Steam Cleaning Carpets vs Shampooing

Bryan Katiewick
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The top priority of cleaning your carpets is to make sure they are clean and fresh smelling.

Steam cleaning: Steaming your carpets will make sure that you have an absolute fresh smelling aroma. The moisture that is created in the steam cleaning process makes the most of your carpets which results in a deep cleaning.

Shampooing: Shampooing your carpets will give them a clean fresh smell, but they will still have that dried out look.

Dry foam cleaner: Just like shampooing the dry foam cleaning is a cleaning process that cannot get your carpets clean.

Hot water extraction: The top priority for this cleaning method is to extract the dirt from the carpet and get out the air from the carpet. Hot water extraction is always the most suitable option for deep cleaning of carpets.


The top priority of most housewives is that the carpet should stay in the same clean condition for years to come.

Steam cleaning: Steam cleaning comes with a wide variety of cleaning solutions which means they can get any type of dirt out of your carpets. Steam cleaning is a more expensive but very long term option for keeping your carpet clean.

Shampooing: Shampoo is a cleaning solution which is always followed by moisturizing and it makes the fibers of the carpet fluffy and soft.

Steam Cleaning Carpets vs Shampooing

If you are concerned about the chemicals that conventional steam cleaning may leave behind in your carpet, there is another way. Instead of chemicals, natural cleaning products may be more to your liking. While steam cleaning your carpets has some merit, you should know other options and how they compare.

Steam cleaning is a hot water extraction service. Carpet fibers have trapped dirt and debris inside them. Steam cleaning uses a machine that heats the water, creating a hot jet. The hot, pressurized stream of water penetrates deep into the carpet. The pressure of the water acting upon the dirt loosens it from the fibers, which can then be suctioned out.

Steam cleaners make your carpets soft and fluffed, removing that freshly shampooed look to them. This is an advantage if your decorative carpeting is showing its age or if you have a high traffic spot in your home.

A shampoo and vacuum combination, which can be done yourself, is often sufficient. A shampooer has an attachment that teases the dirt and the vacuum removes it. Simple as that.

Some carpet varieties, plush carpeting in particular, are not improved by steam cleaning. The tufted backing is not as durable as it may look. The process of steam cleaning can unravel the backing. Other carpets, such as stable and berber weave, are not suitable for steam cleaning.

Pros and Cons

Chemical Stain Removers are not always the best option for your carpets. A better option is to clean your carpets with a machine that uses steam. Steam works by penetrating deep into the carpet fibers, killing germs, dry soil and stains that linger in the carpet. Sealing the dirt and odor into the carpet, so it’s not released into the air. Steam cleaning is both thorough and safe for you to use around your kids and pets.

Pros of Using Chemicals: “The ease of using and accessibility inexpensive cleaning chemicals. Regardless, cleaning experts highly discourage using cleaning chemicals to clean carpets and upholstery due to the danger of using harsh chemicals around your families and pets and also due to the risk of possible allergic reactions to the chemical.

Pros of Using Steam Cleaning: Steam cleaning is the most thorough and effective way to clean your carpets and upholstery. The heat from steam cleaning penetrates deep into the fibers, killing illness-causing germs and removing dirt and stains. The steam method keeps your carpets and upholstery clean for a longer period of time and eliminates smells to leave your home feeling fresh and clean.

Steam cleaning

Uses high-pressure hot steam to eliminate stains and bacteria and is much more sanitary than regular carpets. The hot, steamy water from a steam cleaner sanitizes the carpet and eliminates 99 % of the bacteria, dust mites and allergens that cause problems with your family's health. As well, up to 95% of the germs that cause bad odor and mildew, along with food stains, which tend to be tenacious, are eliminated from your carpet and furniture.

Steam cleaning is easier to use than shampooing, and works best on shag carpets and carpets that have high traffic area. When your carpets and other upholstery have been steam cleaned by a professional company, their look will be better for a longer period of time, as the soil and soap films left after the shampooing process are removed.

Shampooing is a great alternative to steam cleaning when tackling specific spots or stains. However, it must be performed over and over to maintain clean, fresh carpets. Professional shampooing will only touch surface stains and soil. Unlike steam cleaning that penetrates into the carpet, shampooing leaves oils embedded in the carpets, which only multiply the stain or soil.


With regular shampooing, you'll see the results right away – a nice clean carpet. Shampooing is often ideal for spot clean-ups and quick jobs. Another option to consider is the inexpensive carpet cleaning solution you find in the grocery stores and/or on the internet.

Using carpet shampoo is almost like using the regular household type, but usually they are specifically formulated for carpet cleaning. Typically, they are very inexpensive and easy to use. Simply, just spray it on and then use a special machine to extract the stain, or in lieu of a machine, you can use towels and follow-up with a bucket to blot off the remainder of the solution. Washing your carpets regularly will also make it easier to clean up any accidents and keep the odor and stain in the carpet to a minimum. The problem is that with carpets, you really can't remove everything all the time.

A Deeper Look

Steam cleaning is a method of cleaning carpets and other surfaces using steam and hot water. This kind of cleaning is said to be an alternative to professional dry cleaning, which involves chemicals and is generally considered to be not as good for the environment or for your health.

So, steam cleaners are better for the environment and they are said to be good for your health, too. This is true, to an extent. The steam cleaner will not expose you to toxic chemicals or solvents, but you may still be exposed to other hazardous chemicals if the machine you use relies on a cleaning solution that is toxic.

However, in addition to the chemical emitted by the cleaning solution and the cleaning agent or surfactant, there may be other chemicals released when steam cleaning carpets. In particular, you can be exposed to nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas that is created by the decomposition of nitrogen based chemicals. Nitrogen dioxide has been linked to cancer, asthma, and other health problems. It is generally created when nitrous bums at high temperatures, in combination with water.

What are the benefits of steam?

Carpets that are cleaned by steam can remove tough dirt, stains, and allergens from your carpet. Steam helps remove smells and heavy stains. If you are a person who has pets, or kids who have food allergies, or have people in your home who have been sick, then you definitely want to get your carpets cleaned.

As steam enters the carpet, the water molecules mix with the dirt and stains of the carpet. The steam not only loosens up the stains, but it also loosens up the dirt. In addition to the dirt and the stains, the steam will also kill the bacteria and things that can be on your carpet.

As you use the steam you will notice that the stains on your carpet begin to fade. The water also keeps breaking up the dirt and it begins to rinse out of the carpet.

After your carpets are cleaned, you can dry them quickly. The water is now within the fibers of the carpet. By the time that you are halfway across the room with your steam cleaner and you turn it up high, the carpet will be dry.

You can take the cleaner from room to room, and make sure that the carpet gets the deep down clean without any harm to your carpet.

Wrapping up

You were probably looking for the answer to the question: “Can you shampoo carpets?”, but I hope I was able to help you with the question: “Will using a steam cleaner clean your carpets as well as shampooing?”

I used to say steam cleaning carpets is better than shampooing. But today, I am not so sure.

When a carpet is shampooed, every carpet fiber is exposed to water on an individual basis. When a carpet is steam-cleaned, not all of the fibers are exposed to water. This suggests the amount of water that gets absorbed by the carpet is not the same.

Does this mean you can’t steam clean carpet as well as use shampoo? For most things, the answer is “no”. But for removing the yellowish color due to sunlight exposure, you want to see the top few fibers.

So shampooing is recommended. And as I say many times in other parts of the book, education and experience play a large part in how well you clean.

Our Steamer of Choice

We were looking for a great carpet steam cleaner, that would provide a quality carpet cleaning experience for not much more than the traditional carpet shampooer. We ended up picking the Hoover SteamVac Dual V steam cleaner. This carpet cleaner is from the same brand as our favorite vacuum, the Hoover Windtunnel. They both provide a consistent and trusted experience. The Hoover Windtunnel is a great upright vacuum, but that wasn�t what we were looking for in a carpet cleaner. The Hoover SteamVac� has the simple and effective design that's been so effective for Hoover for quite a while.

With our SteamVac we found a carpet cleaner that provided a quality carpet cleaning experience with very little effort on our part. This carpet cleaner does not have the pump system—it just heats up some water and jets it out. This design incorporates with the design of the vac in a clever way.

Instead of pumping out the dirty water with a vacuum, it uses suction from the same hose used to clean the carpet. This design features the piece that receives the dirty water- which is called the dirty water tank. The pieces that mix air and water are attached, and the tank section attaches to that. It sounds complex, but it makes sense when you think of how it's laid out.

Dupray Neat

As a mother of four children, my tool of choice for carpet cleaning and purification is Dupray's neatfreak heavy duty steam cleaner. It's powerful enough to detangle even the nastiest carpet and it includes amazing attachments such as a fiber brush tool that can be used for cleaning your upholstery as well as carpeting.

The neatfreak is also equipped with a steam suction tool attachment and a fabric tool that is great for delicate materials. This is a nice thing to have as it saves me the trouble of having to buy a special attachment just for delicate fabrics.

Steam cleaners can clean 99.9% of common household allergens. Additionally, you will be saving yourself time and money in the long run. With steam cleaning, you'll be able to clean a larger surface area with only one container of cleaning solution as opposed to several cans of shampoo.

The neatfreak requires no scrubbing, just shake the dirt loose and the steam will do the rest! It heats up in less than two minutes which means it's ultra convenient for when you have a spot of dirt on your carpet or if you need to clean up a large area.

Another unique feature of the neatfreak steam cleaner is that it can be used without detergent. If you're in a pinch and don't have cleaning solution on hand, you can still give your carpet a thorough cleaning.

Ease of use

Shampoo and steam cleaning carpets are similar in ease of use. DIY carpet cleaning requires advanced knowledge on carpet vacuums. Power tools, and power suction equipment every carpet cleaning DIY veteran must possess. Then you need hoses, tools, water to mix with soap, storage space and time to prep and clean up the area. Keep in mind, there will be risks involved with using power tools.

When you use a professional carpet cleaning service, they come with all the tools needed. They offer professional equipment to clean and even seal the carpets that will keep them from looking worn out. Most professional carpet cleaning services appear to be highly trained on how to use the equipment to clean carpets and move large furniture with ease to avoid damaging carpets. They will remove the dirt from the surface down to the carpet pad making sure that every part of it is clean, and they will offer you a cleaning and protection guarantee.

The only downside to hiring a professional carpet cleaning service is that you will have to pay a lot more for it, and this can prove to be hard on budget for many families.


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Steam cleaning is one of the most popular methods of carpet cleaning at large. This method is simple to execute and gives you powerful cleaning power. There is no strong detergents used so there is no risk of damage to the fabric. Here are some general instructions for steam cleaning:

Clean up any spills and vacuum the carpet.

Take the rug outside to a well ventilated area or somewhere where the ashes will not irritate others.

Take a clean piece of cloth or a damp one to clean the area. The rug should be completely dry.

Make sure that the steam cleaner is turned off.

If the steam cleaner has a cold water line, make sure that it is free of water.

Put on your rubber gloves and put the rug face down. Let the machine steam the rug for approximately 15 minutes, depending on the size of your rug.

As soon as the cleaning is done, turn the machine off. Let the rug back in the room and let it dry.

If the rug is left face down, it can cause discoloration. It is best if the rug is left face up to dry completely.


Using a steam cleaner for your carpets is a much better means for cleaning them as compared to using a carpet shampooer. Below are some of the reasons why:

A steam cleaner produces a thorough cleaning action that actually penetrates the carpet's fibers. On the other hand, the cleaning agent from a carpet shampoo does not penetrate the carpet's fibers and therefore, cleaning is only on the surface.

The bateria, germs, and allergans from your carpet's fibers are eliminated by using a steam cleaner. According to various studies, almost 80 percent of the dust mites in the carpet are in the depth of the carpet. Using a steam cleaner, this problem will be solved since the mites will be eliminated without leaving their dirts behind.

As compared to shampoos, using a steam cleaner for cleaning your carpet is more energy efficient and cost-effective. Steam cleaners use less electricity and when properly used, the machine can be very cost effective.

Steam cleaners can clean a wider range of carpets and flooring than that of a carpet shampooer. Steam cleaners can clean not only broadloom carpets but also, hardwood flooring, ceramic flooring, vinyl flooring, area rugs and even carpets. On the other hand, carpet shampooers can only clean carpet.


For your cats you will need to designate a room for their use and keep all the items that they are allowed to have in this area. When you feed your cats in the designated room, refuse to take the food to them. They will learn where they need to be to eat. If you have more than one cat, place their food system in an area they will not be able to see each other eating so one doesn’t get jealous. This will help prevent them from fighting over their food.

In the initial stages you may need to place the cats food bowl out of sight behind your recliner chair or in another corner of the room. Once they have started to understand where they need to be to eat, you can begin to move the bowl forward until it is in the area that you have designated for your cats.


Carpet Shampooing vs. Steam Cleaning Carpets

If you have a small room or only have a few items to clean, then using handheld carpet cleaners can be fine. But most people without a large amount of carpet or furniture don’t make it worth their while to buy and operate these machines.

Steam cleaning carpets produces fine results, but if you have mould, pet accidents, or serious soil, it’s probably not a good idea to try it. The moisture soaks ground-in dirt deep in the carpet, and the cleaning solution will cause the residue to cling to the carpet, rather than be removed.

Even the best carpet cleaning machines, steam cleaning is recommended when you have light soiling and need to extend the life of your carpets. This is because the process of drying out the carpets isn’t worth the quality of the procedure, and the amount of elbow grease you’ll need to spend doing it. The process involves sucking up moisture, and spreading it around before it can be sucked up again. It’s a perfect sandwich to feed mould spores, mould, and bacteria, and it’s not worth the investment of effort.

In almost all cases the best option is to send in a professional to shampoo your carpets. A couple tools have become common to help save time.


Steam cleaning is a great way to clean your carpet. There are many potential benefits compared to shampooing.

{1}. No Stripping or Neutralizing the Carpet: Shampooing requires the stripping of any old substances like a previous shampoo or leftover odor that might have deeply settled into the carpet fibers, and neutralizing with a base like baking soda. Steam cleaning brushes the carpet, and uses no chemical or chemical cleansers that could cause an allergic reaction.
{2}. No Odor: Steam cleaning kills odor and doesn’t require neutralizing.
{3}. No Scrubbing: Steam cleaning doesn’t require loosened and scrubbed-out carpet fibers before shampooing. It’s all done with the brushing action of the steam cleaner; there is no soil left behind to become reabsorbed into the carpet fibers.
{4}. Complete Steam Cleaning Solution: Some steam cleaning devices, including Shark vacuums, have a carpet cleaner attachment that uses the steam cleaning action to ensure the whole carpet is clean.
{5}. Steam Cleaners Say No to Object Damage: Unlike a vacuum cleaner, a steam cleaner leaves no visible tracks of its previous presence.


Idered the Best Way to Clean your Carpet, However, is it Really?

Steam cleaning is a popular method of carpet cleaning in which heat and powerful detergent is used to loosen and remove dirt. This process uses hot pressured water, which acts like a very strong vacuum cleaner. During the steaming process, the cleaner applies a detergent-based cleaning solution to the carpet.

The carpet is held in place by a special attachment that steams the carpet from the bottom to loosen dirt and stains. When the carpet cleaning solution comes into contact with the dirt buildup, the detergent solution loosens the dirt, which is then vacuumed by the cleaner. This deep cleaning method can remove embedded stains and dirt buildup.

Regular shampooing is recommended by most carpet manufacturers and carpet care professionals. Since static electricity is generated from the carpet and has the potential to ruin electronic devices, manufacturers consider regular shampooing the safest way to clean your carpet.

Our Top Pick

There are two primary methods of cleaning carpets; steam cleaning and shampooing. Each method has its own set of positives and negatives. So which one is right for you?

Saving money: It is often believed that steam cleaning is far more cost effective than shampooing. This assumption is based on the fact that shampooing requires buying cleaning products whereas steam cleaning doesn't. However, this thinking is flawed. For one thing, a quality carpet shampooer will be about 85% more effective in removing dirt than a high-heat steam machine. More importantly, carpet steam cleaning is NOT an environmentally friendly process. Although it may save you a little money in the short run, it will likely cost you more money in the long run due to increased strain on your vacuum cleaner and dryer. In addition, this extra strain will cause your carpet to require more cleaning in the future.

Time consumption: Steam cleaning does, indeed, save you a lot of time. But, the time you save from doing less cleaning is spent moving from room to room. After all, you will still need to vacuum to get rid of all the moisture that is left behind by the steam. This means that you will spend more time moving your machine back and forth instead of allowing the carpet to dry naturally. Although steam cleaning may save you some time, it will cost you in sweat and back strain.