If you have carpets in your home, you will eventually have to decide on one question: “Should I choose dry carpet cleaning or steam cleaning?” Carpeted floors add to a room’s aesthetics, trap dust particles, and provide sound and heat insulation. But maintaining a carpet in pristine condition can be tricky. At some point, you’ll need to decide on the best way of deep cleaning a carpet.
Dry carpet cleaning and steam cleaning are two effective carpet cleaning methods. Carpet dry cleaning involves using dry chemicals and a minimal amount of moisture to clean carpets. The carpet steam cleaning method is a type of hot water extraction and detergent to remove dirt and stains.
There is some confusion on which is the best carpet cleaning method. In reality, steam cleaning carpets and dry cleaning carpets have advantages and disadvantages.
In this article, you’ll learn if you should dry clean or steam clean dirty carpets. You’ll also find which carpet cleaning option to choose for specific tasks.
What is Dry Carpet Cleaning?
Dry carpet cleaning uses a chemical solution to remove dirt from carpets. Also known as very low moisture (VLM), dry compounds and, sometimes, moisture are applied to the carpet or rug. A machine—a vacuum or a rotary carpet cleaner—lifts and absorbs dirt or deep stains from carpet fibers.
Despite its name, dry cleaning may use some moisture for dirt extraction.
Typical dry cleaning methods involve the following:
- Dry foam method—A dry shampoo is applied to carpets and left to absorb into carpet fibers. Using a standard vacuum, you remove the residue and dirt.
- Dry compounds—Like the dry shampoo method, a dry powder solution is left to go to work. The dirt and residue are removed using a vacuum cleaner.
- Oscillating pads or bonnet pads—A solution is applied to carpets and left to dry. A bonnet machine or rotary machine is used to agitate and loosen dirt. The pads absorb dirt and chemical residue. Vacuuming may be necessary afterward.
What is Steam Cleaning?
Typical steam carpet cleaning uses a combination of hot water and chemicals. Despite the name, steam is not used in the process to clean carpets. Instead, the steam cleaning machine sprays a hot detergent solution. The wet vacuum immediately extracts the grime, dirt, and excess liquid from carpets.
Dry Carpet Cleaning — The Pros and Cons
Dry carpet cleaning is typically more manageable, cheaper, and faster then than steam cleaning. In many cases, you can do the carpet cleaning yourself. Additionally, dry cleaning is the method of choice for cleaning delicate, natural carpet fibers.
However, dry carpet cleaning may not be ideal for all circumstances, and chemical residue may be left behind.
The pros of dry carpet cleaning:
- Speed—The short drying time means that you can walk on carpets less than an hour after cleaning.
- Range of choices—Dry shampoos are available for a wide range of stains and carpets. In many cases, you don’t need to hire equipment or call technicians to do the work.
- Suitable for delicate materials—Dry cleaning carpets may be the only choice to clean carpets made from natural fibers.
The cons of dry carpet cleaning:
- Not suitable for all stains—A low-moisture carpet cleaning method can’t penetrate fibers like steam cleaning or hot water extraction.
- Exposure to chemicals—Dry chemicals may stay in the carpet after vacuuming or get released into the air if your vacuum has inferior filters.
Steam Cleaning — The Pros and Cons
Typical steam carpet cleaning is best for cleaning large, carpeted areas. The water extraction method is ideal for deep cleaning carpets. Because the water and chemical solutions are immediately extracted, there is less risk of breathing in detergent.
However, with steam cleaning, carpets take longer to dry, and you need specialized equipment.
The pros of steam carpet cleaning:
- Deep clean carpets—The best method to thoroughly clean carpets and dissolve dirt.
- Less exposure to chemicals—Almost no chemical cleaner residue remains in carpets
- Refreshes carpets—Effective for freshening up carpets, giving them a new “lease of life.”
The cons of steam carpet cleaning:
- Drying time—It can take from 3 to 24 hours for carpets to dry thoroughly
- Expensive—Cleaning carpets with the steam method requires hiring equipment or professionals.
When Dry Carpet Cleaning is Best for Cleaning Carpets
Carpet dry cleaning is the best method if you want to remove stubborn stains. For example, dry cleaning is ideal for spot cleaning or cleaning small to medium-sized rugs. Additionally, you can save time and money using the dry cleaning method.
When Steam Cleaning is Best for Cleaning Carpets
Typically, you should choose the water extraction method if you need to carry out deep carpet cleaning. Also, steam cleaning is usually the best solution if someone in the house has allergies, sensitivities to chemicals, or you have pets. Steam cleaning is the best option for removing ingrained dirt and odors.
The Advantages of Dry Carpet Cleaning vs. Steam Cleaning — In Conclusion
It’s recommended to dry clean or steam clean carpets once a year to keep them clean, fresh, and free of bacteria and germs. The choice of cleaning method comes down to the type of carpets in your home and personal preference.
Carpet steaming—hot water extraction—is ideal for deep pile carpets, large areas, and thorough cleaning. Carpet dry cleaning is a good choice for stubborn stains, spot cleaning, or if you’re on a budget.
To reduce the need for dry cleaning or steam cleaning, it’s a good idea to vacuum carpets twice a week. Also, mats near doorways can reduce the amount of dirt that gets left on carpets. If there’s a spill, it’s best to clean it immediately to prevent it from staining your carpet.