Is Steam or Dry Cleaning better for your carpets?

Updated: Dec 5, 2021


The two most commonly used methods.

The steam and dry cleaning methods are the two most common processes used by professional carpet cleaners in the industry today. There is always a debate on whether carpet steam cleaning or dry cleaning is the best method to use. The answer is usually in the carpet manufacturers recommendations. Fabrics are now manufactured with different materials from wool, synthetic, organic, silk, bamboo and many other textiles. In more recent times carpet can be woven into a combination of two or more other materials that sometimes conventional steam or drycleaning may actually damage the fabric.

Steam carpet cleaning is a good method but would not be recommended to use on viscose, silk, bamboo or natural fibers such as sisal, or even a combination of these fabrics as it will permanently damage and discolour the fiber.

Dry carpet cleaning can be used on most fabrics however any looped carpet or woollen weave that isn't a straight pile should not be attempted by the dry clean process using the brush orbital machines. The dry clean method is more recommended for maintenance cleaning or short pile shallow fabrics.

What is Carpet Steam cleaning?

Most carpet technicians will favour or recommend the steam cleaning process. It is the most popular form of carpet cleaning. There are actually two types of steam cleaning.

  1. Steam cleaning is where the water is heated at a boiling point of 100 degrees celsius where it is delivered out of the cleaning wand in the form of actual steam. This provides a powerful cleaning action that breaks and dissolves a host of unwanted substances.

  2. Hot Water extraction is where the water is only heated to 60 degrees celsius but not to boiling point and delivered through the cleaning wand as hot water. This form of steam cleaning is also effective in combination with a carpet cleaning detergent.

The steam cleaning process requires pressurised hot water which is then extracted through a wand into a waste tank. The pressure and extraction motor can be produced by a truckmount machine or a portable machine.

What is Carpet Dry Cleaning?

There are three categories that can be classed as dry cleaning:


is a form of dry cleaning that requires a specific encapsulation chemical that is applied via a rotary agitation machine using a soft pad/s to scrub the carpet. The carpet is first pre vacuumed, agitated then vacuumed after it dries. The process required the dirt to be encapsulated as crystals prior to final vacuuming. Drying is usually around two hours on average.


carpet dry cleaning uses the same agitation process as encapsulation. It uses a neutralising chemical and pads (not brushes) to absorb the dirt. Drying time on average is about one hour.

Dry powder

cleaning is possibly the driest method as it uses a lightly moist neutralising powder that is spread over the area and worked into the carpet. The dirt is then absorbed in the powder substance. It is then vacuumed out of the carpet leaving it dry almost instantly.

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