how to pretreat carpet before steam cleaning

How to Pretreat Carpet Before Steam Cleaning – An Easy 4-Step Guide

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Getting a carpet thoroughly clean with a steam cleaner can turn into a daylong nightmare if you approach this task in “how hard could it be – it’s a CARPET not a spaceship” manner. 

Still, don’t make the mistake of skipping the pretreating phase!

Read on to find out the 4 easy steps that you must follow in order to get the best result when embarking on a steam cleaning preparation quest against the dirt stuck in your carpet.

On to the main question: how long is the entire process going to take? It depends almost entirely on how well you prepare the carpet for the steam cleaner.

You NEED to do these four things before you can let steam work it’s magic and I’m going to explain the whys of each:

  1. Clearing the terrain
  2. Dusting
  3. Vacuuming, and
  4. Stain removal pre-treatment.

Clearing the Terrain

cluttered room full of furniture
You’ll need to clear THIS terrain too!

Unless you’re Marie Kondo, you’ll hate this step. Alas, it must be done. Removing everything from the carpet makes the steam cleaner happy!

Plus you might get lucky and (finally!) find the remote.

Joking aside, the reason why you have to clear the room where you plan to perform steam cleaning is of a practical nature.

Namely, you don’t want to run the steam cleaner over and around various objects that may be covering layers of the very same dirt you want to remove.

So get down to business and remove all the furniture. 

This will only make you discover that there is even more stuff to remove if you want this steam cleaning thing to be done right.

So pick up all the toys, coins, socks… Everything that might interfere with the straight long swipes you’ll be doing with the steam cleaner later MUST GO.

“Go where”, you might be wondering now. 

Use your imagination! No one ever said that steam cleaning is a workout that burns calories. It’s just that cleaning activates only your back muscles. And you need to shake up the brain matter sometimes, too.

You Can’t Run Away from This: Dusting for Perfection

how to pretreat before steam cleaning
Dust it, dust away; dust it everyday

Baseboards accumulate dust like anything else in your home: in secret.

If you leave baseboards unattended, you might start to wonder if steam cleaning is even good for your carpet

Although steam cleaning is, at least for me, the next best thing since sliced bread, if you do not properly pretreat the area you want to steam clean, you will end up just doing it all over again. (Yaaay?)

For the best effect of steam cleaning, try to get as much dust from your baseboards by using a cloth you previously poured some wood polish over. This will prevent dust from falling onto the carpet if steam gets to it. 

Steam cleaner will treat your carpet nicely, but if dust gets between the two, it will make smudges and stains. And that’s the enemy we’ve been preparing to fight here this whole time, right?

Vacuuming Before Steam Cleaning: a Bare Necessity

For the same reason you’ve been cleaning your skirting boards vigorously by now, you need to vacuum with great detail before steam cleaning the carpet in the room in question.

Steam gets deep into your carpet’s fibers. The lower layers hold the most dirt which, when in contact with high pressure hot steam, becomes loose. Normally, you can wipe loosened dirt particles off easily with the microfiber cloth or an appropriate steam cleaner’s extension.

But what if the amount of dust is extensive (like it always is)?

If you don’t vacuum first, smudges and stains from the previous step in carpet’s preparation for steam cleaning, will strike again.

To cut a long(er) story short: vacuum before steam cleaning your carpet. No discussion.

Enter Chemicals: What to Spray Over a Stain to be Sure the Steam Cleaner Will Get It Out Later

best way to pretreat carpet before steam cleaning
Get the stains out from under those guilty paws

Some stains have a mind of their own. If they decide to settle in the spot you least can bear to see them, they just won’t come out. 

Steam cleaning takes care of most persistent stains. IF you play your cards right.

Wine, blood, food stains and the ones based on grease are the hardest to get out, and even your average home steam cleaning device will not win the battle against them without reliable allies. 

Depending on what material your carpet is made out, you’ll need to choose the correct stain removal solution. Carpets can be made from a variety of materials from wool to synthetic fibers, and not all of these materials should be treated the same.

Since this is the case, you should read the label and apply only the solution that will not do damage to your carpet’s fibers. And do that BEFORE you start the steam cleaner.

A good thing about these chemicals is that they mostly come in ready-made state and in a sprayer package, so it’s really easy to be precise in attending to the stain. 

Leave the solution to treat the stain just as much time the manufacturer recommended and then blot it with a clean cloth. The former stain is now ready to disappear completely under pressured steam.

If you follow this guide correctly and make a habit out of pretreating carpets, you have my blessing to brag to your friends that you have found THE best way to pretreat a carpet before steam cleaning.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Pretreat Carpet Before Steam Cleaning 

Can steam cleaning damage my carpet?

If you’re a newbie to steam cleaning, you’re probably going around about it with this logic: “steam cleaners produce high heat, isn’t that going to damage my carpet’s fibers?” 

I’ve written an article on how hot do steam cleaners get. But to cut a long story short, the answer to your question is NO. Steam cleaning shall not harm your carpet.

This is because steam cleaning devices produce temperatures that effectively kill all kinds of germs, but are still gentle on your rug. Some steam cleaners have a setting that even allows you to choose a lower temperature so you could clean the most delicate surfaces without a care in the world. 

After all, do a test: use a steam cleaner on a hidden part of your carpet and see what happens.

(Spoiler alert: Nothing bad will happen. But you won’t trust me until you see it with your own eyes.)

Hardwood floors, leather upholstery, and even antique furniture can be successfully cleaned with a steam cleaner.

Do I need to vacuum again AFTER steam cleaning?

You’ve let off some steam (wink), everything is now fresh and looking almost brand new. 

To complete the process, let the carpet dry completely, and try not to step on it while it does.

When every part of your carpet is dry, go over it with a vacuum cleaner. If there’s any dirt left, this is the way to ensure that it gets removed. 

If you vacuum after steam cleaning you’ll get a feeling like a professional cleaning service just took care of your carpet, but still it was just YOU. What a sense of accomplishment, don’t you think?

How do I choose the right type of steam cleaner for my home?

There is a list of things you need to consider when buying a steam cleaner. But when this joyful event in your life is about to happen, the rule of thumb is: more is better.

Choose a steam cleaner that has higher wattage, more water capacity and many multipurpose extensions. All these things ensure a better result after steam cleaning is done: a safer and healthier environment for you and your family.

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