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Detailing

Your carpet cleaning checklist

March 16, 2011
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Wowing your customers with a clean carpet is as easy as following these simple checklists, which explain which tools and cleaning solutions you need, as well as the processes for properly cleaning a carpet. Follow these tips and suggestions with every upholstery service.

Needed equipment
Your first step in cleaning a carpet is to make sure your detail shop is well-equipped. To properly clean a carpet, you will require this equipment:

  • An extractor: The most important piece of equipment and is used for heavy-duty cleaning. A good extractor should have at least a 100 psi of pump pressure and ideally an adjustable pressure up to 500 and a water lift minimum of 150 inches.
  • A steamer
  • A rotary airbrush or electric rotary brush/scrubber: While this can be done by hand with a good scrub brush, an air power or electric powered rotary scrubber will increase the quality of the job and it’s not as much work. These can be as simple as a brush that can be attached to a buffer or a dedicated piece of a equipment just for scrubbing carpets.
  • Air movers or blowers/fans: These aid in the drying process to prevent wicking. I’ve seen all kinds of things used here, the best solution is a blower that’s used by the commercial carpet cleaner, there are smaller ones for smaller areas called blue blowers, that can be fitted with a heater.

There is also the “dry bonnet method” of cleaning carpets, where a solution is sprayed on the carpet and using a rotary scrubber with some type of bonnet over the brush, you clean and dry the carpet in one step — this is only feasible with light soiling and light to no staining.

This can also be done with your steamer with a microfiber towel over one of the brushes.

Solution solutions
In addition to having the right equipment, it’s important that your detail shop have the correct chemical solutions. Plan on having your supply closet stocked with the following:

  • A degreaser: Whether it be a solvent or water base use for those oily stains on the carpet and oily soiling;
  • A red stain remover and/or tannin remover;
  • Enzyme cleaners for those protein types of spills (milk, food, urine, and vomit);
  • Odor eliminators;
  • A really good general stain remover that will work on just about anything we haven’t covered. Floex is one that comes to mind. Something else that I’ve seen lately is encapsulation products. They seem to be used more readily with the dry bonnet type cleaning.
  • And a stain removal kit. You can get these from companies like Serve Pro or Service Master. They have neat little kits with a “stain wheel” to help you diagnose the stain and what it will take to clean it.

Steps to a clean carpet
Finally, once you have the proper equipment and cleaning solutions you will be able to clean the carpet. The following steps should be taken to clean vehicle upholstery:

1. Perform an inspection and diagnosis of work needed to clean the carpet;

2. Remove all trash and loose items and vigorously vacuum;

3. Diagnose and pretreat stains and scrub and then extract soil and retreat stains if necessary; and

4. Dry the carpet as soon as possible after completing the cleaning — the sooner you start the drying process, the better.


Randy Lowe has over 30 years of experience in the detailing industry and is the founder of Custom Detail of Salem, OR.

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