A lot of companies say they can provide deep carpet cleaning services. The truth is, at least by our quality standards, they can’t. Restorative, deep carpet cleaning requires more than showing up with a van (or worse, something better resembling a station wagon) and spraying some water on the ground and sucking.

This, or using only a brush machine or bonnet machine does not provide restoration carpet cleaning. They may make your carpets look better, but they won’t make them look great. We aim to make them look great, regardless of the condition they are in when we start.

restoratation carpet cleaning is needed for heavily soiled areas like this one. Jobs like these call for a deep carpet cleaning that isn't just simply a basic hot water extraction

Restoration Carpet Cleaning Process

True restorative carpet cleaning requires a more complete process as well as a few really important steps that many companies skip. In our view, the first step for deep carpet cleaning is a thorough vacuuming with a high powered, commercial vacuum, equipped with a beater bar.

Some estimates put the quantity of dry soil in the carpet as high as 74-79%. We want to remove that instead of adding water and turning it to mud. After we vacuum, we move on to the hot water extraction process.

The Hot Water Extraction Deep Soil Removal Process

Here are the four major components of a restoration carpet cleaning, hot water extraction process that most companies only partially complete. These are specifically mentioned by the IICRC. As an IICRC Certified firm, we involve all of these important pieces to do the job right. Chemical, Agitation, Temperature and Time.4 components needed to properly deep clean carpets

A Practical Example of How These Components Work Together

If you have a greasy pot, you fill it full of hot water (temperature), you add dish soap (chemical), you let it soak (time). Usually this does a decent job of loosening and removing things. However, if this was enough, no one would own a sponge or a scrubber pad, right?

That final step of agitation is vital to getting things as clean as they need to be. If any of the 4 components are skipped, the cleaning is not going to be as effective. Let’s look at each deep cleaning component individually.


The proper temperature is important for proper deep carpet cleaning. When you clean your dishes, you use hot water. When you clean your laundry, you prefer to use hot water.

Chemical reactions increase dramatically with greater heat. This means that the restoration carpet cleaning solutions we apply to your carpet will work better when they applied hot and removed hot. They don’t call it hot water extraction for nothing!

At the same time, certain carpets suffer under too much heat, so careful regulation is important. To have adequate hot water and a consistent temperature, a powerful truck mounted carpet cleaning system is important. This article doesn’t touch on what we think of dry cleaning, but if you’re interested, read more about the general ineffectiveness of dry carpet cleaning here.


We have a wide variety of different detergents and solutions that we carry on our truck. We custom formulate our solutions at each job depending on what we see. If you have white carpets, we may apply a certain booster.

If you have pet stains or odor, certain different solutions and techniques can be applied. Heavy traffic lanes, or carpet that’s covered in grease, different solutions still.

Then we get to the topic of spotting and the myriad solutions we can apply to treat everything from rust to tar to ink to kool aid and paint. For restoration carpet cleaning, you need a company (and technician!) with a deep understanding of the proper chemistry of which solutions to apply to which carpet types and in which situations.

In general, a mid to high pH solution is applied to the carpets, agitated in, allowed time to dwell, and then extracted with a mildly acidic solution to neutralize the fibers and return them to their natural, slightly acidic, state. Here’s a dirty little industry secret: many companies do not even apply a pre-spray or they rinse the carpet during the extraction phase using only water in order to save money.


Agitation is also really important for deep carpet cleaning. For a lightly soiled carpet, this step may not be entirely necessary, but with deep carpet cleaning, it absolutely is. After the pre-spray has been applied, it needs to be deeply scrubbed into the carpet.

Back to the dish washing example: if you take a greasy pot and put dish soap in it and rinse it out, it’ll get you most of the way there, but there are still bits of food and grime that didn’t come out. Its for this same reason that carpet restoration cleaning requires agitation to do the best job.

How is This Carpet Agitation Achieved?

There are a number of different pieces of equipment that provide agitation. Recently, you have probably started to see companies advertise “restorative carpet cleaning with a rotary machine” or something like that.

These machines have spinning water jets (unlike the fixed jets on most wands) and some provide a mechanical scrubbing action to the carpet as well as they turn. The purpose of these machines is to provide, you guessed it, agitation.

What do We Prefer for Agitating Carpet? The Counter Rotating Brush Machine!

We own a machine called the RX-20 that most consider the grand daddy of the rotary machines, and still one of the best available. You know what? It sits in the shop unused.

The reason? We’ve thoroughly tested it against our counter rotating brush machine and the counter rotating brush is hands down the better deep carpet cleaning tool!

The gist of this tool is that it contains two 20” brushes that rotate towards each other five times a second. This provides a deep carpet scrubbing action as well as it has the added benefit of lifting up hair, pet hair, and deeply embedded soil.

Some companies use this machine alone for their cleaning (the aforementioned vehicles that look like a station wagon… this is probably what’s in it). But alone, it’s not enough to do a thorough, deep carpet cleaning.

Counter Rotating Brush Machine is Vital to the Deep Carpet Cleaning Process


Also often overlooked in a carpet cleaning process is time. Assuming all of the other steps have been followed, dwell time is really important for deep carpet cleaning. I hate to keep beating the dish washing example to death, but after you apply soap and hot water to a heavily soiled pan, what do you do? You let it soak!

Similarly, carpet cleaning solutions need a bit of time to work. Certainly not overnight like your greasy pan, but 10-15 minutes is usually a good idea. Too long of a soak and the solutions can actually lose their effectiveness. When you are talking about restorative carpet cleaning, you really want to maximize every cleaning power you’ve got.

Immediately rinsing after applying solution or waiting 30 minutes or an hour after rinsing for the pre-spray to dry doesn’t do the carpet cleaning technician (or your carpets) any favors.

Our Deep Carpet Cleaning Process

So, after this lengthy discussion, what is our process for restoration carpet cleaning?

  • Pre-vacuum with a commercial vacuum equipped with a properly adjusted beater bar
  • Pre-spray all areas with a high pH solution
  • Apply spot/stain pre-treatments to anything that looks like it needs it
  • Agitate pre-sprayed areas with a counter rotating brush machine
  • Allow adequate dwell time for solutions to work
  • Perform hot water extraction with hot water of the appropriate temperature for the carpet type
  • Re-address and spots or stains that did not come out during the hot water extraction phase
  • Place plastic or Styrofoam tabs underneath legs of furniture (steel, urethane coated wood, etc.) that pose a risk for bleeding into the carpet
  • Speed dry with fans
  • Apply carpet protectant (Scotchgard, Maxim, etc.) or additional deodorizer as desired by customer
  • Groom carpet to remove any impressions and align carpet fibers


Final Thoughts

As far as we’re concerned, the details above provide the right way to perform a deep carpet cleaning restoration service. It takes a bit more time than a lot of other companies are willing to spend, but seeing the smiling faces of our customers when we’re done is more than worth it. At MSS Cleaning, we deep clean carpets right!

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