Steam Cleaning vs. Dry Cleaning

by | Apr 6, 2019

Steam Cleaning VS The “Dry” Carpet Cleaning Process Explained

When it comes to caring for your carpets, finding the best approach can often be a challenge. A simple Google search, and you’re treated to a barrage of opinions – on the one hand there’s the steam cleaning method, and on the other hand, are those who swear by the conventional dry cleaning method.

While they both have reasons to back up their claim, the most important question remains which is the best for you in your situation?  After all the longevity of your carpet (and the air quality in your home) depends on how well you take care of them.

First, what exactly is steam cleaning and dry cleaning?

  • Steam cleaning

From the name it’s easy to understand that this carpet cleaning method uses steam, i.e. hot pressurized water to get rid of dirt, but here’s how it works.

First, your carpet is vacuumed to remove all dirt and micro debris lodged in its crevices. Next, it is pre-treated with an organic citrus solution to do away with any stains or surface marks. This step also involves spraying a pre-steam solution that works to reduce the surface tension of your carpet. This step is essential to facilitate effective steam cleaning, it allows the solution to soak deep Into the carpet so the steam permeates the fibers. In its absence, the deep cleaning effect of steam is compromised.

Once these steps are completed the final stage is the actual treatment with steam. Usually, this is done by steaming hot water onto your carpet while vacuuming it out simultaneously.  Done properly it should take between 6 to 8 hour for your carpet to dry.

  • Dry cleaning

The name “dry” cleaning is sorta misleading. Contrary to what you might expect this cleaning method does use water, albeit in smaller volumes compared to steam cleaning. The prep process before the actual clean is similar to what is done in steam cleaning – vacuum cleaning and spot cleaning are all standard. The difference comes in the actual cleaning procedure.

First, a special cleaning solution is applied to your carpet.. This solution dissolves all debris that may be stuck in the carpet fibers.  Then with absorbent pads mounted on a rotary machine, this solution along with all of the dissolved dirt and stains are reabsorbed back into the rotary pad at high speeds.

Note that this machine typically spins at very high RPMs to generate the absorbtion back up Into the pads. Also note that the absorbent pads need to be changed when they become overly soiled.

Which method should you choose?

From the description, it’s easy to see that the dry cleaning method exerts more physical pressure on your carpet, something that can accelerate its normal wear and tear process. Absorbent pads on a dry cleaning machine operate at a very high RPM, paired with the fact that there’s relatively smaller amounts of water to reduce the friction, these pads stretch and overtime thin out the fibers of your carpets.

It’s similar to what happens when you use a brush to comb a carpet, notice how some fiber filaments stick to the brush? Now imagine this occurring at a much faster rate.

Steam cleaning, on the other hand, goes easy on your carpets ensuring they come out just as they were when they were new, free of all the dirt, debris and stains. The cleaning result from steam cleaning is miles ahead of dry cleaning when caring for your carpet.

This is because steam, which is essentially water vapor, has the inherent ability to reach even the tiniest spaces between the fibers of your carpet. Steam is also hot, and that allows it to cut through and dissolve dirt much like a hot knife cuts through butter. There’s no chemicals (and potentially toxic) element involved in the steam cleaning process, so you can rest easy knowing that you’re using what is the greenest path to cleaning your carpets.

For what it’s worth, however, it makes sense to point out that dry cleaned carpets expectedly dry faster than their steam cleaned counterparts.  A characterization that makes dry cleaning the ideal choice for carpets used in high traffic areas where carpets need to be washed and dried on the fly. That said, in residential homes and places that don’t necessarily entertain traffic that’s anywhere near what shopping malls accommodate, its best to stick with steam cleaning. Not only do you improve the longevity of your carpet you also get a shinier, more thorough result – the perfect complement to your interior decor.



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