First came cold-water carpet extraction, then hot was king. After all, everyone knows that hot water has more cleaning power, right? The answer may surprise distributors and cleaning professionals. (But, more on that later.)
The carpet cleaning tides are turning. Many building service contractors (BSCs) and in-house service professionals are turning to cold water to improve productivity, increase safety and save energy. 
“We have a lot of [customers] that still purchase cold-water machines,” says Jennifer Wagner, president of Masco Industrial Supply in Springfield, Ill. “And we use cold-water machines in our industry when we service facilities.”

A Brief History Of Extraction

Extraction is a fairly new technology; it didn’t become popular until the 1980s. Prior to that, professional cleaners relied most often on rug shampooers. 
“Over-wetting the carpet and doing dry foam shampoo was typical, and some older carpets you would find in commercial environments have been known to shrink,” says Dan Dillon, owner of and Clean It Janitorial Services, Norristown, Pa. 
When manufacturers started introducing extractors that could spray and vacuum at the same time, BSCs and in-house service providers realized they were superior to the old shampooing method. These machines could get the carpet cleaner and have it dry faster — keys when fast turnover is required. 
The first machines on the market were cold-water extractors, but manufacturers started thinking that if cold water cleaned well, hot water would clean even better. 
“They were looking at carpet cleaners with systems coming out of the back of a truck,” says Glenn Rothstein, president of Bio-Shine Inc. in Spotswood, N.J. “Years ago, that’s where the hot water came from. So our industry said, ‘Wow — we’ve got to compete against the guy bringing the truck. Well, let’s make extractors with hot water.’”
Although, customers can fill cold-water extractors with hot water from an outside source, hot-water extractors typically use an internal heater to heat the water. They can be truck-mounted or portable units. The machines spray a solution of cleaning chemicals and water into the carpet, then recover the solution and dirt with a powerful vacuum into a tank. Some extractors also have a power head that agitates the carpet to bring up more dirt, an added benefit.

Linda Formichelli is a freelance writer based in Apex, N.C. 

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Benefits of Cold Water Carpet Extraction