Steam versus Dry Carpet Cleaning 

The Best Method to Clean Your Carpets

Carpets make your home more comfortable to be in. It relaxes your feet, as well as turns your place cozy and homey. It also improves your insulation by keeping the floors warm and sealed. If you have kids around, it also protects them from falls and injuries by providing a safe landing surface.

However, many homeowners daunts the upkeep requirements of carpets. Since it accumulates dust and dirt easily so you need to be vacuum it regularly, which some may find cumbersome to do. It is also challenging to remove liquid spills from carpets, which may still leave stains that are hard to remove.

Another concern for carpets is allergy. Some people are more sensitive to dust and dirt in their surroundings, and carpets are known to keep the dust down on their fibers. More often, regular vacuuming can minimize dust accumulation, but you’d still need to have it thoroughly cleaned once in a while especially if you have babies or immune compromised people at home with you.

Luckily, there are many ways that you can keep your carpets clean, fresh, and hygienic. You can do it yourself or hire your local carpet cleaning company to do it for you. The most popular are steam cleaning and dry cleaning, which leads you to the next question – which is better for you?

Each method has its pros and cons, and it is best to understand these and know which fits your home situation.


Steam cleaning works around the process called hot water extraction. Though technically, it’s not the steam that lifts the dirt out but serves as aid to the activation of detergent in the carpet.

Steam cleaning involves the presence of more liquid or water in ratio to the detergent. This assures you of less residue in the carpet after treatment. A wet-dry vacuum sucks up the water left so you will need about half to one whole day to dry the carpet before you can use it again.

Meanwhile, the dry cleaning method is not technically “dry” since it still utilizes moisture, only that it is significantly less than that of steam cleaning. The moisture is also the activation agent in this process so that the chemicals you apply to your carpet will work. Moisture is also used to remove the chemicals alongside the dirt after they react and done with the job.

You should now then apply a cleaning solution to your carpet and leave it for a while to work on the dirt. After then, you can use your vacuum to remove the dry compound with the dirt. You can also use equipment that either utilizes a bonnet pad or an oscillating pad. These pads apply repeated motion to your carpet to help the cleaning solution penetrate the fibers better and clean up the stains faster and more effectively.

Both methods work; it is just a matter of choosing the right cleaning solution and using it in the most appropriate situation.

Effectiveness on Stain

You will deal with different kinds of stains in the course of your carpet’s lifetime. Some may be age-old and stubborn to remove, while the rest can be dealt with easily with some scrubs here and there. However, these repeated scrubbings may cause your carpet to lose its quality over time.

Having a deep clean and sanitation session for your carpets is a must once in a while. It not only aims to remove stains and odor but also preserves its quality and aesthetics so you can appreciate it longer. Now, you have two options: book steam clean, or do a dry clean.

Steam clean is effective as a spot cleaner since it is outstanding in removing stubborn and deep-seated dirt by using more liquid in the process. The hot water vapor works with the detergent to soften the dirt. In the process, it also sanitizes the carpet to remove odor, bacteria, or molds.

Meanwhile, dry cleaning is effective as a maintenance method. Most cleaning solutions used here are efficient in lifting out stains and dirt accumulated in the fibers. Since it uses minimal liquid, there is less risk of damaging the fibers or losing their natural appearance and feel.

Cleaning Time

Essentially, dry cleaning does the job faster than steam cleaning.

First, it does not need extra drying time. Steam cleaning may require up to 2 days of drying time depending on the temperature outside. Some professional cleaners using more cutting-edge technologies promise about 5 hours of drying time. However, this is still longer than that of a dry-cleaned carpet.

The time spent in applying the cleaning solution is more or less the same with both methods. Steam cleaning infuses the detergent using a machine. On the other hand, dry cleaning allows you to manually apply the cleaning solution. Wait for it to react and lift the dirt out before vacuuming the residue away.


Steam cleaning is relatively more expensive than dry cleaning since it uses more sophisticated equipment. It is more economical to rent or get professional services. However, if you find yourself doing more steam cleaning jobs while covering more areas, you are welcome to invest in one.

Dry cleaning also utilises a machine that can suck the dried-up cleaning agent with the dirt. You can use your wet-dry vacuum at home. However, a professional cleaning contractor have more powerful equipment. Plus, cleaning solutions at hand which are more effective than what you have.

Best Features

To summarise each method’s best assets:

Steam Cleaning

  • The deeper and more thorough cleaning process
  • Sanitises your carpets, too
  • No residues
  • Professional cleaning process

Dry Cleaning

  • Quick cleaning and drying processes
  • More affordable
  • More flexible (you can use your home vacuum or rent a professional machine)
  • Effective in removing stains since it uses special chemicals


Here are the disadvantage of choosing each method:

Steam Cleaning

  • Expensive
  • Longer cleaning and drying period

Dry Cleaning

  • May leave residues behind
  • Uses chemicals that may harm your health

Which One Should You Use?

Before deciding, make sure to check with your carpet manufacturer’s recommended cleaning method. Some of them may even clean the carpets for you at a cost.

It is also important to note that carpets utilise different materials. Each may react differently to the chemicals and processes in each method.

At the end of the day, it boils down to preference and budget. But for health and benefits reasons, it is best to go for the most appropriate method based on its current situation.

Both methods are effective in maintaining your carpets. However, going the professional route may help prolong its life so you can maximise its benefits longer.

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