Welcome…Here You’ll Learn…

Important information when hiring a carpet cleaner. (Click each one below)

  1. The Difference Between Zero-Residue Carpet Cleaning
  2. The 5 Most Common Types of Carpet Cleaning

Zero-Residue vs Hot Water Carpet Cleaning

Rotovac 360i Restoring Carpet

There has been a large amount of money spent advertising for non-residue or zero residue carpet cleaning systems over the last few years. All this advertising for this newer cleaning system has caused some confusion, so I thought I would try and explain what it is. Below I have also included an explanation of the 5 Major Types of Carpet Cleaning to help you understand what carpet cleaners are talking about and help you get the best cleaning for your money.

The truth: Most carpet manufacturers recommend Hot Water extraction, AKA Steam Cleaning, to protect their warranty and leave happy healthy carpets.

The Bad of Carpet Cleaning: In the past and currently many carpet cleaners rinse carpet with soap. When you rent a carpet cleaner from a grocery store what happens?? Rental machines over wet the carpet, leave a soapy residue and the carpet gets dirty faster, most of the spots don’t come out, or quickly return. Carpet cleaners who rinse carpet with soap or just plain water leave a soapy residue that attracts Dirt like a Magnet. Then People think, “Once you clean carpet you ruin it!”

No NOOO…If you clean carpet the way manufacturers recommend, cleaning and rinsing carpet properly, it stays cleaner longer and feels better. So the non-residue and Zero Residue carpet cleaning systems decided that they could capitalize on this problem. This system uses special water to clean your carpet, usually with no soap, and/or no neutralizing rinse.

A Big Problem is that water alone will not Neutralize Soap, remove greasy oil spots, neutralize Spot Treatments used by the homeowner, or emulsify the dirt (float it to the top).

Plus, often these methods still use a wand (carpet cleaning tool) combining very little water and cleaning at a rapid pace like the tech trying to win a race!

Typical Wand Carpet Cleaning Tool

Problem Adding: If there is a spot that the water will not remove, like a grease spot, then a solvent type spot remover is needed. Guess what? This Grease/Oil spot remover is resistant to water. Sometimes this can leave residue that attract more dirt! Again – If you the homeowner used any spot cleaners they are just waiting to attract more dirt cause they are still there and still sticky!! Plus, with a fast cleaning the water acts like a highway bring up deep down spots!

Non-Soapy Residue Cleaning

The Trick…and they teach this…Carpet Manufacturers Want this…is to combine Hot Water Steam with a NEUTRALIZING RINSE. A neutralizing rinse helps to remove deep down soil and neutralize previous soap & spots! (see how below).

Still following? Ok, so let’s look at an example. When you wash your hair you use soap (shampoo). Ever notice that if you use a conditioner your hair feels better. Your hair feels better because the conditioner neutralized the shampoo in your hair. Carpet is the same.

Soap (Detergent) is NOT EVIL! Detergents have special characteristics built into them by chemists that make water work better for cleaning. Detergents break down water so it doesn’t sphere into a ball but instead absorbs into the carpet. Then emulsifiers in the detergent loosen up dirt and float it to the top of the carpet. Some types of detergents have other ingredients to break down oily soil and other types of soils. This neutralizing rinse also helps remove previous Homeowner Spot Treatments.
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Rotovac 360i to the Rescue!

I use a Rotovac 360i that sprays Hot Water Steam combined with a NEUTRALIZING RINSE. This machine uses more water to provide a deep rinsing action that leaves carpet feeling and performing better than carpet rinsed with just water or soap. Your washing machine and dish washer have many more rinsing cycles than wash cycles (if you notice). Things I think about LOL

The Rotovac 360i with the Quad head has 4 vacuum heads and 4 water jets that make 240 passes per minute over the carpet. The metal heads are safe for most all types of carpet. The jets and vacuum heads spin on top of the fibers opening each fiber and blasting in Hot..HOT water that is mixed with….A NEUTRALIZING RINSE!

Rotovac 360i in Action

Another Secret…The rinse has properties to help continue the cleaning process, while leaving your carpet Negative Residue Free!

Making Everything Better I go back over each room again with vacuum only sucking up excess water and MORE dirt!

Which One Looks Better – 4 Vacuum Heads and 4 Water Jets or ONE??? The Answer…4!!

Don’t Worry..If your carpet has been rinsed with soap (Many large Franchise companies do this) it usually can be reversed!

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The 5 most popular carpet cleaning methods offered by carpet cleaners. Steam Cleaning(hot water extraction), (Low Moisture) Encapsulate Cleaning, Bonet Cleaning, Dry Carpet Cleaning. Hopefully, this will clear some confusion and help.

1. Hot water extraction (Steam Cleaning)

This is the most popular method for carpet cleaning and recommended by Shaw and Mohawk carpet manufacturers. I use this process with an extensive cleaning system. This method is also known as “steam cleaning.” The water coming from the truck mounted machine is usually 180-250 degrees. Leaves carpet cleaner for longest time (if done properly)


Generally, three hoses come from a van where the machine is mounted. The machine is really a hot water wet/dry vacuum. The machines run off their own engine or the engine from the van. They have tons of vacuum power. One hose hooks up to house water (outside). A second hose (high pressure hose) comes in the house which supplies the hot water to clean the carpet. The third hose is a large hose that provides vacuum to suck up the water and dirt. The water and dirt are stored in a tank in the van.

General Hot Water Extraction Process:

First, a mild detergent is pre-sprayed at high temperature into the carpet by a pressure sprayer. Next, hot water is injected into the carpet via a wand or in my case a Rotovac. As the wand or Rotovac moves across the carpet the vacuum slot in the tool is being powered by a high-powered vacuum that extracts the water, detergent and soil from of the carpet through the slot.

Typical Wand Carpet Cleaning Tool

Wand – A manual hand tool that looks kinda like a push broom. The handle is a hollow tube where the vacuum hose attaches to the top of the handle. The font of the “push broom” is the vacuum box that is dragged like a push broom across the carpet to suck up the water and soil. The pressure hose attaches at the handle and powers jets on the back of the vacuum box that spray hot water on the carpet. They usually only make 1-2 passes over the carpet.

Good – Can be quick.

Bad – Can be real quick cleaning using little amounts of water and not removing much soil. Can lead to reappearing spots. Can leave excess water if not using dry passes. Hard to get out tough stains. Can blow water on furniture, walls, etc.

Rotary machine (I use the Rotovac 360i) – They have a spinning head with many vacuum ports that sit on the carpet and suck up the water and soil. Right next to each vacuum port is a spray jet. Water comes out of the jets to rinse the carpet. These machines make 200-300 passes per minute on the carpet. They are generally safe for all carpet (the Rotovac is safe for all carpet). The vacuum ports are usually smooth plastic or smooth metal and separate each fiber and suck up the water and dirt the jets just sprayed. People often this they are floor buffers. LOL

Good – Rotary Machine: Provides through rinsing and rarely has spots re-appear. Gets out tough stains. Rotovac can do stairs (nothing beats this).

Bad – Needs electric power, takes longer to clean, can leave the carpet wet if not using dry passes.

Ways to to Perform HWE:

Basic (dumbed down version): Single Step version – The wand or rotary machine is set on the carpet and the trigger is pulled to blast hot water in the carpet. The water is plain water or mixed with soaps (usually soap). As the water is being blasted in the carpet it is being sucked up a second later. Pre-spot and Post Spot treatment may be necessary. Popular by big companies and unethical carpet cleaners.

Good: Very fast. Crew doesn’t need much training.

Bad: Leaves the carpet sticky. Doesn’t remove much soil. Water alone doesn’t clean carpet that well. Leading cause to people thinking, “Once you cleaned the carpet it’s ruined.” (Note: Sticky carpets can be fixed). Sometimes carpet takes a long time to dry. Often spots reappear. Many companies charge extra for Spot Treatments.

IICRC Training Method (Best): Multi Step Version

  • PRE-SPRAY – Detergent cleaning solution is sprayed from a hand held sprayer into the carpet. The solution is kid and pet friendly and loosens soils by breaking down water tension so water penetrates better, looses soil, and floats it to he top to be removed.
  • RINSE the carpet with a special Fiber Rinse that keeps the carpet from being left sticky and crunchy. Some of the rinses also help continue the cleaning process down deep in the fiber (I use these).
  • EXTRA DRY PASSES go back over the carpet with vacuum only remove excess soil and water.
  • POST-SPOTTING for all difficult stains. (Coffee, food, oil/grease, spills, traffic soil)
  • Wand or Rotary Tool – Both tools work with this method

Good: Leaves carpet cleaner for longest time

Bad: Unskilled technicians can leave carpet wet.

2. Zero Residue Non-Residue Cleaning

These companies inject empowered water to remove soil. This process is an attack on Hot Water Extraction and really against carpet cleaners that rinse carpet soap.

Good: Honestly, not much better than any other system. The marketing is good.

Bad: They use an alkaline powered water to clean carpet which leaves a residue. Truth…For heavy soiled carpets they use pre-spray but have no way to neutralize it. Water alone will not remove oils and other types of dirt. Secret…Their process cannot get most soil and stains out, so they buy a lot of products from my suppliers to pull out tougher spots. Guess what?? They have nothing to pH balance the carpet and are leaving a negative residue in the carpet.

3. Encapsulation Carpet Cleaning (Low Moisture Process)

This process is mostly suited for office buildings, but had a big following for years in residential carpet cleaning. It is an IICRC certified system so it adds value and does remove soil.

Encapsulation is a chemical with a polymer that labors soil into the soap bubble. The dirt is hidden by the soap bubbles. When the applied solution dries, the carpet is then vacuumed to suck up the dirt particles, giving the rug a clean appearance. Encapsulation uses less water during the cleaning process, and as such, results in short drying times.

Tools for Encapsulation

The common is a machine like a floor buffer with brushes or removal Bonnet pads.

Good – Fast drying times, can be very inexpensive. Super-fast cleaning process.

Bad – Leaves a residue. Doesn’t remove much soil. Soil is removed when the homeowner vacuums after cleaning.

4. Dry Powder Cleaning (Host Method)

Been around probably since the 50’s. Some canopies sell it in cans at grocery stores. Powder like saw dust is poured on the carpet and brushed in. It has some solvents in the powder that absorb soil.

Good: Super dry. Good for something that shouldn’t be cleaned with water at all, like sisal, jute, etc.

Bad: Hard to get all the powder out of the carpet. Doesn’t remove much soil. Could stain the carpet if wet cleaned later or wick back, forever. Scratched my head over this one seeing saw dust looking material coming out of the carpet forever.

5. Do it yourself

You can rent or buy a machine and do warm water extraction.

Some machines need to have hot water added, while others have heating coils to pre-heat the water.

You can also buy a detergent that can be added to the tank.

Dry times average 18-24 hours as the suction for the extraction is not as powerful as a cleaning machine used by a professional. In professional cleaning all the rage is “How big is the vacuum in your truck mount carpet cleaning machine?”

If 10 gallons of water is used, some machines will only pick back up half or 5 gallons, leaving a great deal of water in the carpeting.

A couple of carpet manufacturers will still cover warranties with this type of cleaning, but you should always check before proceeding with this method.

Good – Great for spot cleaning. Cheaper than hiring someone.

Bad – Easy to over wet carpet. Leaves sticky carpet. Hard to get out stains. Hard work.

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There is No Risk in choosing any of the cleaning packages below. Just choose the one that provides you with the Best Value.

To learn more and receive an over the phone price quote – Call 503-922-4875 or 360-901-8686