technician cleaning a fitted carpet

Carpet Cleaning Methods


Date Posted:

October 10, 2019

Knowing the right terminology is key when hiring services. It’s how you will get the results you are looking for, and how you will find the perfect providers for your budget and location. This is true for all industries, but some are certainly more complicated. Take carpet cleaning, for example. There are many different carpet cleaning methods, and yet they are not interchangeable. Shampooing your carpet might sound like a good idea – we shampoo our hair when it’s dirty, so shampooing the carpet should work, too, right?

This is incorrect, and knowing the difference between shampooing, steam cleaning, hot water extraction, dry powder cleaning, and more will help you invest correctly and get the results you are looking for.

Hot Water Extraction

The reason why it is so important to know your carpet cleaning methods is that some companies interchange names. Hot Water Extraction, for example, is also known as steam cleaning. As you will learn further down this list, however, that it varies slightly from steam cleaning and is a more effective method overall.

How it Works

It works by spraying heated water and cleaning solution onto the carpet. The hot water works to loosen caked in dirt and to soften certain types of stains while the chemicals work to dislodge and dissolve the stain entirely. The machine also works to hoover and suck up all the water, dirt, and grime. It is very efficient and effective, which is why most carpet manufacturers will tell you upon purchase that this is the best method for the longevity of your carpets.

Pros and Cons

Hot water extraction is the most efficient method on the market and the best for cleaning down to the base layer of your carpet. You will find that your allergies are lessened and that your carpet shines. This is because bacteria, pests, and dirt are eradicated by the heat and then sucked away after being chemically treated.

The hot water extraction treatment is also suitable for most carpet types but is not recommended for delicate carpets or carpets made of delicate material.

Dry Powder Treatment

Another treatment that works by hoovering up the remaining dirt and grime is the dry powder treatment.

How it Works

It works similarly to how many at-home carpet cleaners work – you spread the cleaning solution over your carpet where it is then brushed into or even scrubbed into the fibres of your carpet. The special cleaning substance works to attract dirt and grime and clings to it so that when you take out a hoover and go over with your carpet, it sucks away all the dirt without getting your carpet wet.

Pros and Cons

This option is best suited for natural, delicate carpets that should not get wet, and therefore are not suitable for hot water extraction. Another bonus is that because it is a powder treatment, you don’t need to wait for the carpet to dry out. You don’t have to deal with shampoo residue or worry about mould. It is also a very fast way to clean carpets, though it is not as thorough of a deep clean as hot water extraction.

Carpet Shampoo Treatment

Shampoo treatments for carpets have been around since the 1970s when they were first introduced. For many, it seems logical to invest in shampooing treatment. In many ways, it is, as it’s how we clean both ourselves and anything we can fit into our washing machines. For carpets, however, it holds several disadvantages.

How it Works

Shampooing a carpet works by rubbing in a shampoo treatment into the fibre. It works well to remove stains and to make your carpet look clean.

Pros and Cons

Carpet shampoo can do well with stains, but due to the lack of an extraction method, it will leave the suds in your carpets. This, when it dries, can leave your carpets sticky. It also means that they are more likely to stain in the future, as the shampoo is still in your carpet, and that substance will work to attract and hold dirt and grime.

Carpet Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning and hot water extraction are occasionally interchanged, which is why it is important to get clarification on the exact nature of the process. In this case, steam cleaning works to clean the top layer and doesn’t clean to the bottom.

How it Works

A steam cleaning machine sprays steam over the carpet. This loosens dirt and stains and can make it briefly look clean.

Pros and Cons

Steam cleaning is best reserved for hard floors, which can then be cleaned efficiently using alternate methods. With carpets, you can often clean the surface but won’t get the deep clean that will prolong your carpets or make your home healthier.

Bonnet Carpet Cleaning

You will see this type of cleaning method in offices, where carpets are cleaned on a regular basis and are very thin, used more for soundproofing than comfort.

How it Works

The bonnet works to scrub the dirt off the top layer of the carpet quickly. It is designed to work fast to clean and prolong the life of a carpet. The machine has multiple pads that spin rapidly. They clean because they are soaked in cleaning solution. In many cases, it will be important to hoover afterwards.

Pros and Cons

Bonnet cleaning is ideal for high traffic areas where the carpet in question is flatly woven, rather than plush. That is why you will see this type of cleaning method in offices, as it is a fast cleaning solution that will keep the carpets looking clean. You do not want this method in your home, especially on plush carpets that many homeowners prefer to walk on with bare feet.


In most cases, you will want to invest in either hot water extraction or a dry powder treatment, depending on what type of carpet you own. Other methods, like bonnet carpet cleaning, are better suited for office environments rather than the home, and others still are outdated methods you should avoid. Deep cleaning improves the look, longevity, and health of your home, and investing in quality cleaning is a key part of maintaining that.