Cleaning Guides

Dry Carpet Cleaning vs Steam Cleaning: Pros and Cons

DIY carpet and rug cleaning methods don’t always work as they should. Or maybe it’s just time for a good thorough cleaning to make your carpet look fresh again. In that case, you turn to a professional carpet cleaning company to do the job. But at one point, you are left at the crossroad – is dry carpet cleaning or steam cleaning the right one for your carpets?

In this article, you will read about the main differences between the two carpet cleaning methods, making your choice a bit easier.

Table of Contents:

So, if you:

  • Wondering if you should steam clean or dry clean your carpet;
  • Want to know what’s the difference between dry & steam carpet cleaning;
  • Looking for the most effective carpet cleaning method;

Then look no further! This post is for you.

What is the difference between dry carpet cleaning and steam cleaning?

Steam carpet cleaning / Hot water extraction

Before we begin explaining the process, it’s very important to mention that steam cleaning, as a term, is widely used by companies when trying to describe the hot water extraction carpet cleaning method.

This method uses a professional steam machine that basically injects a mixture of warm water and a special eco-detergent into the carpet and extracts the water right after, along with the dirt. This treatment is especially good for removing stains and built-up residue.

You should be aware that after the cleaning is complete, your carpets will need a couple of hours to dry out completely, mostly depending on the season and the type of your carpet. That’s why we offer our clients a special machine we can bring that is called AirMover, which speeds up the process of drying by up to 5 hours.

This is the most powerful method; if a stain does not come out after a steam cleaning, it probably never will.

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Steam carpet cleaning pros and cons

The pros of hot water extraction method:

  • This method is highly recommended by carpet manufacturers and cleaning professionals from all over the world.
  • No product residue is left after the procedure because the water-detergent ratio favours the water part.
  • The ability to get really deep into the carpet’s fibres and dissolve most of the dirt.
  • Specially designed for removing stains.
  • Perfect for general carpet refresher, not only stain removal.

The cons of hot water extraction method:

  • It cannot be used to clean delicate materials such as natural fibres, silk, viscose, leather, 100% cotton and many others. Always check the label of your carpet, or contact the provider company before cleaning it.
  • The drying time may take 3 to 6,7 hours, depending on the carpet.
  • There is a big chance of fungal or bacterial growth if the carpet is not cleaned or dried properly.
  • The carpet machine for this method is heavy and noisy. Most of the time, there are restrictions for the machine to be used at certain times of the day or the week.

The hot water extraction method is suitable for microfibre, man-made, polyester and woollen materials.

Learn more about our cleaning methods, get expert carpet cleaning advice and receive a free quote!

Dry carpet cleaning method

This method is mostly used for more delicate materials. Not many people choose to have velvet upholstery or a nubuck carpet, but for those that do, one needs to be aware that those materials require some special treatment to be cleaned properly. There are detergents made just for dry cleaning and for different materials, as well. They are gentle to the surface and won’t damage it, but at the same time, they are strong enough to clean it and kill any bacteria.

Here is how this method is performed: the technician starts by applying the chemicals to the affected area and proceeds to spray some water to help the detergent react on the carpet or the upholstery item. After the chemicals have reacted with the dirt, everything is vacuumed, and unlike steam cleaning, you can use the freshly cleaned carpet immediately.

Dry carpet cleaning pros and cons

The pros of dry cleaning:

  • Very short drying time
  • Suitable for delicate and expensive materials, with almost no risk for damage.

The cons of dry cleaning:

  • Sometimes, there is a little bit of detergent residue, which is really hard to remove.
  • Does not work effectively on stains.
  • Some of the detergents are a bit harsh, so if you are using a dry cleaner on your own, consult with a specialist first.

The dry carpet cleaning is suitable for sea-grass, jute, sisal, etc.

What is the best method to clean a carpet?

So, these are the fundamentals of dry and steam carpet cleaning techniques, along with their advantages and disadvantages. The most important thing is to be completely sure of what material your carpet or upholstery is made of. This will be the main factor in determining which one of the techniques will be better for you. If a spill occurs, no matter the material, take care of it immediately.

Often, if the stain is already embedded deep into the fibres, even the strongest method will not be able to take care of it.

CharacteristicsHot water extraction / Steam carpet cleaningDry carpet cleaning
Drying time3 to 7 hours to dry completely.Little to no drying time.
Suitable fabricsSynthetic fabrics and woollen materials.Delicate fabrics like jute, sisal and sea-grass.
Stain removalEffective against stains.Does not work effectively on stains.
Water quantityA relatively higher amount of water is used during the rinsing cycle.Little to no water is used.

Read our blog post on the best carpet cleaning methods to learn more about the different cleaning techniques and their positive and negative sides.

Professional carpet cleaning by Fantastic Services

If you are still unsure which method suits your type of textile floor covering, worry not!

Take the safe road from the beginning, and turn to a professional carpet technician. He will not only clean your carpets the way they should be cleaned but will also give you thorough instructions on how to take care of them better and avoid unpleasant situations in the future. We at Fantastic Services offer steam carpet cleaning and dry rug cleaning services.

Need your carpets deep cleaned?

Let a Fantastic professional take care of them!

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  • Steam cleaning is a term used to describe the hot water extraction method.
  • Hot water extraction is especially effective against stains.
  • Steam cleaning is suitable for microfibre, man-made, polyester and woollen materials.
  • Dry cleaning is mostly used for delicate materials, such as jute, sisal, sea grass, etc.
  • Dry cleaning is not very effective against stains.
  • It takes very little time for carpets to dry after dry cleaning.
  • Before choosing the cleaning method, it is important to check what material your carpets are made of.


What are your thoughts and impressions of steam and dry cleaning? Let us know in the comments below, and if you enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it with your family and friends.

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