By: Elizabeth Tran

November 24, 2021

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Steam Clean Vs. Shampoo Carpet

Let’s find out which method can bring a fresh look to your dirty carpet.

Experts recommend carpet cleaning and maintenance after every 12-18 months to get rid of below surface dust and to offer clean and safe air to breathe in for your kids, pets, and guests. 

It’s well known that carpet fibers are powerful magnets that attract dust, dirt, dander, mold spores, and sticky stuff. Over time, all such particles resting on your carpet lead to multiple health issues such as skin allergies, cough, or flu. 

You may be vacuuming your carpet regularly. But you can’t overlook the importance of deep cleaning, which you can do effectively with either a steam cleaner or shampoo cleaner. 

In this post of Steam Clean vs. Shampoo Carpet, you can have a complete view of both methods. It’s time to look into the advantages and disadvantages of shampooing and steam cleaning so that it won’t be tricky to know which one is suitable according to your carpet quality and type.

 Besides, you would be able to clean your carpet without damaging its fibers while keeping its looks and beauty intact. Don’t you want that? Of course, you do. So, let’s start digging into details. 

What is a Steam Cleaner?

A steam cleaner is a strong cleaning system consisting of a tank, boiler, detergent compartment, refill and steam vacuum. In the boiler, water heats up under high pressure and heat ( low pressures up to 150 psi and temperature up to 360 degrees F). Steam combines with detergent in the detergent tank. 

This steam detergent combo is applied all over the carpet surface to lift and remove pathogens, bacteria, mold, allergens, dirt, and stains. It also sanitizes hard and soft surfaces. In addition, if the machine has a steam vacuum, it extracts all the dust, particles, and other content from your carpet and boosts cleaning efficiency.

While the machine is running, you need to add water in the refill (a non-pressurized tank) that goes into the boiler to turn water into steam. If a steam cleaner has an automatic refill, it will offer a direct water feed to ensure continuous working of the steamer.

How Does Steam Carpet Cleaning Work?

Steam vapors penetrate deep into the carpet and surround the fiber. Fiber softens up and loses the dirt for easy removal. The vacuum applies pressure onto the fiber and lifts away all the moisture alongside dirt and germs. 

You can clean every inch of carpet via steam cleaning as steam penetrates deep. Since a very low water level is used in this process, the rug has less moisture after cleaning. As a result, it dries quickly and reduces the risk of mold and mildew growth. 

Advantages of Steam Cleaning

  • It is an ideal deep cleaning method.
  • The vapor contains less water, and dry time is shorter than shampoo cleaning.
  • It improves the home’s air quality by eliminating dust, mold, mildew, and bacteria from your carpet.
  • This versatile machine helps you clean carpet and other surfaces, such as upholstery, curtains, mattress, kitchen appliance, mirror, floor, and tiles.
  • Heat kills germs, bacteria, dust mites, and bed bugs. 
  • It removes allergens from your carpets. People with asthma and breathing difficulties can breathe in healthy air.
  • Steam cleaners’ attachments clean hard-to-reach areas and make this machine easy to maneuver.
  • It can cut through stubborn stains such as grime and grease.
  • The high temperature of steam disinfects your carpet.
  • It is a safe cleaning method for kids and pets.
  • Steam won’t damage the look of carpet and its delicate fibers. Your carpet will look fresh and new.
  • There is no residue after cleanup because the percentage of water is more than detergent in a steam carpet cleaner.

Disadvantages of Steam Cleaning

  • Getting rid of tough stains without a cleaning solution is a tiresome task.
  • It is not a suitable cleaning method for an entire house and heavily soiled carpets.
  • You need to do spot treatment to deal with heavy stains.
  • Steam cleaning can’t be used for natural fibers or organic materials.


What is a Shampoo Cleaner?

A shampoo cleaner comprises a solution tank and shower feed brushes. This rotatory machine offers deep cleaning with its intense scrubbing action. However, before using this machine, you need to do thorough vacuuming. 

How Does Shampoo Carpet Cleaning Work?

Once the dirt particles are extracted from the carpet by vacuuming, this machine starts scrubbing carpet fiber. Its shower feed brushes feed the carpet with a shampoo solution. Again, you can expect excellent cleaning results due to the high agitation.

Advantages of Shampoo Cleaner

  • You can rent a carpet shampooing machine and do the cleaning by following a DIY approach.
  • It is the most economical method. 
  • It is suitable for a heavily soiled carpet.
  • You can buy a carpet cleaner as per your specific fiber or soil.
  • High agitation releases more soil from the carpet than other cleaning procedures.
  • It is a quick method of cleaning.
  • Machine extracts water and dirt in one go.
  • It helps you get rid of bacteria and germs efficiently.

Disadvantages of Shampoo Carpet Cleaner 

  • Experts disfavor shampooing because it leaves too much residue in the carpet fiber. 
  • If you don’t remain careful, this method may cause pile distortion or overwetting.
  • The residue leads to quick re-soiling in the carpet.
  • The carpet remains wet for 24-48 hrs. The drying time is more than two days.
  • Scrubbing with a cleaner often damages and weakens carpet fibers.
  • The detergent may cause yellowing of carpet material, and you can’t find a way to fix this issue.
  • You clean carpet from the surface level, not an ideal deep cleaning method.

Steam Carpet vs. Shampoo Carpet: Which One is Better?

Please consider some main points before picking one method of carpet cleaning.


 Comparing the pros and cons of both methods makes you realize that steam cleaning is more effective than shampooing. 


  • You can kill 99 percent of bacteria and germs and keep your home environment germ-free, healthy, and clean. If you are a sensitive person with breathing problems, this method is undoubtedly the safest one. It’s because you deep clean your carpet while using minimal to zero levels of chemicals.
  •  A steam cleaner can hold allergy triggers at high pressure. So, if you are dealing with a dust allergy issue, it is the best fix you can get.
  • When your carpet has mold and mildew, you should always prefer steam cleaning over shampoo cleaning methods.

Foot Traffic

In heavy traffic areas, dirt builds up quickly in carpet. In that scenario, you need to go with shampoo cleaning. You can do surface cleaning with it and get rid of heavy soil via this method. 

Dry Time

Another reason for preferring steam over shampoo cleaning methods is drying time. You need to wait more than 48 hours with shampoo cleaning. However, the drying time of steam cleaning is 8-10 hours. 


When you have kids and pets at home, food stains are unavoidable. In this case, go with steam cleaning as it’s a super effective way of getting rid of heavy stains. Another suggestion here is to do spot treatment first and try a cleaning method later.


If you are looking for a budget-friendly approach, you need to go with shampoo cleaning. You can rent a machine and then use detergent to clean millions of square yards of carpeting without spending too much. If you remain careful with water and detergent use, you can get professional results easily.


Always look into carpet material while choosing between steam vs. shampoo cleaning methods. If carpet material is delicate and incredibly soft, don’t go with shampoo cleaning because it damages both fiber and the overall look of carpet fiber. Heavy volume of water and detergent is used in shampooing. Thereby,  soap residue is a major shortcoming. This residue leads to quick dust and dirt build-up. On the flip side, steam carpet cleaning doesn’t cause residue and help you maintain the beauty of your fiber effortlessly.

After reading this post about Steam Clean Vs. Shampoo Carpet, what method you will prefer for your own place. Could you share with us?

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