There are several techniques and methods to clean water damaged carpets. To ensure that a carpet is cleaned correctly, the process must be thorough and can take up to a couple of days, including the drying time. Although it may seem counterintuitive, sometimes the best way to clean water damage is to use more water. One of the most common methods to clean water damaged carpets is hot water extraction.
What is Hot Water Extraction?
Carpet fibers are usually densely woven, providing a comfortable walking surface when dry. These same fibers absorb a considerable amount of water when wet. Water damaged carpets need to be thoroughly cleaned and dried, otherwise residual moisture can lead to mold and mildew growth, structural damage, and lingering odors.
Hot water extraction is one of the most effective methods to clean water damaged carpets and restore them back to their original condition. This process utilizes extremely hot water, detergent, and a specialized brush and vacuum system to simultaneously deep clean and extract impurities from the carpet.
Hot water extraction can usually be done in a day, depending on the extent of the damage and whether a second treatment is needed.
The hot water extraction process:
- Carpet preconditioning: A high alkaline detergent is applied to the carpet surface.
- Agitation: A brush or other specialized equipment is used to help the detergent penetrate the carpet surface for thorough cleaning.
- Dwell time: The detergent must be given time to work for optimal cleaning; the duration varies depending on the type of detergent used.
- Cleaning: A specialized machine performs two actions at nearly the same time. First, a hot water and brush combination scrubs the carpet to loosen ground-in dirt and soil. The hot water sanitizes the carpet while the brush extracts deep stains and dirt. Then, a vacuum removes stains, moisture, dirt, and detergent. This step may be repeated several times depending on how dirty the carpet is.
- Drying: Despite how powerful the hot water extraction vacuums are, not all moisture can be removed from the carpet. Floor dryers, dehumidifiers, and standing fans are used to circulate the air and accelerate the drying process.
You may have heard of the term ‘steam cleaning’ before. In fact, ‘steam cleaning’ is a misnomer, and refers to the hot water extraction process. The terms are often used interchangeably.
Whether you call it steam cleaning or hot water extraction, the hot water extraction takes some time and patience, but can be very effective in cleaning and restoring water damaged carpets.
When Carpets Can’t Be Saved
Although the hot water extraction process is useful for most carpets, some carpets simply cannot be saved and must be discarded following water damage. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Exposure to raw sewage
- Exposure to black water
- Damage to the subfloor
- Structural damage below the carpet
Carpets which have been heavily soiled or exposed to sewage must be replaced, since bacteria and other pathogens may be present. Without proper removal and sanitization, an carpet that cannot be salvaged can lead to illness in the long term.
Can you DIY Clean Water Damaged Carpets?
DIY carpet cleaning can often be used to solve minor water damage to carpets. Rental steam cleaners are less powerful than commercial units. In addition, many of these machines do not have internal heating elements. Some may call for you to add separately heated water.
Professional carpet cleaners usually have truck-mounted hot water extraction units. These units are very powerful and heat water throughout the process. Professional carpet cleaning is recommended for severe and extensive water damage.
If not dealt with as quickly as possible, carpet water damage can lead to expensive problems such as structural damage, mold and mildew growth throughout the building, and more. It only takes a few hours before water damage begins to have long-term effects.
If you have a water damaged carpet following a leak or a flood, call Tidal Wave Response. Our technicians are on-call 24/7 to respond to late-night emergencies and provide a free, no obligation assessment. Drop us a line today!