If you have bought or rented a carpet cleaning machine you might be wondering how much carpet shampoo to use. There are instructions on the bottle that give you an idea of how much shampoo to dilute in a certain amount of water. However, those instructions are not always the best way to go.
The most common mistake that people make when they are shampooing their carpets is that they use too much carpet shampoo. If you leave any soap residue behind when you are finished, you could experience a problem called wicking. Wicking is when any dirt that was left behind deep in the carpet or any dirt that is underneath the carpet in the pad is attracted to the soap residue and then that mixture of dirt and soap rises to the surface. It is possible for your carpets to look even dirtier than they were when they started if you have severe enough wicking.
Leaving behind soap residue happens most often when there is too much shampoo is the cleaning mixture. When there is excess shampoo you get lots of foaming. Foaming can not only be bad in terms of the wicking potential, but also, the foam is not necessarily the best cleaning agent. You want a good mixture of shampoo and hot water to best clean your carpets. Some machines have reservoirs available for antifoaming agents. These additives are added to the carpet shampoo mixture to minimize the amount of foaming, but they do not eliminate wicking. Even if you get rid of most of the excess foam, there still could be too much soap in your cleaning agent.
Your best bet is to read the instructions on your carpet shampoo carefully and then use about half of what they recommend. You might not get as much foaming, but you will clean the carpet well. It might be necessary to run the shampooer over the carpets a second time since there will not be as much active ingredient in the cleaning mixture the first time. Then, you will need to go over the carpets a third time with nothing but water in the cleaning reservoir. This rinsing is necessary to get rid of any excess soap residue left behind. Keep rinsing until the waste water comes out clear and free of soap and bubbles. Even though this multi-pass method is slightly more work, it will be worth it when your carpet is beautifully clean and stays that way when you are done.