Originally, all carpets were scrubbed by hand, with a brush and detergent. People could do it themselves or bring them into a cleaning facility.
Then the Rotary Shampooer was invented. This is a machine with a brush that goes around-and-around, scrubbing the carpet. Shampooing is good because the brush breaks loose the deep down dirt.
However, a shampooer has no way to get the dirt and shampoo out of the carpet once it breaks it loose. So, it leaves it in the carpet. The shampoo that is left in the carpet acts as a magnet to attract and hold dirt and dust. As a result, a short time after cleaning the carpet, it becomes dirtier than it was before the cleaning.
The Steam Cleaner was invented to solve the problem of the dirt and soap being left in the carpet. A steam cleaner is the combination of a pump sprayer and a vacuum cleaner. The solution is sprayed down into the carpet and vacuumed up. The benefit of steam cleaning is that it actually pulls the dirt out of the carpet. This machine is also called a soil extractor because it extracts (takes out) the soil (dirt).
There are two categories of steam cleaning machines, portables and truck mounts. Portables, like the name suggests, are small enough to be brought into the home. They have to be hand filled with hot water from the tap and the water it extracts is drained into buckets and usually flushed down the toilet. They are less expensive to purchase and maintain and don’t require a gas-guzzling van to haul around.
They are also the only equipment you can use where you can’t get a truck close enough to use a truck mounted unit — for example, an apartment or office building. Some of their disadvantages are you have to stop periodically to add clean solution and dump the dirty one. They are also not as powerful as truck mounts so you usually need to do a treatment to the carpet beforehand to break the dirt loose. This also adds time to the job. Also, because the vacuum isn’t as powerful, the job takes longer to dry—an average of about 8 to 24 hours total.
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