The fact is, most people refer to hot water extraction as steam cleaning when in actuality, they are two entirely different cleaning processes. Each method uses a different temperature of water and sometimes different cleaning solutions as well. So before you clean your carpet or try to treat a nasty stain, read on to learn more about hot water extraction vs steaming cleaning.
The primary difference between hot water extraction vs steam cleaning is the temperature of the water used. It’s basic science, really.
For a carpet to be steam cleaned, it must actually use steam. I know—who would have guessed? The water must reach a temperature high enough to transform into a gas. However, applying pure steam to carpet will not be effective in rinsing.
Hot water extraction, on the other hand, only requires hot water. How hot? Hot enough that it cleans deeply and effectively, but not so hot that it changes into another state of matter.
Most carpet manufacturers recommend that their products be cleaned with hot water extraction. Natural fibers are cleaned with hot water extraction to prevent shrinkage, as is upholstery. It can be used to treat stains as well, unlike steam cleaning, which is avoided because it can actually set stains permanently. Steam cleaning is often used with synthetic carpet, and some people believe the higher level of heat will improve the cleanliness of their carpet.
However, homeowners should beware of renting or buying products like extractors and steamers to use at home. Inexperience and subpar equipment could lead to soaking of your carpet and a large amount of detergent residue, while inadequate ventilation could cause mold growth.
If you use a professional cleaner, the hot water extraction method will work well if they avoid high levels of detergent and detergent residue, which attracts dirt and can quickly make your carpet dirty again. This is ideal if you or your family are concerned about exposure to volatile chemical compounds. Professionals will also make sure that most of the water sprayed on the carpet is removed. The process doesn’t take long and usually involves four simple steps. They’ll start with an inspection of the area, then they’ll apply an emulsifier or detergent, next they will rinse the carpet clean with water, and finally they will vacuum out nearly all of the water. Within a couple of hours, your carpet will be dry again and ready for use.
So hot water extraction vs steam cleaning: which is best? The titles have become so jumbled that it’s hard to say, but hot water extraction is essentially superior. With pure steam, there is no “rinsing” of the fibers, which is necessary to remove soil and cleaning detergents.
The most important thing to note is that within the carpet industry, hot water extraction is increasingly being referred to as “steam cleaning.” If you’re confused as to which service a company offers, just ask, but it’s very likely that they use hot water extraction under the name steam cleaning. While most professional carpet cleaners use water hot enough to visibly produce steam, there is still hot water rinsing and flushing the carpet fibers. Not pure steam.