Dry Carpet Cleaning vs. Steam Cleaning Methods

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Subject: Carpet cleaning

I just moved into a 'new to me' house with three bedrooms carpeted, and after reading the professionals debate in the comment section I think I shall get rid of the carpet and install hardwood or tile. Thanks for all those useful comments.


Subject: removing carpet

Removing the carpeting from your house would be removing the largest filter from your house. Carpeting traps dust particles that would otherwise be suspended in air continuously, making them more likely to be inhaled. Vacuum often and have your carpets cleaned by an IICRC professional once a year.

Patrick Kelley

Subject: Dry Carpet Cleaning vs Steam Cleaning

You left out the most portent fact. Most carpet manufactures recommend hot water extraction(steam clean) Truckmount.

Jeremy Barnes

Subject: Dry vs Wet

Patrick you are absolutely correct. This does not however exclude the benefits of dry cleaning methods. They are great interim cleaning methods and have many benefits. Just use the hot water extraction extraction every 12-18 months as part of your cleaning process.


Subject: Truck mounts units

What is important is the power head and suction lift. Seen many poorman units that are nothing but spray and suck. Best are powerhead units. However I am a big believer in dry cleaning. Seen some pretty dirty carpets look new again and stains DO NOT RETURN!


Subject: Footprints on carpet

I have recently had my woollen carpet steam cleaned. It is a thick pile. Unfortunately, now where ever I walk on it I leave behind footprints. Previous to the cleaning my vacuum cleaner did leave tracks and there were footprints which soon disappeared. Now however they stay. I have left the room for a whole week and the footprints are still there.

Is this the fault of the cleaning method?

Tom Triolo

Subject: Foot prints

It could be because after a carpet is cleaned, the fibers are "rejuvenated" thereby giving the carpet more spring. If that is the truth, then after a few months of wear/tear, it should return to where it was because the "rejuvenated" fiber is not quite as perky.

April Pinsonneault

Subject: steam cleaning

I always rented a "Steam Cleaning" machine from the grocery store or a vacuum repair shop to clean carpets. When I researched steam cleaners, recently, I discovered that a steam cleaner produces very little water and cleans with 90% steam. The tempertature begins at 245 degrees and goes up to about 345 degrees with the more expensive machines. The more I read on this forum, the more confused I become. I am new to this area and trying to understand it. A steam cleaning machine such as the rug doctor and water extraction methods seem to be the same but with different levels of heat -- such as that done from a truck or a professional extractor. What are those heavy duty machines that Dupray sells? They do not contain a vacuum or use water; they "steam clean" the carpet. I was thinking of starting a business but now I feel really intimidated by everyone's expertise on this forum (I understand that there is a great deal of responsibility cleaning someone's furnishings) and also by a lack of public awareness between steam cleaning and hot water extraction which is called steam cleaning. Maybe someone here can unravel the mystery for me.


Subject: Steam Cleaning

Hi April,
Here is where the confusion lies. The author was trying to express that hot water extraction has, for a long time, been called steam cleaning. Here is where things get a little tricky.. but not too much so don't worry.
Water changes phases (goes from liquid to gas) at 214 degrees Farenheit (Most heaters can be dialed down to lower temperature. this is important and will be explained in the Steam Cleaning part of the answer). That means that anytime you are heating water to that temperature.. steam is in fact being created. Hot water extractors have heaters that do heat the water to that level and therefore do contain some steam. Heat is necessary for two reasons: 1) They give energy to the system and help break down the bonds between dirt/grease and the carpet. 2) Drying time.
Steam Cleaners on the other hand use boilers that create steam and rely on this heat to break the grease down. I personally see two big problems with Steam: 1) Many carpets can not be cleaned at temperatures above 150 degrees Farenheit. 2) Breaking down grease is not the same thing as removing it. Water provides a great medium to flush out dirt/grease that is in the carpet.
The is a third option that is not discussed here and that you should really look into. Encapsulation cleaning has make great advances in chemical technology over the past 10 years and is a much simpler system. Something you should really look into. If you plan on opening a company... spend time on education.. good equipment.. and the best chemicals you can find. Good Luck

Ron Sever

Subject: Steam Cleaning vs. Dry Steam Cleaning

Hi April,
I just read your comment and I am as confused. But I think the article is misleading for the exact reason you brought up: products like the steam cleaners offered by Dupray claim to be 95% dry steam; using only 5% water. The premise being that the high pressure and high heat do all the cleaning and sanitizing with little water and no need for chemicals. Thus very fast to almost instant drying times and no detergents to extract. This is also something I am contemplating as a business. Perhaps the industry just hasn't caught up with dry steam cleaning? I can't seem to find the information to compare... so good luck, and don't be discouraged. Ask lots of questions and go with your gut. I personally have no experience yet...but I am thinking of diving in. If in fact this becomes a business for either of us, I think we have a long and hard road ahead of us explaining the difference between the "steam cleaners". Rug Doctor, for instance, is hardly a "steam cleaner", it uses just hot water as the article above mentions. Cheers. Ron

Paul Barbie

Subject: Dry versus hot water extraction

We clean with temperature controlled hot water extraction, truck mounted equipment. The dry process or bonnet process are a joke in my opinion as we are called regularly to reclean carpeting recently (attempted) cleaned by those processes. Some customers so upset that they refused to pay or stopped payment on their check. The amount of pet hair and fine sand clogs our filters after re cleaning those carpets. We also use rotary cleaning equipment on the carpet, Google Roto Vac 360i or RX 20 by Hydromaster. They give phenomenal results that lead to numerous referrals.


Subject: Dry vs wet


You must not be a long time carpet cleaner. I use encap and have stolen so much business the hot water guys in my area try to buy me out monthly. Steam is 100 years old for a reason. It's outdated


Subject: which is best dry or steam

I believe both have there place depending on the customers situation and technology in clean Iing has come along way . And that's why we don't put a 500 dollar suit in the washing machine or dry clean the engine in our car when done properly both methods imo have there place every industry has simalar debates. Training and education and integrity always prevails. Good dayi

True Dry Carpet Cleaning

Subject: Dry is Best

The article writer was spot on until he/she added the words "harsh chemicals" with Dry Cleaning.

There is no such thing as harsh chemicals in the Organic Host Cleaning method and other similar methods.

There COULD BE "harsh" chemicals in dry foam and soil encapsulation cleaners- I suggest you run from "dry" foam and keep an open mind to soil encapsulation cleaners combined with a Host type compound.

But the debate is really between the Hot Extraction and Host Dry Extraction type industries.


1) Your carpet is constructed with water salable glues.
2) Water salable glues are turned to mush with Heat, Water and continued moisture.
3) Steam is "Manufacture Recommended".
4) Many of these carpet manufactures make the carpet and own the largest cleaning franchises.
5) They make em, they destroy them with hot water and you buy more.

Host carpet cleaning used to be endorsed by virtually EVERY carpet manufacture in the world until a certain large cooperation decided to start up a large house hold name franchise cleaning service.


Hot Steam Cleaning does have it's place commercially.
* The same technology could be used for degreasing a diesel engine

But do you really believe above boiling temperature hot water is not going to melt your carpet and compromise its structural integrity?

Dry Cleaning is not a perfect system (carpet cleaning is after all a dirty businesses)- but it is the best system there is for your RESIDENTIAL carpet cleaning needs.


Subject: Steam Team!

We own a 50 year old flooring company teamed with a 70 year old carpet cleaning company! We have the pleasure of going behind these so called dry cleaners every week of the year. The bottom line is if your cleaner pulls up to your home and doesn't have a machine in their truck to rinse chemicals out just tell them to leave! Steam Cleaning is the only method tried and true over the years that is backed by every carpet manufacturer in America to keep your warranty! 70 years and counting... we've cleaned rugs since 1945 and carpet since the mills started producing in the 60s. Steam is the way to go. No question about it.


Subject: Dry vs wet

Of course carpet companies recommend it. It destroys carpets. Steam is a joke for residential


Subject: carpet and sofa cleaning

You indicated there should be a truck mount. How do you handle a 3rd floor apt. situation?

fritz rench

Subject: dry extraction carpet cleaning

Our product Host was mentioned. A couple of
statements made by others need correction:

...Host "Sponges" (compound) contains water,
a small amount of encapsulation chemistry
and no volatile organics (VOCs).

...All carpet cleaning systems leave a residue
after cleaning. Host particle residue is
crisp..that is, it is dry, and retards re-soiling.

...Host is formulated to be effective on all soiling
conditions...from spots to trashed carpet,
without wick-back.

Vitali w/Heavenly Clean

Subject: It's not about DRY or WET IT IS ABOUT ETHICS

15+ years in the business myself I only do hot water extraction, steam clean what my & your current and future customers call it. I can clean as often as I want any and all carpet as long as I use proper chemical to pre-spray then rinse using a rinse solution with deodorant & water. Don't have to tell anyone it has to be steam cleaned because It has been dry cleaned to a point where it needs the other method then can continue with dry method. But it is true BOTH methods are proper it is up to the consumer and what preference they prefer. Why argue over something so foolish. Did you all know if you research the total # of homes which includes all types including both residential & commercial for every single tech here in the USA there are an estimated 5,000 single units / jobs that can be done yearly again that's per 1 tech. I say thank you GOD you made it to where each of us has enough work year after year. Use proper knowledge & sense " if you are a true professional individual / company you will profit. The ones that hurt this business and any business is the ones who have prices/cost that are not realistic & amature charging less just to trick and fool customers & consumers there the ones who we should teach & make them understand that isn't called business at least I wouldn't call it that, I call it misleading and shady. You know who you are, don't tell me that it is normal business practice. The best to all of you and nothing but success & happiness to the pros. Charge what you are worth


Subject: Research

Where did you find this information on 5000 per tech per year? How many techs are there in the US?

Kelly Mulligan

Subject: Low Moisture is the Way of the Future

We used to be steam cleaners years ago and researched every method and product to find the best in today's industry. We decided on the low moisture, oxygenated citrus cleaner with the oscillating brush and bonnet method. We were shown every different process by every major carpet cleaning company out there, and saw the results with our own eyes. Then we bought an existing company that did low moisture cleaning and improved on the product and method. We have not found any stain that we cannot remove, and we re-clean successfully steam cleaning jobs all of the time. The low moisture process is the way to go for the future!


Subject: Bonnet cleaning

I believe Bonnet cleaning voids the manufactures warranty. Manufactures want Hot Water Extraction "steam" by a professional. Also bonnets breakdown and untwist the fiber. The heavy agitation with a buffer when a lot of dry soil is still in the carpet, is really aggressive on the carpet. An upright vacuum only removes so much. The vacuum on a truck mount steam cleaning machine is the way to go. Cleaners have to rinse the sand out of their waste tanks weekly ,cause it's insoluble. Dry cleaning and rental machines leave the dry soil behind. Dry soil causes carpets to ugly out, that's why I think manufactures don't like other methods.





Subject: Carpet cleaning - Best method

I suggest you try both methods (dry vs. steam cleaning) and go for what works for you,


Subject: Carpet Cleaners Sydney

Both methods have their Pros and Cons. It depends upon the carpet's fibers. Check with the carpet manufacturer for recommendations.

Carpet Cleaning Adelaide

Subject: I think both has its role in

I think both has its role in cleaning carpet. As mentioned by steam vs dry, dry cleaning method for agetation and steam cleaning for extraction.

Dave Weidlich

Subject: Dry Cleaning Your Carpet

Thanks for the helpful article on carpet cleaning. I would add that a common method for dry cleaning carpet and area rugs is Host, which is made of organic, all-natural products and is not harmful for rug or carpet fibers. One should never use steam (hot water extraction) on a natural fiber rug. An additional advantage of dry cleaning for carpet and rugs is the water savings. We're in another drought here in California and folks should know they can save 40-70 gallons of water by using a dry carpet cleaner.
Most areas of the U.S. have a Host dry carpet cleaner and, if you're inclined, you can rent a machine and do the work yourself. Look it up.


Subject: steam v dry

Guys there are industry standards put in place, the world standard of carpet cleaning is pretty clear, involving fiber identification, vacuming, application of chemical, agetation of chemical, extraction via steam clean finally carpet grooming.
This can combine dry cleaning method for agetation and steam cleaning for extraction. Its just that a lot of cleaners have not even done the basic technician training with iicrc and are not awear.
However i have done a ton of research on encapuslation cleaning, this method is breaking barriers. i had m carpet cleaned using it, great job! there are even green chemicals available. However it is recommended that you should use this method only up to four times on the carpet before hot water extract.
Play nice:)

Demetria Covington

Subject: carpet cleaning

Which method is the best,safe and more effective way of cleaning carpet?

Carpet cleaning

Subject: This is the most important

This is the most important things


Subject: Carpet cleaning methods

I have been in high end cleaning for over 35 years. I also have engineering major and a chemistry minor from a very prominent university. Hot water extraction is the most thorough at getting more dirt and stains out with a neutral rinse afterwards...Anyone that knows stains realizes the pH factor. In other words not all stains will come out with one chemical. You must chemically neutralize stains then rinse with a neutral rinse. The most thorough cleaning is by using a truck-mount unit that is being maintained properly. An analogy-do you put your day to day clothes in the washing machine without a rinse afterwards?


Subject: Absolutely Correct

I'm also in the carpet cleaning industry and from experience there are certain stains and such that will not come out with our normal pH balanced chemical. Pet urine stains for instance require us to use a bio enzyme that eats away at the proteins in the stain and works as it dries. We also use a different chemical for odors. One difference, however, is that we do not use truck mounts and still achieve excellent results.


Subject: dry cleaning carpet

I have just had my carpets dry cleaned by a professional cleaning company. He could not remove several staines because " the carpet is old". I have a vax-machine so I had a go at the staines. The staines did not improve, but i got a lot of grit and muddy water out of the carpet. It was filthy. I rang the carpet cleaner that i was not happy with the job he did, but he again said " it is an old carpet". The carpet is 20 years old, but what has that to do with leaving grit and soil after he did his job? Is that what dry cleaning does? He did not extract any dirt as far as i can see. Was i taken for a ride??

True Dry Carpet Cleaning

Subject: Dry Cleaner Results

Any carpet cleaner, and yes even a home model, could pull something out of a carpet after another cleaner; any cleaner. Something would have come out after a wet cleaner also.

Your carpet is twenty years old. A true dry cleaner would clean the carper down to the backing- and whatever soil is below the backing was put there by a wet method.

You simply created a puddle with your cheap home cleaner and sucked out twenty years of wet cleaner residues.

All cleaning systems have some type of residue. A detective would likely be able to determine who or what cleaner was used on the murdered victim's carpets the day of the murder.

If it were a Host Dry Cleaner's residue he/she would surely be suspect. But a wet cleaner would also be found out with a simple forensic investigation.

However, spots that reappear are not usually associated with Dry Cleaning. Spots reappearing is almost always the result of wet cleaning.

You mentioned "granulars".

Traces of the Host Cleaner (and similar) compounds will remain in your carpets- but they are harmless and are vacuumed out eventually. No need to be alarmed.

Conclusion: I use the Host Cleaning Method and spots (once gone) do not return.


Subject: He did a bad job!!!!

I'm a carpet cleaner specializing specifically in wet extraction. Now I've worked on carpets older than yours and yes there are some stains and such, especially high traffic areas, that sometimes are impossible to remove. But, that being said, I have never left a job where there was still dirt and grime left in the carpet. And I've cleaned some really dirty rugs! In my opinion, I think the tech just did not want to "get his hands dirty" ,so to speak. If I see an area where there is a stain or high traffic areas with dirt I'll use a pre-cleaning soil releasing spray before I clean like normal. Then I'll vigorously clean that with the wand as much as needed and then suck it up with as many passes as needed, you don't want to over-wet the carpet. Especially white carpet in humid areas. The carpet can brown up, but there are neutralizers that can remedy that. Now I'm getting off topic, the point I'm trying to make is I don't think he did that good of a job. And if he didn't go back to fix it, chances are he took you for a ride. I would never use him again. I've never been a fan of the dry cleaning method. I think, in my opinion from experience, that wet extraction works best if done correctly.

Brent Versendaal

Subject: Which method is best?

If you've read through the comments here you can tell there is a heated debate in the carpet cleaning industry about which method is best. At All Seasons Carpet Cleaning we understand that all cleaning methods have their place when properly used. In fact, we use several different methods on a regular basis. We make the decision with the customer based on what is best for them. I will confess that we primarily use the hot water extraction method, but we keep our minds open to what is best for the situation.

I recommend that you stay clear of anyone who dogmatically states that their method is best and that all others are methods are ineffective and maybe even dangerous to your carpet or even yourself. Educate yourself and ask questions. Then you'll make the right decision for you and your carpet.


Subject: Carpet cleaning - steam vs dry

The comment submitted by Steve is fuilled with misleading information. There are over 100 carpet manufacturers that recommend dry extraction over steam of hot water cleaning. Any carpet cleaning performed with water over 160 degress damages the carpet by opening dye ports that hold in the color, loosens the taped seams, and promotes shrinkage. I have used both methods in the 15 years I have been cleaning carpet professionally and I would never use the hot water wet extraction again except in very small areas where there is no foot traffice for at least 12 hours.


Subject: Carpet Cleaning- Steam vs. Dry

Having professionally cleaned carpets since 1993 I know of zero US residential carpet manufacturers that recommends dry cleaning method over steam cleaning. All recommend "hot water extraction" to properly remove soil and clean residential carpet. Exception is wool based carpet.

Dry cleaning is like washing your hair with soap but instead of rinsing clean with water you use a vacuum cleaner in attempt to suck out and remove the soap... just doesn't work very well plus too much chemical is left behind.

We recommend our residential customers use 212 degree high temperature steam clean method with deodorizer included followed by a neutral steam rinse to get the very best results. The higher the temperature that is used for cleaning the better as this allows for lower chemical use and faster drying time as well. Good steam cleaning drying time depends on moisture and humidity in the air but typically between 4 and 8 hours for truckmounts and 8 to 16 hours for high powered portable carpet cleaners.

Very dirty carpets that can be restored will need rotary shampoo process added to steam cleaning to fully remove tougher stains. Look for a company in your area that offers this extra step if needed for your carpet.

Home carpet cleaning machines are great for in between professional cleaning but do not substitute for a deep cleaning offered by most companies. You must have a heating element in your home unit to boost water temperature to effectively work well.

Joe M

Subject: Carpet Cleaning

Your information is flawed in regards to carpet cleaning. True there is steam cleaning and dry cleaning. There is also what is called low moisture cleaning. Low moisture cleaning is where a chemical is sprayed onto the carpet then using a pad machine and a cotton bonett the carpet is extracted. This is a very popular way to clean residential and commercial carpets. Please do some research before you make statements.

Mike Carpet

Subject: Interesting View

The process you describe as low moisture cleaning is dry cleaning. Here's the issue - the bonnet pushes the soil deeper in the carpet. In suspension the job looks great, but the traffic area soil gets walked right back to the top in days. Dry cleaning should be limited to fabrics that can be cleaned no other way. Just because Home Depot climbed into bed with Chem Dry doesn't give the method any more credibility than it had before. No carpet cleaning method, steam, beating or otherwise cleans 100% of the soil. The best cleaner simply cleans to an expectation. Right after a cleaning, take a white cloth and rub it between the carpet fibers good and firm, you will come up with evidence of soil unless the carpet was just laid. As soon as a room is steam cleaned judicious use of a hurricane fan can dry the top of the carpet. First this gets the drying, which happens from the bottom to the top started, second, this method limits wicking. While I recommend steam cleaning, I also use OMS as a cleaning tool as needed - it can get a black magnum market stain out of a white carpet. Any way, all of the methods do have some science of preference behind them, and gang, lets be honest, the best versions of products available are the ones you sell, right?

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RUN, don't catwalk away !

If there is a strong urine smell, you have to assume their realtor noticed it even if they were acclimated to it and had them clean the carpets so there would be a chance of selling it. The fact there is still strong odor means it has saturated walls, run down behind baseboards, saturated carpet and mat and subfloor, etc.

Short of a total strip-down of all flooring and baseboards, shelves, mantles, etc and complete sanitizing and chlorine bleach treatment of thereby exposed surfaces followed by repainting and reflooring, you don't have a prayer of getting rid of it. If they let their cats spray and urinate in the house they probably did it all over the house, not in one area, as cats tend to want to go to the bathroom in a "clean" area, not in one fixed spot like dogs.

You are looking at probably $20,000 to get rid of the smell for sure, and even then if the house gets humid in rainy or hot sticky summer weather, the smell could come back out of subflooring, etc.

There are a lot of houses out there - I would bet you looked at this one with intent to buy because it was cheap compared to the competition - well, now you know why, and if you buy it I bet you will know why again every time you come into the house, and get run over by the same train when YOU try to sell it.

Just walk away.


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