How does the Encapsulation Method Really Work?
Encapsulation companies such as Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning spray a chemical known as a crystallizing acrylic polymer into your carpet. This chemical is worked into your carpet with their counter-rotating agitation brush machine. The picture to the left is an example of an encapsulation machine. The agitation from the machine helps break the bond between the dirt and the fibers of your carpet. Once dry, the solution crystallizes and theoretically surrounds (encapsulates) the dirt and sticky residues, making the dirt easier to be vacuumed at a later time. This method is different from other carpet cleaning methods in that carpets are not actually cleaned per sei by encapsulating the dirt. The dirt is not removed until the carpet is vacuumed after the encapsulation chemical has dried, it is just hidden and dispersed.
Looking Clean vs. Being Clean
It has been said that the encapsulation method is partly a soil redistribution system. While your carpets may appear to be clean after an Oxi Fresh Carpet cleaning, they really are not. Just ask anyone who does encapsulation… Where does all the dirt go? Ask them to show it to you. They can’t. It’s the brighteners that are making your carpets look clean. The soil is not being removed during their “cleaning” process. Their machine only spreads the camouflaged soil around. If this method was effective, why is it not recommended by the leading carpet manufacturers?
The two leading carpet manufacturers in the U.S. (Shaw Industries and Mohawk) recommend the Hot Water Extraction Method as THE BEST way to clean and maintain carpets. These carpet manufacturers provide warranties for new carpets and both companies want your carpets to last beyond the warranty period. Carpet manufacturers obviously don’t want to pay out claims for advising improper maintenance procedures. So, the bottom line is, if the carpet is soil saturated… the only thing that will make it truly clean is the removal of the soil. In other words, hot water extraction is required in order to remove large amounts of dirt. And the only possible way to properly maintain residential carpet is a periodic hot water extraction cleaning every 12 to 18 months. Check out how ALL CLEAN!, LLC stack up to other Hot Water Extraction companies.
Extracting Their Chemical
I remember early on in my cleaning career when I was on a job cleaning for a friend of a friend. After cleaning her carpets, I went to clean the bottom of my RotoVac and found a gooey orange substance. At the time I had no idea what it was, but Ruth knew. She told me that over 10 years prior, her father had a carpet cleaning business and he used the encapsulation method when he cleaned her house. So, as it turns out, I was pulling out acrylic polymer that had been left in her carpets for over ten years! Although the orange acrylic polymer chemical is no longer used, those who still use the encapsulation method will leave their chemical in your carpet for your children or pets to crawl on. If it’s not flushed out with water, it is still in your carpet!
Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning Uses The Wrong Type of Equipment for Residential Carpet Cleaning
Encapsulation, or (VLM – Very Low Moisture) cleaning was primarily designed for high-rise and commercial buildings where a truck-mount’s hoses can’t reach. This method was not designed for homes with pet stains, soils, pathogens, and traffic patterns. Most homeowners want the dirt that’s in their carpet removed, not hidden. Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning’s encapsulation method is a VERY cost-effective way to clean commercial carpet because appearance tends to be the primary goal in a business environment. And, the cost to clean for the carpet cleaner is around .003 cents per square foot. Encapsulation was never designed to replace hot water extraction in a residential environment. Sadly, Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning has no qualms about using this method in their customer’s homes.
Will The Encapsulation Method Destroy Viruses and Bacteria?
Because of Covid-19, now more than ever, people are looking for a cleaning method that will destroy the viruses and bacteria found in residential carpets. The Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning’s encapsulation method does NOT provide the high heat necessary to destroy living organisms. According to the CDC, 165 F. is necessary to kill these living pathogens. The encapsulation method that Oxi Fresh provides has no heated water whatsoever.
Is the Encapsulation Method GREEN?
Acrylate polymer is the primary chemical used during the encapsulation process. It is commonly used in cosmetics (such as nail polish) as an adhesive. Most companies such as Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning who use the encapsulation method don’t tell you on their website specifically what chemical they are using with a link to their material safety data sheet. ALL CLEAN!, LLC uses Procyon, a 100% non-toxic, soap-free, non-sticky cleaning agent as our prespray. Here’s the link to our MSDS Sheet. There you’ll see zeros in all four categories, meaning it is 100% safe and 100% non-toxic.
Why No Before And After Videos
From Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning?
Look hard and you still won’t find any videos from Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning showing a dramatic difference as they “clean” residential carpet. Why? Because they can’t. As mentioned before, the encapsulation method does NOT clean carpet. They move dirt around and hide it with brighteners. The counter-rotating brushes on their machine just spin and agitate. No dirt is picked up until someone vacuums, and the amount of dirt that’s picked up depends on the power of the vacuum cleaner. You can do a search on YouTube for hot water extraction or steam cleaning (same thing) and you’ll find hundreds of carpet cleaners showing a dramatic before and after visual difference as they clean. The video above is of my son cleaning a dirty carpet with our RotoVac. If you find a good encapsulation video, please let me know!
Which Dries Faster?
Yes, after Oxy Fresh Carpet Cleaning pushes your dirt around, it is true that their method will dry faster. But what would you rather have, dry dirty carpet, or clean fresh carpet that will dry in just a few hours? I’m sure most would prefer the latter when given the choice.
BTW: On the Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning Methods page they claim that the hot water extraction method saturates the carpet. The truth is that the suction power from a high-end truck-mount won’t allow the backing of your carpet to get wet, let alone become saturated!
They also say that the hot water extraction method can take 12 to 36 hours to dry. I’ve been in business since 2005 and I’ve never seen it take that long to dry. Normally, your carpets will be dry in as little as 2 hours when the humidity is very low and on rainy days may take up to 16 hours or so. It should NEVER take more than 24 hours. Our average dry times are about 7 hours, give or take. Given today’s current level of hot water extraction technology, I highly doubt that even Stanley Steemer takes 36 hours to dry!
Which is More Expensive?
The Hot Water Extraction method is definitely more expensive, and for good reason. You get what you pay for. As of the time of this writing, a typical investment in an encapsulation machine runs anywhere between $2,000 to $3,300. ALL CLEAN! invested about $80,000 in our most recent state-of-the-art truck-mounted system. This is the main reason why we are able to clean carpets way better than those who use the encapsulation method. You really are getting what you pay for when the right equipment is used to clean your carpets.
Does the Hot Water Extraction Cause Mold?
No. Not unless the cleaning company you hire is using 30 year old equipment! Technology has come a long way with hot water extraction. Carpets are left damp, not wet. Carpets will dry within a few hours, not days as was the case 30 years ago.
False Claims Made by Oxi Fresh
On their Carpet Steam Cleaning page they say…
Oxi Fresh: “Carpet [steam] cleaning should always be both effective and convenient. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.”
Answer: It is not “rarely the case” else why would the two largest carpet manufacturers in the United States recommend the Hot Water Extraction method?
Oxi Fresh: “After all, a steam carpet cleaning service leaves you with wet carpets that hold you hostage.”
Answer: No they don’t hold you hostage. You can walk on them with clean shoes or socks as soon as we’re done!
Oxi Fresh: “For 12-36 hours you’re left with a soaked floor that turns multiple rooms into a no man’s land.”
Answer: As of this writing, I’ve cleaned almost 10,000 homes and I’ve NEVER soaked a customer’s carpet.
Oxi Fresh: “What’s more, these prolonged dry times can increase the chance of mold and mildew forming and make wickback more likely.”
Answer: I’ve NEVER caused mold or mildew, or have ever experienced wick-back either.
Answer: There is no possible way that Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning can get carpets cleaner than ALL CLEAN!s steam cleaning method. I’d be happy to challenge them if they disagree and I’ll take down this page if they prove me wrong!
Don’t be fooled or misled by companies that try to trick people with false claims and gimmicks. Trust the carpet manufacturers and go with a company that uses the Hot Water Extraction Method. Truth told, just about any carpet cleaning company that uses hot water extraction will yield better results than those who use the encapsulation method in a residential environment.
At the time of this writing, I know of only one carpet cleaning company who uses the encapsulation method for residential carpet cleaning: Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning. I’ll list more if and when they become available.