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Commercial Carpet Cleaning – Hot or Cold Water Extraction?

Hot or Cold Water Extraction?

By Anthony Burton

Hot Water

There have been serious discussions regarding the extraction process and what is the best temperature for the water. Cold water extraction, based on expert analysis, is somewhat safer than hot water extraction when used on natural carpet fiber; however, it does not dissolve as much of the soil. Heat on the other hand, reduces the surface pressure of water, allowing it to clean faster and more professionally than cold water. In fact, the heat in hot water triggers the movement of chemicals working during the cleaning, which makes for easier soil removal from synthetic carpets.

In recent years, based on rising competition, many extractor manufacturers have worked really hard to improve the efficiency of their equipment. In the old days the only way you could clean with hot water was to heat water in the sink and transfer it into your machine. Fast forward to today and it’s rather easy to locate an extractor with a heater installed to provide hot water right on the spot. Most carpet manufacturers recognize hot water extraction as the preferred method of cleaning their carpets. They have bought into the fact that cleaning with hot water will drastically improve productivity, and reduce residue being left behind by other cleaning methods. (Bonnet and cold water)

Heat also seems to work well with spot removal in addition to rinsing the carpet. If you have certain spots (not stains) on the carpet, try mixing the spotting chemical with hot water in your quart bottle. Remember spots are soils and additional heat will work wonders with your spotting chemical. In addition, to ensure complete removal of residue, use hot water for your rinse. The same concept is used in your dishwasher. The hot rinse removes any lingering residue allowing for clean spot free dishes and the same is true for carpet.

There are a couple of caveats regarding heat and the extraction process. Before cleaning any carpet or upholstery, I strongly suggest testing the carpet for colorfastness and also (if possible) the fabric makeup. Typically most commercialcarpets are designed to withstand water, sand, and dirt to a degree, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Certain carpets will leave water marks from the jets on the extractor wand when the water is too hot. If this happens, reduce the heat in the extractor and work to remove the marks. This is also true with upholstery.



Cold Water

Now let’s explore the cold water extractions. Not a lot to say here except it’s much less effective at removing soil and even worse when used to remove gum, play dough or other soils that have found a home in the carpet. True, the chemical used with any extractor once activated by water will appear to clean the carpet. But I’m sure all of you have received the dreaded phone call from a client screaming that spots have returned to their freshly cleaned carpet. Two reasons for this problem: 1. The initial stain penetrated the padding under the carpet thus allowing moisture of any kind to allow the original stain to “wick” to the surface or 2. The cold water did not release the full potential of the chemical nor did the coolness of the water dissipate the initial stain enough to totally remove it from the carpet. Typically carpet in a school or office building will be void of padding. In this case reason #2 is more than likely the reason for spots to re appear.  In my opinion, and based on proven results, if you are unable to utilize hot water for your extraction, it is imperative that you pretreat the stains for at least 10 minutes. Agitating the stain will also make the overall cleanup a lot easier, but be warned, the chances of the stain reappearing are greater due to the deletion of heat during the stain removal process.

As with all cleaning, I strongly suggest following the manufactures recommendations regarding chemical application and dwell times. Remember the “glug glug” method is for rookies. We are professionals and we measure our chemicals properly and execute processes per our training and Jan Pro standards.

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3 Responses to “Commercial Carpet Cleaning – Hot or Cold Water Extraction?”

  1. Russell
    July 24, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    What about using warm water in a cold water extractor?

    • KarenC
      July 25, 2012 at 8:00 am #

      The best way to do extraction is to use warm or hot water. If a extractor is instructed to use cold water than it might be a risk to use warm or hot water. You need to be on the safe side.

  2. AJS Carpet CleanersSouth Jordan 84065
    August 16, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    Wool carpet needs special cleaning care and maintenance due to its unique characteristics. Recently I received a call from someone who needed help with their wool carpet. They had just used a small home carpet steamer on it, and shortly thereafter, yellow stains appeared all over it.

    Most carpets found in the average home today are made from synthetic material, usually nylon, that is formulated to be more resistant and less sensitive to certain conditions than wool.

    Wool carpet, as the name suggests, is made from the fleece of sheep, and is therefore composed of natural protein fibers. That is why it smells like wet sheep when it is wet. Incidentally, that is the smell of sulphur, one of the natural components of the wool fiber.

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