For years, cleaning your carpet has meant “shampooing” your carpet, and it actually is somewhat similar to shampooing your hair. Rug shampoo and hot water are scrubbed into the carpet with a rug-cleaning machine, which agitates the fibers, working the shampoo deep into the material where it can reach the soil. The machine also sucks up the water and shampoo as it cleans. When done correctly, it does a good job, but it can leave a carpet damp enough that it may take a long time to dry.
The carpet cleaning method that most people are familiar with today is the steam cleaning method, which is also known as “hot water extraction”. Though it can be done yourself, no hot water heater can deliver the kind of water temperature that a professional carpet steamer uses to get your carpet clean, but both work very well. Steam cleaning works better than any other method in terms of both cleaning and removing bacteria and allergens from your carpet. The hot water lifts stains more effectively and restores the spring and curl of the carpet’s fibers. It’s safe for almost all carpets with the exception of the kind of natural fibers such as silk or wool that are found in oriental rugs or hand-loomed carpets. The only true downside to steam cleaning is that it can take up to 24 hours for the carpet to dry.