Dear Editor,

I would like to respond to the short item on your website entitled “A Brief History of Cold Water Carpet Extraction,” written by Linda Formichelli.

While I appreciate her thoughts, the article seems to indicate that carpet cleaning industry trends are moving away from the use of hot-water carpet extractors and toward cold-water systems “to improve [worker] productivity, increase safety and save energy.”

While I will agree that a portable cold-water system may use less electricity than a portable hot-water extractor, this likely can vary due to a variety of factors such as how old the machine is, how and where it is used, the manufacturer, etc.

However, I definitely disagree that a cold-water system can improve productivity or increase safety compared to a heated system.  As a matter of fact, I would argue that just the opposite may be true.

Heated cleaning solutions improve the entire cleaning process, resulting in more thoroughly cleaned carpets.  This often occurs using less chemical, which also helps reduce carpet cleaning’s impact on the environment.  This is because heat helps increase the molecular activity of the cleaning chemicals - in other words, the chemicals do more of the hard work to help loosen and dissolve soils for faster,  easier, and much quicker extraction.

This concept is confirmed in science studies going back more than 125 years.

Dr. Michael Berry, author of the book Protecting the Built Environment: Cleaning for Health, also found that heat improves cleaning’s effectiveness. “Even without soap, small amounts of grease will dissolve in water, [but] the amount increases in hot water, sometimes ten-fold,” he says. Because of this, hotter cleaning solution contributes to a healthier indoor environment.

The end result: worker productivity is actually increased using a hot-water system because of the enhanced effectiveness of the cleaning chemicals. The technician does not have to make as many passes over the same carpeted area to effectively clean the carpets.

Further, heat enhances safety. Carpets tend to dry faster when a heated solution is employed. The faster the carpet dries, the less risk there is of a slip and fall occurring and the sooner the entire area can be opened to foot traffic.

While cold-water extractors are and will continue to play a role in professional carpet cleaning, invariably technicians who want the most effective carpet cleaning results for their customers, in the fastest amount of time, and safest manner will continue to seek and use hot-water extractors.

Mark Baxter has been involved with the professional cleaning industry for more than a decade. He is an engineer and product manager for U.S. Products, a manufacturer of hot-water portable extractors.