In a recent article, I commented on hot water extraction and was unclear on when and how it should be used. My focus was on the times I have seen poor outcomes due to untrained/unsupervised workers doing more harm than good. I really appreciated the feedback and dialogue that hopefully clarified what system to use.

First of all, let’s agree that the goal of any carpet maintenance/cleaning program is to provide a clean carpet and hopefully extend its useful life. We should all agree that well-maintained, quality matting is essential to preventing soils from entering the building. Much of the abrasion we see in carpeted traffic lanes is due to not capturing this soil before it is tracked on the carpet fibers causing damage (think fuzzy, worn appearance). We all should agree that regular vacuuming to remove particulate matter is vital to removing the soils that can actually damage carpet fibers as it cuts away from the bottom up.

The best-designed system in the world will fail if not used correctly. There are interim cleaning methods that range from bonnet cleaning, encapsulation, powders and others that all can be effective when used correctly by trained workers. This does not mean that I endorse all carpet cleaning processes. There are some carpet bonnets that should not be used on carpet even by an experienced technician.

My experience over the years has been that a mix of the best interim cleaning system for your carpet can extend the life of carpet and reduced the need for hot water extraction or heavy shampooing processes that if used incorrectly, can leave the carpet wet for days creating the environment for mold, mildew and other issues. The carpet backing can be damaged and in some cases, it will have to be re-stretched. With my “80/20 Rule” you may need to hot water extract some high-traffic areas a lot more often than the recommended once per year and use interim cleaning processes on other areas. It is a case-by-case judgement call that only the person onsite can make.

Of course, if the carpet manufacturer bans a process then make sure that you do not void the warranty in an effort to save a few dollars. As to labor costs, I am always looking for the most cost effective way of “cleaning” the carpet. Most time standards show that hot water extraction is more labor intensive than most interim methods.

This is why I support extensive training and certification. It is one of the best investments you can make in reducing errors and providing quality results. This is where you have to do your homework and determine what fits your particular needs.

Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or