The Carpet Cleaning Debate: Hot Or Cold Water?

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The Debate

There has been a heated debate brewing within the commercial carpet cleaning industry for quite some time. The existential struggle continues to revolve around the most optimal temperature to use to get your carpets clean.

So which is better? Hot water or cold?

Loaded Question

This appears to be a loaded question as both hot water and cold water offer benefits and drawbacks. Some experts agree that cold water protects your carpet fibers from shrinking and has the added eco-friendly benefit of using less energy.

Hot water advocates counter that the higher temperatures pull dirt from your carpet more effectively and can eliminate bacteria and other critters that are hiding in your carpet.

Why Does This Matter?

Before we explore the pluses and minuses of each method, let’s first dive into why this matters at all.
Here are a few reasons why maintaining your carpets at your facility should be a priority within your maintenance program…

Appearance matters

If you walked into a building that was heavily stained with mud, food, and whatever else found its way into the carpet, would you have any desire to stick around? You would most likely lose trust in the business.

If they can’t maintain their carpets, how good can they be at maintaining their services?

Cost savings

Since carpet replacement can easily break a building’s budget, this should be more than enough motivation to keep the carpets maintained on a regular basis.

Extending the life of your carpets should be in your best interests.

Protects indoor air quality

Carpets act like a filter to trap airborne pollutants to help create a healthy indoor air quality that is free from allergens.

However, if the carpets become overloaded, this protective function is lost.

Keeps critters away

Regular cleaning of your carpets can eliminate the buildup of bacteria, dust mites, bedbugs, and any other organism that makes a home in your carpets.

So Hot…Or Cold?

If you look toward science to help end this debate, you will find that hot and cold water are molecularly similar.

That is, they are both made of the same molecule; one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms.


The only difference is the temperature.

With a higher temperature, these molecules are more agitated and tend to move around faster than their cold counterparts which result in dirt and debris being shaken loose easier within the carpet fibers.

The Benefits of Hot Water

  • Hot water extraction promotes a deeper cleaning process by dissolving and removing deeply-embedded dirt and sticky debris that was missed with vacuuming
  • Cleaning detergents are designed to work more effectively at higher temperatures which results in using LESS chemicals and water
  • Hot water rinses away stubborn residue, stains, and bacterial contaminants
  • Eco-friendly option because hot water can clean effectively on its own without the use of chemicals
  • Faster drying time which minimizes the growth of mold and mildew

The Drawbacks of Hot Water

  • Harmful fumes are released when these cleaning detergents are mixed with hot water which may pose a threat to the user and the environment
  • Less energy efficient as more energy is needed for the hot water extractors than the cold water equipment
  • May cause carpet shrinkage, especially wool fibers
  • Hot water may cause some spots to set, such as blood stains
  • If the water is too hot, some carpets are susceptible to water marks left from the jet extractors

Let’s Not Forget About Cold Water’s Advantages

  • Safer on natural carpet fibers and protecting against fiber shrinkage
  • Uses less energy therefore making it a more sustainable and cost effective option
  • Minimizes the release of dangerous fumes when mixed with cleaning agents
  • Certain stains like blood, milk, or eggs are more easily removed with cooler temperatures
  • Cold water equipment is less expensive to buy than hot water extractors with built-in heaters

The Pitfalls of Cold Water

  • May not clean as effectively as hot water or dissolve as much of the dirt and debris
  • Difficulty cleaning hard-to-remove debris such as gum, playdough, and other sticky substances
  • May not activate the full potential of the cleaning compounds
  • Some stains may “re-appear” on freshly cleaned carpets

Which One is For You?

A simple enough question but it really depends on many factors.

Save Money

If you are looking to save money on facility maintenance expenses then maybe cold water machines may be your best choice.

If you want to reduce your use of chemicals in your facility, cleaning simply with hot water may yield the results you are looking for.

Weighing Your Options

It’s also important to weigh the advantages against the disadvantages. For example, if you are concerned about the amount of energy hot water extractors use, then consider that you will be using less chemicals and water to clean your carpet.

Perhaps you are set on using cold water but are uneasy about its stain-removing capabilities.

Spot Removal

Cold water experts agree that spot removal can be just as effective as hot water if appropriate stain analysis and pre-treatment are carried out in a timely manner.

Assess what you need and then make the most well-informed decision on whether hot or cold water cleaning is the most appropriate for your facility.


Is cold water as effective as hot water extraction?–17875–15266

Carpet cleaning: ensuring professional service

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