How to: shampoo your vehicle's carpets in your driveway!
There is no doubt that most effective method of shampooing carpets is to use a professional hot-water extractor and quality chemicals. For the do it yourself detailer the cost of these machines can be quite expensive. The following method of carpet shampooing requires fairly little tools, but does require a little patience and hard work. By being meticulous it is possible to achieve near professional results, and with constant up-cleaning it can be all the shampooing your vehicle will ever need.
Several wash buckets.
A stiff carpet brush.
A fabric safe All Purpose Cleaner such as Optimum Power Clean or Meguiar's All Purpose Cleaner
A wet-dry vacuum cleaner such as shop vac.
Several old (but clean) terry towels.
Note: Always spot clean an inconspicuous area of the carpet first, looking for discoloration.
Start by vacuuming the carpet or upholstery thoroughly. Remove the floor mats for the vehicle (these will be cleaned in a separate manner covered in Part Two: PAC tells you how to shampoo your vehicle's floor mats in your driveway! ).
After all of the surface dirt has been removed from the carpet scrub the carpet using a stiff brush. Push the bristles into the pile. A quick, brisk brushing will cause dirt that has been pushed into the pile of the carpet to come to the surface. It is amazing how much dirt can be trapped in a vacuumed carpet. If you haven't brushed your carpets before you may become discouraged at how much dirt is trapped and how difficult it is to remove. Vacuum again.
Heavily soiled carpets may require require alternating between brushing and vacuuming to thoroughly clean. Continue this step until dirt is no longer visible after brushing. A little patience will go a long way, and the quality of the result is determined by how thorough each step is completed.
Now mix up the the cleaning solution. In this example I am using Meguiar's All Purpose Cleaner. I mix to 1 part APC with approximately 15 parts water, then blast with water to encourage an ample amount of suds.
Optional: Mix a second bucket of just water.
Note: When extracting carpets with a machine it is best to use a low suds all purpose cleaner, such as Meguiar's APC +. When shampooing the carpets by hand, use the suds to scrub the carpet, which will keep it from getting overly wet.
Work a section at a time, such as the drivers carpet followed by the passenger side. First dip the brush into your wash solution, picking up equal parts suds and water. Now scrub in a slightly overlapping motion, working the shampoo solution into the carpet.
Use the wet/dry vacuum to extract the solution quickly. Make sure to pass over and remove as much shampoo solution as possible.
Optional: Dip the brush in the bucket of pure water. Remove as much excess water as possible by running the bristles again the edge of the bucket. Again lightly scrub the carpet using just water. This will help remove any excess soap residue that could cause the carpet to extract more dirt once it dries.
Then vacuum the carpet very carefully, removing as much water and residual shampoo as possible. Make slow passes over the carpet. At this point the carpet should feel damp.
Note: This second extraction of the carpet should take longer then the first and carpet should feel near dry when complete.
Finally take a clean cotton terry towel and blot it thoroughly into the carpet to remove even more moisture. This will help reduce the chance of wicking. Wicking occurs when any dirt trapped deep in the carpet's pile is pulled to the top by a capillary action. The carpet appears to become soiled as it dries.