Should I steam clean or dry clean a carpet? First, lets better understand what each of these carpet cleaning methods entail.
There are two main ways to clean a carpet: steam clean or dry clean. We’ll ignore the dry foam method of carpet cleaning, which applies shampoo to the carpet before sucking it back up because it is so ineffective. Dry cleaning carpet is also called chem-dry carpet cleaning. A machine applies a chemical to the carpet which ideally sinks to the roots before it is vacuumed up. Steam cleaning or hot water extraction pushes hot water into the carpet before sucking it up into the machine.
Carpet Steam Cleaning
Some people assume steam cleaning is chemical free. Steam doesn’t clean your carpet in and of itself. This is why the hot water and detergent in “steam cleaning” is used. The very hot water puts off steam, which is why many think the steam itself is what cleans the carpeting. Steam cleaning can be used on many types of carpet, as long as the right detergent is used.
Acidic detergent plus hot water cleans wool or natural fiber carpets like silk. Alkaline detergents activated by the hot water can be used on synthetic carpets like those made of nylon. After the detergent and water are applied, a wet vacuum sucks up most of the water. In this regard, steam cleaning isn’t really a chemical free method; it is simply the one that uses fewer chemicals. And if you use too much soap, the carpet will end up crunchy afterward while attracting dirt in a way it didn’t before.
Steam cleaning is the wrong choice if you need to be able to walk on the floors almost immediately. This type of floor cleaning if done by professionals requires you to stay off them at least twelve hours, more often twenty four hours. If you steam clean your home with a rental steam cleaner that has moderate suction whether because it hasn’t had the hoses cleaned or just lacks the power of a professional steam cleaner, your carpet will remain damp for two days.
For this reason, steam cleaning should never be used if you have a problem with mold, mildew or bacteria. And if you want to clean your carpets because of a bad smell in the room, pull up the carpet and see if there is mold or mildew due to a water leak into the carpet pad or else steam cleaning will make the problem far worse.
The nature of steam cleaning, forcing water into carpet at high pressure before vacuuming it out, makes it the better choice if you need to remove tobacco residue from your carpet.
Carpet Dry Cleaning
Dry cleaning a carpet is an option many people choose when they want to walk on their floors as soon as possible. You can often walk on the floor almost immediately; that’s why most hotel carpets are dry cleaned, not steam cleaned.
Dry cleaning of your carpet is an option when you have natural untreated fibers that may shrink upon steam cleaning. Dry cleaning is a better choice for lifting up ground-in stains. Steam cleaning may make them fade in appearance, until the junk wicks back up the carpet and becomes visible again. In contrast, dry cleaning compounds can break down the stains like blood and spilled coffee while lifting the material up to the top of the carpet to be vacuumed up.
The downside of dry cleaning the carpet is that it can leave a strong odor, though you can request that detergents with less odor be used. Conversely, dry cleaning of your carpet can be the eco-friendly solution during a drought – it uses far less water. You can have green cleaning agents with less chemical smell and no residue used when the floor is chem-dry cleaned.
The lower pressure application of most dry cleaning methods can make it the better choice for delicate carpets that might otherwise tear under high power steam cleaning.