How to Steam Clean Your Own Carpet
Before we begin to talk about cleaning your own carpet, there are a few things to consider. First do a cost analysis to determine if it is worth doing. Add up the cost of the carpet cleaner rental, the cost of the cleaning detergents and most importantly your time. You often do not save much money by doing it yourself. We recommend hiring a professional cleaner. They will have better equipment and will usually do a better and quicker job. But if you must do it yourself, read on.
The Rental Machine
Carpet cleaning machines are available at most home centers and grocery stores. They are usually small and easy to handle. They typically rent from between twenty to thirty dollars a day. The machine will have a solution tank which typically holds around 3 gallons of water which you can fill from your sink or bath tub and a recovery tank which is often detachable for easy emptying into a toilet. Most rental cleaners will have one vacuum motor and a water pump which usually delivers less than 100 pounds per square inch of pressure.
The Cleaning Solution
Along with the machine you will have to purchase a carpet cleaning shampoo or detergent. DO NOT substitute any other cleaner. Use the recommended solution only. The use of regular detergent or soap can easily harm your carpet. The cleaner sold with the machine is designed for use on carpeting.
The instructions on the carpet cleaner rental machine will typically tell you to fill the solution tank with water and the shampoo concentrate. There are 2 problems with this. First off, you would be rinsing the carpet with soap. Soap leaves a soil attracting residue, which will cause your carpets to re-soil much quicker. Secondly, if you are spraying the carpet with the soap and immediately extracting it, you will not be giving the cleaner much time to work. It needs dwell time.
Here’s a better way. Get a separate sprayer. A pump up garden sprayer works best. Make sure it is clean and has never been used to spray any other chemicals. Mix the shampoo solution in the pump up sprayer and spray the carpet lightly. Allow the chemical to dwell on the carpet for 5 to 15 minutes. You don’t want to soak the carpet with the shampoo but if it is almost dry in 15 minutes, you haven’t sprayed enough. Now fill the machine with clean warm water and rinse the carpet. Make an extra drying pass over the carpet with just the machines vacuum motor on. By rinsing the carpet with just water you will be leaving far less residue. If you have to leave any furniture on the carpeting, be sure to put plastic under the legs to protect both it and your carpet.
Drying Your Carpet
This is very important. You need to get your carpet dry as quickly as possible. That’s why you should have already made an extra drying pass with the carpet cleaner rental machine. Make sure that all of your ceiling fans are left on. If you have any box fans or portable fans, place them on the carpet. Turn your HVAC systems fan on run so that air is constantly circulating in your home. Do not place any furniture on the carpeting until it is completely dry. Furniture can leave varnish, rust stains, etc on carpeting. Well that’s it. If your tired after reading this, we would like to once again mention that we recommend hiring a professional to do the work. They will use a machine with greater vacuum, higher heat and capable of greater water flow and extraction. This will leave you with a cleaner, drier carpet in less time.