This is probably the most asked question we get her at Zerorez: How long will it take for my carpet to dry?
As you’re continuing your education into the world of professional carpet cleaning, you’ll have to get used to one thing. A lot of your questions will start off to be answered with a qualified – it depends! And what it depends on is several factors.
First off the method of professional cleaning you select will be the single biggest factor affecting drying time, and not far behind will be the skill level of your service technician. Although I believe the method we employ at Zerorez is the best overall deep-cleaning method for your carpet, it does have one big drawback, and that is drying time.
The cleaning method we use at Zerorez is called “hot water extraction” cleaning. It’s better known by almost everybody outside of our industry as “steam” cleaning. And it is also the method that most large carpet manufacturers require to be used to maintain the stain and wear warranties on the carpet they sell.
The basic principle of this cleaning system is that we use water that is heated and put under pressure to rinse the soil out of your carpet. (For a more comprehensive explanation see the following blog post). Stanley Steemer, Coit and Sears are other companies that you may have heard of that also use these basic principles to clean carpet.
As you can imagine when using water to rinse soil out of carpet, you’re going to be using a fair amount of water. And although our machines have a very strong vacuum system to capture most of the water and transport it back outside to a waste water tank in our truck, your carpet will be left sufficiently damp.
If left completely to its own devices, your carpet will take anywhere from 6-12 hours to dry. However you can shorten this time by assisting the drying by leaving some windows ajar and maybe have a ceiling fan providing some additional airflow. Contrast this to a much shorter drying time provided by “dry” cleaning systems with familiar names such as Chem-Dry, Oxi-Fresh, Eco-Green and Heavens Best. All these systems are based on providing you with a short drying time (typically in the 2-4 hour range) while still giving you an acceptable level of a clean looking carpet. This shorter drying time is achieved by essentially doing a, tip- of-the-fiber, surface cleaning. (For a more comprehensive explanation see the following blog post).
The second biggest factor affecting the time it will take your carpet to dry will be the experience and dedication of your service technician. Although being a professional carpet cleaning technician is by no means on the same level as rocket science, it does take a skill-set acquired through training and experience.
To leave a carpet clean and not soaking wet after a professional cleaning takes that combination of experience to use the right amount of water to achieve a clean carpet and the dedication to spend enough time vacuuming off the excess water to leave the carpet not overly wet.
At Zerorez we take pride in our well trained and dedicated service technicians, however I’ve seen some real issues with poorly trained and inexperienced technicians leaving carpets soaking wet.
One particular situation comes to mind. It was about three years ago when I was called as an expert witness to a clients home who had used a well-known professional carpet cleaning service several days prior. Not only had the carpet started to smell badly due to being wet for over 48 hours. A wood floor that bordered an area where the carpet was left soaking wet had absorbed the excess water and had started to buckle. Talk about a job going sideways! The only good thing was that the carpet cleaning company who had sent out this poorly trained technician carried sufficient insurance and was able to make the homeowner whole again.
Your next question will probably be: How Do I Make Sure I Get a Well-Trained Technician to Clean my Carpet? Well I’m glad you asked. I’ve prepared a report that you can easily download here that will answer that question among many others. It’s called the” Consumers Guide to Carpet Cleaning.”
The third factor is one that we as the professional cleaners have little control over, however it can make a big difference in your carpets ultimate drying time. And that factor is humidity both in your home as well as outside your home. You see the way a carpet dries is by function of evaporation.
The moisture that is on your carpet has to evaporate into the air. This only happens if the air is dryer then the carpet. And in very humid conditions the air can’t absorb a lot of moisture and it’s going to take your carpet longer to dry.
That is one of the reasons why we’ll ask you to open some windows to air flowing through your home. This exchange of air will replace more humid air with dryer air and will speed-up drying time.
Just to recap what we’ve learned so far. There are a lot of factors that determine drying time, however on average your carpet will take from 6-12 hours to dry after a professional hot water extraction cleaning and about 2-4 hours after a dry cleaning.
Now there is a lot you can do to help that your carpet dries quicker and you can put it back to regular use sooner.
As your carpet is drying after it’s been professionally cleaned, I want to give you a couple of additional tips and pointers to make your experience both safer and better. From a safety standpoint you want to be very cautious when walking on damp carpet, especially where it transitions to other flooring surfaces such as vinyl or tile.
You’ll be surprised at how slippery this can get and, unfortunately I’ve seen people hurt themselves when falling after walking off a damp carpet onto a hard surface. You also want to avoid walking onto damp carpet due to the potential re-soiling issues. The bottom of your shoes or bare feet will pick-up dirt from the other surfaces you walk on and they will wipe right off onto a damp carpet. Again I’ve seen it happen too many times, just don’t do it. Now that’s easier said than done, and I realize that.
One additional thing you should ask your professional for is a pair of protective shoe covers for you to wear while the carpet is drying. Most quality, professional cleaning companies carry a supply to give to their clients for exactly this reason.
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