Scrub Up on Carpet Cleaning Methods, Tools, and Terms

Scrub Up on Carpet Cleaning Methods, Tools, and Terms

There’s more than one way to clean a carpet. Manuals and guides describe the different methods, along with specialized words and phrases. The terms can be confusing, even for cleaning professions. Here’s a quick refresher on five popular cleaning methods:

Hot water extraction is performed with a portable cleaner or a truckmount unit. Equipment operators inject hot water and detergent into the carpet at high pressure. The carpet soil is extracted into a wastewater recover tank 

In dry compound cleaning, an absorbent carrier with solvents is applied into the carpet using agitation. Simply vacuum up the absorbent compound material along with the absorbed soil.

Absorbent pad cleaning  uses minimal moisture, making it ideal for interim cleanings. The method utilizes spin action to absorb carpet soil with a cotton bonnet pad. 

Encapsulation is a type of shampooing. Cleaners apply detergent with a sprayer or a shampoo machine. The liquid detergent surrounds carpet fibers then crystallizes as it dries, so it can be vacuumed away, along with carpet soil.  

Dry foam cleaning uses a reel-type machine to apply aerated foam to carpeting. Cleaning crews then remove the foam and carpet soil with a wet vacuum. 

Learn more about these five methods of carpet cleaning, along with the terms and the cleaning tools involved, with this handy infographic below. Technical information in this infographic is supplied courtesy of IICRC.  

Posted On July 6, 2018
Graphic of Four carpet care key terms

Carpet Care Key Terms

Carpet can be a complicated, headache-inducing building component for those tasked with cleaning it. Download our infographic to learn the basics of carpet cleaning and the tools you can use to get the job done.


Amanda Hosey

Amanda Hosey is associate editor for CMM’s sister magazine Cleanfax, the leading magazine for carpet care professionals. She has worked in the editing and publishing field for more than six years. Hosey holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in creative writing. She can be reached at



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