How to Steam Clean Carpet (Step-by-Step)
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In this article, I will explain how to steam clean carpet without using any chemicals and will also share some tips and tricks for the best steam cleaning result.
The moment we say the word “steam cleaner”, the first two thoughts in our head are clothes and hard floors. Thanks to a ton of Youtube videos and advertisements, steam cleaning is the new Martha Stewart of creaseless shirts and sparkling floors.
What many people do not realise is that steam cleaning is far more versatile than just those two applications. Carpets can be steam cleaned to return them back to their original glory and this can be done without the need to hire expensive cleaning agencies.
Read our in-depth guide for whether steam cleaning carpet is better than shampooing.
With time, carpets tend to collect a huge volume of fine particles such as dust mites, pet hair and urine, dead skin cells, dust and sand, insect husks and feces and bacteria and molds just to name a few. Vacuuming can help in getting rid of a large amount of the solid dust and dirt particles but over time, moisture and pressure from walking binds many of these remnants to the fibers and thus staining the fibers and creating a home for nasty odours to develop in.
These cannot be removed by merely vacuuming. Sending large rugs to a dry cleaner or hiring a carpet cleaning service at home is expensive. So this is where having your own steam cleaner can work wonders to clean and disinfect your carpet and save you money at the same time! The following step by step guide will show you how to steam clean Carpet in 5 Simple steps.
What Does Steam Cleaning Carpet Mean?
As we all know, steam cleaning is the simple process of using high-pressure steam to remove hard to shift dirt and grime and eliminate molds and mildews from any surface. This straight-forward steam-based cleaning method is used to clean carpets and floor mats without using any chemicals or external cleaning services.
Besides dirt and grease and other solid pollutants, steam cleaning also removes the majority of the bacteria, molds, and odors. Since the steam is often scalding hot and at a temperature over 100-degree Celsius, it kills most of the microbes germinating within your carpet fibers.
The Necessary Preparation for Steam Cleaning Carpet
Before using the Steam cleaner on the carpet it is important to prepare the area well. This will ensure that the end result is more effective and the carpet is comparatively way more cleaner than before.
The key to perfectly rejuvenated carpet is in the preparation. The main factors to include in your preparation include –
Remove all items from around the carpet area. This includes toys, books, portable furniture on the carpet, etc. The area should be devoid of any obstacles that will impede access to the carpet itself.
In case your furniture near the carpet that cannot be moved, line the exposed or contact surface with foil or any heat and moisture resistant cover. This will ensure the furniture does not corrode as a result of moisture while steam cleaning the furniture.
Dust the entire area well to remove loose particles from all around the carpet. This will ensure that later on no dusty toy or showpiece falls on the carpet and soils it again.
Using the crevice attachment of your vacuum cleaner, remove as much dirt and dust as possible from all the nooks and crannies around the carpeted area.
Thoroughly vacuum the carpet at least twice to get rid of as much loose dirt and other particles as possible. This will also loosen the fibers of the carpet for deeper cleaning.
If you have pets at home, a few more passes with the vacuum cleaner to make sure all hair and fur has been removed from the room and the carpet will help immensely. Unfortunately moisture from steam cleaning is not great in removing fur and hair.
Ensure that vacuuming is done in a forward and backward motion. This random vacuuming will loosen the carpet fibers and make the process of vacuuming more effective. The more loose dirt and dust you can remove now, the better your final result will be.
If there is a stain on the carpet, treating it beforehand ensures a better finish. After vacuuming the carpet surface, spray the stained area with detergent and scrub it well with a carpet scrubber. Or you can leave the chemical on the surface to slowly destain the area. Vinegar is also a great natural stain remover if you prefer not to add chemicals to your carpet. Ensure that the carpet backing below the main fibrous coat is also well treated with stain remover. This will prevent the marks from returning after steam cleaning the carpet.
Leaving the stain removal solution overnight or at least a couple of hours gives it the best chance of removing the majority of the stain. Make sure to start the steam cleaning process at least 4 to 5 hours after treating the stain.
In some cases preheating the stain can remove any hardened grease and oil remains. Preheating can also breakdown any unwanted deposits and thus result in a better stain removal outcome.
How to Steam Clean Carpet in 5 Simple Steps
Once the preparation for steam cleaning is complete, it is now time to start the actual process. After ensuring that there is nothing on the carpet and all the permanent furniture around the carpet is protected and covered, it is time to start steam cleaning the carpet.
1. The first step of steaming
If you are using one, add a cleaning solution to the water and mix well before adding to the holding tank of your steam cleaner. Special carpet shampoos and liquid soaps are available that clean and condition carpet fibers well resulting in a fabulous outcome.
However, if you prefer to avoid using chemicals, plain water or vinegar diluted in water are both equally effective in steam cleaning carpet effectively. Ensure the water is heated to the correct temperature before you start cleaning.
2. Protect yourself well
Steaming with chemicals and detergents can create fumes in enclosed spaces. These fumes are not good for the skin or eyes or even for breathing. Besides that steam often has a temperature far over 100-degree Celsius. Any contact with it can scald and burn the skin.
It is important to wear thick protective foot and hand coverings to prevent accidental contact with steam. To protect oneself from chemical fumes, masks and eyewear is recommended be used at all times.
3. Starting at the right spot
It is always best to start from the corner most area and clean in a straight line. This will ensure that the entire carpet is thoroughly cleaned without missing a single spot or area. Keep repeating the straight direction of cleaning motion a few more times. This ensures that every fiber of the carpet is completely devoid of any fine dust particles or soiled remnants.
4. Drying the carpet
The carpet after steam cleaning treatment is bound to get wet due to the moisture remnants from steaming. It is important to ensure that the carpet is completely dried out before returning furniture and other items to the room.
In the case of rugs, air drying outdoors for a few days if possible will ensure it is devoid of any moisture and completely safe to use. Where outdoor air drying is not possible, alternate means like blow-drying or using internal room heating or fans will greatly improve the speed of drying.
5. Make sure the floor surface is also dry and clean
Steam cleaning carpet to its original sparkling and clean state is not sufficient enough. It is important not to miss cleaning and drying out the floor or hard surface on which the carpet is placed. Moisture and dirt remnants will cause molds and stains to reappear besides wetting the carpet base again.
Scrubbing and rinsing the hard floor may seem like the most effective way to clean it up well but simply vacuuming a few times and air drying the floor also is sufficient.
Tips & Tricks for the Best Steam Cleaning Results
Carpets are bound to get stained and dirty however careful you are in maintaining their pristine condition. As mentioned above, carpet fibers have an innate tendency to collect oil, dead skin, hair and fur and many more unhygienic remnants along with dust and dirt.
- Always make sure to vacuum and steam the corners, stitched areas and folds of any carpet thoroughly. Those areas collect the maximum amount of debris and dirt.
- Vacuuming repeatedly in every direction helps in loosening up even the most stubborn dirt or mud hidden deep within the fiber tufts.
- Products such as baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice are very good natural cleaning and stain removing agents that do not produce any hazardous remnants or fumes.
- The best time to steam clean your carpets is when the weather is sunny and humidity levels are low. Steam cleaning before the onset of winter and monsoon is perfect as the arid, and dry summer heat helps in drying out the carpet perfectly and faster than normal.
- Always ensure that the windows and doors are open to prevent fumes and steam from accumulating inside the room and causing condensation.
- Airing the room also ensures trapped fine dust is blown away instead of remaining stagnant inside.
- Add doormats at every entrance and door. It may sound impractical but doormats catch the majority of the dirt and sand particles and guarantees these particles do not get instantly transferred to the carpet.
- Vacuuming your carpet at least 2 to 3 times a week prevents the dirt from settling down into the base of the fibers and keeps the carpet cleaner for a longer period of time.
Why is Steam cleaning a Better Alternative for Carpets than Choosing an External Cleaning Service?
Since the advent of home steam cleaners, housework has become much easier, especially when it comes to cleaning carpets. Steam cleaning is in fact regarded as a better alternative for carpets by many cleaning experts worldwide. There are a number of reasons to choose steam cleaning over any external service including:
Inexpensive and requires no additional assistance – We all know how expensive dry cleaning services are. In fact, getting assistance from home service providers is also no less of a burden on the pocket. Buying a steam cleaner is the only one-time monetary expense one has. After that, it is all about water and heat that does the job of cleaning up the carpet completely.
Absence of chemical residue – Steam cleaning requires just water or occasionally mild soap and detergent. There is no leftover fumes or chemical particles in the carpet to cause skin irritation or any other chemical-related harm. This makes steam cleaning a safer alternative.
Steam is generally extremely hot and has a maximum temperature of over the normal boiling point of water. This ensures that any kind of microbial growth is instantly killed and washed away when carpets are steam cleaned. So steam cleaning acts as a natural sterilizer for carpets. If the same was done by an external cleaning service, it would once again have cost a lot of money and potentially leave harsh chemical residues behind on the carpet.
Steam consists of water vapor that has a very high temperature. This allows for the steam to evaporate and results in faster drying of the carpet due to the leftover heat.
Vacuuming cannot always clean the dirt clogged within the carpet fiber tufts. However, the pressure created while steaming reaches deep within the carpet layers and helps dislodge the small dirt particles from deep down in carpet pile.
Super-heated steam can be perfect to break down grease, glues, paints and oil clogs that are deposited over a period of time within the carpet fibers. The broken particles are easier to liquidate and remove with super heated steam than any other alternate means of cleaning.
Where Else can the Steam Cleaner be Used?
Steam cleaning is not just effective in cleaning carpets, hard floors and clothing. Though there is a specific type and model of steam cleaner for nearly every different household cleaning project, many models are multi-purpose and have a multitude of applications.
- Drapes, curtains, sofas, and mattresses
- Pet beds and cages
- Hard flooring
- Wallpaper Removal
- Shoes and bags
- Children and pet toys
- Shower curtains
- Bathroom floors and tiles
- Cribs and bedding
- Couchs and sofa
- Rooftops, lawn and garden tiles
- Inner walls of the oven
- Kitchen appliances and utensils
Situations Where Steam Cleaning Should be Avoided
Though steam cleaning is a very versatile and all-round cleaning concept, it does have a few contraindications. Certain areas where steam cleaning is a strict no includes
- Electronic equipment and gadgets
- Freshly painted surfaces
- Any waxed or polished surface than cannot withstand high temperature and moisture
- Antique and expensive showpieces
- Wooden furniture
- Nylon meshed windows and door
- Expensive and delicate fabric that has a very low-temperature affinity
- Certain jewelry items that cannot withstand high heat
How Often Should I Steam Clean my Carpet?
Carpets, in general, have a high affinity towards dirt and grime. Vacuuming at least 2 to 3 times a week ensures that the carpet remains in good condition for a longer period of time.
In the case of steam cleaning carpet, it is best to do this at a minimum once every 12 months. The deposits on the carpet are easily removed if the carpets are steamed within this optimum period.
However, things are much more different if you have pets at home. Dogs and cats shed a lot of fur and it’s hard to convince them to wipe their paws at the door. Don’t even mention those who have a tendency to drool! Vacuuming the carpets daily will help in removing fur and dead skin particles from your carpet and prevent them from lodging deeper into the carpet fiber.
Steam cleaning in houses with pets should be done much more frequently. Steam cleaning the carpet once every 3 to 4 months ensures that any drool spots, urine and feces particles and dirt are all completely washed away from the carpet besides sterilizing it for safe future use.
If there is a smoker in the home, a regular steam clean every 3 or 4 months or even more often will help reduce those unpleasant lingering odours absorbed by carpets and remove the build-up of tar created when tobacco is burned.
How to Keep the Carpets Clean for a Longer Period when you have Pets at Home?
Pets are a wonderful addition to any family but they can also be the cause of a great deal of the dirt and bacteria in your home. Carpets in particular, get dirtier at a much faster rate when there is a pet included in your family. Here are a few tips to help you keep your carpets clean and have your furry best friend beside you at the same time:
Groom your pet outside every day to ensure there is the least amount of hair shed onto the carpet. Use a rubber bristle carpet comb every night to ensure that fine hairs are picked up. Vacuuming once a day removes the majority of the fur but rubber combs remove the finer hairs vacuuming doesn’t.
Accidents can happen even if your pet is toilet trained to do the deed outside. In such cases, immediately remove any solids and blot up excess moisture from urine with a terry cloth or super absorbent paper toweling. Once the excess moisture is removed, let the carpet dry out fully with an external heat or drying source like blower or dryer. Spray the area with ample amounts of vinegar diluted water to ensure there is no odor.
Choosing the Best Steam Cleaners for Carpet
In the last few years, steam cleaning of carpets has become a firm favorite among many home owners. It is a one-time investment with a long term monetary benefit. A huge amount of money and time can be saved as there is no need for cleaning service providers or harsh chemical alternatives.
Currently, the market is flooded with many carpet steam cleaners. With the success of the predecessor steam cleaners, new variants with multitudes of functionalities have reached the market.
The Top 5 Steam Cleaner for Carpets to look out for in 2023 includes
Steam Cleaning is the next generation innovative approach to cleaning. In fact, steam cleaners serve as a multipurpose cleaning device that cleans, sterilizes and deodorizes in a single step. Buying a steam cleaner for your carpet will not only help in maintaining the overall appearance of your carpet but also ensure that it is bacteria and dirt free for children and those allergy-prone family members in your home.