Dry Carpet Cleaning vs Steam Carpet Cleaning Methods

Dry Carpet Cleaning vs Steam Carpet Cleaning Methods


Carpets are an essential part of decorating and protecting your home. Not only they add to the beauty of the room, but they keep the floors warm and clean.  That being said, they also take the most hit from dirt and other pollutants, spills, as well as accidents; and need to be cleaned periodically. There are a lot of cleaning methods that can clean your carpet, but the most popular ones are dry cleaning and steam cleaning methods. Before you give your carpet out for cleaning, you should know the details about them both and make an informed decision about which one to choose for yourself.

Dry Carpet Cleaning vs Steam Carpet Cleaning : what do they mean

Dry Carpet Cleaning

Dry carpet cleaning is a method of cleaning your carpet where little to no water is used and dry chemical cleaning agents are used instead. In this cleaning technique, compound cleaning agents are used to treat the carpet fibers which break down the dirt first, resulting in a deep cleansing. Only after that an actual machine cleaning is carried out. Some cleaning agents used in this method can even add a protective layer onto your carpet in order to prevent future stains.

Some popular dry carpet cleaning methods are as follow:

  • Dry foam: This method uses dry shampoo as the cleaning agent. It is left on the carpet for a few hours to work through them in order to clean it. Then the residues are vacuumed out.
  • Dry compounds: This method is similar as above, except a biodegradable compound is used instead of shampoo to clean. The residues are vacuumed as above.
  • Bonnet pads: This is also similar to the above methods, however, instead of a vacuum, a bonnet pad is employed to clean. The machine pulls out and absorbs dirt and cleaning agents together when it is run on the carpet.
  • Oscillating pads: In this method, a balanced pH solution is sprayed all over the carpet and left to work its way until it dries. It reacts with the carpet fibers to agitate and loosen the dirt. Then an oscillating machine is used to clean it all out.

Steam Carpet Cleaning 

Steam carpet cleaning or hot water extraction method uses hot water under high pressure to clean your carpet. However, as this is a wet method, the carpet should be vacuumed before using this method, otherwise dry soil will turn into mud while rinsed.

First the carpet is soiled with a pre-spray of detergents. Some operators then agitate and spread it throughout the carpet with either a microfiber pad or brush, depending on the method and type of carpet. This helps release the dirt from the fiber and break them down to smaller particles. After that a hot water extraction machine forces near boiling hot water into the carpet using high pressure, and then vacuum-sucks the loosened dirt and debris out of the carpet. The hot water that goes in under pressure activates the cleaning agent and increases the reaction time of it, in turn, assisting it to draw the contaminations out. Later a special grooming brush is used to scrub the carpet to remove any debris stuck on the surface. Finally, a rinsing apparatus is used to rinse all the chemicals off, and then the carpet is left for drying. 

Dry Carpet Cleaning vs Steam Carpet Cleaning : the methods

Use of chemicals

There is a misconception among the general public that carpet steam cleaning in Melbourne does not use chemicals. As we learnt about the procedure above, both dry and steam cleaning methods use cleaning agents as chemicals. The only difference is in the application and removal of them. While in dry cleaning method, only dry chemicals are used, with very little moisture in some cases and sucked out with a vacuum; in steam cleaning method, the chemicals are spread beforehand and rinsed off. Nevertheless, the chemicals used in dry cleaning are harsher.

Time taken for the procedure

Dry cleaning method is much faster than the steam cleaning method. The cleaning agents are left on the carpet for about 20-25 minutes only and after the carpet is dry cleaned, it can be almost instantly used. This is why this method is used mostly in factories and retail shops.

On the other hand, steam cleaning requires a pre-vacuum along with a pre-soaking with cleaning agents, which takes some time. Furthermore, after the cleaning is done, the carpet takes a minimum of 24 hours to dry and be usable, sometimes it takes even days. However, professional carpet cleaners often take a bit less time than usual for the process.


Dry cleaning method is much cheaper than carpet steam cleaning in Melbourne, since it requires less equipment and the chemicals used are less expensive.

Steam cleaning can cost you a lot. The equipment rent is more, and especially if you need to opt for skilled experts to come and do it for you, it gets really costly.

Material of the carpet

If the carpet is made of delicate materials like natural fibres, silk, viscose, leather, 100% cotton etc., steam cleaning would be completely unsuitable. This will ruin the expensive material. Always check the label of the carpet for instructions and restrictions about cleaning it. Dry cleaning method poses no risk in these cases.

Efficiency of cleaning

There is one big disadvantage of dry cleaning method – the chemicals used to clean the carpet in this technique can get stuck to the carpet and leave residue even after vacuuming thoroughly. On the contrary, steam cleaning deep cleanses your carpet making the cleaning agents go deep into the fibre and dissolves almost all of the dirt. It also washes out all the residue as the carpet is thoroughly rinsed. Although, without the pretreatment, steam cleaning may not be effective at all, especially for removal of greasy stains.


Dry cleaning method may leave some residue of the harsh chemicals on the carpet, as explained above. This prolongs your exposure to these chemicals. So if you have dust allergies, this method may pose health risk for you. This method also uses harsh chemicals for cleaning, which have their own issues. Especially if you live with children or pets, this method may pose safety concerns for them.

In contrast, steam cleaning rinses off all such residue, if done correctly. So it certainly is safer. Extreme heat used in this method also does an excellent job of eliminating bacteria, dust mites, fungus, and mold. In fact, carpet steam cleaning in Melbourne kills 99.99% of bacteria. For people with allergy issues, steam cleaning is the way to go.

However, when it comes to hygiene, you need to be careful with steam cleaning. You need to remember to wash and dry the carpet very well after cleaning in this method, since a wet carpet will be a breeding ground for fungi and bacteria, which cause diseases of their own.

So, who wins?

As mentioned before, if you are on a budget, or if you decide to clean your carpet frequently, dry cleaning is the way to go. It is easier, takes less time and effort, and cheaper. 

Conversely, steam cleaning is way more effective, even though it is more expensive and takes more time. Also, if you have allergies, steam cleaning is the best method as not only it pulls all the allergens out, it leaves no residue.

In a nutshell, dry cleaning is good for a surface clean and so you can do it often or when you don’t have much time to go through a big cleaning ordeal. In any case, you should definitely take your carpet to a well-reputed and certified professional company who conducts carpet steam cleaning in Melbourne once every six months to the least, to have a good in-detail cleaning to keep your carpet healthy for a long time.