Best Temperature to Clean Carpets: Why Heat Matters

Having carpet in the house is a great way to limit noise and keep rooms cozy, but what do you do to keep them clean? Not only do you want to make sure that you're cleaning them well to get rid of all the dirt and grime, but it's also important to use the best temperature to clean carpets.

Most people are unaware that carpet fibers can actually melt or be damaged if the water that is used is too hot. Not only does that keep the carpet from being cleaned, but it also creates a spot in the carpet that makes for a rough texture.

Let's dive in and talk about the best water temperature for carpet cleaning so that the carpets in your house are cleaned and disinfected in the most effective way.

Female Zerorez® technician pulling a Zr® Wand to clean a white carpet with the right temperature water to clean carpets in a living room setting with a couch and tree

Should carpet be cleaned with hot or cold water?

Heating water for cleaning purposes has long been recognized as the most effective method. Heat aids in dissolving grease and soil on various surfaces.

This principle finds its roots in the late 1800s when Swedish physicist and chemist Svante A. Arrhenius discovered a fundamental connection between heat and energy.

He found that for every 10-degree Celsius (18-degree Fahrenheit) increase in temperature over 48 degrees Celsius (118-degrees Fahrenheit), the energy released doubled.

In the context of cleaning, this implies that the effectiveness of the cleaning process doubles with every 10-degree Celsius (18°F) increase over 48 degrees Celsius (118°F).

This means, cleaning at 136°F is twice as effective as cleaning at 118°F, and cleaning at 154°F is four times as effective as cleaning at 118°F! Heat matters a lot!

Known as the Arrhenius equation, this finding is not universally accepted by scientists, but it is generally agreed that cleaning with cold water does not enhance cleaning performance.

The same principle applies to carpet cleaning. Higher temperatures assist in breaking down oily residues in carpet fibers, and most detergents work more efficiently at higher temperatures, meaning you need less soaps or detergents the hotter your water gets.

Hot water can also help restore carpet fibers to their original "loft and resilience," an essential aspect of maintaining carpets.

Professional hot water extraction like that done by Zerorez® effectively removes deeply-embedded soils, oils, and other sticky residues and stains that your vacuum and other spot cleaning just can't reach.

But, it's important to note that hot water doesn't mean BOILING water (212 °F / 100 °C).

For context, your home water heater is generally only set to 120 °F (49 °C), even though some units will allow you to go up to 160 °F (71 °C), you generally shouldn't ever have it higher than 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60-degrees Celsius) to reduce the risk of scalding yourself. You shouldn't use boiling hot water to clean your carpet, because if you get the water too hot, you can potentially melt the carpet.

At what temperature do carpets melt?

Since carpets are made up of a ton of fibers, it's actually a type of texture that isn't hard to melt.

Most people and professionals will tell you that just over 300 °F (149 °C) is the temperature at which carpet fibers can start to get damaged or melt (especially olefin carpet fibers).

The professionals at Zerorez actually feel that carpet fibers get damaged by heat long before that temperature mark.

Anything over 200 °F (93 °C) puts the carpet in a heat range where damage can start to occur. This is because the glue in the carpet fibers can start to heat and become melted, which is what will cause the carpet to damage or burn.

Answering the question of what temperature does carpet burn isn't as straightforward as it seems, so remember that a range of 200-300 °F is basically the danger zone for carpet fibers.

What is the ideal temperature for cleaning carpets?

Zerorez's truck mounted carpet cleaning systems heat water between 160-180 °F (71-82 °C).

While some truck mounted hot water extraction systems can produce superheated water over 200 °F, it is generally safer for technicians and your carpet to keep it under 200 °F.

As 160 °F is usually hotter than most people let their home water heaters heat up to, DIY home carpet shampooers like Bissell's and Rug Doctors often prove less efficient than professional carpet cleaning, especially as it can be hard to maintain that temperature as you clean an entire room.

Can I get my carpets cleaned when its cold outside?

Yes! If you hire a professional carpet cleaning service like Zerorez, it won't matter what temperature it is outside the home, meaning you can get your carpets cleaned in the winter time, no problem.

This is because the Zerorez cleaning process keeps the water temperature high, consistently, even though our van is outside. While our hoses do require your doors to be propped open during our time in the home, we work fast and efficiently, usually in and out in a standard sized home in about 1-2 hours.

We recommend setting your thermostat higher before we come so you're home won't get too cold while we clean.

Zerorez® Zr® Wand being used by a technician with blue booties on to clean a white carpet

What temperature should you keep your house at after cleaning carpets?

It's important that you pay attention to the drying process of carpets after being cleaned. Carpets can actually stay damp and have water in the fibers for 24 hours after being cleaned, though typically only 6-12 hours after a professional hot water extraction cleaning.

Follow these simple tips to make sure that the carpet is totally dried out.

1. Keep the house between 73-75 degrees Fahrenheit (22-24 °C)

Some people wonder "does cold air dry carpets?" And the answer is sure, it can, but takes a lot longer and may make your carpet fibers stiffer and more brittle. That because water doesn't evaporate as fast in colder temperatures.

The best carpet drying temperature is around 73°F because it isn't too hot or too cold, which means that it can effectively dry out the carpet and not leave any moisture trapped.

Plus, air conditioning units double as a dehumidifier.

2. Circulate air in the room

Air is a great way to help dry the carpets, so if you have ceiling fans, tower fans, or box fans, have them running for the next 12-24 hours after carpet cleaning. This isn't a must, but it's a simple way to move the air to promote faster drying. If you don't have central air, try opening some windows to get more air flow.

blue and black floor drying fan using the best temperature for drying carpet

3. Don't walk on the carpet

This might be difficult to do, but it's important to pay attention to. If the carpet is wet and people walk on it, it will mash the carpet fibers down, locking in the moisture. Try to do as little walking on it while it's still wet as possible.

4. Run a dehumidifier

If you have one or more available, running a dehumidifier (or two) in rooms you have cleaned can help eliminate the excess moisture in the air and carpet. You need to shut windows though for these to work effectively.

Does temperature affect carpet installation?

It actually does! This is important to know because if you decide that cleaning the carpets isn't worth it and you want to just get new carpets installed, you still have to be aware of temperatures so that the glue and carpet work well together.

The best carpet installation temperature is between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit and should be held at this temperature for two days before the carpet is installed.

The temperature is important so the glue sets properly when adding the carpet. Too hot will make it hard to apply, and too cold will make it not stick. The temperature needs to be steady and in this range to work properly.

What does "no residue" clean mean?

Zerorez professionals clean carpets without the use of harsh chemicals, soaps, and detergents. This is important because chemicals when mixed with hot water tend to release more fumes which can be harmful to humans and the environment.

Zerorez's Zr® Water is water that has been purified, softened, ionized, and alkalized so it acts like a soap, clinging onto dirt and grime, but with Zero Residue® left behind. Our cleaning process keeps your carpets stain-free longer without leaving behind any harsh chemicals.

The time is now to get your carpets looking new and fresh!

A simple phone call is all that is needed to learn our cleaning process and book your carpet cleaning appointment.

Book a Cleaning with Zerorez® Today!