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Commercial Carpet Cleaning: Bonnet vs. Truck-Mounted Extraction

Commercial Carpet Cleaning: Bonnet vs. Truck-Mounted Extraction

There are many methods of carpet cleaning. Two of the most common are bonnet cleaning and truck-mounted extraction.

Bonnet or spin cleaning involves a rotary floor machine with a cleaning pad soaked in solution. As it moves over the carpet, the agitation causes dirt to be absorbed into the cleaning pad. The cleaning solution used with bonnet machines uses optical brighteners such as bleach which polish the cut fibers of the carpet, making the carpet appear brighter and cleaner. Unfortunately, though bonnet cleaners are able to remove some surface dirt, they also end up pushing a lot of dirt and cleaning solution further down into the carpet pile. This residue can then become a magnet for even more dirt.

The most effective type of bonnet cleaning for dirt removal is liquid encapsulation. This method involves pre-spraying the carpet, bonneting over it and then vacuuming up the resulting (dirt-encapsulated) foam that rises to the surface. Many people like bonnet cleaning because it is fairly inexpensive and easy to do. However, though it can be useful for spot cleaning, this method is not usually recommended as a means of long-term carpet care because it is not the most effective at removing dirt.

Major Pros:
  • Quick – Equipment is easy to maneuver and carpet dries quickly.
  • Inexpensive – Equipment costs are low and doesn’t require highly-skilled labor to operate.

Major Cons:

  • Increased Chemical Load – Bonnet cleaning adds chemicals to a carpet.
  • Wear from Agitation – Over time the scrubbing pad can cause the carpet to fray and its seams to separate.
  • Shorter Carpet Life –  The lifespan of a carpet that is exclusively bonnet cleaned is generally half that of a carpet that is cleaned using truck-mount.

Best Uses of Bonnet Cleaning:

  • For spot cleaning and/or to maintain the look of a carpet (weekly or monthly) in between extraction cleanings.
  • For extremely high-traffic areas where there is not enough time to use a truck mount (e.g. a busy hotel lobby). In these cases the convenience of bonnet-cleaning can outweigh the cost of having to replace a carpet sooner.
  • For carpets that have a history of being exclusively bonnet cleaned. Switching to truck-mounted extraction after prolonged bonnet cleaning may cause staining because of the large amount of impacted dirt that will be lifted up.

Truck-mounted extraction (a type of deep or hot water extraction) is generally, a much preferred method of carpet care. As its name suggests, it uses a hose that is mounted on a truck and shoots a mixture of hot water and cleaning solution into your carpet. The pressure and temperature of the water agitates the carpet and loosens dirt which is then vacuumed back up by the hose.

This method of carpet cleaning is highly effective in removing dirt and requires very little cleaning solution which can prolong the life of your carpet. The key to this process is combining the right amount of chemical, water temperature, water pressure and suction. Each of these elements needs to be perfectly calibrated to achieve the best results.

Extraction can be done with a variety of different machines such as a portable tank-type extractor. The problem with this type of machine is that it cannot reach high enough temperatures or adequate vacuum or water pressure to clean as well as a truck-mount.The importance of proper chemical mixture should not be overlooked. It doesn’t matter if you use the best and most advanced machines in the industry if your chemicals are not mixed properly. The goal with chemical mixing is to remove dirt while neutralizing the carpet’s PH. This is accomplished with an alkaline mix pre-spray and acid rinse.

Major Pros:
  • Extends carpet life.
  • Very effective method of removing dirt from carpet pile.
  • Labor saving.

Major Cons:

  • Operating costs are higher. Equipment is expensive to buy and maintain and requires skilled labor to operate.
  • If the truck is not setup right, it can add too much water to the carpet which can cause molding, mildew or other problems.
  • If extraction is performed too often, it can reduce the carpet life because the water will start to separate the carpet from its backing.

Recommended Carpet Maintenance Procedures:

  • First and foremost, it is essential to identify your carpet’s care history. If your carpet has a history of bonnet cleaning without truck-mounted extraction, then it is probably best to stick with bonnet cleaning. Though using a truck-mounted extractor will remove a large amount of dirt, it is also likely to leave unsightly stains. The years of pushing the dirt down will be revealed by extraction. Stick with the bonnet.
  • If you bonnet monthly to maintain the look of your carpet, extraction should be done quarterly or semi-annually depending on use.
  • With proper maintenance the life of a good carpet should be about 8 to 10 years. If the carpet is exclusively bonnet cleaned, you can expect this time to be cut in half.

If your carpets were recently cleaned and look dirty soon after, possible causes are:
  • Water pressure was too low or too high during cleaning.
  • Chemical solutions were not mixed properly.
  • Suction was not adequate.
  • There was poor technique or handling of machinery (e.g. cleaning too fast).

We hope this post provides you with some helpful carpet care tips. If you have further questions regarding the proper care of carpets in your facility, feel free to email us or check out the Carpet and Rug Institute’s website.

Matthew Stowe
  • Clean Tek
    Posted at 5:48 am, June 23, 2013

    After reading this post I have learned how to get to know the commercial carpets better. I’ve experienced about commercial carpets cleaning that will be effective and keep our carpets looking new.

  • Tidymax
    Posted at 2:38 am, July 19, 2013

    Bonnet & Truck-Mounted Extraction was Most common of method is very useful and essential.Its handling to easy also.

  • Mr Green
    Posted at 11:56 pm, March 17, 2014

    This is a joke right? I have used a low moisture bonnet cleaning method for 32 years and have non stop referals and have had for many years. If you are going to compare two method, then I suggest you actually know how the low moisture method is performed rather than speculate. I have never soaked a bonnet in solution. If you soak it, no soil will adhere to fibers….The person who constructed this ridiculous charade is obviously either uneducated in both methods or simply very imponionated and unprofessional. Never bag on the other methods….extremely unprofessional and scared of the conpetition making his crappy workmanship shine like his false bleach claim….HAHAHA what a joke….

    • 007 cleaning
      Posted at 8:47 pm, September 25, 2014

      I agree with mr green, Owning both method I can say that he is missing a few pros and cons. One sided too. He is obviously rooting for extractors. The major pro that is the con for extractor is the water as it gets in deeper to clean it also leaves water to rest at bottom and stains come back latter on. And for bonnet the same as it uses little water stains don’t come back but does not clean with bonnet does not create any more or less damage. The issue relays on what happened to your carpet that need cleaning. Is it dirty from traffic? -bonnet- is it dog piss? -extracor- think of it this way a face lift or a lipo. They are both good in their own way. (If u really want a good clean carpet do both extract then several month latter bonnet 🙂 $$$money$$$ or just replace). The question is does your carpet needs to be surface cleaned or does it need to be deeply cleaned.

    • Posted at 1:47 pm, November 9, 2017

      Mr. Green,

      I appreciate your trolling of our “educational” blog (not opinionated blog). In the 30+ years that I have been in this industry we have used many methods, cleaning equipment and cleaning chemicals/agents for carpet cleaning. One thing is constant and that is change. Since this article has been written we have tried even more methods and to be quite honest, sold all of our Truck Mounted equipment. We obviously do not know each other and I would not immediately assume that you do not know anything about your trade by the remarks you have made here. If you would like to have productive dialogue on this topic I would invite you to contact me directly so we can discuss your thoughts on the matter.

      Look out for more educational blogs with changes to our processes and procedures. Until we speak….have a great day.

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