Bonnet carpet cleaning is a cleaning system in the category of low moisture carpet cleaning. In this method, your carpet cleaner will apply a solution to the carpet and then extract it using bonnets or pads on a spinning floor machine. The advantage to the system is that it has more capacity to remove soil than many of the other low moisture cleaning methods and it still has a rather low drying time. Most carpets will dry within one hour of being cleaned with this method, less if fans are used after the cleaning.
The Cleaning Process
Every good carpet cleaning begins with a quality vacuuming. Dry soil is easier to remove before you moisten it with a cleaning solution so you should be sure to thoroughly vacuum your carpet before proceeding. This is particularly important with this method because the action of the buffer or floor machine will tend to pull more dry soil out of the carpet. If you do not get it out before the cleaning, you will probably need to follow the cleaning with a vacuuming. In addition, dry soil that becomes trapped in the carpet pad or bonnet could abrade the carpet as the floor machine turns it. Use a quality vacuum that has a beater bar for best results. Beater bars, when adjusted properly will separate the fibers allowing the vacuum to pull out soil from deep in the carpet.
Now a pre-treatment is applied to the carpet and allowed to dwell for a few moments. There are a number of different pre-treatments on the market and the one used is pretty much up to the carpet cleaner doing the work and their take on what is the best. Some might use a soap free oxygen powered cleaner, others might use an encapsulation cleaner designed to dry to a crystal and others might use citrus based cleaning solutions. All will work if used correctly and the important thing is that they provide some kind of lubrication to minimize the friction created by the carpet cleaning pad or bonnet.
Once the solution has been given time to break down the soil, your carpet cleaner will extract it using a floor machine. They will make several passes over the carpet in an overlapping fashion to absorb the soil. The action of the machine will also loosen and break down additional soil and grease. They must use care to make sure that the carpet remains wet during the cleaning process to eliminate the possibility of the machine burning the carpet or causing the tips of the fibers to bloom.
As far as equipment goes, they might use a standard orbit floor machine with a bonnet or a random orbit machine using a pad. Standard orbit machines are typically low speed spinning at 175 revolutions per minute. There are faster machines on the market but the faster it spins, the more likely it is for the carpet to become damaged with user error. If the pad becomes dry, a faster spinning machine can burn the carpet much faster. Standard orbit machines are the fastest way to clean and can do large areas very quickly. Some cleaners might also opt to use a random orbit machine and a floor pad. The pads are thinner and the machine cleans a bit slower. The advantage to the machine though is that the random orbit provides better agitation. Pads and bonnets can be either synthetic or cotton. Cotton pads absorb more moisture but wear out faster and can sometimes provide too much friction. Synthetic pads absorb less moisture and are less aggressive unless equipped with scrubbing strips. You will find that most cleaners using an encapsulating product that is designed to crystalize will use synthetic pads and those using solutions that must be extracted will use cotton pads.
After the cleaner extracts their solution with the floor machine, the carpet must then be groomed. Floor machines will tend to make swirl marks on the carpet and these marks must be removed before the carpet dries. To do this, your cleaner will use a carpet grooming brush.A few strokes of the grooming brush and the marks will be gone.
Finally, the carpet is allowed to dry. Most carpets will dry in under an hour, even less time if the cleaner uses a carpet fan. Then, the carpet is ready for immediate use. If an encapsulating chemical was used, it should be vacuumed within a few days to complete the process.
Finding A Local Bonnet Carpet Cleaner
Simply do a search for your city and the term “bonnet carpet cleaning”. This should result in a local company. Give it a try.
Bonnet Cleaning Machines
I hit on this briefly but now I will talk a little bit more about the equipment being used in this process. By far, the most widely used machine is the low speed floor machine or buffer. Pictured above, this machine comes in all kinds of sizes but most will be 15 inches to 20 inches. Most residential cleaners will use a 15 or 17 inch machine for easier maneuverability in homes. Commercial cleaners will prefer the 20 inch variety which will cover more ground. These machines spin at 17 revolutions per minute and are powered by 1 to 1.5 horsepower electric motors. High speed machines are available that spin at 320 revolutions per minute but these are better suited for hard surface floor cleaning. Although some carpet cleaners might choose to use these speeds on carpet, it can be dangerous. It will increase the possibility of tip bloom, a common problem with bonnet cleaning and could cause burns to an improperly prepared carpet.
Another type of machine is the orbital floor machine. These machines are slower to use but they provide a great deal more agitation. They look similar to standard floor machines but they tend to be a little lighter in weight, making it easier for the operator to get around. Since they spin in a random orbit, they make it easier for the carpet cleaner to clean all sides of the fiber.
As far as cleaning pads and bonnets go, the cleaner will either use those of a synthetic material or cotton. Synthetic pads and bonnets will last the cleaner much longer but they do not absorb as much moisture as cotton pads. When using a pre-treatment chemical that encapsulates, these are the preferred pads. Encapsulating cleaners do not need to be removed because they dry to a crystal and are removed later during routine vacuuming. For this type of cleaning, minimal moisture removal is needed and agitation is the main goal. If the cleaner needs to pull the moisture out of the carpet, cotton pads are the way to go. They pull out many times their weight in moisture and also tend to be a bit more aggressive, agitation wise.
To apply the pre-treatment a sprayer of some sort will be needed. Most will use a standard pump up sprayer but the preferred method would be either a tank mounted or handheld electric sprayer. The reason this is better is that the constant and steady spray velocity of the electric pump will provide a more even application. Pump up sprayers get weaker and spray less until they are pumped up again. It is inconsistent.
Bonnet Cleaning Solutions
Encapsulation Cleaners are one type of increasingly popular cleaning solutions. They are designed to absorb soil and then dry to a crystal. The brittle crystal is then easily removed at the next scheduled vacuuming. The benefit to this is that more soil is potentially removed. This is because any moisture (and soil) left in the carpet will come out later with a vacuuming. In addition, because the cleaner will be vacuumed out later, there is left residue left on the carpet to attract soil. Oxygen powered cleaners are also a popular choice. These cleaners use a chemical like sodium percarbonate to release oxygen during the cleaning process. The oxygen boosts the power of other chemicals and naturally brightens and freshens your carpet. Citrus powered cleaners use a natural citrus solvent to boost the cleaning power and provide that fresh citrus scent.
Benefits Of Bonnet Carpet Cleaning
The benefit to this system is that it gets the carpet dry in a hurry. Most carpets will be dry in just an hour or so. This allows a business, for example, to only close down for only a short time. In many cases a simple caution sign is all that would be needed and they can stay in operation. In the home, it could allow the busy family to get their lives back to normal fast.
Drawbacks Of Bonnet Carpet Cleaning
Before considering this method, you should take a few things into consideration. First is your carpet warranty. Some manufacturers are not fans of this method because of the possibility of tip bloom. Make sure that your manufacturer is not one of the few that void a warranty if a rotary tool is used. In addition, this method is not good with stains that you do not want to spread such as pet stains. A single pad will be used for an entire room in most cases and because an absorbent pad can not “lock in” a liquid there is the possibility of spreading it. This means a bit of cat urine for example could end up all over your carpet.