How to Shampoo a Carpet

Carpet cleaning shampoo is a specially designed liquid detergent substance used to clean rugs and carpets. This shampoo is generally utilized in combination with rotary-style cleaning machine or the cylindrical design which utilizes pressurized air to build foam prior to agitation. Basically, the idea of using these shampoos is to generate thick foam to draw in and hold the dirt scrubbed from the carpet. When this dusty foam is dry, it will be easy to use a vacuum to remove the residue.

How Carpet Cleaning Shampoo Works

An effective shampoo should be capable of producing a lot of foam in order for it really work. A chemical substance known as sodium lauryl sulfate supplies the foamy quality to the shampoo, whilst dirt removers known as anionic detergents will supply cleaning power. Since dirt contaminants really develop an electrostatic link with the fibers in the carpet, the anionic solutions will break this bond and offer an attractive substitute.

Given that carpet cleaning machine makes use of tough brushes to aggravate the foam, shampoo should also possess a lubricating quality that will protect carpet from distress and tangles. If the shampoo is used with a wet removal machine this must consist of water softeners. However, there is a significant problem with the detergent-style cleaners because it might become dirty since the sticky substance will attract even more dirt.

How to Shampoo a Carpet

Start with a clean carpet

What?! You’re about to wash the carpet anyway, and here I tell you to start with a clean carpet! “What kind of double-talk backwards is that?” You can ask.

In short, a carpet shampoo machine uses water. If you do not intend to create clay pastels, you should do a very thorough suction job before using the shampoo machine.

While the shampoo has a vacuum function, it is limited to sucking water and fine particles of dirt from the carpet, and is not designed to pick up larger things, like piles of pet hair, the infamous dust bunnies or bits of leaves, ropes, ties, or anything else that has fallen, spilled or dragged on someone’s shoes.

Move things

It is much easier to move all furniture and decorative objects out of the area to wash them with shampoo before starting. In fact, moving all this before aspirating is even better.

Having to stop continuously to move the furniture or whatever is out of the way generates more work and frustration. Clean it first, and then you can vacuum and wash with a clear area to work, and it will end faster.

Have you ever had to wash a rug?

  • Do not
  • Yes
  • Count spills?
  • All too often; I am a reluctant professional.
  • Oh yeah! My house shines, I even have my own machine!

Know the machine

Read the instructions. I repeat: read the instructions! I know that this is a great challenge for many; I dare say, especially for many men!

If you have your own machine or are using a rental model, it is very important to know what the machine does and how it works.

The three main components of a shampoo machine are the two water tanks (one for clean water, one for containing the dirty water, see photo above) and the smaller tank for the shampoo solution. (Some smaller machines, designed to clean small spills of stains, may have the shampoo simply added to the fresh water tank, instead of a separate tank).

Pay attention to switches and settings. Different machines can have different switches to configure the functions. There may be separate switches for washing / rinsing or rinsing only in addition to the on / off switch. (This is what my own machine has). There may or may not be an adjustment to allow scrubbing brushes to be active or not, depending on the type of floor or carpet.

As the dirty water is collected, it is stored in a dedicated tank, which will be equipped in most cases with a float valve. When full, the float rises, closing the suction. When this happens, the passage of the motor will change very noticeably, and it is time to turn off and unplug the machine, empty the dirty water and start over. At this time, it is also very likely that the clean water tank needs to be refilled.

Security note:

These machines will come with a three-prong grounding plug that must be plugged into a three-hole receptacle properly grounded. Or, use a grounding adapter, properly connected to the power outlet.

Never, never, under any circumstances, cut the grounding end of a power cord. This is a dangerous thing to do, and can damage the appliance, cause an electric shock or even cause a short circuit and cause a fire.

The shampoo action

It is important to work in a specific pattern to do a complete and correct job. You can not just go randomly to work in random circles or zigzags, or you will lose your place and you will also be walking excessively in clean areas while losing other areas.

The easiest way to work is like vacuuming. Divide your carpet into imaginary grids and work in a pattern from side to side, superimposing strokes with each pass. Do not try to do the whole length or width of the room or hallway at one time. Use shorter push and pull strokes that do not exceed a comfortable reach with the arms, and do not require walking to follow them.

Do not try to rush

This is not a job that can rush. Move the machine slowly through your pattern. This gives you enough time to dispense enough water and shampoo, then rinse it and re-aspirate it.

In fact, it is better to go through the clean area several times with the only vacuum setting activated. This will collect the maximum amount of liquid and guarantee a faster drying time.

Once you have finished, it is helpful to place old towels in the traffic areas, so that fresh dirt will not rub on the still wet carpet.

Useful advice:

You could also do this task barefoot. No matter what you do, you will end up walking in finished areas at some point.

If you are sock, you will end up with wet socks. While the machines do a pretty good job of picking up the water so the carpet does not get soaked, it will be damp and stay that way for a couple of hours or several, depending on the ambient temperature.

What to do with that dirty water?

Even with having sucked first, there is likely to be lint and pieces of carpet fluff that are collected, and this builds up inside the tank as groups of “things”. Therefore, it is not a good idea to empty the dirty water tank in the sink, bathtub or any other regular drain pipe in the house, as it may clog the line.

Normal drainage pipes are only two inches wide. I strongly suggest you pull this down the toilet, which empties into a four-inch drain pipe, and is obviously designed to handle larger material.

Rinse the tank and pour the rinse also into the toilet. (Save water by not rinsing until finished). Depending on the size of the dirty water tank, the toilet can “self-rinse” when pouring the contents. Do not worry, that’s normal. This is how the bathrooms are designed. A certain amount of water causes the container to empty. That is why they are dyed first when you touch the discharge lever. Repeat as necessary for the size of the area.


Once you have finished, and the tank has its last rinse, empty the remaining water in the clean water tank, and also any detergent in that tank should be returned to your bottle. This will also prevent the detergent from leaking, which can sometimes occur. Now, the machine will dry completely between uses, and you will not end up with a smell of mildew lurking.

Phew! Well, you have done it! That was not so bad now, after all. Your carpets are clean, and you can have guests with pride.

In high traffic areas, such as corridors, or in the middle of the living room, I suggest placing large and old towels to ‘protect the cleaning’ when the carpet dries. This will not slow down the drying time; In fact, it can help, since the traffic moves on the towels, will press on the carpet and will cause the humidity to absorb a little moisture.

Once the carpet is dry, you can move your furniture and accessories into place. If there is something you need to replace immediately, such as a desk and a chair, simply place a towel under the area, so anyone who needs to use that piece of furniture can sit there without worries or with wet feet.

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