clean carpet - Steam Cleaning Carpet vs Chem Dry

Steam Cleaning Carpet vs Chem Dry: Which One is the Better Option?

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One kills the dirt using steam under pressure, and the other uses, well, chemicals. But what about the results of steam cleaning carpet vs chem dry?

Like steam cleaning, chem-dry also aims at giving you the best carpet cleaning results in the fastest and most effective way possible.

But, how will chem-dry hold down when compared against the much-loved carpet steam cleaning? Is it really better at grooming your carpet as some say?

Stick around and find out which of the two offers the best cleaning solution for your carpet!


What is chem dry?

In this method, millions of carbonated microscopic bubbles are sent into your carpet fibers with the help of a rotating brush. These tiny bubbles then explode and send the dirt up to be sucked back out of the carpet.

This method, introduced and branded by the Chem Dry franchise, is also referred to as hot carbonating extraction.

Chem-dry uses less water as it depends more on the carbonated cleaning solution. It means that it also has a shorter drying time compared to steam cleaning – which makes it an ideal cleaning alternative for fast touch-ups.


  • Faster drying for your carpet.
  • Effective for light to moderate carpet cleaning.
  • Uses less water than in steam cleaning.


  • The microscopic bubbles are not effective in cleaning the deeper layers of your carpet.
  • Can leave your carpet permanently stained.
  • Leaves chemical residue on your carpet that can affect pests and children with breathing problems.
  • Might need the help of other cleaning methods to give optimum results.

What about steam cleaning?

Steam cleaning has been widely hailed as being better than most dry cleaning processes.

It works by passing ultra-heated jets of steam over your carpet to break, dislodge, and lift filth from the depths of its inner layers. This method has stood many tests and provides one of the best deep cleanings for carpets that you’ll ever come across.

steam cleaning vacuum

Compared to chem-dry, steam cleaning uses more water but works better to remove stains and all other muck up from the roots to the tip of your carpet’s fibers.

The best thing about it is that you can use steam cleaning to sterilize multiple surfaces since the heated steam can break down germs and bacteria in a breeze.


  • Quick cleaning time with results.
  • Eco-friendly as it does not include chemicals that could harm you or the environment.
  • Offers the best deep-cleaning experience.
  • Effective against tough stains.
  • Great for sterilizing multiple surfaces.


  • Drying takes a bit longer.
  • Uses more water.

Does steam cleaning carpets encourage mold and mildew growth?

There’s a wild myth going around suggesting that steam cleaning leads to the growth of mold or mildew on your carpet.

Well, this is NOT entirely true!

What is true is that your carpet is always bound to catch a foul smell, mold, or mildew only when you start walking all over it before it completely dries. It doesn’t matter whether you use chem dry or steam cleaning.

Just ensure that you let your carpet dry off completely before putting back furniture and other items on top of it. Otherwise, you’ll also stand a risk of your carpet attracting very fast dust build-ups.

Note: If, for whatever reason, you’re in a hurry for your carpet to dry, leave your windows open to promote more airflow for your carpet to dry faster. Check out more tips to help dry your carpet!

What is better – steam cleaning or chem dry?

Steam cleaning still holds down the fort when it comes to finding the best cleaning and care for your carpet.

The hot jets of steam give the real definition of a deep clean as they penetrate down to the roots of your carpet’s fibers… It leaves no rock (or debris, in this case) unturned!

As hot carbonating extraction solely depends on the ‘explosion of carbonated bubbles’ to remove dirt and grime, most of the time, it fails to take care of the deep-seated stains found at the base of your carpet.

red wine getting spilled on carpet
… such as THESE stains.

From a point of experience, I’d recommend chem dry for carpets that only need lightweight cleaning or superficial dirt removal.

I mean, sure, steam cleaning uses more water, but this doesn’t really translate to you facing a mold or mildew infestation with each use!

The thing is, if you get your steam cleaning process right and give your carpet enough time to dry, then you have nada to worry about. More especially if you get a steam cleaner that’s powerful enough to handle the type of carpet you have!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are chemically-dried carpets completely dry after cleaning?

The name might lead you to think otherwise. But the truth is, chemically dried carpets are NOT completely dry after cleaning.

Although chem-dry uses less water, there’s still some moisture residue that sticks around your carpet’s fibers after the cleaning process. Therefore, you must leave your carpet unbothered after cleaning to allow any residual moisture to completely evaporate and dry out.

Another thing is that since chem-dry uses chemicals as part of the active ingredient, you’ll have to ensure that all the chemical vapor has dispersed. This is especially when you have infants and pests that could easily get affected when they inhale such fumes.

What is the main difference between a hot carbonating extraction vs steam cleaning?

Steam cleaning solely uses ultra-heated water to produce extremely hot vapor for cleaning. This super-heated vapor is then pressed over your carpet to give it a thorough cleaning that leaves it rejuvenated with a fresher look.

On the other hand, hot carbonating extraction uses little water with a mix of carbonated cleaning solutions. The carbonated solution is always released in form of small bubbles that burst inside your carpet fibers to spring dirt and grime up the surface for suction.

Is chem-dry good at removing tough stains?

Not so much. The hot carbonated stuff just doesn’t work well for heavy-duty cleaning.

Chem-dry excels at removing upper debris and looser dirt situated inside your carpet. Stain removal requires a level of moisture that is just not forthcoming from chem dryers.

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