ITHACA/ELMIRA carpet cleaners

Wet vs Dry Cleaning
for Your Wall-to-Wall Carpets

wall-to-wall carpet cleaningWall-to-Wall Carpet Cleaning

Carpet Cleaning-Wet vs Dry Cleaning

Wet vs dry cleaning for your carpets? In most areas of the country, you can find wall-to-wall carpet cleaning companies who use exclusively wet or exclusively dry carpet cleaning methods and many who use both or either, depending on the fiber content and condition of the carpet.

Which Method is Best?

Wet Method

If you have pets or if it has been some time since you had your carpets cleaned or if they are unusually dirty and riddled by spots, a wet cleaning method would be your best option.

Carpet shampooing was the method used before truck-mounted steam cleaning systems became available. The shampoo method was not as effective and would leave a shampoo residue that would actually attract dirt. The result was a carpet that would get dirtier faster, thus needing to be cleaned more often.

Carpet manufacturers are in agreement today that the steam cleaning or hot water extraction (specifically truck-mounted) method is the most effective at removing deep down dirt from carpet pile. This method, when performed properly, will not leave a residue as the shampoo method does.

The downside to the wet method is the relatively long drying time. However, if done correctly and with quality equipment and know-how, the carpet should be damp to the touch when the technician leaves and should be mostly dry within 5 to 8 hours, depending on the temperature outside and inside.

Additionally, booties can be offered to put over shoes if the carpet needs to be used sooner. And, in certain instances, it is possible to professionally wet clean a carpet using a low moisture cleaning method, which can significantly lessen the total drying time. 

Anything smaller than a truck-mounted unit, such as a portable cleaner or a carpet shampooer rented from a store cannot do the job as well. Problems posed by the portables, especially do-it-yourself methods, are: 

  • the tendency to use too much soap leaving a residue,
  • the water is not hot enough,
  • the vacuum is not strong enough to pull out the majority of the water, which will extend the drying time and possibly cause moisture problems such as mold and mildew.

Dry Method

The dry cleaning method uses solutions and dry compounds to attract and absorb dirt and grime. The process is not as labor-intensive as wet cleaning and is faster.

One method is a low moisture foaming system which separates the dirt from the carpet fiber and uses a powerful vacuum to remove both the dirt and the solution.

Another method uses a dry cleaning compound which is spread on the carpet to absorb the dirt and then vacuumed up. Unfortunately, with this method, a residue may remain in the carpet. After several dry compound cleanings, another process may be required to eliminate the residue.

With dry cleaning there is, of course, no lengthy drying time but the dry cleaning method is never as effective at removing deep-down dirt and stains in the carpet pile as wet cleaning.

The dry cleaning method may be the only possible method to use in certain circumstances such as when a carpet cleaning truck cannot get close enough to a residence or a commercial building to run necessary hoses, or the hookup for those hoses would not be practical.

Wet and Dry Methods Used Together

Occasionally, when spots and spills reappear after a professional carpet steam cleaning, wet vs dry cleaning becomes wet followed by a dry cleaning method. This is because a carpet acts like a 'wick' and any spills still under the surface can 'wick' up. When this phenomenon appears, a dry method can be used which involves lightly buffing the area with a dry cleaning solution to remove the spots and spills from the surface.

Wet vs Dry Cleaning Summary

The wet method (specifically professional truck-mounted carpet cleaning) is the best choice for heavily soiled and heavily trafficked areas. If drying time is of the essence, the dry cleaning method may be preferable, especially in an office situation.

If dry cleaning will not suffice, professional carpet cleaning companies can clean with low moisture, significantly lowering the amount of time needed to dry the carpets.

Occasionally, wet cleaning may initially remove stubborn spots and spills but they may reappear after the carpet has dried. In this case, a dry cleaning method can be used after the carpet has dried to eliminate the spot that has wicked to the surface.

What Methods Does ABC Use?

At ABC, we are not limited to wet vs dry cleaning. We can clean wall-to-wall carpets with wet and/or dry cleaning methods. We are prepared to offer you the best solution for your carpet cleaning based on your particular needs. Please call or text our office at 607-272-1566 to schedule a free estimate or to make an appointment.

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ABC Oriental Rug & Carpet Cleaning Co.
130 Cecil Malone Drive Ithaca, NY 14850


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