Carpet cleaning is normally done in four possible ways:

  • dry cleaning

    • Americans often refer to this as VLM – very low moisture, which is a bit more correct.
  • compound cleaning

    • where a powder is added to the carpet, it’s agitated and then vacuumed out.  If you have ever heard of an American system called Host, it is a version of compound carpet cleaning.
  • steam cleaning

    • the most common.  As it uses hot water, the correct name is hot water extraction, but when people see steam billowing off the carpet, it’s easy to see why steam cleaning is the popular terminology.
  • dry fusion

    • a version of encapsulation cleaning using specialised equipment

Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning is the common term for Encapsulation Cleaning.

Encapsulation is not completely dry as it usually uses chemicals mixed with water.  However, it is a fast drying process due to the amount of products used on the carpet.

This form of carpet cleaning was made popular during the late nineties in Australia by large national chains such as Drytron and Electrodry, who promoted themselves as an alternative to the “traditional” steam cleaning.

 The chemicals used in encapsulation cleaning or dry cleaning are  long molecules called polymers


These  polymers are formulated to attach themselves to the dirt and dust. Due to the agitation process during cleaning the polymers wrap themselves around the dust and dirt in the carpet thus encapsulating the dirt. 


Agitation is provided by rotating brushes or often a orbital vibrating pad. Most people having dry cleaning done in their house full of seen the orbital pad method however it is quite common in a commercial environment to use brushes.


When these polymers wrap around the dirt, they separate the dirt from the carpet fires and allow them to fall away from the carpet pile


The encapsulated dirt can then easily be removed by simply vacuuming the carpet. In fact this is the one cleaning process when vacuuming before and after the actual cleaning process is probably the best option. 


One of the significant advantages of encapsulation cleaning in a commercial environment is the compact nature of the Equipment. As there are no vacuum hoses and pressure hoses such as such as with steam cleaning, the machinery and therefore the process physically takes up less room.


Hence encapsulation cleaning can be used over very large areas as the operators can simply attach extra extension leads to allow the machine to cover the  larger areas

Steam Cleaning

Steam Cleaning, or to use the correct term, hot water extraction is the most common form of carpet cleaning used worldwide.

Due to the high temperatures achieved by modern carpet cleaning machines, when the water is sprayed on the carpet, it gives off steam, hence steam cleaning.

 As the name suggests the main ingredient of steam cleaning is the heat generated and used with the hot water.


The heat allows the chemicals involved to work better as well as melting down the oils and fats in the carpet are allow them to be removed easily


Steam cleaning is also the easiest example to see of the cleaning pie in use


The action of spraying water in the carpets also physically agitates the dirt and other junk in the bottom of the carpet and makes it easier for the vacuum to remove the dirt and debris


The use of vacuum to remove the water and all the dirt and muck that’s mixed in with it is the one of the major advantages of steam cleaning is that the dirt is physically removed from the carpet


The real trick in steam cleaning is actually the chemicals or detergent sprayed onto the carpets. Most people believe it’s the “big fire breath g machine” doing the work, but the heat (in the water) is working in conjunction with the detergent to provide the optimum cleaning system.


Although the carpet may look completely cleaned there have been a number of studies performed, including one at Murdoch University in Western Australia that shows only 76% of all the dirt in the carpet is removed during cleaning


One of the disadvantages of steam cleaning is the Equipment can be quite bulky difficult to move around and also requires a source of water


For these reasons steam cleaning is often swapped around within encapsulation cleaning in some commercial environments. When this is done the steam cleaning provides the deep down cleaning while encapsulation cleaning is used more as a maintenance clean in between the steam cleaning.

Compound Cleaning

Cleaning carpets by the compound method is arguably the real form of dry cleaning, as nothing is sprayed on the carpet during the cleaning process.

Dry Fusion Carpet Cleaning

Dry Fusion is a version of encapsulation carpet cleaning, which specifically uses heat to obtain its results.

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