8 Tips to Steam Clean Your Carpet Like a Pro

Stacey Marcus
Written by Stacey Marcus
Updated December 30, 2015
Baby boy crawling on carpet at home
Photo: twinsterphoto/iStock/ Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Steam clean the heavy stains and dirt out of your carpet with ease

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If you’ve been vacuuming and wishing away your carpet’s dirt, stains, and grime with less than stellar results, it’s time to rent a steam cleaner or hire a steam cleaning service. Steam cleaning uses hot water extraction to lift deep stains and trapped pollutants from your carpet. 

In comparison to dry powder cleaning, steam cleaning kills bacteria lurking in your carpet and doesn’t use harsh chemicals. If you’re ready to tackle your carpet’s tough stains with a steam cleaner, follow the tips below to get the best results.

Tips to Steam Clean With Confidence

Steam does the hard work of deep cleaning your carpets, but there are a few things you can do to ensure the task is successful.

1. Remove Clutter and Move Furniture

The first step to a successful steam clean is ensuring that you have easy access to the carpet by sliding the furniture out of the way or moving it to another room. Remove any small items and clutter from the area so you can identify areas that need to be spot cleaned. 

2. Vacuum the Room

Before steam cleaning your carpets, use your regular vacuum to remove the top layer of dirt and dust. The purpose is to clear a pathway for the steam cleaner to remove deep stains and soil. Vacuum slowly and repeatedly to reduce the amount of dirt pulled through the steam cleaner. Be sure to dust the baseboards to avoid dust particles landing on the freshly cleaned carpet.

3. Wear Protective Gear

Steam cleaners use scalding hot water to clean your carpet, so to protect your eyes and skin from accidental splashes, wear protective goggles and gloves when using the handheld machine. For additional protection, consider wearing a face shield or a long apron to cover the front of your body. 

4. Spot Clean Tough Stains

Steam cleaning has the dual power to remove stains and eliminate bacteria. However, tough and deep-set stains require spot treatment before steam cleaning. Before cleaning, apply a light layer of spot cleaner to the stain and let it sit for five to ten minutes before steam cleaning. 

5.  Test the Steamer and Your Stamina

While it doesn’t happen often, it’s a good idea to test a small area of your carpet to ensure the steam cleaner won’t fade the color or damage the fibers. While you’re in the testing phase, make sure you are physically up to the job, which requires lifting and carrying buckets and moving the machine around your room. 

6. Avoid Adding Too Much Soap

If you add too much soap to the steam cleaner, the resulting soapy water could leave behind residue and damage your carpet. That’s why it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s directions for your specific steam cleaner, which will include an exact measurement of how much cleaning solution to use on your carpet.

7. Begin in the Far Corner

Before you turn on the steam cleaner, make a plan for how you’ll move through the carpet. To avoid walking through the clean sections while they’re drying, start in the far corner of the room and work your way out. Move slowly and methodically steam cleaning in long lines.

8. Allow Ample Drying Time

Once you’re finished cleaning the carpets, it might feel tempting to move the furniture and items back into the room as quickly as possible. But not so fast: The carpet needs time to completely dry before you can reassemble the room. You can expect to wait between five to 24 hours, depending on the size of the carpet and how much soap and water used.

How Much Does It Cost to Steam Clean Carpets?

Woman cleaning carpet with steam cleaner
Photo: perfectlab / Adobe Stock

You should plan to spend about $100 a day to rent a steam cleaner. To get the most bang for your buck, plan how many days you’ll need the steam cleaner and research the type of machine that best fits your needs. If you prefer to hire a professional to steam clean your carpets, you can expect to spend between $120 to $230 based on square footage.

Other Ways to Use Your Steam Cleaner

Cleaning window glass with steam cleaner
Photo: cunaplus / Adobe Stock

Now that your carpets are spotless, here are a few other ways to use the attachment to brighten and sanitize your home:

  • Clean furniture

  • Disinfect countertops

  • Wash patio furniture

  • Clean tiles, grout, and ceramics

  • Disinfect toys

  • Clean fire pit and grill

  • Deep clean curtains and drapes 

  • Clean pet beds and crates

  • Clean windows, walls, and glass doors

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