Shall I stay or shall I go? Shaken or stirred? Dry or steam carpet cleaning?

All of these are famous questions that we repeat over and over again throughout our lives. No? Not the last one?

You may have never thought about it before, but now you'll have to choose. It's up to your superior research skills and this article to crown one of them the victor. So which method is the best carpet cleaner?

Ultimately, you'll have to pick either steam cleaning or dry cleaning based on the type of carpet you own and how dirty it's gotten.

What is Dry Carpet Cleaning?

There is really only one true dry carpet cleaning method. There are other cleaning methods that come under the umbrella of dry cleaning but aren't completely dry. Other methods still use water, but just significantly less water than steam cleaning methods.

Essentially, dry carpet cleaning is a term used by the industry to describe a carpet cleaning that doesn't completely saturate your carpets with water. Instead, the methods use absorbent chemicals that sit on your carpet to pull up dirt and soil.

The true dry cleaning method involves dry powder. This dry powder is super absorbant and contains detergent and a solvent. You sprinkle the powder throughout the carpet and let it sit while it dissolves and absorbs any soiling.

Once the dry powder has dissolved and absorbed all the dirt and soiling, you can vacuum it up. This method is a popular domestic carpet cleaning method, as it is quick and easy to use.

Why Choose Dry Powder Carpet Cleaning?

Many people use the dry powder carpet cleaning method because it allows you to use the carpet immediately. No water is used at all, so you don't have to worry about letting it dry before you walk on it.

There is also less risk of damage to your carpet because there is no water or heat involved. Many dry powders every come with a deodorizer, which leaves your carpet smelling fresh.

Negatives of Dry Power Carpet Cleaning

While the dry powder is a gentler method and lets you walk over your carpet immediately, there are some issues. First, it's very difficult to pull up all of the powder out of your carpet using a vacuum. Leftover particles can fall deep into the carpet and rub against the fibres, causing damage over time.

Leftover particles can also end up re-soiling the carpet.

The dry powder cleaning method does not penetrate your carpets very deep, so only surface soiling and dirt comes up. Unfortunately, this means that any stubborn stains or heavy soiling aren't responsive to this method. In addition, not all substances respond to this method.

In more rare cases, some people could be allergic to this powder, which could build up over time and cause reactions.

Other Dry Carpet Cleaning Methods

There are two other types of carpet cleaning methods considered to be dry cleaning. These methods are called encapsulation cleaning and bonnet cleaning. Both types of cleaning involve a solution and a machine to apply and remove.

Encapsulation Cleaning

Encapsulation carpet cleaning includes using a rotary machine and polymer detergent encapsulators. You apply the detergent with the rotary machine and it binds to particles in the carpet. Then, you vacuum the encapsulators out of the carpet, much like the dry powder method.

This dry carpet cleaning method, however, takes about 20-30 minutes before it is truly dry and you are able to vacuum.

Why Choose the Encapsulation Method?

Aside from dry powder carpet cleaning, the encapsulation method is the quickest drying method. Once you vacuum up the dry detergent, you'll be able to walk on the carpet. This is because there is very little water uses, keeping the carpet from becoming saturated.

This method is more effective than dry powder cleaning because it gets deeper into your carpet to remove more dirt and soiling. Stains are also easier to remove.

This method also doesn't have as bad of a re-soiling issue because your carpet gets cleaner over time. As some detergent stays in the carpet, even after vacuuming, it continues to absorb more soiling until your next vacuuming.

Negatives of the Encapsulation Method

The rotary machine can end up damaging fibers in more delicate carpets, making it less recommended for some so it is important the technician is fully trained before using this type of machinery.

Bonnet Carpet Cleaning

Lastly, bonnet carpet cleaning is the most popularly used method by the carpet cleaning industry. Similar to encapsulation, a detergent is applied to the carpet and agitated with a machine. The difference, however, is that the detergent is non-foaming and the rotary machine uses an absorbant bonnet pad.

First, your carpet will be pre-sprayed with a cleaning solution and agitated with the bonnet rotary machine. The solution suspends the dirt and soiling inside, allowing the bonnet pads to soak it up. Once your carpet is dry, you'll be able to vacuum to remove residue.

Why Choose Bonnet Carpet Cleaning

A good carpet cleaning professional can use the bonnet cleaning method so that your carpet dries fast. There is low water usage, so your carpet won't suffer water damage and you'll be able to walk on it in about an hour.

Negatives of the Bonnet Cleaning Method

Despite using a rotary machine, the bonnet pads only soak up detergent from the surface. Because of this, this method still stays as a surface clean. Re-soiling is also a risk, as stains can reappear once they've attracted dirt back into them so it is important the technician uses the correct techniques to ensure this does not occur.

What is Steam Cleaning?

Steam cleaning, also called the hot water extraction method, is a wet carpet cleaning method that uses hot water and detergent spray. Much like washing clothes, this method combines hot water, cleaning solution, and agitation to pull out grime and leave you with a fresh carpet.

Professionals can use a microfibre pad or brush, depending on which would be best for your type of carpet. The detergent goes on first, then the hot water. The hot water extraction machines act with suction, much like a vacuum, but circulate water instead of air.

Benefits of Steam Cleaning Your Carpet

The steam cleaning method is a much deeper cleaning method because it uses the hot water extraction machine to pull up dirt and grime with a lot more power. It removes even the deepest dirt that is wearing down your carpet fibres at the base. The process doesn't take that long either, only taking about 30 minutes per room.

It is also much easier to remove spills and stains that go deep into the carpet, giving your carpet less of a chance to re-soil. Even other issues, such as bacteria, dust mites, and allergens are locked into the solution and removed efficiently. All of this is achieved with high-temperature water rather than harsh chemicals.

Negatives to Steam Cleaning your Carpet

As the wet method of cleaning your carpet, you'll have to wait for your carpet to dry. Your carpet might also suffer damage if it becomes too wet. Both of these issues are really only an issue, though, if you're hiring an inexperienced or poorly trained professional.

An expert steam cleaner will know how to leave your carpet as dry as possible so that you can walk on it faster and not worry about damage.

Dry Cleaning or Steam Cleaning?

Most professionals in the carpet cleaning industry recommend steam cleaning for the best cleans. Dry carpet cleaning methods can be used as maintenance cleans, done throughout the year to keep up with the mess. Steam cleaning, however, should still be done to pull up the worst messes and the grime that builds up over time. There are also some systems and companies out there which can opt for a dual approach where steam cleaning is combined with a bonnet system to provide a deep clean using low moisture equipment!

You should be cleaning your carpets at least once a year, and this is best done with the steam cleaning method. Doing so will help your carpets last longer and stay fresh.

Unfortunately, steam cleaning can be more expensive than dry cleaning methods. The expense will depend on how much carpet needs to be cleaned and how difficult the job will be. To cut down on costs, you can make the job easier by doing more affordable maintenance cleans throughout the year, or choosing to do the heavy-duty steam cleaning in only highly trafficked areas.

Overall, you should choose dry cleaning if:

  • Your carpet is barely used
  • The manufacturer's instructions call for only dry cleaning
  • It's either dangerous or too inconvenient to have wet carpets

You should go with steam / bonnet / encapsulation cleaning if:

  • Your carpets are heavily trafficked or soiled
  • Your carpet material is very thick and deep
  • You have allergic reactions to chemicals and residues
  • You've gone a long time without a proper carpet cleaning

In conclusion, compare the different methods and choose the best one for your carpet and situation. Talk to a professional for further advice.

Carpet Cleaning Near Me

If you've decided to go ahead with your carpet cleaning, A Cleaning Service provides expert services for both domestic and commercial carpets, among many other cleaning services. If you have any questions or concerns, professionals from A Cleaning Service would be more than happy to help. We assess the carpets first to decide which system is best suited to your carpet as, as an experienced company with over 15 years in the industry, we use both dry, low moisture and steam cleaning machines!

Get started on your carpet cleaning today by contacting us!