It’s commonplace to hear new customers asking for ‘a steam clean’ of their carpets and rugs; it’s what you guys do isn’t it? Well, yes and no.

Science and technology is forever changing and progressing, so it should be no surprise that our business in fibre and fabric cleaning also changes with it.

Who remembers the washing powder commercials a few years back, offering new formulations of their product that can clean your clothes ‘brrrilliantly’ at 30ᵒ or less? Similar chemical advances in our trade mean that cleaning formulations are smarter now, and much less harsh (my usual products do not contain any toxic detergents or enzymes at all) and the days where we needed to use high temperatures in order to boost our chemicals’ effectiveness, and to achieve a thorough rinse out, are gone.

This is not to say that I do occasionally turn up my water heating device to over 100ᵒ to steam rinse a carpet; but it tends to be in commercial settings, or in areas where there is a lot of heavy greasy residues on the fibres. Steam is used in final rinsing only and NOT to be considered as a catch all alternative, if you are after a proper cleaning session in the home.

Proper home carpet cleaning should be all about:

  1. Thoroughness. For this we must work cleaning product deep into the fibres with brushes, and ‘open up’ the fibres crushed down with daily use.
  2. Fibre deodorisation. Spraying the surface with perfume doesn’t do that!
  3. Leaving the carpet as dry as possible. High pressure hot rinsing can leave unnecessarily large amounts of water in the carpet.
  4. And finally, it’s the technician’s ability to treat and remove tricky stains and marks safely that you can’t remove yourself. This requires various chemical spotting techniques to loosen and release things from the fibres BEFORE rinsing. Even pressurised steam rinsing won’t blast many of these spills and stains out!

The modern professional carpet technician utilises several different techniques and tools to achieve an excellent result safely, and steam rinsing should be considered as just one technique available in several possible treatment processes. In fact in some situations, it can actually be a really bad idea! [read my other blog “Don’t rain on my Parade” regarding woolen carpets]