n today’s day and age there are many choices when it comes to carpet cleaning. We constantly get bombarded with companies offering us ‘the best carpet cleaning possible’ for the ‘lowest price’ but are they all equally as good or equally bad for that matter?!? An average American who cares about their home and the health of their family really does want to choose the best of the best. So in order to make an informed decision when choosing the right carpet cleaning company it is essential to first understand some of the different carpet cleaning methods that are offered and to get to know the pro’s and con’s of each.


  • Method:   Uses a rotary floor machine with a cleaning pad. This pad is soaked in solution and is moved over the carpet dislodging some soil and dirt that may be absorbed into the cleaning pad.

  • Pro:  Generally cheaper than other carpet cleaning methods. Good for spot cleaning.

  • Con:   It can add to the chemical load in a carpet. It excessively wears carpets due to the agitation of the scrubber pads on carpet fibers. The overall lifespan of carpet that is exclusively bonnet cleaned is generally half of that of a carpet that is cleaning using other methods.

  • Notes:  Bonnet cleaners can remove some surface dirt and can be effective for spot cleaning but all too often they push a great deal of grit and soil deeper into your carpet’s pile. This dirty residue acts as a magnet attracting more dirt meaning your clean carpet isn’t very clean and won’t stay clean as long as when cleaned using other deeper cleaning methods.


  • Method:  A cleaning agent is applied to the carpet to help suspend dirt and debris in the carpet, which is then whipped into foam and worked into the carpet fibers with the rotating brushes of a special machine. After a short dwell time, the foam is extracted with a vacuum.

  • Pro:  Inexpensive since it’s fast and simple to apply. Fast drying since there is small amount of moisture.

  • Con:  Unable to achieve thorough soil extraction below the surface of the carpet. No high temperatures when cleaning.

  • Notes:  Carpets cleaned using the dry foam method can have accelerated re-soiling since there is a lot of residue being left behind. Also dry foam removes only minimal, top level dirt.


  • Method:  Uses a counter-rotational brush machine to agitate the carpet. The machine agitation lifts the pile, which helps free soil from the carpet fibers.

  • Pro:  Cleaning can be performed at lower cost since the encapsulation machines do not require the time or cost of running long houses or being mounted to trucks. Also quick drying time.

  • Con:   Thorough vacuuming, post carpet cleaning, is absolutely essential in order to fully obtain all the particles left in the carpet.

  • Notes:  Even though encapsulation is a very popular cleaning method due to it’s quick drying time, it’s not a very good cleaning method for heavily soiled carpet. It’s best used as the ‘in between’ method in conjunction with the hot water extraction or steam cleaning.


  • Method:  Hot water and cleaning agents are propelled into your carpet pile at high pressure, where they loosen up dirt, soil and grime. In almost the same motion a high-powered vacuum removes the hot water and all the dirt and stains in your carpet along with it.

  • Pro:  Most effective at removing strong odors and stains as it offers deepest cleaning possible. Also leaves fewer residues behind on carpets compared to alternative cleaning methods that use shampoos or powders.

  • Con:  Even though hot water extraction is effective it is one of the more difficult carpet cleaning techniques. Make sure to hire from a professional and experienced company, over wetting may occur from technicians not properly trained or not having the right equipment.

  • Note:  Hot Water Extraction is among the most effective carpet cleaning techniques. With the hottest water temperatures and powerful suction, you get both, cleaner carpets and the suction removes so much water that carpet drying times are significantly reduced, further reducing quick re-soiling of carpeting. Because of their power, truck mounted carpet cleaning is the gold standard. Many carpet warranties even require regular hot water extraction at least once every 18 months in order to get the full advantage from your carpet warranty.

In conclusion, if your carpet is heavily soiled or it hasn’t been cleaned for a while you should most likely go with the hot water extraction. On the other hand, if your carpet is not heavily soiled or if it doesn’t get much foot traffic you can get away with bonnet cleaning or encapsulation as long as you can commit to regular vacuuming post the cleaning. Sometimes combining the two methods is an ideal solution. For example, encapsulation and hot water extraction complement each other and together they can provide a balanced commercial carpet care program that maximizes the carpet’s appearance and extend its useful life.

All in all, there's no absolute "perfect method" for every situation. Every method has their place and their unique benefits in different settings.