If you're looking into shampooing your carpet or having it professionally cleaned, you might be worried about the potential for shrinkage. You may even know someone whose carpet has shrunk after cleaning. Don't let your concerns about shrinking carpets keep you from getting your carpet cleaned. As long as you know the basics about what causes shrinkage and how to avoid this scenario, having your carpets cleaned can be totally safe.
What carpets are most prone to shrinking?
Carpets made from wool and wool blends are most prone to shrinking. Axminster and Wilton carpets are two wool varieties that are most common and that shrink quite easily. If you have a fully synthetic carpet, this is much less of a concern. That's not to say that synthetic carpets never shrink, but there is more room for error than with a wool carpet.
Even if your carpet has synthetic fibers, however, you'll want to check with the manufacturer to see what the backing is made from. Some synthetic fiber carpets have wool backing, and this backing is prone to shrinkage, too.
Why do carpets shrink?
Carpets shrink when they get too wet during cleaning. When too much liquid is used, the carpet cannot dry quickly enough. This gives the fibers time to expand as they fill with water. Then, as the water slowly evaporates from the carpet fibers or from the backing, they shrink. Their original placement (which left some spacing between the fibers) is distorted as the fibers shrink and dry, causing your entire carpet to pull together and retract from the wall.
How can you prevent shrinking?
If your carpet is fully synthetic, you should be able to prevent shrinking just by moderating the amount of water you use during shampooing and by opening windows to air out the room after shampooing.
However, if you have a wool carpet, it's not recommended that you clean it with an at-home shampooing system at all. These systems simply deposit too much water and do not have a powerful enough extraction mechanism to dry the wool carpet out quickly enough. An experienced carpet cleaner like Michele's Maids can steam clean your wool carpet with as little water as possible. They'll also go over the carpet with a special, high-powered extraction device to dry it out before the fibers have a chance to absorb too much of the water and expand.
Don't let fear of shrinkage keep you from having tour carpet cleaned. As long as you take these precautions, you should have good results.