With the number of hours we've all been spending indoors recently, you may have spent more time than usual contemplating your carpet piling or rearranging furniture. "Hm, that has gotten very dusty down there", you may be thinking, or, "wow, the couch looks great over here but it really left quite a dent behind".
Luckily, steam cleaning is here to help.
There are a few different processes that may come to mind when you think about steam cleaning your carpet. Maybe you're envisioning a truck with a boiler on board and a very long hose attached to a scrubber and vacuum, or a self-operated chemical "steam vac". Neither of those are what we're addressing here. This article focuses on cleaning your carpets with dry steam vapor.
What's the Difference Between Steam Cleaning Methods?
There are three main steam cleaning methods you may be thinking of.
- Truck. The truck with an on-board boiler and hose system creates steam in the boiler, but only hot water at the carpet surface, with a scrubber and vacuum to do the cleaning. Using hot water and then vacuuming up the dirt and water left on the carpet leaves the carpet wetter and thus takes longer to dry.
- Steam vacuum. The other familiar steam vac systems, which are self-operated chemical and water extraction systems, have a similar problem and also lead to overly wet carpets.
- Dry steam vapor. Unlike the other methods, dry steam vapor uses steam produced in a boiler within a compact system that creates a hotter, dryer steam at only about 6% humidity. The steam is created within approximately 10 feet of the carpet's surface, so the steam is dryer and the carpet dries faster.
Can Steam Cleaners Be Used on Carpets?
They can indeed, and while you should always do a spot check in an inconspicuous spot when trying a new cleaning method, there's no reason to expect steam to harm your carpet. It actually has myriad benefits not offered by other cleanings, as we elaborate below.
Why Use Dry Steam Vapor Over Other Methods?
Dry steam vapor offers multiple advantages when used on carpets.
- Easy to use. Using a vapor system is very similar to vacuuming. Clip a terry towel to the large floor brush, then move it over the carpet just a little slower than vacuuming in two directions to make sure you get both sides of the fiber.
- Relaxes and lifts carpet fibers. Similar to ironing, dry steam vapor raises crushed fibers and removes pathways and furniture dents. No more indents from the ghosts of couch placement past.
- Cleans, deodorizes, and sanitizes in one step. The steam helps bring the heat deep into the carpet pile, where it releases soil, removes odors, and kills bacteria.
- Kills small pests and denatures allergens. The heat from the steam kills dust mites, fleas, and other small pests, along with their eggs and larvae.
- No chemicals involved. The steam vapor system itself only uses water in this process, so you don't have to worry about any chemical residue affecting your air quality or getting in contact with your pets or small crawling humans.
- Removes static charge from hair. The dry steam takes the static electricity out of both pet and human hair so that the vacuum can easily remove it. Dry steam is great for pets in general, helping remove hair as well as odors and sanitizing the residue from any indoor accidents.
- Dries quickly. Because of the high temperatures and low humidity of the steam, the carpet dries quickly afterward.
How Do I Use Steam Vapor to Clean My Carpet?
Now that you've been enticed to try out dry steam vapor cleaning, there are a few steps to follow to actually put it into practice. These specific steps refer to the Advap's residential steam vapor systems, so if you're using a different system, be sure to check your individual user manual.
And before using any new cleaning method on your carpet, you should make sure to do a spot check in a small and inconspicuous section of the room to make sure it doesn't impact your carpet in any unexpected ways.
Step 1: Clean and vacuum.
The more items you can get off the floor for a wider cleaning space, the better. Ideally, you'll have a totally empty space, but don't stress if all you can do is just pick up a few stray items. If you had grand plans to clean anything on your ceiling, walls, or baseboards, now is the time, so debris doesn't fall later onto your freshly cleaned carpets.
Any spots should also be spot-treated before steam cleaning, as high temperatures can set them and they could become stains.
Once you've tidied up so you have the clearest carpet real estate for cleaning, vacuum the carpet with whatever model you're using. You want to make sure to pick up any larger particulates, like sand, heavy soils, and debris.
Step 2: Steam with triangular brush.
If your carpet fibers are heavily beaten down or heavily soiled, start off using the triangular brush with no towel or filler pad. Pass it over the carpet slowly in a 3-foot by 3-foot square, starting with one direction over the whole area and then going back over it in the other direction to get both sides of the nap. Depending on your height, you may want to use an additional extension handle to push the tool across the carpet in a more comfortable upright position.
Step 3: Steam with large floor brush.
Ideally, you'll have set up the large floor brush ahead of time with a filler pad in place and a terry towel fastened to the clips. Once you've got that in place, run the brush over the 3x3 area you just worked with the triangle brush at a pace a little slower than you'd use a vacuum. Repeat the process of going in both directions as you did in step two.
Step 4: Vacuum again.
Once you've finished your whole floor in a series of 6-square-foot sections, let it dry for roughly 20 minutes. Once it's dry, vacuum one more time. You may be able to hear sand or other particles getting picked up by the vacuum; relaxing the carpet fiber so that it stands upright again will allow the suction from the vacuum to reach particles that were previously trapped beneath the crushed carpet fibers.
Step 5: Enjoy.
Once your floor is fully dry, you can replace any furniture or other items that you moved out of the room and bask atop your newly fluffy, upright carpeting with no residue in sight.
What About Sanitizing?
There are no extra sanitizing or disinfecting steps required! The Advap steam vapor system uses TANCS, short for Thermo Accelerated Nano Crystal Sanitation, to clean and disinfect hard surfaces, as qualified by the EPA.
Rick Hoverson, principal of Advanced Vapor Technologies explains:
A TANCS-enabled dry (6% humidity) steam vapor device traps hot, low pressure, low moisture treated steam at the surface resulting in rapid microbial kill times – in seconds not minutes – destruction of embedded mold mycelia, and elimination of dust mites and bed bugs found in textiles and on hard surfaces in a manner never achievable with hot water extraction.
Unlike standard carpet and other cleaning processes, TANCS steam vapor sanitation has been well documented to achieve microbial reduction with very short contact times.
It also denatures and inactives protein allergens. This means that steam cleaning your carpet with an Advap device will get rid of microbes, mold, insect pests, and protein allergens without the use of any toxic substances or asthmagens. It's even approved for use in dog kennels. You can check out the reports yourself.
How Long Does All of This Take?
It does sound like a lot of steps. The answer really depends on the size of the room in question and how much cleaning and furniture moving you do beforehand. Once you've reached the steam cleaning stage, however, it should only take a little bit longer than a thorough vacuuming job. Because dry steam vapor has such low moisture levels, you don't have to worry about lengthy drying times.
Anything Else I Should Know?
A few final tips:
- As we said above, make sure to use the steam vapor in an inconspicuous area first to make sure you won't have any color change or shrinkage.
- If you have heavily soiled or greasy carpet and need to add a cleaning formula, we recommend Formula 212. It's both sudsless and odorless, making it a great match for steam vapor. Formula 212 is sprayed on the carpet after following the recommended mixture on the label. Nothing goes into the machine but water.
If you want to maintain both clean carpets and a healthy environment, try steam vapor cleaning. The fast drying time reduces the possibility of mold and allergens, while the high heat revives your carpet pile.
The raised pile lets your vacuum pull out damaging sand and grit that may have been hiding and also extends the life and appearance of your carpet. And it does all of this while also sanitizing and removing odors, with nothing but water and heat.
Sounds like a win-win to us.