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Different types of carpet cleaning

“Keep Up” cleaning top of the pile and part of the pile itself.


As M. Dixon, president of Dixon & Associates pointed out, there are three types of carpet cleaning that detailers should be aware of:

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  1. “KEEP UP” Cleaning
  2. “CATCH UP” Cleaning
  3. “DISASTER” Cleaning

There are two types of soil in a carpet: loose and sticky. Loose soil (85 percent) can usually be removed with a good vacuuming, but sticky soil (15 percent) is more complicated. Most often, sticky soil requires the use of a carpet shampoo and one of several removal methods.

“Which chemical(s),” and “which method” of removal, are critical to how clean the carpet will come, as well as how long it will take.


A carpet has three separate dimensions, and the dirt you see is not always all there is to clean.

The first dimension is the top of the pile, which can usually be cleaned easily with a vacuum. Second, is the pile itself, and the third dimension is the backing, where all the dirt, sand, and general, carpet wearing “nitty gritty” ends up.

As a professional, you must be aware of these three dimensions and should have the chemicals, equipment, procedures and knowledge to clean them efficiently (fast) and effectively (clean).

Carpets that look clean, as you can now imagine, are not always as clean as they appear. In the commercial and residential carpet cleaning business there is a growing concern over what is called Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). SBS refers to human illnesses caused by bacteria trapped in carpets.


While the detail business has, in the past, only concerned itself with the appearance of cleaning carpets, it is evident that, as professionals, we need to be aware of all aspects of carpet cleaning to provide our customers with maximum service.

“Keep Up” cleaning

“KEEP UP” cleaning, as Dixon suggests, is done to cosmetically clean the top of the pile as well as a small part of the pile itself.

As mentioned, a vacuum will suffice for this type of cleaning. When completed the carpet appears to be clean. But, a more thorough job must be done on the pile, and certainly where the “real dirt” has settled.


“KEEP UP” cleaning is usually dry, but removing sticky soil requires moisture.

Limited moisture procedures can be accomplished with a small orbital tool and a terry bonnet – that’s right, the same orbital used to apply and remove wax or sealant can be used to clean lightly soiled carpets.

First, thoroughly vacuum the carpet. Next, spray lightly with chemical and buff until the soil is removed. As the bonnet becomes dirty just turn it over.

Another method is to spray the bonnet with chemical and buff as described above. Again, as the bonnet becomes soiled, simply turn it over, or you can rinse it out and reapply chemical before continuing.


Using this process, some of the soil is absorbed into the bonnet and some stays trapped in the carpet. The top of the pile is cleaned, and some of the pile as well. But the "nitty-gritty” soil remains in the backing.

Other "KEEP-UP cleaning methods using limited moisture are dry foam and the use of dry granular procedures.

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