How long should a carpet take to dry after hot water extraction cleaning?

On an industry bulletin board or Facebook Forum, this topic can bring out thoughts, arguments, excuses, defense mechanisms and more like no other. How important is how long the carpet takes to dry to the residential or commercial carpet cleaning customer? One only has to look at the fact that there are at least 6 different carpet cleaning methods, most of which were developed for the primary purpose of making the carpet look better and to reduce drying times. Secondly, entire franchises and cleaning systems have been developed around the principle that their method or system dries faster than the other carpet cleaner in town method or system does. So what is the answer?

How long should a carpet take to dry. The answer may not be the one you were looking for – it depends.

“It depends – what kind of answer is that?” Glad you asked.

How long a carpet takes to dry after cleaning is related to the cleaning method used, the application of that method, the chemistry used to clean the carpet,the equipment used, the type and construction of the carpet, the type and degree of soiling, and carpet owner considerations. Even more importantly, drying time is always directly related the ventilation and airflow in the building or home during and after cleaning. The humidity of the indoor and out door environment are also extremely crucial considerations

Let’s start with a basic principle that is often overlooked. All things being relatively equal between one professionally trained and truckmount equipped carpet cleaner and the next, I would propose the number one consideration in drying time is the carpet owner themselves. Why are they getting their carpet cleaned? Do they want it just to look better or do they want it healthier? How often do they get it cleaned? What are their expectations? Quite simply, the owner of an extremely soiled carpet that is not professionally cleaned on a regular basis has some high expectations about how clean you can get the carpet and how much better they want it to look after you clean it. Because of that, you may use more chemicals and more “wet” passes to get it clean than you would normally. That will virtually always extend the drying time. If the most important part of your job is clean carpet and appearance improvement, then drying times may be extended.

Let me put this in a way I think you can relate to – if drying time is an extremely important consideration for your customer, the number one thing they can do is to have their carpet cleaned more often! Carpets cleaned on a regular basis will always take less time to dry, regardless of all of the other contributors.

The second way the carpet owner is the number one reason on how long a carpet takes to dry is whether they allow the drying time reductions you have set up to operate. This can include ventilation and airflow through the area, open windows, and keeping the airmovers you set up pointing in the right direction and running. If you clean a commercial building late at night and minutes after you leave (or even while you are there) everything is shut up and the ventilation or air conditioning system shuts off, the moisture can’t evaporate and drying times will be extended.

So what can you contribute to reducing drying times?
1) Select the right truckmounted equipment and use it whenever possible. Make sure the solution pressure and water flow rates are balanced by the vacuum recovery capabilities of the truckmounted unit. If the job dictates the use of a portable extractor, the same principles of balanced solution flow and vacuum recovery apply.
2) Airflow – Most cleaners have experienced the benefits of using 2″ vacuum hose as far into the home or building as they can and the use of a 2″ wand instead of a 1.5″ wand. The science behind these ideas tells us they should reduce drying times.
3) Heat – The use of hotter water as you extract increases evaporation rates and reduces drying times
4) Choose the right prespray – select a prespray that matches the soiling conditions of the carpet and the construction of the carpet. One of the reasons why CleanMaster and other chemical companies offer so many choices is because of this principle.
5) Wand selection – The use of laminar flow and slotted glide scrub wands like the Evolution wand has been demonstrated to reduce drying times versus a conventional scrub wand. On extremely soiled carpet, the use of a RX-20 Rotary Jet Extractor will greatly reduce your drying time as compared to a scrub wand.
6) Accelerate the drying process – after you have cleaned a room, set up centrifugal (snail style), axial, or directed flow airmovers across the carpet to speed up evaporation rates and reduce drying times. According to Dr. Michael Berry’s Book – Cleaning for Health, Protecting the Built Environment, using an air mover across the carpet after cleaning has another benefit. Ventilation and airflow are important in releasing trapped gases and aerosols from the soil suspended during the cleaning process.
7) To prevent wicking of soils and reduce drying time on some carpets after hot water extraction cleaning, you can run a dry bonnet across the carpet

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