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Different Types of Carpet Cleaning

Karen Carter

Carpet Cleaning Methods

Different Types Of Carpet Cleaning

Curious about the different types of carpet cleaning?  There are a variety of different ways to clean carpets.  Some of the most common types of carpet cleaning include a HOST cleaning, ENCAPSULATION cleaning, DRY-CLEANING, and STEAM cleaning.  These are the most common methods but you may hear them referred to by different names, including shampoo cleaning, absorbent compound cleaning, dry foam cleaning, and hot water extraction.  The type of carpet cleaning that is best for you will depend upon your carpet, your environment, and a recommendation from the carpet manufacturer.
Carpet Cleaning Methods
Types of carpet cleaning


Also known as an Absorbent Compound or Host Cleaning, these types of carpet cleaning uses an attractant to pull soil from the surface of your carpet.  First, the carpet is vacuumed.  Next, a wet absorbent compound (often resembling a wet sawdust) is applied to the carpet. Then a special machine is used to buff and agitate the compound. The soil from the carpet is absorbed into the compound, then vacuumed up.
Types of Carpet Cleaning
Absorbent Compound used in HOST Carpet Cleaning.
STRENGTH:  With this type of cleaning the carpet is dry almost immediately and it is a relatively inexpensive cleaning.
WEAKNESS:  A HOST cleaning has limited ability, only cleaning the surface of your carpet.  With severe soil or urine deposits, this method may not be the most effective choice.  Additionally, poor vacuuming can leave some of the compound (sawdust) in your carpet.


This method of cleaning is mainly used for low pile, commercial grade carpet.  First, the carpet is pre-treated with an encapsulating cleaning solution.   Then a special machine is used to agitate the cleaning solution into the carpet fibers.  As the cleaning solution dries, it forms a crystal that encapsulates (or traps) the soil deposits, which are then removed with regular vacuuming.  This product may continue to work following the initial cleaning.  Any remaining cleaning solution will continue to trap soil.  This type of carpet cleaning is best for commercial carpet, which should be vacuumed on a regular and frequent basis.  We recommend hiring professional carpet cleaners to handle any type of commercial carpet cleaning job.
Types of Carpet Cleaning
One style of machine used during encapsulation cleaning.
STRENGTH:  This type of carpet cleaning has a fast dry time, which allows less down-time for business operations.
WEAKNESS:  There is a limited cleaning ability with heavy soil conditions.  This cleaning is not recommended for residential carpets.


Dry carpet cleaning is also referred to as a bonnet cleaning or an absorbent pad cleaning.   Contrary to their name, these types of carpet cleaning are not dry.  First, a liquid cleaning solution is sprayed onto the surface of the carpet to attract soil.  The cleaning solution breaks down the soil deposits then a buffing machine is moved across the surface of the carpet.  The buffing machine has a removable, highly absorbent pad or bonnet on the bottom.  This absorbent pad soaks up the cleaning solution and removes the soil deposits in the process.  When the pad is soiled, it is exchanged for a fresh one.  This process continues until the surface of the carpet appears clean.
Types of Carpet Cleaning
Bonnet on a rotary extractor used in Dry Carpet Cleaning.
STRENGTH:  Very little water is used with Dry-Cleaning, and there is a fast dry time.
WEAKNESS:  There is a limited cleaning ability for heavy soiled areas or urine deposits.  There is limited extraction capability with Dry-Cleaning, meaning no vacuum is used to remove sub-surface soil.  Additionally, this cleaning can be hard on face fibers.


The technical name for this cleaning is a hot water extraction or HWE.  Most carpet manufactures recommend this type of carpet cleaning.  In fact, one of the largest carpet manufactures state that any other cleaning method may void your warranty.  First, the carpet is pre-treated with a cleaning solution that helps break down the soil deposits.  Then the soil and the solution is thoroughly rinsed from the carpet with a pressurized, hot water rinse.  At the same time, a powerful wet vacuum is being used to remove the steam, soil, and cleaning solution.  The dirty water is deposited into a waste tank.  Most professionals use a truck mounted unit which offers higher temperature water and stronger vacuum power.  There are also portable steam cleaning units that operate with the same principles.  The downfall of portable steam cleaning units are reduced heat, water pressure, and vacuum resulting in inferior cleaning.
Carter's Carpet Restoration
Truck mounted steam cleaning machine.
STRENGTH:  Steam cleaning offers strong rinsing that removes imbedded soils.  Additionally, the high-temperature water which can helps sanitize and disinfects carpet fibers.
WEAKNESS:  When steam cleaning is done correctly there are very few, if any, weaknesses.

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