Steam Carpet Cleaning

This process involves hot water being fed to a spray-extraction tool or wand, this is coupled to a pump-vacuum power unit. The cleaning solution is injected under pressure into the carpet through water-jet nozzles. This water penetrates the fibers all the way down to the primary backing. This action loosens embedded soils, removes oil and grease deposits, re-emulsifies detergent residue all of which are immediately extracted by extremely powerful vacuum systems.

There are many makes and types of steam carpet cleaner on the market ranging from small portables up to the extremely powerful and effective truck-mounted units. The principle is the same whether using a portable or truck mounted unit, hot water or solution is injected into the carpet under pressure and is then extracted almost immediately, removing soils, residues as well as spots and some stains.

The truck mounted units are designed so that only the hose and wand are taken into the building being cleaned. These extremely powerful units, delivering hot water and generating a high vacuum recovery can be powered by diesel fuel, gas, propane or by the truck’s motor.

Most fibers producers, carpet manufacturers and professional cleaners endorse this process forSteam Carpet Cleaning achieving efficient soil removal. With the present state-of-the-art equipment we are capable of high production with less residue as long as the proper chemicals are used and the operators are properly trained

The major disadvantage with steam carpet cleaning are the problems associated with over wetting and longer drying times. These can be eliminated by a skilled operator using equipment that is well maintained and in good operating condition.

There are two methods being used when steam carpet cleaning

  1. This first method involves a traffic lane cleaner being sprayed onto the traffic lanes and then agitated into the fibers. The entire are is then cleaned using a hot water extractor that has a cleaning solution being injected into the fibers through the wand. (Most Popular) This method does not rinse the fiber. Using this method leaves more cleaning solutions residue behind.
  2. The second method involves a free rinsind emulsifying pre-spray being sprayed onto the entire carpet. This is then agitated into the fibers. The entire are is then extracted using a specially formulated rinsing agent that is injected into the fibers through the wand.(Proper Way) This method is more effective at achieving a cleaner fiber. The main reasons for this are the improved pre-sprays and the thorough rinsing of the fiber reduces the amount of residue cleaning solution left in the carpet.

Note: The residue cleaning solution can also cause hoses and jets to become clogged as well as damaging the water pumps if not flushed out with clear water after each use.

The cleaning is enhanced by the rinsing ability to:

  • Neutralize any alkalinity contained in the pre-spray.
  • Lock migrant dyes back into the fibers
  • Stops soils from redepositing back onto the fibers. This is accomplished by sequestering agents.


When a carpet fiber is rinsed using plain water, the calcium / magnesium particles (present in the water) cause the detergent molecules to drop the soils they have emulsified. These detergent molecules then start emulsifying the calcium/magnesium particles. The soils redeposit back into the carpet fiber which causes resoiling.

Tip: When a rinsing agent (Use the Extraction Rinse to prevent resoiling) is used. The chelating and sequestering agents hide the calcium/magnesium particles from the detergent molecules. The detergent molecules continue holding onto the soils they have emulsified. This enables them to more thoroughly rinsed from the carpet fiber.

Steam Carpet Cleaning : Procedure

  • Prepare equipment and supplies. In a pump or power sprayer mix free rinsing emulsifying pre-spray (follow manufacturer’s recommended dillutions). In the solution tank of the extractor, mix the rinsing agent (follow manufacturer’s recommended dillutions).
  • If there is a lot furniture to remove, draw a floor plan.
  • If the area has furniture, remove as much as possible.
  • Thoroughly vacuum carpet. If pile is crushed or matted, using a pile brush will help loosen the soils which will make the vacuuming process more effective.
  • Pre-spray a generous amount of the emulsifying pre-spray to an area 400-600 sq. ft.
  • Using a grooming tool, agitate the pre-spray into the fibers and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. (Make sure that it does not dry out)
  • Extract area using a portable, truck mounted extractor or an automatic carpet machine.
  • Repeat steps 5 to 7 until the entire area has been completed.
  • Groom cleaned area
  • Replace any furniture that was removed (place protective shields under any legs that may cause rust).
  • Thoroughly clean all equipment.

Purpose of Grooming

  • It will achieve full fiber contact
  • Starts soil suspension
  • Helps lift crushed or matted fibers

  1. Pre-spray and agitation of carpet are most important steps of carpet steam cleaning process. Thanks for a great article.

  2. We’re going to have to replace all our carpet pretty soon. It’s been several years since we got it put in and it’s about time we get a new one. There are stains that we just cleaned out to make it presentable to some guests. I like it, it’s just falling apart.

  3. It makes sense that the drawbacks of steam carpet cleaning can be overcome by a skilled operator using the right equipment. I’d been thinking of trying to steam clean my carpets myself, but I don’t want to have to wait too long for it to dry. I’ll just have to see if I can get someone over to take care of it for me in the next few days.

  4. Thanks for the info! Yeah, I see over wetting very often, shrinks the carpet bad! I’ve also seen people try to treat carpets as well, but with no extraction the chemicals stay there!


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