Steam Cleaning Carpets vs. Shampooing: Differences

Deep stains and grime on your carpet? No problem. Steam cleaning your carpet will get rid of all that dirt and sanitize it as well.

Steam cleaning a carpet uses a steam mop and hot water vapor to break down dirt while shampooing uses a detergent. A carpet dries fast when cleaned using steam (up to 48 hours), while shampooing may take longer for the carpet to dry. Steam is a natural disinfectant, unlike shampoo that may need chemical sanitizer to kill germs.

When you compare steam cleaning with a shampoo job, you will realize both have benefits. Steam at over 212° Fahrenheit can cut through a lot of dirt and grime that shampooing isn’t very effective at.

Comparison: Steam Cleaning vs. Shampooing Carpet

Depending on the situation and your needs, both shampooing and steaming can do the job. But there are clear differences between choosing to use shampoo and going for steam.

Here’s how to steam clean a carpet compares to shampooing it:

Steam Cleaning CarpetsShampooing Carpets
Steam cleaning uses steam to break down dirt, grease and grime in carpets.Shampoo itself is a chemical and the cleaning may use extra chemicals to break down dirt and grime.
The high temperatures of steam cleaning sanitize and disinfect the carpet. This removes spores, mildew, and 99% of germs.Using a shampoo to clean your carpet does not kill all the germs and allergens in the carpet.
Using a carpet steam mop does not leave any chemical residues in the fibers of the carpet. Only hot water in form of vapor is used to clean.Using shampoo leaves a chemical residue in your carpet.
Although steam is used, carpets dry faster when mopped with steam.Takes long to dry if the carpets are large.
Usually kills fleas and bed bugs together with their eggs in the carpet.Some shampooing solutions get rid of pests but not their eggs.
Steam cleaning carpet vs shampooing: Differences and Similarities Infographic

Note that some hot water extraction carpet cleaners will still use a chemical cleaning solution to loosen dirt. This method will not leave your house chemical-free.

To create a safe environment for your pets and children, use a carpet steam mop without chemicals. Some brands can remove stains as well as dirt lodged deep in the fibers especially when used with a dry vacuum.

For spot cleaning, you might just need a steam iron or a good handheld steamer like these ones for the job.

An Overview of Using Shampoo to Clean Carpets

You’ll need a shampooing machine to clean your carpet with this method. There’s usually a tank where you put your cleaning solution and a nylon brush as an attachment.

As the brush spins, it injects the solution into the carpet fibers to loosen and break down dirt. This process produces while creating foam.

Before the whole process, you have to vacuum the carpet to remove loose dirt. You will also do the same after scrubbing.

Benefits of Shampooing

If you choose to go with shampooing, you will enjoy benefits such as the following:

  • It works well for carpets that are heavily soiled.
  • If dirt is embedded in the carpet such as loose soil, shampooing will get rid of it.
  • It is easy to get a carpet shampoo cleaner for rent.

Disadvantages of Shampooing Carpets

Even though you can readily rent a carpet shampoo machine, there are some shortcomings you will encounter. They include:

  • Damage and weakening of the carpet fibers due to scrubbing to remove stains.
  • Soap residue remains on the fibers and attracts more dirt and dust.
  • Big area rags and large carpets will take a long time to dry.

Steam Cleaning Carpets: Overview

Steam cleaners have a powerful system that consists of a pump and vacuum. The carpet cleaning attachments come in a wide variety. They may include a wide cleaning wand and a spot steaming attachment for spot stains.

There’s usually a hose that sucks away waste water and any carpet cleaning solution (if you use any).

Benefits of Steam Carpet Mops

  • This method is more efficient if you’re cleaning a wall-to-wall carpet.
  • Steam cleaning attachments are easy to maneuver and reach areas that are hard to clean with big machines.
  • Steam extraction on a carpet is a deep cleaning method. It cuts through stubborn stains including grease and grime.
  • Steam mops that use water only are organic and safe for pets and kids.
  • The high temperatures of steam mops disinfect the carpet.
  • Steam will kill fleas and any eggs lodged deep in the carpet fibers.

Disadvantages of Steam Mops

  • Steam mops may not be effective for deeply soiled carpets.
  • It can be hard work to remove stubborn stains without a cleaning solution.

Verdict: Which Method is The Best?

Both methods will get the job done. But if you are not sure which method to use, a professional will help you choose the right one for your needs.

Steam cleaning does a thorough job without leaving you with the worry of chemicals on your carpet. Also, you can get a cheap steam mop for home use. That means you don’t have to incur rental costs every time you want to clean your home.

Shampooing is also effective. You can choose this method especially if you want to clean areas that are not sensitive such as the office.

For more information on organic household cleaning, check out our frequently asked questions on steam cleaning.

2 Comments

  1. I agree that steam cleaning can definitely remove deep stains and grimes in your carpet. Ou carpet has been stained because of the party last night. My mother is now looking for carpet steam services who can help us clean it soon as it’s gross and messy. I hope we can find a reputable cleaning service in the area.

  2. Thanks for helping learn what happens when you steam clean or shampoo carpets. You mentioned to shampoo a carpet, a machine is needed. I’m interested to learn if someone could be trained to use the machine properly, especially if it could affect how well the carpets will be cleaned.

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