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Are There Health Benefits to Steam Carpet Cleaning vs Traditional Cleaning?

In the 80s and 90s, laying down carpet hit all-time high popularity. This resulted in now 48% of the US flooring market consisting of carpeted flooring. Carpets get a lot of abuse from traffic, spills, pets, and more. How can we keep them clean without harsh chemicals affecting our health? Are there health benefits to cleaning the floors one way, rather than another?

Carpet cleaning has also never been more critical than it is now.

Keep reading to find out the health benefits of different carpet cleaning services, such as steam cleaning.

Carpets and Health: The Common Thread

According to the American Lung Association, carpets can trap pollutants like lead, mold spores, dirt and dust, and micrometer-sized particles. New carpets have a different problem, possibly emitting VOCs or “volatile organic compounds.” When it comes to cleaning our carpets, it often is much worse a problem than we think. The choice of cleaning method can either make these problems worse or solve them. Some common issues resulting from a carpet that is retaining too much dust, bacteria, viruses, and more are:

  • Coughing
  • Congestion
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Irritation of the nose, eyes, and lungs
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Sneezing

They recommend hard-surfaced flooring and rugs, which could work for some with extreme reactions. But more often than not carpets are just cozy and snuggly places in our homes we don’t want to live without. They suggest vacuuming at least three times a week with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter. This might be good for maintenance, but what about an occasional deep clean?

Using the wrong method may just exacerbate these issues even more. Harsh chemicals might get your carpets clean, but likely won’t get you over some of those symptoms of a toxic carpet. This is especially a problem for toddlers, pets, and babies, who deal with carpets much more than we do. Not to mention they’re closer to the ground, breathing in whatever is in or on the carpet at a higher concentration than an adult would. Synthetic fibers of the carpet could interact with some cleaning chemicals as well. It’s important to spot test for just this reason.

Some chemicals to watch for are pesticides, disinfectants, formaldehyde, acetone, and even some acids. Carpet cleaners that have chemicals like this can leave concentrated vapors in the room, especially lower to the ground. Letting the carpet “off-gas” or air out won’t eliminate the problem.

Allergic to the Carpet?

Allergy symptoms are similar to symptoms from dust, VOCs, and other pollutants. Though, allergies are an often unrecognized problem created by carpet maintenance woes. If you’ve been getting strange rashes or sinus problems that flare up at home, the culprit may be the carpet. Rather, What’s in the carpet. Some people are indeed allergic to the fibers that make up a carpet, though. The upper layer, or pile, can have a make up of:

  • Nylon
  • Polyester
  • Polypropylene
  • Wool
  • Jute
  • Sisal
  • Coconut
  • Seagrass
  • Or a blend

The lower portion you rarely see is the carpet padding. The carpet padding is made of bonded urethane foam. Usually, it’s made of recycled furniture, mattress, and car seat foam. Sometimes these substances contain VOCs as well, but it’s more likely to be too many allergens. The most common allergens found in carpets are things like:

  • Pet dander
  • Mold
  • Dust Mites
  • Cockroach dust, feces, saliva, and body parts
  • Fleas

These things don’t cause an immediate reaction in most people at low levels. The problem is when they build up and cause chronic issues like runny nose and eyes, skin rashes like eczema, and symptoms similar to colds or flues. Even if you don’t have an infestation, cockroaches cause some of the worst chronic and insufferable of symptoms. Former infestations or invasions can leave traces behind for years, causing respiratory and skin issues.

In all of the allergy-inducing scenarios, vacuuming is a good start, but not enough. Washing bedding and blankets, vacuuming, and limiting physical exposure on the carpet may be necessary. Some even have to resort to replacing carpets with another flooring type. It isn’t always necessary if you have the right tools and training for a deeper clean than you ever thought possible. This is where a professional cleaning service shines and makes the difference. But what service should you get?

Shampoo Carpet Cleaning

Shampoo carpet cleaning depends on detergents and water to work. Other chemicals may be added to break down dirt, grime, and other contaminants that may have been spilled or staining the carpet. Using a detergent doesn’t kill all germs and remove all allergens.

Depending on how sensitive you are to chemicals this might not solve the issues explained above in the slightest. You could just end up with the same symptoms for different reasons. Continuing to use a shampoo service will also leave a residue that builds up over time. This residue can actually make carpets heavily soiled all over again in a short time.

If you’re trying to get rid of pests like mites or bedbugs, shampooing won’t kill the eggs. Once the eggs are ready to hatch, the pest issue will return. One more issue with shampooing carpets to consider is that it takes a long time to dry out. This could reintroduce molds and bacterial growth. Now you’re stuck with the same situation as before.

One of the pluses of shampooing is that it has a mechanical action with a nylon brush head. The brush spins, injects a cleaning solution into the fibers of the carpet, and raises the fibers in areas where the carpet may be getting a wear pattern from traffic.

It also works very well for heavy soiling of carpets and doesn’t take a lot of training to do. Without the training, though, you could use excess water or cleaning detergents and chemicals. There is also a risk of mechanically damaging the carpet.

The breakdown of shampoo carpet cleaning is that it’s a simpler service, does a good job for heavy, loose soiling. The downside is that it leaves soap residue which attracts more dust and dirt, takes a long time to dry, and has a good chance of damaging or weakening carpet fibers from the scrubber.

Bonnet Carpet Cleaning

Sometimes called “dry cleaning” or “carbonated” cleaning, Bonnet carpet cleaning is similar to shampooing in many respects. It’s mostly seen in commercial carpeting to keep it clean over time.

It also uses a carpet cleaning solution as shampooing does, as well as plenty of water. Bonnet cleaning is essentially a rotary machine with a cleaning pad soaked in a carpet cleaning solution. As the carpet is cleaned, pads are replaced as needed.

It’s an inexpensive and easy-to-use cleaning method. Like many things in life, the easier something is or cheaper it is, the less likely it is to be a good solution. It doesn’t go as deep as a shampoo cleaner but takes much less time to dry. For a variety of reasons, bonnet cleaning isn’t recommended for most customers. It also deposits residue, leading to resoiling, and only removes surface dirt. Finally, it causes more wear than other carpet cleaning services.

Using it on older, already damaged carpet will likely lead to the destruction of your carpets. Depending on the speed, it has even been known to melt some fibers. Because of these problems and more, many carpet warrantees are voided once a bonnet cleaner is used on it. It’s useful only in a commercial application for spot cleaning, surface soils, and the lack of training required to do it. You might save money upfront, but then wish you hadn’t since it could cost you replacing your carpet in the end.

Just about the only upside to doing a bonnet carpet clean is that it dries quickly.

Steam Carpet Cleaning

As far as carpet cleaning services go, this might be the best carpet cleaner for most people’s needs. Whether it’s residential or commercial carpet cleaning, it’s recommended to clean carpets every six months.

That time could be extended as far as 18 months, though. Part of regular cleaning involves ongoing vacuuming, up to as much as three times a week. This depends on:

  • The age of the carpet
  • Lifestyle
  • Frequency of vacuuming
  • Carpet colors

Since steam cleaning uses almost only water, of the different carpet cleaning services, it leaves the least residue (if any). This reduces waste chemicals from going down the drain. This in turn contributes to a more ecological solution, if you’re concerned about keeping more than just your carpets clean. Steam cleaning is a wall-to-wall solution, where rotors have to be careful around baseboards. It eliminates 99.99% of mold, bacteria, virii, and fungus. Various attachments make it easy to maneuver and access those tough-to-reach places.

It’s known to cut through stains and reach into the carpet pad with temperatures ranging between 150°F to 300°F or 66°C to 149°C. This kills mites, fleas, and their eggs. It takes between 24 to 48 hours to dry, depending on how deep a clean the carpets needed. You can even opt for steam cleaning tile, countertops, grout, hardwood floors, and more. No vapors, no residues, and a lot less noise.

Also, unlike other forms of carpet cleaning, steam cleaning services can actually extend the life of your carpet. Don’t wait until it’s laden with soil before calling a professional. Being proactive will save you money in the long run.

A Steamy Summary

To recap on the benefits of steam cleaning, you:

  • Can use it on multiple surfaces using attachments
  • Reduce chemical use to almost zero
  • Lift stains completely
  • Get a deep clean all the way to the carpet pad
  • Lift dirt and grime
  • Kill bacteria, virii, fungus yeast, mold, mildew, and more
  • Eliminate allergens
  • No fumes or vapors except for water
  • Extend the life of your carpet
  • Destroy dust mites, fleas, and their eggs
  • Remove odors and body oils

It’s important to remember that they can do so much because of the large variety and amount of allergens and biological materials that build up in carpets over time. In fact, it’s often been reported that carpets are dirtier than just about any other place, including toilet seats.

Professional cleaning makes the difference when it comes to keeping carpets clean, though. Office floors were discovered as the cleanest around, including gym floors. Why did the researchers think that office floors were the cleanest? They suspect that the reason was that office floors are professionally cleaned on a regular schedule. Also, many offices get a deep cleaning every six months to a year that keeps things fresh and spotless.

All that being said, it’s important to remember safety when dealing with steam equipment. Because of the high temperatures, it’s not difficult to get burned if you don’t follow proper safety precautions. The temperature can still be above boiling four to six inches from the steam nozzle. Children should never use it, and teens should be supervised. Why bother doing it yourself when you can have a professional do it for you? Save time, do it right, and be safe with a professional steam carpet cleaning service.

Getting the Health Benefits of Steam Carpet Cleaning Services

Carpet cleaning is often put on the backburner if performed at all. When you think you’re saving money, you could just be putting yourself and family members or employees at risk. Allergies and pollutants are no laughing matter and should be dealt with seriously. ProCleanings has earned its reputation as a reliable and thorough cleaning service. We focus on three priorities when we are on the worksite — accountability, commitment, and reliability. Contact us today and let us show you the difference a professional carpet cleaning service can make.