A beautiful, soft, clean carpet makes any home or office area look and feels inviting. Commercial floor cleaning goes far beyond major areas like a living room, or a conference room. Carpets in hallways, reception areas, waiting rooms, and individual offices foster the feel of a more personal space. That’s probably why you find so many homes and offices with wall-to-wall carpet, rather than spartan hard flooring or tile.

Yet even the most high-quality carpets can still get notoriously dirty. Especially in high-traffic areas where shoes can track in dirt, dust, grime, lint, deicing salt, and any other type of particulate matter. Once these fine particles are embedded on the surface of the carpet they can easily get trapped in the fibers.

Once the carpet fibers get dirty the particulate matter tends to work its way down into the deep pile layers, damaging the carpet. Not only can this leave your carpets dull and discolored, but it can also accelerate their age, causing you to need to replace them prematurely.

Compounding this is the fact that soiled carpets are almost impossible to clean by conventional means. Traditional vacuums tend to only pick up a small percentage of the particulate matter embedded in the carpet fibers.

This is where a lot of homeowners and commercial property managers turn to professional cleaning companies to have their carpets cleaned and restored by either steam or dry cleaning. While both can be effective, there are some distinct differences between these two professional carpet cleaning methods.

How Carpet Steam Cleaning Works

As the name implies, hot water is used to steam clean a carpet. However, there isn’t technically any super-heated steam involved. Yet there’s a lot more to this carpet cleaning process than simply spraying hot water on a carpet and sucking it up.

The professional steam cleaning process first starts with a meticulous pre-vacuuming of the carpet. This serves to draw up some of the excess dirt and grime. It can sometimes loosen embedded particulate matter, which improves the effectiveness of the steam cleaner.

After the carpet has been thoroughly vacuumed, the actual steam cleaning process can begin. This involves a careful blend of hot water and professional-grade carpet cleaning chemicals which are specially formulated to break down dirt and release its hold on the carpet fibers. They are also formulated to help break up and loosen various oils that have become trapped in the carpet.

After the steam cleaning mixture has been applied and allowed sufficient time to work, they are sucked up along with any loosened grime. This part of the process can take a while. So, it’s important to soak up as much water as possible. You don’t want to leave any water behind where it can cause problems later on.

While steam cleaning does a good job of cleaning a carpet compared to traditional vacuuming, it isn’t without its potential drawbacks.

For starters, a freshly steam-cleaned carpet is going to be wet for hours afterward. Sometimes the moisture can last for up to 24 hours! This means you can’t reasonably expect to steam clean a carpet on Monday evening and expect it to be ready for traffic Tuesday morning. It’s something that needs to be scheduled for a Friday night or over the weekend.

Even after the carpet is dry, you still have to be concerned that there might be some residual moisture left behind. This can potentially lead to problems with mold and mildew that can start to grow in the pockets of moisture deep down in the carpet fibers.

How Carpet Dry Cleaning Works

One increasingly popular alternative to steam cleaning is to have your carpets professionally dry cleaned. With this process, you don’t have to worry about any of these water-related problems as there is considerably less water used in this “Dry” cleaning method.

Though this isn’t a 100% dry process, however, as there is some moisture used in both the application of chemicals as well as their removal.
In fact, there are a few different versions of carpet dry cleaning that might be used. They can vary depending on the company performing the dry cleaning as well as the formulation of the chemicals being used.

Though most of the time special dry cleaning chemicals are sprinkled onto a carpet, along with a miniscule amount of moisture. This helps to activate the chemicals and the cleaning.

A special high-powered commercial-grade vacuum is then used to extract all of the water and the chemicals, along with any dirt, grime, oils, or other particulate matter.

Since there is very little moisture involved in the dry-cleaning process, it takes a lot less time from start to finish. This means the dry-cleaned carpeting will be ready to walk on within an hour or two. This makes dry cleaning much more convenient and effective than typical steam cleaning. At the same time, it has far fewer problems arising from water being trapped in or under the carpet.

Though opponents of carpet dry cleaning do note that it doesn’t have the penetrating power that water does. This also means that if dry cleaning is the only method you use to clean your carpets, you will inevitably be left with a miniscule amount of fine particulate matter trapped way down in the fibers which can damage the carpet over time.

Using A Dual Carpet Cleaning Approach

A lot of professional carpet cleaning companies will advocate a dual cleaning approach. This involves strategically using the dry cleaning method during the weekdays or times when the carpet needs to be thoroughly refreshed. Yet you still can’t afford to have the freshly cleaned carpet left untouched for 24+ hours.

Then schedule professional steam cleaning can be used periodically to give your carpets the vigorous boost they need for a long, beautiful life. These steam cleanings can be timed on Friday afternoons or over long weekends to give your carpets sufficient time to thoroughly dry. It can often be wrapped into other professional services, such as seasonal office deep cleaning.