Shampoo cleaning enjoyed many years as the method of choice for carpet cleaning. Over the years more carpets have been cleaned by shampooing than by any other method. Starting with natural soaps, and then moving on to synthetic detergents, shampooing has provided a reliable, safe, and effective way to clean millions of square yards of carpeting.  

This method consists of a rotary floor machine equipped with solution tanks and shower feed brushes. After a thorough vacuuming, the carpet is scrubbed while a shampoo solution is fed through the shower feed brush. This system is relatively economical, and excellent agitation and deep cleaning produce good overall cleaning results. However, a high level of skill is involved, as over wetting and pile distortion can easily occur.

In recent years, shampoo cleaning has fallen into disfavor and is being replaced by the extraction or encapsulation as the method of choice for most professional carpet cleaners. That is because, over the years, shampooing has developed a reputation as a method that leaves too much residue in the carpet fiber.

Benefits of shampooing carpet include: 1) Wide variety of competing chemicals that can be targeted to a specific fiber or soil, 2) Long dwell time of chemical on fiber compared to bonnet cleaning and 3) High agitation which can release more soils that other methods.

Limitations to shampooing carpet include: 1) Potential residue buildup although many newer chemicals are minimal in this area, 2) No rinsing which can result in carpet fibers resoiling sooner and 3) Potential carpet distortion if an inexperienced floor tech uses the wrong brush on the wrong fibers.

There is a simple test that you can perform on any synthetic detergent that will test the kinds of residue it will leave on the face yarns. Dilute a small amount of the detergent to the concentration recommended by the supplier. Then, pour some of it in a clear dish and let it evaporate till it is dry. Then look at the bottom of the dish. Is it clear or is there a haze? Feel the bottom of the dish. Is it dry and brittle or does it feel  A question that always occurs when someone observes a carpet being shampooed is “where does the dirt go?” It seems to just disappear. 

The reality is, all carpet cleaning methods leave some kind of residue in a carpet fiber. The question should not be “Does this method leave a residue?” but rather “What kind of residue does this method of cleaning leave on the fiber?” 

Your comments and questions are always welcome. 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