Homedit is supported by our readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

The Correct Way to Steam Clean Carpet to Remove Stains, Germs, and Dirt

Steam cleaning your carpet can kill germs, remove stains, and leave your floors feeling fresh and clean.

But if you want to steam your carpet, not just any steam cleaner will do. High heat can damage carpet fibers and the adhesive underneath. Plus, you need a machine that will suck up the dirt rather than only emit steam.

steam clean carpetView in gallery

Here’s what you should know if you want to steam clean your carpet.


Supplies Needed to Steam Clean Your Carpet

  • Carpet steam cleaning machine – These are different from handheld steam cleaners or steam mops. Carpet steam cleaners have suction that pulls the carpet’s excess moisture, dirt, and allergens. Plus, most carpet cleaning machines don’t use actual steam. Instead, they release hot water and/or dry the carpet with heat.
  • Carpet cleaning solution – Depending on the machine you’re using, there may be a specified cleaner you need. If not, you can use a product from Bissell or Resolve made for carpet steam cleaners. You can choose from antibacterial, pet odor remover, and regular strength.
  • Vacuum – For cleaning up before you treat the carpet.
  • Stain Pretreater – Grab your favorite carpet stain remover for pretreatment.

How to Steam Clean Your Carpets: Step by Step

Once you’ve gathered your supplies follow these steps to steam clean your carpet.

Step 1: Move Furniture Out of the Room

If possible, move furniture out of the room. If not, you can move it around as you steam clean to reach underneath it or clean around it.

Related: Best Upholstery Steam Cleaner

Step 2: Vacuum and Pretreat Stains

Vacuum the room to remove all dirt from the carpet. Be thorough—clean areas against the wall and underneath furniture.

If there are any stains on your carpet, spray stain remover on them.

Step 3: Prepare Your Carpet Cleaning Machine

Fill the machine’s reservoir tank with water and add the cleaning solution to its appropriate port. (Some devices have a dedicated spot for the cleaning solution, while others require you to mix it into the water. Check your manual.)

Turn the heat switch on your carpet steam cleaner and let it heat up for two minutes if required.

Step 4: Steam Clean Your Carpets

Most carpet steam cleaners will have a trigger that releases the hot water or steam. 

Squeeze the trigger to treat a small area. Then let go of the trigger and make 2-3 passes over the same spot until the water you’re suctioning appears clear.

Avoid oversaturating your carpet.

Repeat for the entire room.

Step 5: Allow the Carpet to Dry

After steam cleaning, allow the carpet to dry before moving furniture back into your room. Dry time can take several hours, depending on how wet the floor gets.


Can You Use a Steam Mop on Carpet?

While you can use a steam mop on the carpet, you shouldn’t. Steam mops are for hard floor surfaces. They release steam which loosens up dirt. Then, when you run the mop head over the area, it wipes it away.

The mop head doesn’t work the same on the carpet. Instead, when you use a steam mop on carpeted surfaces, you’re releasing steam but not cleaning. Since the mop doesn’t have suction, the carpet remains dirty and wet. Plus, the heat can cause damage to sensitive fibers like wool.

If you use a steam mop on the carpet, follow up by vacuuming with a wet/dry vac to remove moisture and excess dirt.

The Best Carpet Steam Cleaners

Carpet steam cleaners are different from handheld steamers or steam mops. They release hot water into the carpet and suction it up.

If you’re in the market for a carpet steam cleaner, here are three of the highest-rated:


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How often should you steam clean your carpet?

Steam clean or shampoo your carpet every six months. If you have pets or a lot of foot traffic, you can do it more often.

Is steam cleaning carpet effective?

If you use a steam cleaner that’s for carpet, then it can kill germs, remove dirt, and break up stains. If you use a regular steamer or steam mop, you’ll only kill germs.

Can you use the Bissell ProHeat Little Green Machine on a couch?

You can use the Bissell ProHeat Little Green Machine on a couch, carpet, and upholstered furniture. 

Final Thoughts

Steam cleaning your carpet can reduce germs and allergens in your house. But many carpet steam cleaners use hot water and not actual steam. Steam can be too hot for certain types of carpet and even loosen up the adhesive underneath.

Avoid using a steam mop on your carpet, as it doesn’t have the suction to clean. Instead, save it for your hard flooring surfaces.