How Did Carpet Cleaning Come To Be? And Why Is It Still The Same? 

You must LOVE carpet cleaning and all carpet-related things as much as we do? That or you really want an answer to this question… Who decided to start cleaning carpets? We just have to say before we dive in that we had so much fun writing this. And not in a sarcastic way, but in a “we’re huge carpet nerds” kind of way… 


Where carpet came to be

In the early 1800s carpet was made of wool, produced in New York and Pennsylvania, and was popular in the northern states so that people could keep their floors warmer. In that day carpeting was produced on a loom and was so costly that only the wealthy were able to have it in their homes.  

Textile companies finally started producing synthetic fiber carpets made up of nylon. After years of trial and error they finally came up with a way to make nylon carpets more durable and less expensive…the entire carpet industry was about to completely transform! 


Well, you gotta clean them, right?

Of course, through the whole progression of the carpet industry, there was the problem of keeping the carpet and area rugs clean. Homes back in the late 1800s weren’t well ventilated and often layered in soot and dust. One of the first carpet cleaning strategies was to use “druggets” which were wool pads that people would lay down under chairs and heavily trafficked areas of the home to protect the carpeting. When area rugs got dusty or dirty, they were taken outside and beaten with a carpet rod. Unfortunately, that did not work against staining. Lemons were rubbed on ink stains in hopes of removing them and for grease stains, it was recommended to completely rinse the area with water and then rub the area with freshly baked white bread. Don’t know about you but that just seems wasteful. 


Maybe they need a more hands-on approach? 

In some books and magazines of the era, it was said to sweep carpets as little as possible since the broom can damage the fibers. Instead, it was better to pick debris by hand. Although super time-consuming right?? For spots and stains just rinse the area with cold water and lather with a mixture of two quarts of water and 1-quart beef gall (a product of bile). Wait… what??? 

Another Book suggested using naphtha to exterminate moths and worms from the carpet. Naphtha is a flammable liquid used in making high octane gas, lighter fluid, and it is used to help clean out oil from pipelines. So not only was there a need to remove bugs from the carpet, it was suggested to do that by using a flammable liquid…. Okay. To directly quote the book “Recollections of a Housekeeper” **says “Caution should be exercised as to the purity and clearness of the naphtha used, and the thorough extraction of the grease, else the dirt adheres more easily than before.” This very obviously means: CHEMICAL RESIDUE MAKES YOUR CARPETS DIRTIER FASTER. 

Enough of that madness

These old-fashioned methods were becoming tiresome, the general public needed something new…something easier. Queue the vacuum, the first vacuum was invented in 1901 but it didn’t become popular until after the first world war. Depending on the type of vacuum being purchased the cost could vary between 5 and 30 dollars. 


Now that loose dirt and debris were being taken care of by vacuum cleaners, what about staining? Well back in the early 1900s, there was no Zerorez® to call! Instead, people would call the local laundromat and have them come pick up their area rugs and launder them. The laundromat would also store them during the summertime. During the summer people would prefer hard floors to help keep cool. They would then like their rugs back for the cold seasons. 


Que Hot Water Extraction

In the 1950s during the housing boom of that decade, wall-to-wall carpet was also booming! Not only was it now cheaper than wool carpeting, but it was also cheaper than most other flooring options. When wall-to-wall carpet became popular it was no longer really an option to take rugs out to have them cleaned. Hot water extraction, invented in 1947, was the first professional mode of carpet cleaning. It is still the best way to clean carpets to this day. Technology has improved the effectiveness of carpet cleaning, surprisingly though, the process has not changed an awful lot.