Encap Cleaning vs. HWE; Which One's Best?
That’s a question that we hear frequently. It seems that people want to hear a definitive answer - “hot water extraction is the best method”, or “the encapsulation method is the best way to clean carpet”. In fact, both methods have their strengths and weaknesses and that's what we’ll consider here.
Comparing Encapsulation Cleaning With Hot Water Extraction
Let's start with the strengths of hot water extraction. Hot water extraction, or HWE, is the absolute best way to flush carpet of soil and debris. With a large flow of water, you can rinse contaminants from the fiber. Hot water extraction is an industry favorite because it can empty a carpet of more soil than any other method, in a single cleaning.
Now let’s talk about the negatives. Hot water extraction’s strength can be its weakness. If the water is not recovered adequately, extended dry times can result. Another downside is that with limited agitation, a strong pre-spray may be required. And if the pre-spray is not entirely rinsed from the fiber, resoiling can occur. Consuming freshwater and discharging soil-laden wastewater in the recovery also has a negative impact on the environment. This method may also require more energy consumption.
Encapsulation carpet cleaning, or encap cleaning, does not have the deep flushing capabilities that HWE has. Instead soil is recovered from the carpet through the use of polymeric encapsulation. A good encap detergent is designed with an encapsulation polymer. The encap polymer will hold soil in suspension. After the carpet is dry, the encapsulated soil will break away from the flexible carpet fiber and is recovered through the normal routine of post-vacuuming. When encapsulation is provided as part of a carpet maintenance program the soil can be kept under control and a good appearance can be maintained.
Positives of encapsulation carpet cleaning are its ability to clean using less water. Typically one gallon of mixed encap solution will clean about 300 square feet of carpet. And there’s no wastewater discharge. Higher production rates of 2,000 to 3,000 square feet per hour can also be achieved. Carpet is typically dry in an hour, so it can be put back into service quickly. Wicking and recurring spill stains can also be eliminated. And since the polymeric composition of the detergent is soil-resistant by nature, the carpet will normally resist resoiling.
Deep cleaning with hot water extraction is a highly effective way to flush the carpet. This can bring life back to a filthy carpet. It also provides a sanitary way of rinsing contaminants from the fiber. We highly recommend HWE for these situations.
Encap cleaning can open doors, particularly when it comes to commercial maintenance. Its high production rates make it a particularly competitive method for maintaining commercial accounts. This low moisture cleaning approach enables the building to be put back into service quickly. Since encapsulation is relatively simple, it's also easy to train new technicians to handle this type of carpet cleaning without running into problems. And the carpet can be kept looking like new on a day-in, day-out basis - when a good encap program is employed.
Like everything in life, it's not a matter of one method owning the show. Both methods are terrific for their intended purpose. A professional cleaner will want to become efficient in offering all industry-recognized methods. That way the appropriate tool can be selected to provide the most effective service for your carpet cleaning customer.