Differences between Steam Cleaning VS Hot Water Extraction

When it comes to deep cleaning carpets and rugs, the terms steam cleaning and hot water extraction are used interchangeably. Although both have the same ultimate goal of providing a clean and fresh surface, they are in fact very different cleaning methods. 

In this post, we will discuss the differences between steam cleaning and hot water extraction methods, and why you should never steam clean your carpets.

Steam cleaning

Steam Cleaning refers to cleaning units that have a boiler in them to bring water above 212°F/100ºC  and capture the steam that is produced.  The steam is then extracted using suction, leaving the surface clean and dry. This steam can then be used to do various types of cleaning jobs. Most notably, we use Steam Cleaning Machines for cleaning drapes and sheers. It also works well in situations where time is of the essence since there is no drying time associated with it.

steam cleaning drapes

Point Three Carpet Maintenance LTD , our sister company, cleaning drapes in a Vancouver hotel using steam cleaning.

Why you shouldn’t steam clean your carpet?

As an alternative or complement to professional carpet cleaning, it is common that many people often rely on renting/buying a steam cleaner to clean their carpets. But this could be a really bad idea if you don’t want to risk damaging your carpets.

Steam Cleaning units produce heated vapor at a temperature well beyond what is recommended to use on carpets. In very rare cases it can be used to help in very specialized spot-cleaning situations to help activate specialty carpet chemicals. This is risky and should only be done by very experienced technicians. The high heat can cause various types of damage including:

  • Delamination of the primary and secondary backing in tufted carpets
  • Permanent pile distortion in carpet fibers such as Polypropylene
  • Dye migration (color bleed) in some carpets

Hot water extraction

Hot water extraction,sometimes referred to as “carpet shampooing” is a more thorough cleaning method that involves injecting hot water and detergent into the carpet. The solution is then immediately extracted using powerful suction equipment. This process works best for heavily soiled carpets and rugs with deep dirt accumulation. Unlike steam cleaning, however, this method does take a little longer to dry due to the amount of water used.

Hot water extraction is the method that most professional carpet cleaners use when cleaning carpets, although it is sometimes mistakenly referred to as steam cleaning. 

differences steam cleaning hot water extraction

Aero Carpet Services LTD area rug cleaning plant in Burnaby


Considering the risks of using steam cleaning without the supervision of a professional, the best way to keep your carpets always clean is to vacuum frequently and have them professionally cleaned once every 12-18 months. In this way, you will avoid damaging your carpet and ensure a thoroughly cleaning of your carpets every year.

If you want to know more tips and tricks about carpet, area rugs and upholstery, we invite you to follow us on our Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin where we share with you everything you need to know to keep your place spotless. Or if you prefer, you can call us directly at (604) 321-7440 or contact us via web to schedule an appointment with our carpet cleaners and we’ll answer all your questions!