market. You may not realize that those carpets are holding bothersome odors, or may not understand how matted down they are, but freshly cleaned rugs can make any home or commercial facility look and smell its best, and ready for an open house and tour!