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Carpet Cleaning: Steam vs. Dry Methods Compared

Cleaning Advice / December 20, 2023


You have multiple options when it comes to carpet maintenance methods, including dry and steam cleaning. While dry cleaning is a faster technique, steam cleaning is more effective. Consider severity, drying time, eco-friendliness, and carpet type when choosing between the two. You can also ask for professional help. They will make a decision after considering various aspects. Choosing the wrong method can harm the carpet or even pose health threats. This article will help you make an informed decision for your carpet.

What Is Steam Cleaning?

Steam cleaning refers to using hot water at high pressure to clean the carpet. You can also call it hot water extraction technique. This method works by heating water to produce steam. The steam loosens dirt and kills bacteria. It makes your carpet both clean and germ-free. 

The primary component of this method is water. You can use mild and natural cleansers to create a cleaning solution. It offers a good cleaning result without the use of any harsh chemicals. So, it is an eco-friendly carpet cleaning approach. You will need steam cleaner machines for this method.  The machines are available for rental use. You can also call for professional carpet cleaning services for convenience. 

same day carpet cleaning

Steam Cleaning Process: Steam cleaning includes the following steps:

Step 1- Remove the necessary furniture and vacuum the carpet carefully. 

Step 2– For specific tough stains, use stain remover for spot cleaning. Opt for natural solutions like vinegar, baking soda, salt, etc.

Step 3- Follow the steam machine manual to set it up for cleaning. 

Step 4– Thoroughly walk the machine from one corner of the carpet to another. Make sure every area has been checked. 

Step 5- After cleaning is done, you can leave it to dry naturally. Keep the windows and doors open to let the breeze in. If possible, you can take the carpet outside and let it dry there. However, don’t put it under direct sunlight, and avoid keeping the carpet outside for long. 

What Is Dry Carpet Cleaning?

Dry carpet cleaning approaches use little to no water. The carpet comes in contact with a very small amount of moisture. So you don’t have to wait long hours for the carpet to dry. The technique involves performing the following steps at home:

Step 1- First, start with vacuuming the carpet to remove loose dirt and debris. 

Step 2– Sprinkle dry cleaning agents evenly over the carpet.  

Step 3– Let the cleaning agents absorb dirt and debris before brushing it. Professionals use machines to work the cleaning agent. 

Step 4- Vacuum the carpet again to remove the cleaning agent along with the dirt. 

Dry cleaning is quite a safe process for carpets. It removes carpet stains without causing any harm to carpet fibres. 

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Carpet Steam Cleaning Benefits

Steam extraction for carpets has several benefits. It cleans the carpet and disinfects it. Take a look at the below advantages. Maybe it will help you decide whether steam cleaning is worth it. 

Pollution-Free Carpet

Every day, different kinds of pollutants get stuck on the carpet. If you have children, they can get in touch with them and get ill. Steam cleaning can reduce this risk. This deep cleaning technique removes pet dander, dead bugs, and other pollutants. It makes the carpet safe for children to play on. 

Removes Dust Mites

Steam cleaning is an effective method for clearing dust mites. The high temperature of the steam kills dust mites on contact. It penetrates deep into fabrics and reaches areas where mites hide. It’s a chemical-free method, so it is safe for homes with children and pets. 

Steam Cleaning Improves Air Quality

This carpet cleaning method contributes to improving the air quality. The high temperature kills bacteria, mould, and dust mites. It removes dirt and allergens from carpets, upholstery, and floors. The toxic-free technique prevents the air from getting polluted. 

Extends Carpets’ Longevity

The lack of use of harsh chemicals preserves the lifespan of your carpets. Additionally, the high temperature effectively removes dirt and grime. This prevents particles from wearing down carpet fibres. Regular steam cleaning helps in carpet maintenance and saves you money.

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Pros of Dry Carpet Cleaning

Dry carpet cleaning techniques also have their merits. The major benefits of dry carpet cleaning include:

It’s A User Friendly DIY Carpet Cleaning Approach

If you want to clean the carpet at home, then dry cleaning is a convenient option. You don’t have to move any furniture from their place. The method is quite simple and straightforward. The carpet dries quickly and protects the carpet from resoiling. 

A Carpet-Friendly Method

Dry cleaning is a friendly technique for keeping carpets clean. You are not over-wetting the carpet. The use of minimal moisture and prevent damage to carpet fibres. This technique avoids the risk of mould and mildew growth. Dry cleaning solvents are gentle yet effective cleansers. Therefore, it’s one of the best carpet fibre preservation techniques. 

An Eco-Friendly Approach

You can save water by opting for dry cleaning. The cleaning agents are often biodegradable and non-toxic. This reduces environmental impact and improves indoor air quality. Dry methods prevent chemical runoff into water systems, too. Overall, it’s a sustainable choice for cleaning carpets. 

green carpet cleaning

Disadvantages of Dry Carpet Cleaning

Well, dry cleaning is not completely error-free. There are some minor demerits of the process. Being aware of them will help you prevent the damage. The disadvantages include:

  • Some residues can remain on the carpet fibre. This can attract dirt and cause rapid re-soiling. They can also trigger allergies and reduce carpet lifespan. 
  • The final result may not be as clean as steam cleaning
  • It’s less effective for stubborn or tough stains compared to steam cleaning. 
  • DIY approaches can be expensive because of the necessity of specialised equipment. 

Disadvantages of Steam Cleaning

Along with the benefits, there are some disadvantages to steam cleaning. For example, 

  • Regular steam cleaning is not recommended. It can result in the wearing of the carpet. 
  • Steam cleaners often leave moisture in the carpet. This can take up to 24 hours to dry them. 
  • You need to be extra careful during the cleaning. The steam is hot, and you should keep children and pets at a safe distance. 
  • It’s not safe for all types of carpets, especially for carpets made of silk.
  • The excessive use of water and longer drying periods can lead to mould and bacteria growth.
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Steam vs. Dry Carpet Cleaning Comparison 

Both these techniques have their merits and demerits. It can be difficult to make a choice. The comparative carpet cleaning processes discussion below may help you.   

Cleaning Result

Both dry and steam cleaning are effective carpet cleaning techniques. However, steam cleaning provides better results. It can reach deep into the carpet fibre and remove hidden dirt, dust, or debris from the carpet.  

Cost for Cleaning

You will need specialised equipment and tools for these methods. The machines are expensive to buy or rent. Nonetheless, steam cleaning machines are more expensive and require more care. If you want to hire professional cleaning companies, dry cleaning service is more budget-friendly. Steam cleaning requires more critical processes, so the cost of the service is higher. 

Safer Approach

There can be some contradictions. Both dry and steam cleaning are eco-friendly. Steam cleaning is safer between the two for the environment. It does not have any negative impact on the environment or nature. Since the primary cleaning product is water, you are not releasing any harmful chemicals. 

However, steam cleaning machines use heat to create vapour from water. The machine’s cleaner head gets hot and is not safe to touch with bare hands. And you must keep children and pets away from the machine and steam as they can get burnt skin. Dry cleaning does not pose such risks. 

DIY Approach Possibility

Dry cleaning is more convenient for DIY cleaning. The process can be done with a vacuum cleaner, cleaning compound, and brushes. These are affordable tools, and most people usually have them at home. On the contrary, steam cleaning is best done by professionals. Steam machines are expensive, and you will need expertise to operate them safely. Dry cleaning can also be done without removing all furniture. It makes the whole task a lot easier. 

Lasting Impression

Both dry cleaning and steam cleaning provide durable cleaning. However, you will need a second steam cleaning after the first one in a short time. This will give you the best result, and it will last long. 

Though dry cleaning is not a long-term solution, it’s helpful for regular carpet maintenance.  However, you should also check the label of the carpet to see if it has a specific direction for cleaning frequency.  

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How to Choose Between Carpet Cleaning and Dry Methods Cleaning?

Making a decision between these two methods is difficult. Nonetheless, considering the following criteria can make it easier for you.

The Type of Your Carpet

The first thing you need to consider is what your carpet is made of. Silk and wool are best for dry cleaning. They can get spoiled by water. In contrast, steam cleaning is the best solution for nylon carpets. You must not try this method on wool or silk. Read the label on the carpet for information. 

How Much Dirty Is the Carpet?

Consider the dirt level on the carpet. Is it too dirty? Then you can opt for steam cleaning as it is a more powerful cleaning method. However, if the carpet is mildly dirty, then you can try dry cleaning. It is a much easier and DIY-friendly technique. 

Drying Time 

Steam cleaning is a rather longer process. The carpet will be wet, and it can take several hours to dry. If you don’t have such a long time to wait, then dry cleaning is the solution. It won’t take much longer to dry the carpet since you are not using it very much. 

Calculate Your Budget

Dry cleaning is more budget-friendly than steam cleaning. Steam cleaning is a longer process and requires advanced machines. Therefore, despite not having the best cleaning results, many people have adapted to dry cleaning. 

Choose a Healthy and Environment-Friendly Product

Both steam and dry are good carpet sanitation options, carpet hygiene solutions, and stain removal methods. However,  steam cleaning is a healthier and safer option. It does not use any chemicals and ensures no harm is done to the carpet or to you. 

Take Tips from Experts

If you are not sure about what method is the best option for you, you can call the professionals. They will evaluate the condition of the carpet and decide accordingly. 

carpet cleaning specialist


Steam and dry compound carpet cleaning are both effective methods but hot water extraction offers deep cleaning. You can select either of them based on your needs. The above discussions will help you in making the choice. DIY cleaning approaches can be difficult and challenging. For people in Brisbane, you have a suitable option of calling Eco Cleaning Brisbane. We have the necessary tools, and our expert cleaners ensure you face no trouble during and after the cleaning. 

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