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8 Reasons Why Steam Cleaning Is Bad For Your Carpet

There are many ways to clean a carpet. You can go the traditional way and vacuum it, shampoo it, or you can hire a professional cleaner like Carpet DryClean for a superior fast, thorough, and dry clean.

However, not all carpet cleaning methods are equal. Steam cleaning, one of the most popular methods for cleaning carpets, can be detrimental to your carpet, home, and even your health. As proud as we are of our dry carpet cleaning service, we don’t make these claims lightly.

Why is steam cleaning bad for your carpet? Here are eight reasons why:

1. Not Chemical-Free

Steam cleaning often uses soapy detergent or a cleaning solution to loosen up dirt, debris, and stains from your carpet. The type of detergent or cleaning solution used plays a large role in how effective steam cleaning is for your carpet. 

Unfortunately, detergents usually contain potentially harmful chemicals, such as bleach, formaldehyde, and benzene.

Some steam carpet cleaners might use eco-friendly or all-natural cleaning solutions. However, it is common to find cleaners that use harsh chemicals to effectively clean carpets and rugs.

Harsh chemicals can not only harm your carpet but can also decrease the air quality inside your home. If you or anyone in your family has allergies or asthma, the chemicals can greatly exacerbate your condition.

2. Leaves Your Carpet Soaking Wet

You might think that steam cleaning literally uses steam to clean your carpets and rugs. That’s not the case.

The term steam cleaning is misleading. Instead of using steam to clean your carpets, the steam cleaning method actually involves pressurized hot water and a cleaning solution or detergent.

The steam you see during the process is a by-product of the hot water released on the carpet surface.

After the hot water and detergent are sprayed onto the carpet, a wet vacuum sucks up the hot water, detergent, and dislodged dirt. This is why carpet steam cleaning is also known as “hot water extraction.”

Even professional wet vacuums with high suction power will still leave your carpet wet long after the cleaners leave. If not properly dried, you may end up with a moldy and dirtier carpet than before.

3. Prolonged Drying Times

A soaking wet carpet takes an extremely long time to dry. Professionally steam cleaned carpets can take between 12 to 24 hours of drying time.

Renting a steam cleaner with only moderate-strength suction power can leave your carpet (and floorboards) wet for up to two days.

While your carpet is drying, you are not allowed to walk on it. You might even need to stop using an entire carpeted room. This might not be a problem if you live alone, but if you have kids or pets, then it becomes a bigger issue.

It’s advised to leave the doors and windows open to help hasten a steam-cleaned carpet’s drying time. However, open doors and windows mean you are inviting unwanted visitors, like dust and dirt, to stick to your wet carpet.

4. Draws in More Dust and Dirt

A soaked carpet is like a magnet to dust, dirt, and other debris. You don’t even have to step on your carpet with a dirty shoe or slipper to soil a newly steam-cleaned carpet.

Atmospheric or airborne dust can easily get into the room and stick to a damp carpet. This type of dirt includes indoor air pollutants such as:

  • Cigarette or tobacco smoke
  • Animal hair
  • Airborne soil particles
  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Skin flakes or dander

Moreover, if a steam cleaner uses too much soapy detergent and leaves a sticky residue on your carpet, then expect even more dirt to get into the carpet fibers.

You will likely find your carpets getting dirty twice as quickly compared to before you had them steam cleaned. A “crunchy” carpet is a sign that dirt and grime stuck to the fibers and dried up with the cleaning residue.

5. Creates a Breeding Ground for Mold and Mildew

Dirt and dust are not the only indoor pollutants that may stick to your carpet while it is drying. Mold spores, which are naturally present in the air, can also take root in your carpet.

Damp and dirty carpets provide ample growing conditions for mold and mildew. The dust collected on your carpet serves as food for the mold spores, creating an ideal breeding ground.

A steam-cleaned carpet that takes at least one day to fully dry also means your floorboards remain damp for the same amount of time.

The moist environment makes it easier for wooden boards to rot and grow bacteria or mold. If you live in a humid climate or the carpeted room is located at basement level, the mold and mildew will grow faster.

6. Causes Unnecessary Wear

As we mentioned earlier, steam cleaning doesn’t actually use steam to clean your carpet. It uses high water pressure and cleaning solutions.

The high water pressure used to dislodge grime can cause unnecessary wear and tear on your carpet.

Carpets located in high-traffic areas, such as entryways and hallways, may require more frequent cleaning. Having those kinds of carpets steam cleaned regularly can cause the carpet fibers to break down faster.

7. Produces Wastewater

When your carpet is steam cleaned, a wet vacuum siphons the hot water and stores it for later disposal. This water suctioned back now contains chemicals, dirt, bacteria, and other pollutants.

Unless properly disposed of, the wastewater or dirty water accumulated from the cleaning process may end up in storm drains and natural bodies of water.

Improperly discharged wastewater can harm the environment. It can contaminate your drinking water and pose a risk to the local aquatic wildlife.

8. Requires Heavy Equipment

Steam cleaning your carpets typically requires bulky and powerful equipment. Professional cleaners may even use truck-mounted machinery to ensure a powerful pressure and suction system.

Both of these scenarios make it difficult to clean smaller rooms filled with furniture. Moving furniture out of the room is an inconvenience, especially if you have nowhere else to put it.

Additionally, you can’t immediately put your things back into the room after a carpet steam cleaning. You might have to wait for a day before you can safely put your furniture back.


So, should you steam clean your carpet? All signs point to no. Fortunately, there are other safer and more convenient ways to clean your carpet.

With Carpet DryClean, you don’t have to worry about any of that. Our service uses no water but highly absorbent microsponges that cleans and disinfects,  and is completely organic.

As soon as our carpet cleaners are done, you can immediately walk on your carpet and not worry about any soapy residue, risk of mold, and drying time. Not to mention, our cleaners use compact and simple equipment to clean your carpets so we’re versatile.

Contact Carpet DryClean today for a free estimate and take advantage of our same-day carpet cleaning service in Raleigh, North Carolina, and surrounding areas.

Call us at (919) 878-0748 or fill in the contact form on here to schedule your appointment.

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