How Does Steam Cleaning a Carpet Work?


There are many ways to clean a carpet, from using a chemical agent to making your own DIY cleaner. One of the most popular methods is steam cleaning, but when you think about it for a second, it seems like it wouldn’t actually work. Why would steam – really, really hot water in its gas form – work as a cleaning agent? Here’s what you need to know.

Heat Kills Bacteria and Allergens

The first way that steam cleaning works to clean your carpet is that the water is heated t about 360 degrees Fahrenheit with most steam cleaners. This high level of heat kills bacteria, allergens, mold, and fungus – all of which can cause stains or dingy areas on a carpet. Things like mold and pollen, especially, are known for making a carpet look faded. By killing these things, a steam cleaner gives your carpet a brand new look. It can also ensure that your carpet lasts longer by getting rid of fungus that would eventually destroy a rug.

Low Pressure Levels Blast Away Dirt

Another way that steam cleaners work to clean your carpet is by blasting away dirt with pressure. Most steam cleaners use a pressure of about 150 psi. This is different from chemical cleaners, which rely on chemicals to eat away at dirt. When air pressure is used to blast away dirt instead, your carpet fibers are safe from the chemicals that could also eat away at the fibers themselves.

Steam Cleaning Gets Deep

Cleaning chemicals only get as deep into the pile as you put them – meaning you’ll have to scrub hard to get to dirt that has settled. But because of the pressure and the fact that water will seep through the fibers, steam cleaning can get to the very bottom of the pile and work at dirt that is lodged down there. And as a bonus, because steam clean uses only water, there is less chance that any of the fibers will get discolored due to prolonged exposure to chemicals while you are scrubbing away trying to get to the bottom.

Concerns with Steam Cleaning

There are two main concerns with steam cleaning when it comes to your carpet or rug. The first is that it can take the carpet a lot longer to dry because of the amount of water you are using to clean with. If you can, lift the carpet up and let it get air both underneath and above during the drying process. The second concern is that a rug may dry with wrinkles in it after a steam clean. Be sure to put weights in the corners and brush the pile flat after a steam clean to prevent this.

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