What is Steam Carpet Cleaning

Most people have heard of steam carpet cleaning and have a vague idea of what it is, but anyone who is considering to purchase a steam cleaning machine for themselves, or perhaps just rent one for a quick clean of the living room carpet, will most likely want to find out a bit more about the process. Indeed, a lot of home users find the thought of using a steam carpet cleaning a bit daunting at first, as it involves a bit more knowledge and practise than simply vacuuming. In reality there is little to fear, as we shall see below, and the process is quite easy to grasp.

How Steam Carpet Cleaning Was Invented

I should perhaps start by saying that I don’t know for sure whether this story is true or not, but it does sound plausible enough. It is often said that steam cleaning was invented by a pub owner, and in a rather fortuitous way. As anyone who has worked in a pub, bar or restaurant will know, getting lipstick of a glass can be an absolute pain – the dishwasher fails to get rid of it most of the time, and using a sponge can be a rather time-consuming process. The cunning barman mentioned above decided to try removing the stains by using the steamer on his coffee maker (which is used to froth milk), and was surprised to find that it came off instantly. He thus proceeded to make a rudimentary steaming machine for cleaning carpets and other surfaces, and so it was born.

The Process

Rather counter-intuitively, steam cleaning does in fact not involve any steam coming in contact with your carpet. Well, it may happen, but it isn’t the actual idea. The water is heated inside the machine to some 50-120C, but cools down as it passes through the machine, and as such is back in water-form when it hits the carpet. The process actually revolves around applying high water pressure, and the cleaning process is sped up by using warm water (just like when you do your dishes, it’s quicker with warm water). The steps involved from a user point of view are, basically:

  1. Precondition the carpet with an alkaline solution;
  2. Stress the carpet, thus working the solution deeper into it, using a grooming brush (there will likely be a setting for this on your steam cleaning machine);
  3. Leave to dwell for the time specified on the bottle, usually around 15 to 20 minutes;
  4. Rinse thoroughly using the high pressure setting on your machine, passing over each part of the carpet several times; and
  5. Leave to dry. The drying time will vary depending on your carpet and airflow, but can be sped up using a carpet dryer (which is a big fan designed to dry carpets quickly).

So there we have it, the basically principles that define what steam carpet cleaning is. Remember to read the instructions of your particular machine prior to commencing with your steam carpet cleaning, as the above are only generic guidelines.


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