Is Steam Cleaning Carpet Better Than Shampooing

Is Steam Cleaning Carpet Better Than Shampooing?

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Here’s a question to start with: Is your carpet heavily-soiled or lightly-soiled? Your answer will judge the best method to use.

Steam cleaning is a cleaning method that has arrived in the market only recently, while shampooing has been used for many years.

So which method is genuinely more effective for your carpet? We’ll help you find a solution that works best against your carpet problem.

If you’re looking for tips, be sure to read our step-by-step guide about how to steam clean carpet.

But first…

What is Steam Cleaning?

Steam cleaning uses hot water vapor to clean, sanitize, and remove grime, dirt, mold, pests, and even flea eggs.

Steam cleaning a carpet using hot water vapor

Now, wait a minute. How does hot water remove dirt compared to using a detergent or cleaning solution?

Truth is, steam cleaners don’t just use heat and high-pressure water to remove dirt. The heat and high pressure do immensely help and, in fact, loosen the soil in your carpets and floors, which makes it easier to remove dirt.

There is, however, a small amount of detergent or liquid solution used along with steam cleaning.

Most people regard steam cleaning as chemical-free; however, this is only because it doesn’t use harmful chemicals that would otherwise pose health risks as other cleaning solutions provide.

Steam cleaning also uses a vacuum and pump to absorb the dirt easily. Combined with extreme heat, this makes it a powerful system for removing almost any kind of dirt.

What is Shampooing?

Shampooing carpets are very much similar to steam cleaning. It also uses high temperatures and pressure combined with a detergent to remove dirt, grime, etc.

Shampooing carpets

Shampooing carpets come in two ways: wet carpet and dry carpet cleaning. Between the two dry carpet cleaning is more efficient and less of a hassle.

Dry carpet cleaning uses a dry foam cleaning agent, so you don’t have to wait long to use your carpet after it’s been cleaned.

The drawback of dry carpet cleaning is that it uses less detergent and less water, meaning it does not deeply clean carpets than wet carpet cleaning.

Steam Cleaning Carpets vs Shampooing: 4 Factors to Look Into


Steam Cleaning

With the help of hot water and powerful suction, dirt is easily removed from your carpet. Steam cleaning is also especially effective against mold, mildew, pests, bed bugs, and flea eggs.

Using steam as your preferred cleaning method allows for a deep clean to remove any stubborn stains such as grime and is even more effective against wall carpets.


Shampooing also provides a deep clean solution and uses a chemical detergent as its main element of removing dirt, stains, and grime.

Although shampooing is effective against mold and mildew, cleaning pests may be a problem. The shampoo used does clean the pests; however, the eggs usually remain in your carpet.

Furthermore, even though it provides a deep clean method, shampooing has a tendency of damaging the carpet fibers over time.

Winner: Steam Cleaning. Both use high-temperature water and detergent to clean the carpet. Steam cleaners have the added advantage of providing an even deeper clean when it comes to bed bugs and flea eggs. In addition, it doesn’t damage your carpet fibers either.

Cleaning Time

Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaners use high-temperature water vapor, which results in less moisture and improved drying time. Rather than wait for two days to use your carpet again, doing carpet steam doesn’t make your carpets wet and moist.

At best, you’ll only have to wait 12 to 24 hours until you can use your carpet again. If your carpet does not have any deep stains or serious dirt, having your carpet steam cleaned will only require minimal drying time.


As mentioned earlier, shampooing offers two methods: wet and dry carpet cleaning. Using the former will result in longer drying time; however, the latter will result in hardly any waiting time at all.

Cleaning carpet with shampoo

This is where it outperforms when cleaning carpets. The dry method saves you time and effort while still providing your carpet with adequate cleaning experience.

Winner: Shampooing. Using a steam cleaner vs. shampooing isn’t that much of a difference when it comes to drying time. Needless to say, shampooing still stands on top because the dry method would mean virtually no waiting time whatsoever.


Steam Cleaning

Using a steam cleaner is entirely safe. Steam cleaning carpets use a small amount of detergent and mostly water to rid your carpet of any stains, grime, mold, dust particles, and dirt.

Although some detergent is used, these aren’t harmful to your health, and neither do they pose health risks for your pets as well. Also, you won’t have to deal with any unpleasant chemical smell using a steam cleaner.

What’s more, is that those who suffer from allergy and asthma can even benefit more with a steam cleaner.


Shampooing uses shampoo as the main element or detergent to clean. It also uses an added chemical agent and sanitizer that may not be safe for pets or anyone in the area.

Most chemical agents contain naphthalene, a toxic fume that is harmful, especially for children who enjoy playing on your carpet. It can even cause kidney and liver damage if exposed to long enough.

Winner: Steam Cleaning. Compared to shampooing, steam cleaning carpets do not carry harmful chemicals that pose health risks to you, your child, or your pets, making it the clear winner in this factor.


Steam Cleaning

You only need water and electricity to run a steam cleaner, which also means it’s a lot more affordable than using a variety of chemical agents.

Carpet cleaning with steamer

You also don’t need to hire a professional when it comes to steam cleaning carpets. This saves you a lot of time and costs long-term.


Most cleaning jobs that use shampoo will require the service of a professional. This is because shampooing requires considerable experience to maintain your carpet’s condition.

Since the extraction method is also extensive, it isn’t recommended to do this DIY. Doing so will only damage your carpet, and worse, you might miss a few areas in your carpet that require a thorough, more experienced process.

Winner: Steam Cleaning. Unlike shampooing, steam cleaners don’t require a considerable investment in machine use, nor do you need to hire a professional. Steam cleaners are relatively affordable compared to most cleaners offered in the market.

Steam Cleaning Carpets vs Shampooing: Which is More Effective?

After looking at the different factors of carpet cleaning, steam is the clear winner of this debate. That doesn’t mean using shampoo on your carpet is the wrong decision.

Both have their respective strengths and carpet cleaning effectiveness. Both are also reputable and reliable in the field of carpet cleaning.

What’s more important is the kind of carpet you have at home and the type of job you need to clean your carpet.

This brings us to the question we asked you earlier at the start: Is your carpet heavily-soiled or lightly soiled?

Steam Cleaning Carpets vs Shampooing – Choosing the Right Method

Cleaning a white carpet with steam cleaner

If your carpet is heavy-soiled or stained, it’s best to use shampoo to carry the job effectively. If your carpet is lightly-soiled and doesn’t have as many stains, steam would be the best solution.

That said, shampoo offers carpet cleaning if you’re looking for a heavy cleaning job and will most likely require you to do this quarterly.

As for steam, the most significant advantage is delivering consistent maintenance to prevent any high buildup of dirt, mold, and grime in your carpets.

Using steam will also reduce the likelihood of your carpets needing to go for heavy cleaning jobs as often since you can use your steam cleaner without worrying about destroying your carpet fibers or inhaling harmful chemicals.

Since both use hot water to clean your carpet, you can be sure either of which will get the job sufficiently.

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