What Is Bonnet Carpet Cleaning? What Are its Advantages and its Disadvantages?

Carpet Cleaning Bonnet

Why is Bonnet Cleaning Called “Dry Cleaning” by Some Professional Carpet Cleaning Companies?
Why do Most Carpet Manufacturers Warn against Bonnet Cleaning?

Carpet bonnet cleaning, also called spin pad carpet cleaning or absorbent pad carpet cleaning or carbonated carpet shampoo cleaning, is simply an adaptation of hard floor spray buffing to carpets. Even though it is not true “dry cleaning”, many people using this system call it “dry cleaning”, which is highly deceptive, because it definitely is not “dry”.

A round absorbent bonnet is prepared before actual cleaning by either a) immersing it with water and then wringing it out so it isn’t dripping wet, and heavily soiled areas are directly sprayed with the bonnet cleaning solution at no more than 200 square feet per gallon, or b) The bonnet is immersed into the bonnet cleaning solution and wrung out so it isn’t dripping wet.

The rotating absorbent bonnet (usually cotton or rayon) is then attached to a low speed (175 RPM) rotary floor machine with a heavy-duty motor because of the high friction involved. A special drive block or pad driver is required to keep the bonnet or pad from slipping off. Dirt is theoretically collected into the pad.

The bonnet is supposed to be changed or turned when the pad surface stops absorbing soil - this is usually up to 600 square feet per bonnet side - more frequently for heavily soiled carpet. The bonnet is then washed out and reused as needed. Sometimes, carbonated water is used to (in theory) give better soil suspension and bring down the pH.

There are three methods for bonnet cleaning commercial carpet:

    1. Pre-vacuum carpet.
    2. Dilute 1 part Pro’s Choice Brush & Bonnet Low-Moisture Encapsulating Bonnet Cleaner for Carpet to 16 parts of water.
    3. Simply evenly spray carpet with Brush & Bonnet solution or apply with a rotary shampoo machine.
    4. Then brush carpet using floor machine with red or white buffing pad or nylon carpet brush.
    5. Soil will be absorbed by Brush & Bonnet solution then become a brittle crystal, which is removed during normal vacuuming.
    6. This is a very fast and efficient interim cleaning method.
    7. Carpets stay clean much longer.
    1. Pre-vacuum carpet.
    2. Dilute Brush & Bonnet 1 part to 16 parts of water.
    3. Work in sections of approximately 100 square feet.
    4. Using a pump sprayer, evenly apply solution to the area.
    5. With a rotary dry cotton bonnet, buff the area to extract the soil and solution into the bonnet.
    6. Any residual soil that remains will dry to a non-sticky crystal, which will be removed during normal vacuuming.
    1. Submerge cotton bonnet in Brush and Bonnet solution.
    2. Wring well and buff carpet surface in overlapping pattern.
    3. Rinse and wring bonnet frequently.
    4. Soil that is not picked up by the bonnet will be crystallized and encapsulated, ready for removal by subsequent vacuuming.

The advantages of the bonnet carpet cleaning method are:

  • Low equipment cost
  • Rapid drying (usually dry in 30 minutes)
  • Very rapid cleaning (because you’re really only cleaning the surface of the carpet, leaving soil below the surface)
  • Less wicking
  • Lower investment
  • Fewer spots and stains coming back after cleaning
  • The ability to charge less because it’s faster

The DISadvantages of the bonnet carpet cleaning method are:

  • Pile distortion and fiber damage on cut-pile carpet
  • Swirl marks left behind
  • Bonnet cleaning pushes a lot of soil further into the carpet’s pile and leaves detergent residue behind that leads to re-soiling.
  • Abrasion of carpet due to gritty soil
  • Detergent and soil build-up
  • Resoiling due to sticky residue
  • Only the surface is cleaned - deep down dirt is not removed
  • A large inventory of clean bonnets is required
  • Several washers and dryers needed to clean the bonnets
  • Nearly all carpet and fiber manufacturers recommend against using the bonnet method on cut-pile carpet
  • Many of the detergents and shampoos for bonnet cleaning contain high levels of optical brightener
  • The carpet warranty may be voided by the carpet manufacturer

Carpet is a three dimensional object. But, with bonnet carpet cleaning, only two dimensions (width and length) of the carpet are really cleaned - that is, the surface. Under the cleaned surface may exist a living, breathing sewer. Unfortunately, a clean appearance is all some customers care about.

Bonnet cleaning does have a place in the scheme of things - sometimes it helps after extraction cleaning an area of LOOP-PILE carpet with a large number of spills. For example, if you have been extraction cleaning a loop pile carpet in a dining room in a nursing home where there is a large number of large spills and many of the stains always reappear, using dry bonnets after cleaning will reduce drying time and reduce possibility of wicking and, therefore, reduce the likelihood of having to go back. It can also be used after extraction cleaning of olefin Berber carpet to prevent streaking.

If you see a large stain indicating a massive spill, even this won’t totally solve the problem.

Of course, if there are just a few areas or if this is cut-pile carpet, you can simply spray down ARA Anti-Wicking Agent / Anti-Wicking Agent after extraction cleaning on the spill areas to reduce wicking.

Clean and Brighten Your Cotton Bonnets: When you wash bonnets, use 3 oz. (1 heaping scoop) of Extreme-Clean with 6 oz. (2 heaping scoops) of OSR in your wash.

NOTE: Do not run a DRY bonnet on olefin (polypropylene) carpet or rug - olefin has a very low softening point!

Here are some mill and fiber producer statements on carpet bonnet cleaning (Nearly all carpet manufacturers are against bonnet cleaning):

  • “Do not use “spin bonnet” or other rotary systems on cut-pile carpet.”
    -- Axminster Carpet
  • “Bonnet or Absorbent Pad … The use of this method is not recommended on cut-pile carpet.
    -- BASF, Guidelines for Maintenance and Cleaning
  • Non-approved methods: … Bonnet Method: … Disadvantage: This method only affects the surface of the carpet. The buffing action can distort the carpet pile and grind dirt deeper into the pile, and the spinning action of the pad can distort face yarn.”
    -- Collins & Aikman Floorcoverings, Care maintenance program for Powerbond products
  • Bonnet cleaning systems … Shaw Industries does not recommend this cleaning system. The bonnet system has very limited capability for soil removal and leaves much of the detergent in the pile since it employs no real extraction. As a result, rapid resoiling often occurs. Another disadvantage of this system is that the spinning bonnet may distort the pile fibers of cut pile carpet, leaving distinct swirl marks.”
    -- Shaw Industries
  • Exclusions from the Warranty: Product that has been cleaned with the spin-bonnet rotary brush method.”
    -- Tandus Centiva, a Tarkett Company, Limited Performance Warranty for Carpets with Super-Lok® Backing, Revised 9/2016

Carpet Cleaning Methods Information:

Related Carpet Bonnet Cleaning Products:

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Published by: Bane-Clene® Corp.
Copyright: Bane-Clene Corp.

Date Modified: July 16, 2020

Date Published: November 10, 2014

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