History Of Carpet Cleaning

carpet cleaning Lichfield

The history of carpet cleaning starts during the industrial revolution. Before we had the fitted carpets we have today, we had big lose carpets, rugs and before that wooden or tiled floors in our homes. If you want to go way back, the Romans had mosaics, but we are talking about the history of carpet cleaning, not flooring!

For a very long time, pretty much up until vacuum cleaners were invented in the early 1900s, carpets and rugs were hung over a washing line, or the back of a chair and beaten by hand. This only removed dirt and dust though.

From about 1830, when the industrial revolution was in full swing, the new wealthy class of industrialists showed off their affluence by buying carpets and other luxury goods. This lead to published advice on how to clean carpets.

History Of Carpet Cleaning Techniques

Some of the techniques were pretty unusual and downright dangerous by modern standards. To get rid of stains like ink and grease it was recommended you scrub the carpet with lemon juice and a hot loaf of crusty white bread. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water and leave outside to dry. White bread was a total luxury then, well out of the reach of working people and this is being used to clean a carpet!  How rich were these people?!

Another popular method of carpet cleaning was to use Naphtha, this is also a pesticide. Then there was clay paste mixed with water. Left overnight to dry. The theory being that when this was brushed off stains and soil would be removed.  The clay paste method caused the colour to fade, so chloroform was recommended as an alternative. Yes, chloroform, every kidnapper and serial killers favourite knock out drug. Obviously, this didn’t really catch on owing to the paralysing effect of the human central nervous system.

The next major break through in the history of carpet cleaning was the invention of the vacuum cleaner. In 1901 British engineer Hubert Cecil Booth invented the first machine that sucked up dirt.  He had a couple of near fatal experiments with his new vacuum but went on to form the British Vacuum Cleaner Company and his beast of a cleaner was put on a horse-drawn cart and used to clean the homes of the wealthy in London. This included Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mint. To find out more and see photos of the “Puffing Billy” follow this link to the Science Museum website.

Modern Carpet Cleaning Is Born

Some time later people began to think about restoring and conditioning carpets, rather than just cleaning the dirt away.

Following World War II, the use of chemicals heralded the era of modern carpet cleaning and many of the basic principles are still used. At Knight & Doyle we use these basic principles but in a much improved and efficient way.

In the 1970s chemical cleaners used detergents, which are sticky by nature. This fuelled the myth that carpets get dirtier faster once they have been professionally cleaned.  This may have been the case 30 years ago, but not now. Washing up liquid is a detergent and is great for getting rid of grease, but if you use it for carpet or upholstery cleaning dirt will stick to it and cause rapid soiling. The old chemical cleaners were about 12pH which also lead to problems with carpets going brown!

Cleaning Carpets In The 21st Century

Whether using a manmade chemical or a natural chemical, the carpet cleaning industry uses chemicals. Whenever possible we use plant based cleaning solutions, because its better for our technicians and our customers.  You will be amazed what can be achieved with plant based products and products that use enzymes to tackle tough stains.

In the past carpets used to be liable to shrinkage, but that was because our contempories of yesteryear didn’t have the advanced machines and the range of cleaning methods we have at our disposal.

We always tell our clients that one cleaning method cannot tackle every cleaning job.  We use many different methods from Hot Water Extraction to Dry Carpet Cleaning and lots in between. Let’s be sensible you wouldn’t use the same cleaning method on wool, silk, polypropylene or leather, would you?

Contact us for all your carpet and upholstery cleaning in Aldridge. Our advice is free of charge and our quotes are free of charge and without obligation.

To read about our carpet cleaning methods click here