Cleaning & Restoration Association News

Drying Carpet Takes Common Sense, Creativity

Ceiling fans can help the drying process, but be sure to ask the homeowner first.


While most folks entering the carpet-care industry anticipate client concerns over the cleaning method they will employ, in my 23 years in business I can count the times we've been asked that on one hand.

OK, maybe two. The fact is, the most frequent question we have received over the years is, "How long will my carpets take to dry?"

Let's face it. We've all heard horror stories about improper cleanings and dry times far exceeding the norm. It is the responsibility of everyone employing hot-water extraction to use all options at their disposal to speed up dry times. Improper drying and over-wet carpeting not only present an inconvenience to the homeowner, but also increase the chances of mold and mildew growth, buckling, "wick back" and the homeowner becoming a one-time-only customer.

So. What do we do?

Basic Carpet Cleaning 101
Dry strokes. After the cleaning pass, we always dry stroke the area once or twice. This extra step takes little time, yes, but it helps decrease dry times considerably.

We also groom all carpets we clean with a pile brush. The action from this inexpensive tool not only improves the overall appearance of the job, but the nylon brush helps "part" the fibers, allowing for better air movement.

We always try to clean the room in the home the customer may need to use sooner rather than later, usually the den or perhaps a teenager's bedroom. After cleaning, an air mover is placed in the room. By the time we finish with the job, the first room singled out for cleaning is dry.

I've always carried at least one or two air movers on the van for residential jobs. The air mover is a valuable tool, and it always seems to impress the homeowner.

Here are a few other tips:

Always suggest to the client that they utilize their ceiling fans. Don't take the liberty of turning them on yourself. You never know when the blades were last dusted, and you don't need a year's worth of accumulation raining down on the freshly cleaned carpet.

On dry days, have the homeowner open the windows. As moisture evaporates, it needs to go somewhere. Remember, ventilation is key. We need to remove the evaporated water and lower the humidity in the room.

A key piece of equipment, when available, is a dehumidifier. On humid or rainy days, leave your air movers and dehumidifiers behind at the client's home. You can pick them up the following day, and your clients will appreciate it.

Realistically speaking, dry times for residential, synthetic carpeting should run between four and seven hours, with some exceptions. If you run a truckmount, keep those filter baskets cleaned, daily. Dirty filters increase dry times.

Happy carpet cleaning!

(Author's Note: The rapid drying of upholstery is no less important than that of carpet; more so, in fact. Nearly all upholstery problems associated with professional cleaning occur during the drying process. The solution? Keep a blow dryer on your van. This simple and inexpensive appliance can be used to quick dry any fabric. Keep the setting on warm - not hot - while constantly moving the dryer from side to side. This will not only reduce the chances of any problems occurring, but will also add to the customer's overall job satisfaction.)

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