Types of Carpet and Methods for Cleaning Them

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Are you curious about how to best clean your carpet? If you're like most people, you're not even certain what type of carpet has been installed in your home or rental. Is it nylon, polyester or a natural fiber? And does that matter? The simple answer is yes. The first step toward properly maintaining your carpet is learning what type of carpet fiber it's made from. To help educate those in the greater Spokane area on how to better clean and keep up their carpets, we've put together a helpful list of the most common types of carpets along with the best way to clean each type.

The Most Common Types of Carpet Fibers

  1. Nylon. We list this one first, because it is the most common type of carpet sold. Nylon is, by far, the most durable synthetic carpet fiber available on the market today. It can maintain its shape in high-traffic areas where families and pets walk and run on a daily basis. This type of carpet would be ideal for locations like hallways, stairs, or other high-traffic. common areas. However, it is not as stain-resistant as other types of fibers, so many Nylon carpets are sold with a built-in, stain-fighting treatment.
  2. Olefin. If you're not certain what type of carpet to install in your finished basement, or on your outdoor patio, you may want to consider an olefin variety. These types of carpets, while not as comfortable and soft under your feet as other varieties, are highly resistant to environments that may contain more moisture, mold or mildew. In fact, they are highly resistant to all three of these destructive elements.
  3. Wool. A natural carpet fiber, the wool carpet is often considered the most eco-friendly of all the carpets, but is typically more expensive. One of the advantages of wool carpeting is it comes with a natural ability to fight stains and dirt, which means it needs less professional cleaning than the synthetic varieties. It is also naturally more flame-retardant than its synthetic counterparts.
  4. Polyester. A synthetic fiber, which is available in many different colors. Polyester carpet is perfect for households with a normal amount of daily traffic. Unlike Nylon, polyester will not last in high-traffic areas and will require replacement more often than other types. However, it is considered to be softer than many carpets and does have stain and water-resistant qualities.

Let's Talk About The Three Basic Pile Types

After you've identified the type of fiber your carpet is made from, the next step is identifying its pile type. When carpet is constructed, a machine works to loop the fibers into the carpet backing material in a specific way. This process "twists" the fibers as they are woven into the carpet backing. Your pile type will ultimately determine your carpet's durability and ability to perform. There are three basic patterns of weaving the fibers into the backing:

  • Cut Pile. In cut pile carpet, the fibers have been cut at their ends. This type of carpet is typically softer and can be found in rooms within the home that do not encounter high-traffic. An example might be a bedroom or family room. Cut pile is designed for areas that feature comfort over durability.
  • Loop Pile. Typically placed in high-traffic areas due to its ability to fight stains on the surface. This type of carpet features fibers that are looped, but uncut on the face of the pile. A common example is berber carpet. Berber is known for its ability to survive in hallways and other high-traffic locations.
  • Cut-Loop. Another high-performer, but not as durable as the loop carpet. This type of carpet is usually sold in a variety of sculpted patterns, which are made by cutting some tufts but also leaving some loops.

Now That I Know Everything There is to Know About Carpets, How Are They Cleaned?

It's time to call the professionals when carpet has been badly stained or has begun to look dulled in its texture and color. There are also high-traffic areas used by pets and children that may see more spills or accidents. These carpets are prone to grow bacteria and mold. A routine deep-cleaning of these surfaces improves not only the look and feel of the carpet, but reduces the number of toxic allergens within the environment. There are four basic types of professional cleaning:

  1. Hot Water Extraction. Typically referred to as «steam cleaning». This method is often used for natural fiber carpets, but shag carpets and other deep-pile carpets made from synthetic fibers are also ideal for this type of cleaning. Loop pile carpets respond well to hot water extraction. This process treats the carpet with a pre-conditioning agent, and then water is heated and used to rinse the conditioner from the carpet to return it to its normal pH. Hot water extraction can typically be performed in an afternoon, depending on the size of your home or business, but it does require drying time.
  2. Encapsulation. This method can be used on a variety of carpet types, because it is less disruptive than hot water extraction. It also has the benefit of not soaking the carpet with water. Keeping the carpet dry can help with wool varieties, as these are known to shrink after application of too much hot water. Encapsulation has virtually replaced the method of professional shampooing in today's industry. Unfortunately, this method does not clean heavily soiled, high-traffic areas as well as hot water extraction. However, it is perfect for routine maintenance of common areas that see a normal amount of traffic.
  3. Bonnet Cleaning. Bonnet cleaning is often used as a «quick fix» between deep cleanings, but many carpet cleaning professionals do not use bonnet cleaning technology, because of its tendency to wear down the carpet fibers and in some cases even melt synthetic fibers. Hotels and businesses with high-traffic areas typically use bonnet cleaning as a quick fix to remove surface stains. Unfortunately, this method does not provide the deep cleaning that many home owners are looking for.
  4. Dry Carpet Cleaning. This type of carpet cleaning is safe for all kinds of carpet, but is ideal for environments where the carpet is used routinely on a 24/7 basis. This type of carpet cleaning does not require drying time and is, therefore, ideal for high-traffic businesses that need to remain open during their carpet cleanings, or businesses who cannot allow time for carpet drying.

If you're still unsure what to do about your carpet issues, we're always available and willing to have a conversation with anyone in the greater Spokane area. Carpet cleaning is a simple science, but it's important to consult with a professional before making big, expensive decisions about removal or replacement. In most scenarios, choosing the proper professional cleaning method will breathe life back into your carpet right before your eyes.

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