There are four essential components to the cleaning process. They are Chemical, Heat, Agitation, and Time, and are represented by the acronymn CHAT.
(Note: please understand here that I am not referring to a “Chemical Cleaning” done by other carpet cleaners, where they use a carbonized chemical solution that they do not extract. Every type of carpet cleaning uses some sort of chemical.)
The first is Chemical. It is important to use correct chemicals in the cleaning process. Chemicals can loosen soils, break apart difficult spots, and make it possible to remove ugly stains by changing the molecular makeup of the stain or breaking it down. Using the right chemical can be very helpful, especially when dealing with spots and stains that are not water soluble.
Just as hotter water helps in cleaning your laundry, it also helps in cleaning your carpets. The heat (energy) in the water excites components of soils and oils, essentially loosening their grip and making them more easily removed through scrubbing.
Here is why! According to “Ask A Scientist” from the US Department of Energy:
“Heat almost always makes cleaning more aggressive, in any setting. I can think of three common behaviors that contribute to this:
1) increased reaction rates – (kinetics) heat speeds up all reactions, even those as humble as water wetting its way along the interface between some slime and the fiber of your clothing.
2) increased dissolving abilities – (due to entropy) even without soap, small amounts of some greases will dissolve in water. In hot water, the amount that will dissolve can be ten times higher.
3) melting – some greases are low-melting waxes, and being melted makes it easier for the soapy water to penetrate, detach, and surround them. Even things that are not quite melted at least get softer.”
Agitation is pretty straight forward. The more you scrub anything, the more soil you knock off of it. This also applies to carpet cleaning. A rotary extractor is an excellent way to high-quality agitation for cleaning soils and oils off of carpet fibers.
Some chemicals take time for their reaction to occur – they’re not all instantaneous. We find this a common occurence with dye and urine stains. Thankfully, with dye stains we are able to increase the temperature of the stain and speed up the process.
A good anaology for understanding the CHAT process is the dinner plate that has been left uncleaned until the morning. When scrubbed it, some of the food may come off easily. Other food, however, may take considerably more scrubbing, more hot water, liquid detergent, and dwell time for the water and detergent to work on softening it up. The same principles apply to cleaning your floors. How well your carpet cleaner applies these principles will determine how well your carpets get cleaned.