Detailers treat carpet cleaning like a "step-child" compared to the attention given to paint finishing procedures. However, carpet cleaning is just as important.
In one of the many trade magazines I read monthly an interesting article appeared about commercial carpet cleaning authored by M. Dixon, president of Dixon & Associates.
Many of the points mentioned in his article were quite relevant to automotive carpet cleaning and for that reason I borrowed from him for this discussion.
Three Kinds Of Carpet Cleaning
There can be three kinds of carpet cleaning that detailers should be aware of:
Commercially there are two types of carpet material: natural fibers such as wool or cotton and synthetic fibers, usually nylon, but also olefin, polyester and acrylic. There are also many types of carpet construction, but most is either looped or tufted nylon. The height and weight of carpet pile will affect appearance and color. Normally a shorter looped pile, using a tweed design rather than a solid color will reduce pile crushing and will hide soil better. For the most part automotive carpeting is nylon.
Back To Cleaning
There are two types of soil in a carpet: dry soil or oily soil.
Dry can usually be removed with a vacuum, but sticky soil is more complicated.
Depending upon the soil, oily soil requires the use of chemical and one of several removal methods.
Which chemical(s) and the method of removal is critical to how fast and how clean the carpet is when finished. A carpet has three separate dimensions, and the dirt you see is not always all there is to clean. The first dimension is the top of the pile. That can be cleaned easily with a vacuum. The second dimension is the pile itself.
The third dimension is the backing where all the dirt, sand and carpet-wearing "Nitty gritty" ends up.
As a professional, you must be aware of these three dimensions and have the chemicals, equipment, procedures and knowledge to clean them efficiently (fast) and effectively (clean).
Carpets that look clean, as you can now imagine, are not always as clean as they appear. In the commercial and residential carpet cleaning business there is a growing concern over what is called the Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).
This refers to illnesses caused by bacteria in carpets that creates many negative symptoms in humans. While the detail business has, in the past, only concerned itself with the appearance cleaning of carpets it is evident that, as professionals we need to be aware of all aspects of carpet cleaning to provide our customers the maximum service.
"KEEP-UP" Cleaning is done to cosmetically clean the top of the pile and a small part of the pile itself.
As mentioned, a vacuum will suffice for this type of cleaning. When completed the carpet looks clean. But, a more thorough job must be done on the pile and certainly where the "real dirt" has settled.
"KEEP-UP" Cleaning is usually dry, but to remove oily soil will require some moisture.
This can be accomplished with a small orbital tool and a terry bonnet. That's right, the same orbital used to apply and remove wax or sealant can be used to clean lightly soiled carpets.
First, thoroughly vacuum the carpet; next spray lightly with chemical and buff until the soil is removed. During the process, as the bonnet becomes dirty just turn it over.
Another method is to spray the bonnet with chemical and buff as explained above. As the bonnet becomes dirty turn it over, or you can rinse it out and reapply chemical before continuing.
Using this process some of the soil is absorbed into the bonnet and some stays in the carpet. This process cleans the top of the pile and some of the pile itself. But the "nitty-gritty" soil remains in the backing. Other KEEP-UP Cleaning methods using limited moisture are dry foam and dry granular methods. The latter method allows the detailer to spread moisture granules on the carpet, then work them into the fibers. The granules must set for 20 to 30 minutes to allow them to absorb the soil. After, vacuum the granules up.
This is the process of cleaning that most detailers are familiar with and involves several methods:
This method has been around since motor vehicles interiors.
All it requires is carpet shampoo and a nylon scrub brush. A high foaming chemical either "slopped" or sprayed on the carpet, then the detailer uses a lot of elbow grease to scrub the carpets. The foam in the chemical encapsulates the dirt and brings it to the surface.
Once scrubbed carpets are vacuumed and fluffed up. But as you will see, leaving a tremendous amount of chemical and soil and soil residue in the carpet.
A relatively new innovation in the auto detail business, this method has been around in the commercial carpet cleaning business since the early 1930's.
Rotary Shampooing utilizes a small pneumatic (air) tool (electric tools are usually too large) equipped with a nylon circular scrub brush about 5" in diameter.
High foaming shampoo is sprayed on the carpet and then shampooed with the tool until clean.
The surface residue is then vacuumed up, but again leaving residual chemical in the carpet.
The advantage of this method is that it will really clean a soiled carpet fast, without the corresponding detailer fatigue common with hand methods.
But, the same question must be asked about where the dirt and shampoo go with the rotary method?
It remains in the carpet, down at the backing.
How can it be removed? Read on...
Unquestioningly the most popular method in cleaning business and fast becoming the leading cleaning method in is what is correctly called "DEEP CYCLE RINSE EXTRACTION" or "SOIL EXTRACTION".
This process is sometimes called steam cleaning, but this is a misnomer. The steam that seems to rise from an extractor nozzle is not steam but simply the vapors of heated solution.
Actual steam is no less than 212 degrees F.
In any case, a key to successful extraction is to use as much heated chemical fluid as possible because fluid is what really does the cleaning. Of course, if you use a maximum amount of fluid you must be able to recover the majority of it to have a clean carpet.
The chemical used in extraction is a very low foaming chemical with a higher pH.
While the extraction method is considered a one-step process where dirt and cleaning solution are removed simultaneously, in the commercial carpet cleaning business when using a high pH alkaline extractor chemical they often use a "sour rinse" with a pH of 4-5.
This removes the alkaline residue which can cause dulling or browning of the carpet. Sour rinse products carry names such as Non-Brown; Brown-Out or No Brown.
Before extracting you must thoroughly vacuum the carpet; spot any heavy stains; pre-spray the entire carpet and let set for 5 to 10 minutes (dwell time) to let the chemical work.
Now that you understand the extraction process you can see that it is absolutely necessary to use an extractor after either the Hand Brush or Rotary Shampooer cleaning methods.
If the extraction method itself leaves shampoo residue in the carpet think of the amount left by these methods that utilize a high foaming chemical.
If you are to be a true professional detailer you must have all these methods of cleaning available: hand, rotary and extractor, using a combination of all three in your carpet cleaning.
True Steam Cleaning
This method is different from the extractor method that is often incorrectly called "steam cleaning".
A European innovation this "mini steamer" heats water to 250 degrees F. and claims to clean with no chemicals or cleaning agents.
From what I have seen this steam is a "KEEP-UP" Cleaning method utilizing Limited Moisture similar to the bonnet buffing method described earlier.
The carpet cleaning attachment is covered with a terry bonnet that you rub over the carpet as the 250 degree steam flows thru the attachment on to the carpet.
It can also be used to clean upholstery and even windows and wire wheels according to the manufacturers. As dangerous acid-based wheel cleaners are outlawed by OSHA, a steam cleaner may be the answer to spoke wheels.
If you are an experimenter and interested in testing one of these Steamer Units they cost about $399.00 and up.
In the commercial carpet cleaning business this type of cleaning is a result of fire or flood damage and is considered restoration cleaning that presents special problems, such as disinfecting, deodorizing, and mildew stain removal.
This type of cleaning is intended to save the carpet rather than replace it.
In the case of automobile carpeting it is sometimes less expensive to replace the carpet than utilize intensive cleaning methods.
There are however a number of cleaning situations in the detail business that could fall under the Drastic Cleaning category:
Unlike a commercial carpet that is installed with adhesive or tack strips and quite costly or impossible to remove, most automobile carpeting can be easily removed by taking out the seats.
Certainly you can attempt to clean these "disaster" problems with the carpet in the vehicle, but in my opinion it will require both hand or shampoo methods and absolutely and definitely an extractor system.
When selling the carpet cleaning to the customer always suggest a fabric protectant application to prevent staining.
It is almost the same as selling a guaranteed sealant for the paint. And, it is a money-maker.
The chemical cost is minimal and takes only a few minutes to apply.
In conclusion you can see that carpet cleaning is sophisticated, even more so, than paint finishing and 'requires proper equipment, chemicals and procedures.
Remember when cleaning carpets:
Carpet cleanliness can be determined with a few passes of a quality extractor nozzle that has a viewer panel in it. Or, look at the solution in the extractor recovery tank.
FOLLOWING TO BE USED AS A SIDE BAR IN THE STORY
Spot & Stain Removal Procedures
These amazing towels can be used for cleaning virtually any area of your car as well as around the house.
How to you select the best microfiber towel for cleaning and detailing your car? This article answers many questions about what microfiber is, how it works and what makes one towel better than another.
What is Microfiber?
The term, microfiber/micro-fiber/micro fiber, is frequently used to describe a number of different types of materials. Are they all created the same? No. From the weave to the edging, microfiber takes on many different characteristics and forms. The following paragraphs and illustrations are for education purposes only. Making you more knowledgeable about what microfiber is and what it does will make you a better consumer. Education is power!
Microfiber are ultra-fine yarns. Comparatively, it is two times finer than silk and 30 times finer than cotton and 100 times finer than a human hair! Also, it is 1/100 (0.1-0.3denier) that of a human hair and its special wedge shaped fibers lead to the excellent absorbent and draining power.
Microfiber is a man-made yarn that combines two basic fibers: The primary component is polyester and the other component is polyamide (nylon). These two polymers are used during the spinning process and are initially melted in a machine called an extruder, and then they are combined together. However, since they are completely two different materials and do not tend to combine together very well, the nylon component moves to the outside of the fiber with the polyester component forming the core of the fiber.
How does it work?
If you have chance to look at a cross section of the fiber, you will find the polyester core is solid with many lobes extending outside it. Between these lobes there is a single strand of polyamide fiber nestled in them. The nylon also will have many small continuous fibers and is locating between two polyester lobes.
These oil and water-attracting polymer fibers are woven into masses of tiny loops. These loops form hook-like claws that act as scrubbers, lifting away dirt particles and trapping them within the weave. This is where these towels get their scratch-free reputation.
Simply wet the towel with clean water and wring as dry as possible.
Never use any type of FABRIC SOFTENER!!
These are lint free cloths. It is best to wash microfiber cloths with non-linting items. They are machine washable, and resist wrinkles. You can wash them with any soap or detergent.
We recommend mild detergents (Woolite), or a Microfiber restorer. A little vinegar once in a while will help break down and remove waxes. They can be dried naturally or put in any dryer. Due to their 'attracting nature', it is advised to keep them in bags, sealed plastic boxes, or other areas where air and dust will not contaminate them. Another tip is to color coordinate your towels. This makes training and consistency much easier. Use one color for glass, one for wax/polish removal, and one for grunge work like wheels, bumpers, etc.
One consideration aside from unbelievable prices when purchasing a car is the necessary maintenance, which also requires additional dough. It really isn’t enough to have the down payment at hand, especially with all these outside financial factors.
Whether you're the type that gets a new car every two years or someone who sticks with his ride for a longer time, getting the most of our present ride is always important. We always push our automobiles to the limit. Still, it's a priority of many to extend the life of cars the right way.
How? Here are 10 foolproof ways:
1. DEAL WITH ISSUES EARLY, NO MATTER HOW MAJOR OR MINOR, TO AVOID HEFTIER REPAIR COSTS.
An unusual sight (missing screw), sound, or even smell (burning rubber) usually indicates something is wrong with your unit and ignoring it may haunt you one of these days. Instead of just having to fix or replace a part, you may have to address a whole faulty section.
2. ADOPT GOOD DRIVING HABITS. WHAT SOUNDS TOO MUCH OF A HASSLE AT FIRST CAN ACTUALLY REDUCE WEAR AND TEAR.
Always start off steady before carefully picking up steam—abrupt accelerations and quick halts are unconsciously detrimental to your unit. A smart driver doesn’t even need a car when buying something from a nearby store or doing the simplest of errands.
3. THE INSIDE OF THE CAR—WHICH IS THE MOST EXPOSED TO HUMAN POLLUTION (FOOD, DIRT, GRIME)—DESERVES MUCH ATTENTION AND REGULAR CLEANING.
There’s so much more to interior maintenance than just vacuuming the carpet—purchase of all-weather floor mats, application of upholstery/leather protectant, and other conditional measures. We prefer a natural and fresher scent of a fully spruced-up car interior rather than an air freshener cover-up.
4. MAINTAIN YOUR VEHICLES FLUIDS.
Whether it’s brake fluid, coolant, or even oil, keeping them new and clean is crucial to your car’s longevity. Regular oil change could prevent unwanted deposits from building up and harming internal components. At the end of the day, following the recommended service intervals found in your manual is key.
5. NOT QUITE SURE WHY THIS IS STILL UP FOR DISCUSSION, BUT A FLAT TIRE IS A BAD TIRE.
As much as it literally slows down your trip, a damaged tire also puts huge stress on suspension. The perceived notion of lower tire pressure for a better ride only wears down the tires and consumes more fuel. While we’re on the subject of wheels, regular cleaning can also bare issues that need to be addressed.
6. SEEMINGLY FOR AESTHETIC REQUIREMENTS, SHIELDING YOUR VEHICLE’S FINISH PAYS OFF—ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE THINKING OF RESELLING IT IN THE FUTURE.
Waxing your car is as essential as washing it; a couple of generous coats (at least twice a year) guarantee protection from both natural and chemical elements. Also, be mindful of external cargo that can damage your roof surface, in the event that you have to tie down additional load on top. And do we really need to coax you into buying a car cover if a garage is nonexistent?
7. BREAK IN AND WARM UP PROPERLY.
Check the manual for its initial maximum speed, and light acceleration is enough for the first 1,000 break-in miles. Be patient in mastering the capabilities of your unit, before you go streaking down the road. Rather than warming up your engine in stagnation, gradually start driving until it reached normal operating temperatures. As they say, haste is waste.
8. FIND YOURSELF AND YOUR CAR A TRUSTED MECHANIC AND REPAIR SHOP.
Someone who has a better eye on these things, a qualified professional who wants nothing but the best for your unit is the greatest investment. Other than you adhering to the scheduled annual checkups, another pair of concerned eyes can also carry out proper preventive maintenance.
9. USE YOUR CAR, OBVIOUSLY!
Even model units get their much-needed run to keep parts in tiptop shape. Burying your car in a garage defeats the purpose of your purchase; get those wheels rolling and relish ownership. It also doesn’t reduce or slow down depreciation, and might even result to damaged parts for lack of burn time. Think of a runner who hasn’t had a race for a couple of months...
10. KNOWLEDGE AND AWARENESS IS POWER.
There’s a reason these babies come with an owner’s manual. Almost all the needed information for upkeep is present; all you have to do is immerse yourself in it. You can double check online, where there is a goldmine of tip lists like this, but make sure you head to credible sources. All of this goes back to item No. 1: early detection leads to early resolution, which will save you big bucks and a whole lot of time.
Owning a car comes with its fair share of responsibilities. It’s not unlike having a house in the sense that you need to take utmost care of your car if you want it to remain in excellent condition. It needs to be tuned up regularly. It needs to be cleaned regularly. And it needs to be detailed regularly. Some of you might wonder what the difference is between cleaning a car and detailing a car. The truth is, they’re not different at all when you consider immediate results. But over time, when the trim, rubber, plastic, and the paint of your vehicles begin to reflect damages associated with age and mileage, auto detailing is the key to making your prized four-wheeled steeds look good as new.
The obvious benefit of auto detailing is that every corner of your car is cleaned. While that’s true, there’s more to it than just washing the body and vacuuming the interior. Much more. Auto detailing requires a lot of skill, handwork, and a specific understanding of what a specific car needs at a specific point in its life. That’s why there are New Haven Mobile Detailing Service such as ourselves whose jobs are grounded on understanding the nuances on how to bring the sparkle back to a dirty exterior or how to make an interior look good as new. Auto detailing involves a meticulous process of cleaning and restoration with the objective of restoring a car to look as close to brand new as possible.
With paint correction and a long-lasting glass coating, auto detailing brings back that brand new look that exacting car owners crave.
Simple car washes can clean a car, but not to the extent of what auto detailing is capable of for the simple reason that the latter tackles hard-to-reach areas. It’s no secret that when you have your car detailed, you’re immediately given a laundry list of items that needs to be done to your car. It can range from something as big as dent repairs or something like odor elimination. There’s no discrimination when it comes to auto detailing because every cosmetic item that needs to be worked on in your car will be worked on until they look shiny, shimmering, and splendid.
And those stains? Car washing doesn’t make them go away; they stay there as a reminder that no amount of washes can accomplish what a simple auto detailing does. Your car will only look and smell as close as they’ve ever been to being showroom-quality if you have it detailed.
And yes, if you do somehow find yourself compelled for whatever reason to sell your car, it’s incumbent upon you to have your car detailed to ensure that its resale value remains high. Second-hand car buyers are less likely to buy a car that smells like the inside of an unwashed sock than a car that smells like a meadow on a nice spring day. Just the same, nobody’s going to buy a car with as many dents and pimples as a teenage boy exploding into puberty. If you want your car to sell quickly on the second-hand market at a price of your liking, have it detailed. Seeing your car back in tip-top condition, the buyer will appreciate the fact that you took great care of your car when it was in your possession.