Why Is My Carpet Stiff And Crunchy?

A Real World Perspective from a 45 year veteran of the carpet installation and carpet cleaning industry

Stiff and crunchy seems to be normal in the carpet cleaning industry. The answer from the cleaner is usually “oh just vacuum it and it will soften up”. Then to make things worse, within 7-10 days the carpet looks like it hasn’t been cleaned.

What would cause a carpet to dry “stiff and crunchy”?

The answer is SOAP! That’s right SOAP!

What would cause a carpet to look like it was not cleaned 7-10 days ago?

The answer is SOAP! That’s right SOAP!

The majority of carpet cleaners are taught by the people that sell cleaning equipment and cleaning agents. These individuals don’t care if your carpet is clean, all they want to do is sell “Product” or as I call it “Juice”. We are taught in industry classes that “we have to buffer the pH of the pre-conditioner, and just in case you move a sofa and you did not precondition the carpet, don’t worry, the solution in the rinse line will remove the soil”. Well that is like getting in the shower, lathering up with soap, then taking a pitcher of soapy water to rinse off. My belief is the entire process was created to get the cleaner back in your home more often so they can sell more product. The worst part is that the family usually gets blamed for the dirty carpet, in apartments it is usually the next tenant. Not to mention the uncomfortable feeling of stiff and crunchy carpet underfoot.

Pre-Treating Carpets Before Cleaning

Carpet cleaning is a simple as washing your hair; however, I compare the process to pre-treating a stain on a shirt. If you put a shirt in the wash with a stain it will most likely still be on the shirt when it comes out of the dryer. If you put a pre-treatment on the stain, agitate it in, allow it some dwell time, 9 out of 10 times the stain will be removed in the wash. carpet cleaning is the same, if someone does not understand the Chemistry of Cleaning then they will fail every time. Treat your carpet the same way you would treat your hair, whatever you put on it rinse out with plain water.

Chemical,  Agitation, Time and Heat

The cleaning pie consists of Chemical, Agitation, Time and Heat, when one is increased the others are decreased. Heat is the most important part of the cleaning pie and when increased the need for Chemical, Agitation and Time are decreased. Temperatures of 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit at the source have proven to be the most effective cleaning temperature on Polyester, Nylon and Smart Strand Carpet Fibers. Anything less delivers less than desirable results. Note: Polypropylene Carpet Fibers should be cleaned at lesser temperatures to prevent heat damage.

Finding a good cleaner is not easy and every one of them are usually pretty nice guys. There are web sites where you can locate a Certified Professional, Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification or IICRC @ www.IICRC.org or Seal of Approval Service Provider , Carpet & Rug Institute, but do your part to understand exactly what is going to be done.

Questions You Should Ask Your Carpet Cleaner

  1. Do you provide free on site estimates?
  2. What can my expectations be of the cleaning?
  3. How long will the cleaning last?
  4. Do you rinse with a “rinse solution” or just hot water?
  5. How hot do you get the water?
  6. If a spot comes back do you and for how long?
  7. What if you can’t get my carpet clean do I still have to pay?

These are questions that should be asked instead of “how much do you charge for carpet cleaning”.

Carpet in a home is an “Asset”, if the value of the home goes up so does the value of the carpet. If a carpet has to be replaced then you lose equity in the sale of the home. A carpet in a home should last 20 to 40 years. How long will your carpet last? Will it still look like new?

Photo #1 is of the same carpet after it was pre-vacuumed, pre-conditioned, allowed dwell time, rinsed with water heated to 250 degrees at the machine (so hot it causes second and third degree burns), spot/stain removal procedure, edge vacuuming and grooming. Looks like new carpet was installed. This carpet was cleaned by a 20 year IICRC Certified Master Textile Cleaner, and employee of Carpet Care Craftsman, Inc., following a cleaning process that returns Nylon carpet back to a like new appearance.

Photo #1 Cleaned by a 20 year IICRC Certified Master Textile Cleaner

Example of poorly cleaned carpet

Photo #2 is picture of carpet cleaning performed by a 35 year veteran (No Certifications) who’s advertising message is “I’ve been doing this for 35 years and have the Biggest Sucking Machine in town”. Stains were still pretty visible and carpet did not even look clean, the worst part is the carpet was stiff and crunchy.

Photo #2 After 35 year veteran cleaned the carpet

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