Clean carpet…until it dries?

Ever have your carpet cleaned, and it looks AWESOME…until it dries? Then, over the next week or two, all the spots that were there previously come back, and sometimes WORSE?

This is a common phenomenon in the carpet cleaning world. It’s called “Wicking”, and is caused by dirt that is buried deep down in the carpet. Many carpet cleaning companies will come in with the intent of cleaning as quickly as possible. They push the wand back and forth across the carpet, as fast as they can, and when it looks clean, they’re done. This allows them to charge lower prices, and attract more customers through their pricing structure. Quite often, however, this type of situation can end up with wicking problems. During the drying process, moisture is rising from the base of the carpet to the tips of the fibers, and then evaporating into the air. Problem is, however, that moisture that has not evaporated or been removed by the extraction equipment is in the carpet, with that dirt.

We all know what happens when you mix water and dirt…you get dirty water. As this moisture that has been down in the carpet begins to travel up the fiber and evaporate, it brings some of the embedded soil up with it, and all of a sudden, you’ve got spots on your carpet…AGAIN!

Frustrating, isn’t it?

I’m not saying that this never happens to me. I live in-between two of the best and most well-known colleges in the world, Virginia Tech and Radford University. If I’m not mistaken, Radford University once actually ranked in the Top Ten “Party” Colleges in the United States…or at least, that’s the word on the streets. 😉 I’ve seen some pretty dirty carpet in my time, and sometimes it needs to be cleaned multiple times in order to get everything out.

However, as part of my normal residential cleaning process, one of the first things I do is to vacuum your carpet. I’m not using just any old vacuum, either. I’ve got a Kirby. I LOVE my Kirby! 🙂 I’ve had a couple of jobs where after vacuuming, they thought I’d already done the full cleaning!

After vacuuming, it’s time to prespray. I use a sprayer to apply the carpet cleaning agents to the carpet, and then I have a planetary motion rotary machine with brushes that I use to scrub the carpet. Kind of like brushing your teeth, you don’t just spread toothpaste on your teeth and rinse it off, do you? You take that toothbrush, and SCRUB them! The whole point of this is break as much soiling as possible loose from the carpet and suspend it, so that when I use the wand to clean it will actually remove as much dirt as possible. See my article about “Taking a Shower” for a better description of the process of soil removal.

With the pre-scrub, and flushing the carpet nice and slow to get everything out, I get more soiling out, and reduce the chance of spots coming back. However, if you DO have spots come back, I have a Low-Moisture (LM) cleaning method that is very helpful when dealing with the problem. I can use LM cleaning, instead of the normal extraction procedure as well, if you have a particularly difficult carpet and are concerned. I prefer to take a look at the situation first, before making a decision, but there are several options available. Be sure to ask about them, and express any concerns you may have. A good cleaner will be happy to discuss this with you, and learn about what you are expecting in order to accommodate you properly and make you happy.

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Joseph Rogers

Joseph Rogers owns Quest Floor Care in Christiansburg, VA, also serving Blacksburg, Radford, Salem, and Roanoke. After working as a lead technician in the carpet cleaning industry for several years, he started his own company. He receives help on the office side of things from his lovely wife, and is an active member of his local business community.

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