Carpet Cleaning: Steam vs. Shampooing

| October 14, 2012

steam carpet cleaning Maintaining clean carpets leaves your home looking and smelling fresh. Cleaning the carpeting or having it cleaned on a regular basis also extends its life. Here are the pros and cons when deciding whether to steam-clean or shampoo your carpets.


Shampooing your carpet requires a shampooing machine that features a solution tank and cleaning attachment with a nylon brush. The brush spins and releases carpet cleaning solution into the carpeting, which creates foam. Moving in a circular fashion, the brush scrubs the carpeting. The carpet requires vacuuming before and after cleaning.


The circular scrubbing motion of the shampooing machine works well in cleaning carpeting that is heavily soiled. This method is appropriate for small rooms and area rugs. Shampooing also captures loose dust and dirt that have embedded into the carpet fibers. Shampoo carpet cleaners are readily available for renting.


Shampooing can damage carpet fibers if the circular scrubbing motion is too intense for your carpeting. This method can also leave a soap residue that attracts dirt. And when you shampoo your carpeting, it requires drying time, which may be delayed during wet or cold weather.

Steam cleaning

Steam cleaning machines are more complex than shampooers. These machines use a powerful vacuum and pump system that is attached to a truck or portable electric unit. The system consists of a cleaning wand that emits hot water and a cleaning solution, and then a wastewater hose sucks the cleaning solution out of the carpeting.


Steam cleaning works well for wall-to-wall carpeting because the wand is easily maneuvered around the edges of the carpeting and furniture. Because of the vacuum pump system, this method performs a deep clean by pulling out dirt stuck deep inside the carpeting.


Steam cleaning is more complex than shampooing. It involves the use of both cleaning and rinsing solutions. Although the steam cleaning machine is powerful, it doesn’t always extract all the carpet cleaner from the carpet. If that occurs, the carpet will resoil fairly quickly. It is also difficult to do steam cleaning yourself because the truck-mounted machines are not usually available for rent.

Understanding the pros and cons of shampooing and steam cleaning your carpeting helps you make the best choice for your carpeting and your home.

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Category: Carpets & Rugs, Evergreen, Home & Garden

About the Author ()

Julie Bawden-Davis is a Southern-California-based writer specializing in home and garden, real estate, small business and personal finance. Since 1985, her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Family Circle, Ladies’ Home Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, Entrepreneur and The Los Angeles Times. Julie is a University of California Certified Master Gardener and has written five gardening books, including Reader’s Digest Flower Gardening.