Encapsulation Carpet Cleaning Blog from Excellent-Supply.com
Comparing Encapsulation with Hot Water Extraction
Posted by Rick Gelinas on 12/15/2010 to Commercial Carpet Cleaning

The question has been asked many times: What are the benefits and drawbacks to the Encapsulation and Hot Water Extraction cleaning methods?

The table below compares encapsulation and hot water extraction - as each method relates to commercial carpet care:

Low Moisture Encapsulation Cleaning

Hot Water Extraction Cleaning

Low Moisture:
Each gallon of diluted detergent can clean approximately 300 sq ft of carpet. Dries quickly so the carpet can be put back into service quickly.
Higher Volume of Water Used:
With its ability to flush a large quantity of water through the carpet, hot water extraction is a highly effective way to rinse a carpet.
The low-moisture encapsulation method (or encap method as it's often called) is a variation of the old "shampoo method". The carpet is scrubbed with a rotary machine, cylindrical brush machine, or a 3-headed scrubber such as the Cimex or Scrub3. As the carpet is scrubbed, the soil that was attached to the fiber is released from the carpet fiber into the encapsulation solution. Today's better quality encap detergents are built with a crystallizing polymer that encapsulates the soil. After the carpet dries, the encapsulated soil can be extracted from the carpet during the post-vacuuming process.
The hot water extraction method (or steam cleaning method as it's often called) injects water into the carpet through spray jets. The water is immediately recovered through a vacuum orifice as it's applied. The affect of this process can be compared to the rinse cycle of your washing machine. To facilitate cleaning, a strong detergent pre-spray is applied to the carpet prior to cleaning, and some level of agitation to the carpet is normally applied. Then the carpet is rinsed using the hot water extraction method.
High production cleaning can be accomplished with the encap method. Cleaning rates of 2,000-3,000 sq ft per hour can be achieved with encapsulation. This can be very helpful in larger commercial settings. Wicking and recurring spill stains can also be eliminated.
Wicking and recurring spill stains are a common problem with commercial glue down (CGD) carpets. The crystallizing detergents employed and low moisture attributes of the encap method help to eliminate these problems. Encapsulation makes it simple to maintain commercial carpets and keep them looking cleaner longer over an extended period of time.
Hot water extraction is simply the best way to rinse a carpet of its contaminants. Since the hot water extraction method can employ countless gallons of water during the cleaning process it is possible to flush a large quantity of soil from the carpet during cleaning. For this reason it is recommended to supplement encapsulation cleaning with periodic hot water extraction cleaning. It is commonly seen that the need for hot water extraction cleaning can be greatly reduced when a good program of encapsulation cleaning is being performed.
Soil Resistance:
Many people hold off cleaning their carpets as long as possible because they've always heard that the carpet will quickly re-soil following cleaning. This condition can occur with traditional cleaning methods. It's impossible to recover 100% of the detergent with any method of cleaning. Detergents act like dirt magnets - or sponges. That's what detergents do. So any detergent left in the carpet will continue to attract soil. With good encap chemistry the detergent is balanced with a crystallizing polymer. So everything on the detergent side of the table is complemented with a polymer on the other side of the table. There is no sticky residue that can attract soil. In fact the polymerized detergent will actually RESIST soil. A good polymeric encap detergent can even consume detergent residues that were left in the carpet from previous cleanings. And some encapsulation detergents may even have an additional built-in fluoro-chemical carpet protector in the formula.
Soil Resistance:
It is impossible to rinse all of the strong pre-spray detergent from the carpet. Not even the best truck-mount in the world can rinse every trace of detergent residue. To illustrate this: picture taking a gallon of red paint. Add 5 gallons of water. What do you have? Red water.
Add another 50 gallons of water. What do you have? Reddish water. Add an additional 100 gallons of water. What will you have? The red color will still be observable. Hot water extraction is a process of addition and subtraction. The thought presented here is that it's nearly impossible to add enough water to fully dilute all of the detergent. At some point you leave behind a diluted quantity of detergent (hence the example of the red paint). This helps us to appreciate why carpets can sometimes re-soil quickly following cleaning. Hence it's critically important to rinse the carpet as thoroughly as possible to dilute and extract as much of the pre-spray detergent from the carpet during hot water extraction cleaning. Using a good encapsulation HWE detergent (like Encap-Punch) can eliminate the possibility of attracting more soil - because the detergent is balanced with crystallizing polymer that won't attract more soil. A further benefit to using a good encap detergent is that any soil residues that may be left in the carpet following the cleaning can continue to be recovered during the post-vacuuming process.
In A Commercial Setting:
Encapsulation is quickly becoming the most sought out method for maintaining commercial carpet today. As mentioned above: Encap is fast. Encap is a low moisture method. Encap eliminates wicking and recurring spill stains. Encap helps carpets to stay clean longer between cleanings. It can also be employed with minimal costs using a scrubber and cost effective detergents. With encap, building security is increased since it's not necessary to be leave doors to the building open during cleaning.
In A Commercial Setting:
Hot water extraction has the greatest potential to flush contaminants from the carpet in a single cleaning as mentioned above. And it's recommended that periodic HWE cleanings are included at intervals as a supplement to encap cleaning. There may be some issues with wicking and recurring spill stains on commercial glue down carpets when HWE is employed, because the volume of water injected may affect deeply embedded soil at the base of the carpet fiber. Care should be given to thoroughly rinse pre-spray from the carpet so that re-soiling can be minimized (using an encap HWE detergent can be helpful). If a truckmount unit is used doors will need to left open. Long hose runs from the parking lot to the area being cleaned may also present challenges.
Impact On The Environment:
A single gallon of water can clean 300 sq ft of carpet so there's minimal water being consumed. And there is no discharge water heading to the sewage treatment plant. The encapsulated soil is recovered from the carpet as dry-soil during post-vacuuming. A good encapsulation detergent can be formulated without requiring strong solvents or other potentially hazardous ingredients. For example Encap-Clean DS has only one ingredient that even registers on the MSDS sheet (alcohol).
Impact On The Environment:
Hot water extraction can consume a very high volume of water (perhaps hundreds of gallons for a typical commercial job). The water that's extracted during cleaning is laden with chemicals and contaminants. If the water is properly discharged into the municipal sewer system, it is now spent water that will receive sewage treatment. If a truckmount unit is employed, the engine will be left running during the cleaning which consumes fuel and discharges carbon monoxide and other pollutants into the environment.
Selecting The Correct Tool:
There's no absolute "perfect method" for every situation. Like tools in a toolbox - a professional carpet cleaner will examine the carpet and the building's requirements and then select the appropriate cleaning method(s). All methods have their place and they each have unique benefits in different settings. Encapsulation is perfect for keeping a commercial carpet looking its best on a day-in day-out basis, and periodic hot water extraction is an ideal way to flush a heavily soiled carpet. The two methods complement each other and can be compared to a good marriage - you don't want to have one without the other. Together they can provide a balanced commercial carpet care program that maximizes the carpet's appearance and extends its useful life.
Selecting The Correct Tool:
There's no absolute "perfect method" for every situation. Like tools in a toolbox - a professional carpet cleaner will examine the carpet and the building's requirements and then select the appropriate cleaning method(s). All methods have their place and they each have unique benefits in different settings. Encapsulation is perfect for keeping a commercial carpet looking its best on a day-in day-out basis, and periodic hot water extraction is an ideal way to flush a heavily soiled carpet. The two methods complement each other and can be compared to a good marriage - you don't want to have one without the other. Together they can provide a balanced commercial carpet care program that maximizes the carpet's appearance and extends its useful life.
Don Eldred Date 12/15/2010 5:16:41 PM
I think that is a fair comparison of the two systems. The one thing that is missing is the person preforming the cleaning, and that is difficult to do a comparison, even in our company I have tech's that are much better at HWE cleaning, and vise verses, so yes both systems are great in the right settings.
Alex Taylor Date 12/16/2010 7:50:25 AM
I think encapsulation really is a big plus to the industry. By reducing the need to frequently HWE by putting in place an interim cleaning with encap contributes to the environment as mentioned. However there is definately a need for the two methods in the right setting. I LOVE ENCAP!
outback joe Date 12/17/2010 9:58:13 PM
If encap juice crysalises and we vacuum out the dirt ,the carpet should be clean so why would we bother with hot water extraction.
Water Extraction Florida Date 1/18/2011 8:12:15 AM
All water extraction services aren’t the same.
Carl Date 8/3/2011 11:03:42 PM
having used both I feel encap is better for commercial carpets and HWE is better for more residential carpets. There are some exceptions to the rule you will find. Encap is a lower energy user in water, gas, LP etc needed for HWE and faster process. We use both and don't look at it as a which is better topic.. they serve a different master and the same master at times.
John Harris Date 8/7/2011 7:48:53 PM
I keep hearing people say,even Mr. Encap himself that Releasit is good primarily for commercial carpet. Well say what you want. I used it on residential carpet using a Trusted Clean variable speed rotary and Bam! Bam! Bam! My client was simply amazed at the results! I too,am blown away! And that was just using a sample bottle Ranger sent me! Of course I ordered a gallon right away. I have 4 residential jobs in line and I'm going to use only Releasit. I feel confident that the results will be sup
Judd Bowers Date 8/25/2011 11:21:31 AM
I hear many claim that encap is "maintenance" cleaning and eventually needs HWE. Not from my experience. I've used my janitorial accounts as a testing ground for the last 2 years. I still have both methods, and I believe both are effective, but anyone who believes encap is just "maintenance" probably just needs a little more training. This is coming from a skeptic. I tested both because I wanted to prove HWE is superior. Its not from my experience in commercial or residential.
Christopher Garrison Date 9/22/2011 12:19:18 PM
I have found, as Rick has stated, that there is a place and situation for every industry cleaning tool but Encaping sure does do a great job in most cases. I have not had a call back yet
Kevin Pearson Date 11/16/2011 4:33:37 PM
I was real skeptical about trying this crazy encap. thing. But after reading an article Rick wrote in a magazine years ago I decided to call him and talk to him about it. I was strictly an HWE guy at the time. After several phone conversations with Rick he convinced me to try it. So I bought a Cimex and a case of Releasit Encap Clean. (At that time there was no Encap Clean DS or DS2). I took it to a church a block away from my shop and told them I needed their dirtiest room they had to do
Jerry Davis Date 8/17/2012 5:38:18 PM
We do both HWE and Encap. HWE primarily on residential. And that's mainly because most residential is done too infrequently. With encap we've been able to open many doors that would not have been opened with HWE. Case in point, we clean a lot of carpets in nursing homes and hotels. The faster dry time of encap is essential when doing those types of businesses. I knew nothing about encap until I was introduced to it by way of Excellent Supplies website. I now am a firm believer in the system. We
Thomas Kohlman Date 3/16/2014
I just started a carpet Cleaning business a year and have gotten really Busy rather quickly. I have only had 3 customers complain of re-occurring stains using our HWE. I am thinking of Doing encap also since it seems faster and cheaper for the customer(especially on commercial jobs). If anyone has any input on this than please let me know
clapton Date 3/17/2014
or the package to start with , thank you again
Rick Gelinas Date 3/17/2014
Certainly! Many guys start out with a rotary machine. You mentioned the Challenger. Challenger makes a great machine and it can serve you well. Another machine you may want to look at if you're considering orbital machines is our new Vario machine. We've put a lot into the design of this one, and it is really proving to be a winner. http://www.excellent-supply.com/VARIO-Orbital-Scrubber_p_563.html If we can assist you in any way give us a shout at Excellent Supply 1-800-330-1888. Wishing you success! Rick
clapton Date 3/17/2014
I will thank you
clapton Date 3/17/2014
hi, Iam starting a carpet business the next month,i need your advice, can I start with a rotary pad machine(like challenger) ?thanks
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