Why Low Moisture Brings High Returns
It's not unheard of for a commercial cleaning contractor to suggest that using more water during the carpet cleaning process results in better cleaning-the thought being that the more water you flush through your carpet, the more dirt you'll remove. While there certainly is a place for water in carpet care, there are also a number of problems related to excessive water usage and an equal number of benefits to using less water.
The Water Factor
While water is a necessary part of the chemical equation with respect to carpet care, excessive water use can result in wick-back, stretching, moisture between carpet tiles, damage to the sub-floor if the sub-floor is not concrete, damage to the carpet adhesive, and high out-of-service times. In the worst cases, where moisture is already an issue, excessive water in cleaning can add to an existing mold problem. Many of the problems noted are the combined result of using excessive amounts of water and not removing all of that water after cleaning.
To show how such water problems can take hold, consider a carpet with a permeable backing. A permeable backing is one that allows water to soak through the backing to the actual floor surface-typically concrete. Because carpet with a permeable backing is often glued directly to the concrete floor, over-wetting the carpet allows water to reach the concrete. This translates into the possibility of staining the carpet yarn face due to the wicking up of minerals from the concrete, damaging the carpet glue itself, damaging the sub-floor, and creating an extensive dry time that can lead to mold growth within the carpet itself.
Further consider a cut pile carpet. Cut pile means that the face yarn is open and individual threads are exposed. The fibers in a cut pile carpet are looser, providing an unlimited number of places for dirt to lodge and, for the purposes of this article, water to be trapped. A cut pile carpet with a permeable backing is pretty clearly a recipe for a very wet carpet and a very wet concrete sub-floor-and the problems associated with both.
Just as there are a vast number of problems associated with using too much water, there are an equal if not greater number of benefits to using less water, including no wick-back, less re-soiling, improved carpet appearance, cleaner carpet, shorter dry times, less out-of-service time, improved productivity, and the ability to perform anytime cleaning.
Take a look at wick-back. As stated, using less water during carpet cleaning reduces the likelihood of wick-back. That's because wick-back is the result of putting too much water on the carpet, not removing that water, and having dirt from deep within the carpet pile resurface during the long drying process. A bonus to eliminating wick-back is that carpets are both cleaner and better looking.
Many of the benefits of using low-moisture carpet care lead to increased productivity. For example, by using less water, carpet dry times are greatly reduced, which means carpet can be used almost immediately after cleaning. That translates to a reduction in out-of-service time and the ability to clean the carpet at any time of the day or night.