Carpet cleaners generally use one of three methods: Steam cleaning, spray-on additives or hot carbonated extraction. Chem-Dry uses hot carbonated extraction, which is more effective and healthier than the others.
The most common alternative is steam cleaning, which works only to a point. Steam cleaners dump gallons of hot water onto carpet, then suck up the dirty water with a high-pressure vacuum. The suction can damage the carpet, and the excessive water can soak into the backing of the carpet, creating a moist breeding ground for mold and mildew.
And steam cleaning isn’t even that effective. If you’ve ever run your washing machine without soap, you know that hot water alone won’t remove stains. So most steam cleaners use additives, chemicals and soaps that can help get stains out but leave behind sticky residue that can actually trap more dirt. That’s why steam-cleaned carpets often form fresh stains in the same spots as the old ones.
Some other carpet cleaning franchises use “dry” spray-on additive methods that coat carpet with a chemical cleaner, then rely on several rounds of vacuuming to extract the loose dirt. This method leaves chemical residue on the carpet and tends to push dirt deeper into the carpet. Carpet may look cleaner afterward, but often, the dirt is just moved around and remains in the carpet.