Steam Cleaning Carpets vs. Shampooing


After a time, even the brightest carpets can begin to look a bit dull. Foot traffic, dirt, grime and dust can accumulate and not even the most powerful vacuum can get rid of it. That means it is time to deep clean your carpet. Deep cleaning gets rids of germs, mold and pathogens along with deep stains in your carpet. 

Steam cleaning and carpet shampooing are both effective methods for deep cleaning your carpets at home. Choosing between them can be challenging. The choice often comes down to availability, frequency of cleaning and if you want a professional to come in to clean your carpets.

In this post, we'll look at the pros and cons of steam cleaning carpets vs shampooing and give our verdict on the best option for your home. 


What is Steam Cleaning?

Steam cleaning or hot water extraction cleaning uses water vapour heated to a high temperature at high pressure to thoroughly clean carpets. A powerful pump and vacuum send steam deep into the carpet where it dislodges dirt, oils and stains that cling to the carpet fibres. The water vapour and loose particles are sucked up from the carpet fibres through a hose. 

Steam cleaning is often done by a professional company with a truck-mounted steam cleaner to get the required heat and suction. It is the combination of high temperature and high pressure with pure water that is so effective. Some commercial carpet steam cleaners use agitation to get more particles from the carpet, but the majority do not agitate the carpeting, therefore doing more of a surface level clean.


What is Carpet Shampooing?

Carpet shampooing, much like when you shampoo your hair, uses detergents and soaps to get rid of dirt, grease and stains on your carpet along with agitation. Shampooing requires a carpet shampooing machine with a powerful motor combined with brushes to dig out soil in your carpet. This allows for a deeper, more penetrating clean. 

The machines use a cleaning solution in a tank attached by a hose to a spinning nylon brush. The brush injects the cleaning solution into the carpet as a thick foam. It also relies on high pressure to create a thick foam and lather that loosens dirt and stains in the carpet so the vacuum can suck them up. 

Carpet shampooers also finish the process by rinsing the carpet fibres with fresh hot water, and then the moisture is sucked away by a powerful vacuum. 


Pros and Cons of Steam Cleaning


  • Steam Cleaning only uses water, so it is good for the environment and good for people who are sensitive to chemicals. 
  • The drying time for steam cleaning is much less than for carpet shampooing. 
  • Great for getting rid of pests such as fleas and cockroaches and their eggs in the carpet as the temperature of the steam is much higher than what you can get in a carpet shampooer. 


  • Steam Cleaning is not as good at removing stubborn stains that may need detergents. 
  • You usually need to hire a professional service to do a carpet steam cleaning, so it is not as good for more frequent carpet cleaning and can be more expensive. 
  • The hoses, flooring heads, etc. that professionals use on other homes may or may not be sanitized before entering your home. 


Pros and Cons of Carpet Shampooing


  • Carpet shampoo solution is available in most hardware and department stores. You can choose the right shampoo for your carpet and you can choose environmentally friendly options.
  • Carpet shampoo do the deepest clean available on your carpeting
  • Carpet shampooing machines are available to buy or rent and work well for regular carpet cleaning and offer the best cleaning for carpeted surfaces. 
  • You are able to clean other upholstered surfaces as well with an upholstery attachment. 



  • Carpet shampooing machines use more water than steam cleaners.
  • Carpets cleaned by shampooing take longer to dry. 


Frequency of Use

When deciding between steam cleaning or carpet shampooing, you should also consider how often you will want to deep clean your carpets. If you do not wear shoes in your home and are fairly clean, you can get away with bi-annual cleaning of your carpeting. It might be more economical for you to hire out this service- either carpet shampooing or carpet steam cleaning.

If you want to regularly clean stains, such as cleaning up pet stains, and you live in a high traffic home, then purchasing a carpet shampooer will more than pay for itself after just a few uses. 


The Verdict

So, is steam cleaning better than shampooing? What is the best way to clean the carpet?

The best option for deep cleaning any carpeting is a carpet shampooer with a spinning brush roll. Any time you have agitation, you will be getting the deepest clean on your carpeting. Purchasing a shampooer and the cleaning solution are inexpensive, and they last many, many years if maintained and cleaned after use.

Here is our top pick for the best carpet shampooer on the market:

1# The Hoover SmartWash Pet

The Hoover SmartWash Pet is part of the new generation of cleaners that are easier to use than the bigger and bulkier old-fashioned carpet cleaners.

Firstly, the Hoover SmartWash Pet has a twin rotating brush system which we think is one of the best systems for carpet cleaners in general for their cleaning ability.


No Pre-Mixing Or Measuring

The Hoover SmartWash Pet takes all the guesswork out of cleaning your carpets. You do not pre-mix the shampoo solution like most old-style carpet shampooers.

Instead, you fill one tank with water and the other tank with your cleaning solution. From here, the machine mixes everything for you automatically.


No Soaked Carpets & Faster Drying Time

Also, unlike other carpet shampooers with the Hoover SmartWash Pet, you don't manually pull a trigger and spray your carpet. Instead, the Hoover SmartWash Pet automatically applies the correct amount of solution every time the machine moves forward.

The suction system only engages in the pull-back motion. But you can bypass this feature, so you have suction all of the time. This feature allows you to dry your carpets thoroughly after your shampooing.

Furthermore, the Hoover SmartWash Pet comes with the Heat Force feature, which helps you dry your carpets faster.


New Unique Feature To Fight Tough Stains

One of the best advantages of this pet version is the spot chaser wand. The handheld wand has two functions. First, you can detach the wand and use it as a battery-operated spot sprayer, allowing you to tackle even the most stubborn stains.

With this new version of the Hoover SmartWash Pet the handheld attachment is larger and has a built-in tangle-resistant scrubber. The tangle-resistant scrubber does make a difference and is not a gimmick.


How To Get Your The Hoover SmartWash Pet

Overall the Hoover SmartWash Pet is one of the best carpet shampooers on the market. It's easy to use, and with the upgrades, you have greater control over the toughest stains in this new model.