Best Carpet Cleaning Methods Explained: Which one is the right for you?

Carpet cleaning methods
The carpet is one of the fundamental parts of the home interior design. It’s both a decorative and functional piece – the item can act as a floor accent for any room, while keeping you warm in the colder months. However, a quality carpet is a serious investment that requires regular maintenance, in order for it to have a longer life-span.

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Frequent carpet cleaning is essential for a well-kept and healthy home. From an aesthetic point of view, a dirty rug, placed right in the middle of your living room, won’t make a good impression on anyone. On the other hand, an unmaintained carpet can be actually dangerous for your health. A filthy floor covering may contain dust and grime formed by fallen food particles, dead skin flakes, and pet hair, which make the perfect environment for bacteria development. And you know what that means? Exactly – allergies.

In this article, we are going to discuss the different types of cleaning techniques, how they work, and of course, their pros and cons. This way, you can determine which maintenance solution is suitable for your type of flooring. Here are the best and most popular ways to clean your carpet:

Hot Water Extraction Cleaning

Hot water extraction carpet cleaning method
It is performed by specially trained technicians that use professional equipment to inject hot water in between the fibres of the dirty carpet. There is no need for harsh chemicals with this treatment because the warm water mixed with a gentle cleaning product alone can restore your rug’s original look. This type of carpet maintenance technique is perfect for removing any stubborn stains or spills.

Many professional cleaning companies out there tend to sell this solution as “steam cleaning”, which is incorrect and misleading. Yes, this sort of method really does produce an amount of steam, while it’s been executed, but that doesn’t help with the actual cleaning process in any way.

How hot water extraction works:

  1. A gentle detergent is combined with water and heated in the water compartment of the extractor. The products that are used are, of course, eco-friendly and child-safe.
  2. The heated mixture is injected under high pressure directly on the stained carpet areas. This process breaks up the dirt particles, which makes them a lot easier to remove afterwards.
  3. While cleaning the carpet’s surface, the professional cleaner applies a special detergent that softens and decreases the stains even more.
  4. In the end, the technician will use the same machine in order to extract the loosened dirt and grime from the carpet, while removing up to 95% of the moisture.
  • This method is highly recommended by carpet manufacturers and cleaning professionals from all over the world.
  • Due to the fact that the machine uses only water to clean, this cleaning solution is suitable for people who have asthma or suffer from allergies.
  • Hot water extraction is child, pet, and eco-friendly at the same time because it uses hardly any detergents.
  • This sort of carpet cleaning method leaves lasting results, unlike many other options.
  • There is no product residue left behind after the procedure because the water-detergent ratio is definitely in favour of the water part.
  • This type of carpet cleaning can leave your rug over wetted if the technician hired is not trained enough to perform the method.
  • It takes a bit more time for the carpet to get completely dry. We, at Fantastic Services, can provide our clients with an Air Mover, which is a large fan that speeds up the drying process of your floor covering up to 3 times.
Suitable for:
  • synthetic (microfibre, man-made, polyester);
  • woollen materials.

Click here to find rates, ways of booking and more information about how hot water extraction carpet cleaning works.

Steam Cleaning

Carpet steam cleaning method
This type of carpet cleaning involves heating up water to a boiling point so steam is produced. The same steam is applied over the carpet so it can penetrate in the rug’s fibres, thus eliminating different types of bacteria and unpleasant stale smells.

What is the difference between steam cleaning and hot water extraction?

The thing that differentiates one method from the other is the temperature used during the process. As the name of the cleaning solution states, steam cleaning uses steam, meaning the water is heated to a certain temperature, so the liquid can be converted to gas. Steam cleaning isn’t a very good method in terms of effectiveness. It can kill germs and bacteria, remove allergy-triggering substances, but it won’t get rid of any stains or soil.

On the other hand, the hot water extraction method requires warm water, which isn’t heated at such a high temperature like with steam cleaning. When the cleaning method is executed, there is an amount of visible steam coming out of the machine, but it doesn’t do anything for the actual cleaning.

Which is better between HWE and steam cleaning?

The hot water extraction is by far more superior than the steam cleaning one. It can remove any type of stain and dirt, leaving your carpet clean and fresh. Steam can only disinfect the carpet because it doesn’t involve rinsing of the actual fibres or the usage of cleaning products, which is a vital part of getting rid of any soil and dirt from your carpet.

Remember that many companies tend to advertise hot water extraction the wrong way, calling it “steam cleaning”. If you find yourself confused about which service a company offers, there is a big chance that they are selling HWE as steaming cleaning. We advise you to ask for more details on the carpet cleaning process before you book the actual service.

Dry Carpet Cleaning (with powder, foam or solvents)

Dry carpet cleaning method
The dry carpet cleaning method requires a special type of machine that offers a no-moisture or “very low moisture” (VLM) cleaning solution. It’s an efficient method that removes dirt, grit, sand, stains, and allergens from more delicate or natural materials.

Dry carpet cleaning with powder

A powder mixture made from special cleaning agents and solvents is applied all over the carpet, then with the help of a machine, fitted with a counter-rotating brush, the product is gently worked into the fibres of the floor covering. The mixture’s purpose is to soak up all the soils from the rug’s fibres. After the powder has been left to set for around 10 to 15 minutes, it’s removed by a vacuum cleaner.

How dry carpet cleaning with powder works:

  1. Once the professional arrives at your property, he takes care of the light furniture, so access to all of the carpeted areas is provided. If there are any heavier pieces, like a wardrobe, for example, you may be required to move it before the service takes places.
  2. After that, the technician vacuums the carpet to remove any food crumbs or hair.
  3. The cleaner, then, applies the cleaning powder on the carpet.
  4. With the help of a professional machine with lots of tiny brushes, the professional works in the cleaning mixture in between the carpet’s fibres.
  5. Lastly, the rug is vacuumed once again with a powerful vacuum cleaner so the powder can be removed along with all the grime, dust, and dirt.
  • This method is very convenient because there is little to no drying time, while still leaving your carpet completely clean thanks to the effective cleaning agents and application system.
  • Dry carpet cleaning with powder is fairly easy to do and it doesn’t require much training.
  • The products that are used for this type of carpet cleaning often contain harsh chemicals that leave a strong smell behind. We advise you to discuss the matter beforehand with the cleaning company you intend to hire.
  • Plush pile carpets tend to trap the powder mixture in between their fibres, which can lead to a product build-up over time.
  • Dry carpet cleaning with powder can cause excessive dust build-up in your home.
  • This method doesn’t provide a deep cleaning result and isn’t effective against stains like other options.
Suitable for natural fibres like:
  • sea-grass;
  • jute;
  • sisal;
  • etc.

Dry carpet cleaning with foam

The process of this cleaning solution goes like this: A special cleaning product is distributed evenly across the surface of the carpet and whipped into a foam. Right after that, the foam is carefully worked inside the carpet’s fibres with a rotating brush attached to a special machine. This way, all sorts of dirt and debris are suspended from the floor covering. The foam is let to sit there for a short amount of time and removed with a vacuum cleaner. The dry foam contains about 90% air and 10% liquid, which means that it’s low in moisture.

How dry carpet cleaning with foam works:

  1. First, the floor covering is brushed and vacuumed thoroughly;
  2. After that, a special preconditioning spray is used, in order for the dirt to be loosened.
  3. Then the cleaning foam is carefully spread on the carpet and left to harden for about 10 minutes.
  4. Finally, the crystalized foam along with the dirt is removed with a vacuum cleaner.
  5. The carpet needs around 1 hour to be completely dry and ready to use again.
  • This cleaning method offers faster drying time, unlike other options.
  • Dry carpet cleaning with foam can’t extract soil below the top surface of the carpet.
Suitable for natural fibres like:
  • sea-grass;
  • jute;
  • sisal;
  • etc.

Dry carpet cleaning with solvents

This carpet cleaning method is used for more expensive materials. You won’t find the special products for dry solvent cleaning in your corners market and they are also on the expensive side. The detergents clean really well and are gentle enough, so they don’t damage the material of the treated area.

How dry cleaning with solvents works:

  1. First, the surface of the carpet is cleared out of any dirt and dust with a vacuum cleaner.
  2. Then the rug’s fibres are injected with the solvent.
  3. Finally, all of the dirt is removed along with the detergent.
  • The drying time of the carpet is less with this method.
  • It’s very effective in removing dirt from the surface fibres.
  • There is no water involved in dry carpet cleaning with solvents.
  • Dry cleaning is usually more about refreshing
  • It doesn’t do a good job at removing stains
Suitable for natural fibres like:
  • silk;
  • velvet;
  • 100% cotton;
  • viscose;
  • etc.

Not sure whether hot water extraction or dry cleaning is the proper cleaning method for your needs? Read our comparison post on steam carpet cleaning vs dry carpet cleaning to learn more.

 Shampoo Carpet Cleaning

Cleaning carpets with a shampoo method
This is probably the most popular carpet cleaning solution out there. It only requires a carpet shampoo and a brush.
The idea is that the cleaning product is applied on the carpet and then, worked into its fibres with the use of a regular or motorized brush. This way, all stuck-on dirt and debris are lifted from the fibres and removed afterwards with a vacuum cleaner.

  • It’s a budget-friendly option.
  • It’s really fast and easy to do.
  • The carpets will take longer to dry – from 12 to 24 hours, especially thicker ones.
  • Leftover foam can lead to excessive wetting.
  • Doesn’t work well with high-pile carpets, due to the fact that it can cause pile distortion.
Suitable fabrics: This carpet cleaning option works on any type of carpet.

Wonder what are the differences between hot water extraction and shampooing? Check our post on steam carpet cleaning vs carpet shampooing to see a comparison between the methods.

The Classical Method (brush + detergent)

The old-school carpet cleaning method
People used to clean their carpets this way before the invention of vacuum cleaning machines. The process involves only a brush, water, and some kind of detergent. Basically, the rug is thoroughly scrubbed and left to sundry. The downside is that the traditional method doesn’t work for a wall-to-wall floor covering because you can’t place it outdoors to dry.

  • Traditional carpet cleaning is easy on the wallet.
  • It’s really easy to do and doesn’t require any special skills, equipment, or industrial chemicals.
  • With this method, you can remove more stubborn or old stains.
  • Perfect for smaller carpets.
  • You can’t use it to clean wall-to-wall carpeting.
  • The drying time is longer, especially if there is no sunshine.
  • Traditional carpet cleaning is time-consuming and tiring.
Suitable fabrics:
This carpet cleaning option works on any type of carpet.

Interested in a comparison between professional cleaning and DIY carpet cleaning? Check out our post on the topic and find the pros and cons of each method.

Homemade carpet cleaning solutions you can try

If you want to clean the carpets yourself, take a look inside your kitchens cupboards. You can use soda or tonic water to remove coffee stains. Gentle dishwashing detergents (mixed with water) are great for removing grease marks, wax stains and sour milk spots out of carpets. Also, if you have a fresh spot, sprinkle some salt over it and the stain will be absorbed in no time. Use soda to get rid of any nasty smells hiding in your textile floor covering, like the stale wet carpet smell. Mix in a bottle 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar to make a DIY carpet cleaner. Sprinkle the homemade detergent on the rugs, give it some time to dry and vacuum.

Remember to test all of these methods on a hidden spot on your carpet.

Our expert advice is…

The most effective carpet cleaning method nowadays is the hot water extraction one. It’s the only process known to get rid of more than 95% of dirt and bacteria found in carpets and rugs. Also, unlike other cleaning methods, hot water extraction penetrates the lowest layer of the floor covering and removes all the dirt and debris from its fibres. Another major benefit that comes with this type of treatment is that it’s very effective against stains. Compared to dry cleaning, hot water extraction is not as time-consuming and it’s easier on the wallet.

The most effective carpet cleaning method nowadays is the hot water extraction one.
Of course, the best way to determine which carpet cleaning method is best for your rug highly depends on several factors, such as:
  • What is your carpet made out of?
  • What is the state of your floor covering?
  • Are there any stubborn or old stain on your carpet?
  • Do you have any specifications in terms of drying time?
  • Are you looking for a deep cleaning or just disinfection?
  • What is your budget?
  • How fast do you want the whole cleaning process to be?
Before you pick your carpet cleaning treatment, you have to take these specifications under consideration, because some methods just don’t work with certain types of carpets. For example, hot water extraction isn’t suitable for more delicate materials, like velvet or expensive silk. If you have trouble choosing the right sort of carpet cleaning, we suggest that you seek advice from the company you want to book.

If you decide to go on your own, here is how to clean your carpet at home yourself.

Professional Carpet Cleaning by Fantastic Services

You can always spare yourself the hassle and elbow grease by hiring a professional to clean your rug for you. We, here at Fantastic Services, offer carpet cleaning solutions for every type of floor covering out there. No matter if it’s made from a natural, synthetic, or delicate fabric, we have all the necessary detergents and equipment to get your carpet looking as good as new.

Book us today so you can enjoy fast, effective, and long lasting results!


As you can see for yourself, carpets are quite capricious in terms of cleaning. If you choose the wrong type of treatment or try to clean it yourself, you can easily inflict irreversible damage to your favourite rug. That’s why your best option is to get a professional carpet cleaning technician to do the job for you. This way, you’ll ensure that the outcome is a clean and most importantly, intact floor covering, which you can enjoy for a long time ahead.


No matter of the cleaning method, remember to always do a small spot test on hidden part of your carpet. Depending on the size, nature, and age of the stain, some of them might be impossible to remove. We cannot take responsibility if any of the above-mentioned methods do not work on your carpets. Please read our full disclaimer here.

Images source: Depositphotos: snyfer / luckybusiness / vladislavgajic

Posted in Carpet Cleaning

Last update: January 30, 2019
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