Do It Yourself carpet cleaning remains very popular. If you are considering cleaning your carpet, you might have any number of motivations. Maybe you distrust carpet cleaners, you think you can do a better job yourself or maybe you are looking to save money. Whatever the case, you have two basic methods to choose from. You can use a rental carpet cleaning machine or you can buy a home carpet cleaner that will allow you to clean your carpet whenever you wish .
Carpet Cleaner Rentals
There are two basic types of carpet cleaning rentals available. You have the hot water extraction carpet cleaning machine, the most common of which is the Rug Doctor brand and you have dry powder carpet cleaning under the Host Carpet Cleaning brand. Host is less known but is available at most vacuum repair shops and has actually been around for decades.
Hot Water Extraction Rental
This is what most people think about when they think of DIY carpet cleaning. Most home improvement and grocery stores will have these machines available to rent for a reasonable rate.
Your first step in carpet cleaning success is choosing the right rental. You must understand that most machines have been in use for some time. These machines will degrade over time so you should choose machines that look the newest. A new looking machine will in most cases be “newer”. This means that it will have a better solution pump and a stronger vacuum. Choose the best looking machine and if they all look bad, go to another store. Carpet cleaner rentals are a dime a dozen so you have many to choose from. Along with the machine, get a bottle of carpet shampoo and pick up a one gallon garden sprayer.
When you get home with the equipment, your first step is to vacuum your carpet thoroughly. Dry soil removal is extremely important because dry soil is easier to remove than wet soil. In addition, dry soil left in place will suck up cleaning solutions that could be breaking down other greasy and oily soils. Vacuum your carpet in several directions to remove the most soil.
Next, you need to apply a pre-treatment to the carpet to break down soil. Mix up your carpet shampoo in the one gallon garden sprayer according to directions. Apply the solution to the carpet and allow it to dwell. Pay particular attention to high traffic areas. Work in small 10 foot by 10 foot sections to keep the pre-treatment from drying too quickly. While the pre-treatment is dwelling, mix up your solution according to directions on your carpet cleaning machine. After you have given the solution on your carpet time to dwell, rinse the carpet with your carpet cleaning rental and shampoo solution. Rinse in two different directions, north to south and east to west. Take your time and do not rush.
Your last step is to rinse the carpet with plain water. Empty your machine and fill it with plain water. Once again, rinse the carpet in two directions, north to south and east to west. This will both remove more soil and remove residue that could contribute to re-soiling of the carpet. When you are finished with your last rinse pass, make an additional dry pass or two. It might seem like a lot of extra work but the more moisture you remove, the faster your carpet will dry. Most problems with carpet cleaning occur when carpets take too long to dry.
Finally, allow the carpet to thoroughly dry before putting it back to use. If you have ceiling fans, turn them on. If you have floor fans, place them near the carpeted area and blow them across the carpet. The more airflow that you can generate the better. In addition, be sure to utilize your home HVAC system. In the winter use the heat and in the summer use the air conditioning.
Any furniture that has been moved should remain off of the carpet until it has had sufficient time to dry. If you place it back too early, you might end up with furniture stains that are often permanent.
Dry Powder Rental
You may have never heard of dry powder carpet cleaning but it has been around for a very long time. In addition, it is actually easier than DIY hot water extraction. The most common place to find a dry powder carpet cleaning rental is a vacuum supply and repair store. You can find a local Host rental store here.
You will want to rent the machine, most commonly a Host machine, a box of dry cleaning powder and a bottle of pre-treatment spray called Prep for tough areas. The powder typically comes in 6 pound boxes for areas up to 600 square feet and 12 pound boxes for up to 1200 square feet.
Once you get home with the equipment, dry vacuum your carpet with your home vacuum cleaner. Go in multiple directions to remove the most soil. If you have pets, you might dry run the Host machine over your carpet in a few directions to dig out the hair and then vacuum the carpet.
Next, you will begin the cleaning process working in 100 square foot or 10 foot by 10 foot sections. If the area is heavily soiled, spray the pre-treatment on the carpet and then sprinkle a handful of dry carpet cleaning sponges on the carpet. Go lightly, it does not take much of the powder to do the job. You can always add a bit more if needed once you get started. Next, take the machine and agitate the powder in two different directions. Work it north to south and east to west. If the soil is stubborn, spray a bit more pre-treatment on the carpet, being careful not to over wet the carpet.
When you are done with the section, move on to the next section until you are done. Then, allow the carpet to dry completely before vacuuming up the powder. If you are doing multiple rooms, you should find that the first room is dry by the time you finish cleaning the last room.
Home Carpet Cleaning Machines
If you want the ability to clean your carpet whenever you want, you might consider a home carpet cleaning machine. A quality machine can be found for between $200 to $300 and will pay for itself in carpet cleaning savings. The only problem with these machines is the instructions. They tend to not follow basic carpet cleaning principles that professional carpet cleaners use. This can be fixed though. Here is how you clean a carpet properly with a home carpet cleaning machine.
First, you need to vacuum your carpet thoroughly. Dry soil removal is the first step in any successful carpet cleaning. You want to remove the dry soil before you hit it with moisture and make it sticky like mud. Take your time and vacuum your carpet in multiple directions.
Next, you need to apply a carpet pre-treatment to the carpet. Your carpet cleaning machine manual will tell you to simply add the solution to the tank and then rinse the carpet but this does not give the cleaning solution the needed dwell time. Instead, mix up a solution and apply it to the carpet separately with a one gallon garden sprayer. Work in small sections to keep the pre-treatment from drying out. 10 foot by 10 foot sections are normally ideal. Give it 5 to ten minutes to dwell and then move on to the rinse step.
Now, rinse the carpet with your machine and the shampoo solution. Go in several directions so that you can clean all sides of the fiber. Take your time, these machines are not speed demons.
Finally, empty your machine and fill it with plain water. Once again, rinse the carpet in several directions. This will remove as much of the soil attracting residue as possible so that your carpet stays clean longer. When you are finished with your last rinse pass, make a dry pass to remove more moisture. The less moisture you leave behind the fewer problems you will have.
Follow this up by adding some ventilation to the carpet to speed dry times. Tun all ceiling fans on and if you have additional fans, place them on the carpet. The more air flow, the better. In the summer, use your air conditioning to dehumidify the air and turn your heater on in the winter.
Successful Home Carpet Cleaning
TACT is the term used in the carpet cleaning industry to represent a successful carpet cleaning. It stands for Time, Agitation, Chemical And Temperature. A good machine and manufacturer will give you three of those four things and the other one is up to you. Time means that you give the chemical time to work. You do this by applying it separately and giving it a few minutes to work. Next comes Agitation which you will get by choosing a machine with good brushes to agitate the solution. This can also be achieved by using a separate carpet brush or rake to agitate the solution. Then comes Chemical which comes from picking a manufacturer with quality chemicals, Stick to a major brand to get this. Avoid the cheap stuff, you get what you pay for. Finally comes Temperature which means that you need a machine with a good heater, Heat increases the power of your cleaning solution
About Carpet Cleaning Chemicals.
Do not think that you are limited to the cleaners that your carpet machine manufacturer sells. You can, in fact, buy professional strength carpet cleaning chemicals. You do not have to be a professional to buy them. Professional solutions work better and go farther. A $30 bottle of professional cleaning solution would last you years and probably outperform the cleaner that came with your machine.
To find these cleaners, your best bet is to visit a local carpet supply store. Just do a local search for “carpet supply” and you should find one if you are in or near a major city. This is the route you should take if possible because you can then ask advice for the best cleaner for your situation. Your next best option is to check out a place like JonDon where you can buy supplies online. They have a chat function so that you can get advice about the right cleaner for you.
Be careful because some cleaning solutions are designed for commercial carpet and is not suitable for residential carpet. Most cleaners that are safe for your carpet will have a PH of under 10 and will say “Safe For Stain Resistant Carpet”.