Introduction: Upholstery & Carpet Cleaning - Tool & Tutorial

About: Fascinated by the cosmos, consciousness, and the space between. Compelled to learn, conceptualize, experiment, and build.

My first job, at 17 years of age, was working as a carpet and upholstery cleaning technician. During three years doing that work, I cleaned thousands of square feet of carpet and fabric. After developing professional skills in the trade, I've always opted to clean my carpet and furniture myself. Since leaving that job, a long time ago, I've relied on renting DIY equipment. While far less powerful than professional gear, Rug Doctor machines can produce adequate results for small spaces. Especially with the advantage of professional level knowledge of how to use them most effectively. Renting equipment occasionally, can be fairly economical and convenient. However, it's very common to have a need for spot cleaning more frequently than it's practical to rent a machine. Particularly in environments blessed with animal companions.

I've wanted to have my own extraction cleaning equipment for some time. I finally decided to combine experience I gained working with plastics during my second job, with my knowledge of extraction cleaning tools, and put together my own rig. Follow along and put together a rig of your own, for less than the cost of 3 machine rentals.

In this article, I share step by step instructions of how to build an extraction cleaning hand tool. The hand tool is designed to connect to a wet vac (shop vac) and a hot water source. I also provide a tutorial on the basics of extraction cleaning techniques.

Step 1: Procure These Things

Tools & EquipmentMaterials & Parts
  • Cordless Drill or Drill Press
  • Jigsaw with Fine-Toothed Blade
  • 34mm Spade Bit
  • 3/8" Spade Bit
  • 1/8" Standard Drill Bit
  • 3/16" Standard Drill Bit
  • Hacksaw with Fine-Toothed Blade
  • #2 Philips Screwdriver
  • Adjustable Wrench
  • Groove Joint Pliers
  • File
  • Utility Knife
  • Scissors
  • Awl
  • Small Vise
  • Clamps
  • Scrap Wood Drill Backer
  • Soft Cloth
  • Pencil
  • Fine Tipped Marker
  • Ruler
  • Toothpick
  • Wet Vac with 1-1/4" Hose
  • Inkjet/laser-jet Printer
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Step 2: Print Templates & Prepare Blanks

A template for the vac nozzle, and one for the vac-tube/handle are combined in a single 8-1/2" X 11" PDF document. Using an inkjet/laser-jet printer, print the templates onto an 8-1/2" X 11" label sheet. Using scissors, cut out the two templates as shown in Fig. 1. Take care to keep the cuts straight along the lines.

Wipe down the PVC sheet, acrylic sheet, and the PVC pipe, with a damp soft cloth to remove dust and residue. Then allow them to dry.

As shown in Fig. 2, align the vac nozzle template (do NOT remove backing) in the lower right corner of the PVC sheet. Holding it down firmly, carefully trace the outline of the template onto the PVC sheet with a fine tipped marker. Then set the template aside.

Apply strips of double stick tape along the inside of the template outline, as shown in Fig. 3.

Carefully hold the acrylic sheet above the PVC sheet, ensuring the lower right corner aligns with the lower right corner of the PVC sheet. Lower the acrylic sheet onto the PVC sheet as shown in Fig. 4. Apply firm pressure to ensure good adhesion.

Remove the backing paper from the vac nozzle template, line it up above the acrylic sheet along the lower edge in the right hand corner. Carefully stick it down avoiding wrinkles as shown on Fig. 5. Set the laminated blank aside.

Do NOT remove the backing paper from the vac-tube/handle template. Wrap it around the PVC pipe and bring the two adjoining edges together tightly to ensure squareness. While holding it in place, apply pieces of tape along the seam, and tape the ends to the PVC pipe. See Fig. 6 and Fig. 7.

Step 3: Drill, Cut, & Sand Vac Nozzle Blank

Clamp the PVC vac nozzle blank down to a rigid work surface, with the drill backer board underneath, as shown in Fig. 8.

Prepare the 1/8" drill bit by measuring 3/8" from the tip with a ruler. Wrap a piece of masking tape around the bit at this point, as shown in Fig.9. This will act as a depth stop indicator.

As shown in Fig. 10, gently push the awl tip into the template at each screw hole location, to help center the drill tip.

Chuck the 1/8" drill bit in the drill. Drill the 8 holes squarely, stopping at the depth indicator tape, as shown in Fig. 11.

Reposition the blank as shown in Fig. 12, then clamp it down. Using a jigsaw, cut tightly along the template outlines. Be sure to keep the saw square with the work-piece.

Remove the clamp. While the vac nozzle blanks are still laminated together, sand the edges with 80 grit sandpaper, as shown in Fig. 13.

Peal off the template, then carefully separate the laminated pieces, as shown in Fig. 14. Peal off the double stick tape.

Clamp the acrylic piece back down. Chuck up the 3/16" drill bit, as shown in Fig. 15, carefully enlarge the 7 outer edge holes, but NOT the vac-tube/handle centering hole.

Step 4: Drill & Cut Vac-Tube/Handle

As shown in Fig. 16, use the awl to punch drill centering points through the template, at all 6 hole locations.

Use the 1/8" drill bit to drill through the pipe wall at all 6 hole locations. Then enlarge the 2 holes that are directly across from each other, that are closest to one end of the pipe, with the 3/8" spade bit. See Fig. 17.

Cut the vac-tube/handle at the edge of the template with the hacksaw, as shown in Fig. 18. Peal off the template.

Deburr the cut edges, and 3/8" holes, of the vac-tube/handle with a utility knife and sandpaper.

Step 5: Install Spray Nozzle Fitting, Tube, & Nozzle

Feed the length of 1/4" clear vinyl tubing through the two 3/8" holes in the vac-tube/handle. Push the 1/4" hose barb to 1/8" FPT fitting onto one end of the vinyl tubing. Then push the barbed end into the 3/8" hole as shown in Fig. 19 and Fig. 20.

Wrap Teflon thread sealing tape around the threads of the 1/8" flat fan spray nozzle. Then screw it into the nozzle fitting. Using the adjustable wrench snug it up with the nut flats aligned.

Step 6: Apply Vac Nozzle Seal

As shown in Fig. 21, cut and apply strips of 3/8" X 3/16" weather striping to the PVC vac nozzle plate.

Step 7: Drill Vac-Tube/Handle Hole

Clamp the PVC vac nozzle plate down, and drill the vac-tube/handle hole with the 34mm spade bit, as shown in Fig. 22. Be sure to keep the drill square to the work-piece. Maintain good control of the drill to ensure that the hole is square and doesn't become elongated.

Step 8: Mate the Vac Tube to the Vac Nozzle Plate

Place the PVC vac nozzle plate on the work surface with the screw pilot holes facing down. Measure and mark a center line from top to bottom with a pencil, as seen in the images.

Insert the vac-tube/handle into the vac nozzle plate. Align the spray nozzle fitting flat against the back of the vac nozzle plate. Make sure the slot in the spray nozzle is parallel with the vac nozzle plate. Holding the tube squarely in place, put a 3/8" pipe strap over the spray nozzle fitting, and mark the mounting holes on the plate. Then remove the vac-tube/handle and set it aside. Refer to Fig. 23.

With the 1/8" drill bit, drill pilot holes for the spray nozzle fitting pipe strap, stopping at the tape (3/8" deep). See Fig. 24.

Rough-up the nozzle end of the vac-tube/handle with sandpaper, as shown on Fig. 25.

Mix a penny sized portion of quick setting epoxy. Using a toothpick, apply a thin layer of epoxy to the roughed-up area of the vac-tube/handle. Reinsert the vac-tube/handle into the vac nozzle plate, put the pipe strap over the spray nozzle fitting. Use 2 #8 X 1/2" SS screws to fasten the pipe strap down. Set the assembly aside to allow the epoxy to setup. See Fig 26.

Use a little of the excess epoxy to fill the vac-tube/handle centering hole in the acrylic vac nozzle plate, as shown in Fig. 27.

Step 9: Fasten Vac Nozzle Plates Together

Align the acrylic vac nozzle plate with the PVC plate. Use the awl to punch pilot holes through the weather striping at all 7 plate mounting hole locations. Fasten the plates together with 7 #8 X 1/2" SS screws. Tighten the screws evenly until the weather striping compresses to approximately 1/8" thick. See Fig. 28.

Step 10: Modify Air Blow Gun

The air blow gun is being used as a water-spray trigger-valve for the hand tool. Remove the unneeded hanging hook by clamping the blow gun into a vise, then saw it off with a hacksaw as shown in Fig. 29. Take care not to cut into the outlet tube to avoid creating a leak. Use a file to smooth out the nub.

Unscrew the blow gun tip, and replace it with the 1/4" hose barb to 1/8" MPT fitting, after wrapping Teflon thread sealing tape around it's threads. Refer to Fig. 30. Use the adjustable wrench to snug up the threaded connection.

Step 11: Attach Spray Trigger to Vac-Tube/Handle

After wrapping Teflon thread sealing tape around the hose fitting threads, screw the spray trigger onto one end of the 3/8" air hose. Use the adjustable wrench to snug up the threaded connection.

Hold the spray trigger against the side of the vac-tube/handle, position each pipe strap one at a time. Bend each strap around the trigger assembly until the mounting holes align with the pilot holes. Fasten each strap with 2 #8 X 1/2" SS screws. Refer to Fig. 31.

Shape the 1/4" clear vinyl tube as shown in Fig. 32. Cut off the excess length with the utility knife, then push the tube onto the spray trigger barbed fitting.

Step 12: Modify the 3/8" Air Hose

The 3/8" air hose is being used as a water supply hose for the hand tool. Using the utility knife, cut the fitting off the other end of the hose, as shown in Fig. 33. Then push on the 3/4" FHT X 3/8" hose barb, as shown in Fig. 34.

Step 13: Make the Connections

First, test the temperature of your hot water supply and make sure it's under 145 degrees F. The PVC supply hose is only temperature rated up to 145 degrees F. This can be done by running hot water from a sink faucet over the probe of a kitchen thermometer.

Connecting to an outdoor garden hose spigot is an option. However, cold water won't clean as effectively.

Connecting to a washing machine hot water supply spigot is recommended. The hot supply is typically on the left when facing valves. First turn off the supply valve by rotating it clockwise snugly. If the valve or hose fitting is heavily corroded, or doesn't turn with moderate force, STOP and use one of the other connection options mentioned. It's common for valves that haven't been operated in a long time to leak a little. So it's good practice to place a bucket underneath the supply valve, before removing the supply hose, if possible. Now using groove joint pliers, loosen the fitting then unscrew the supply hose by rotating the hose fitting counter-clockwise. Lower the hose into the bucket. There will be some residual water in it. See Fig. 35 and Fig. 36.

Alternatively a sink faucet adapter can be used to provide the hot water supply. These adapters will NOT fit all sink faucet spouts.

Unwind the hand tool supply hose and stretch it out. Screw the hose spigot fitting onto the supply spigot by hand. Snug it up with the groove joint pliers. Slowly open the valve watching for leaks. Tighten connections as needed to resolve any leaks. Hold the hand tool over a sink and pull the spray trigger to test the spray.

If your wet vac hose has a hard plastic tube on the end, it needs to be removed. Working a screwdriver between the hose and the tube while twisting and rocking the hose side to side should allow it to be separated. Then slip the vac hose onto the vac-tube/handle of the hand tool.

Step 14: Extraction Cleaning Basics Tutorial

  1. Dry vac the area being cleaned first.
  2. Pre spray the area being cleaned liberally, with a solution of heated water and mild laundry detergent. For small areas, a spray bottle is a good choice. For larger areas, a pump-up sprayer is a better choice.
  3. Use a stiff bristled brush to scrub heavily soiled areas.
  4. After the hot water supply and vac connections are made, switch on the vac.
  5. Position the hand tool where you want to start cleaning. Pull and hold the spray trigger while drawing the hand tool back toward you. Apply a firm downward pressure with the tool on the cleaning surface. Move each stroke just fast enough to keep water puddles from forming.
  6. Overlap cleaning strokes by at least an inch to avoid dirty streaks being left.
  7. After completing a section of cleaning strokes, go back over that area without spraying water and "dry stroke" with vacuum only, to help remove excess water.
  8. Listen for the sound of the vacuum to change. When it does, shutdown and empty the water tank.
  9. It's a good practice to use fans to help expedite the drying process.
  10. Repeat the process for stubborn areas.
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