There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding carpet cleaning. However, one thing is clear: regular carpet cleaning is important, and occasional steam cleaning is great if you want to keep your carpet looking beautiful.
So, should you steam clean a new carpet? Yes, you should steam clean a new carpet. While often associated with dirty and stained carpet, steaming cleaning your newly installed carpet has some tremendous benefits:
- The cleaning will not remove any finish from the carpet, no matter the material.
- Steam cleaning can get rid of hazardous toxins, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Your carpet won’t re-soil or wear out quickly – it will have a fresher smell, a softer feel, and a better look.
To learn more about why you should steam clean a new carpet, read on.
What is Steam Cleaning?
Surprisingly, steam cleaning doesn’t use steam to clean the carpet. It instead uses hot water, which gives off steam.
This method of cleaning is commonly referred to as hot water extraction. The machine sprays a mixture of detergent and hot water onto the affected areas, then sucks it back up – along with any dirt or grime the mixture collects.
Some carpet cleaners come with an attachment that adds the extra solution you need when dealing with tough stains.
How Does Steam Cleaning a Carpet Work?
Here’s the basic steam cleaning process:
- Pre-condition the carpet with cleaning solution on the entire carpeted area. This helps loosen VOCs, stains, and dirt. It also helps the steamer lift toxins and dirt buried deep in the carpet fibers. A brush can also be used to help agitate the solution into the carpet fiber, as the scrubbing helps to coat every carpet fiber with the pre-spray solution.
- After the preconditioning and agitation, allow the solution to sit for a couple of minutes to work its magic.
- Use your steam cleaner to spray hot water on the carpet. This rinses away the pre-spray solution, toxins, and VOCs.
- Allow the carpet to dry completely. This can take anywhere from four to twenty-four hours. Keeping windows open, turning on ceiling fans, and pointing oscillating fans at the carpet can help speed up the drying process.
Note: If you’re dealing with an old carpet, the pre-spray solution might not get rid of the stains. You’ll need to use a special solution made for tougher stains to make your carpet look clean again. Also, you should know that not all stains can be removed.
Advantages of Steam Cleaning
Here are some of the advantages of steam cleaning over traditional cleaning methods:
- It’s an excellent option for individuals who are sensitive to scents or struggles with allergies. This is because it emits pure vapor, which is free of chemicals and odors.
- It’s a safe cleaning method to use around kids and animals.
- It removes toxins, VOCs, bacteria, and dirt without using harmful chemicals.
- It effectively cleans dirt and grime sunk deep into the carpet.
- It won’t leave dirt-attracting residue on your carpet fibers.
- It improves the appearance of the carpet.
- It helps the carpet last longer.
- A proper cleaning won’t allow moisture to penetrate the carpet backing. However, this depends on the person doing the cleaning. Inexperienced cleaners can soak the carpet by rinsing excessively.
Should I Use a Steam Cleaning Service or Do It Myself?
Once you’ve decided to steam clean your new carpet, you can either choose to hire a professional carpet steam cleaning or do it yourself.
Each option has advantages and drawbacks. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each of them.
Hiring a professional steam cleaner
Professional cleaners use one of two devices: a powerful portable machine or a machine attached to a vehicle.
While a truck-mounted unit is more powerful than its portable counterpart, the cleaner may find it hard to access smaller spaces like studio apartments or small rooms.
Besides the use of more advanced equipment, professional cleaners have the skills and experience to handle the toughest stains. They can also do a better job of protecting your flooring during the operation.
On the flip side, hiring professionals can be expensive, as most companies charge per square foot or room. The prices also vary depending on where you live, so shop around before choosing a service.
DIY steam cleaning
If you want to clean your carpet yourself, there are many different steam cleaners available on the market. And if there’s no room in your budget to purchase a steam cleaner, renting is also an option.
DIY steam cleaning is probably the more affordable option in the long run, especially if your household is prone to spills and accidents. Whether you chose to buy or rent, it’s significantly cheaper to clean your carpet yourself than it is to hire a professional.
DIY carpet cleaning does have its share of challenges, though. You might find it difficult navigating tight spaces, and some cleaners can be a bit tricky to operate.
DIY steam cleaning mistakes
Here are a few DIY steam cleaning mistakes you should try to avoid:
- Not reading your machine’s manual. Some machines work by pushing to spray water and pulling back to suck the dirty water up. Others work by either pulling or pushing – not both. It’s important to understand how to use your cleaner to avoid making a mess of everything.
- Walking on the carpet after you’ve cleaned. If you must walk on the carpet, do so with bare feet or socks so that you don’t track any dirt onto the damp fibers.
- Using short back and forth strokes instead of long lines across the room. Steam cleaning is most effective with the long passes.
- Over-wetting the carpet. Applying too much water can lead to the over-saturation of the carpet. A saturated carpet not only takes days to dry completely, but it can also be a breeding ground for mold and mildew. This can damage the carpet fibers and backing while simultaneously creating a health hazard. It can also disrupt your household because walking can track dirt into the still wet carpet, while moving furniture can dent the fibers.
- Exerting too much pressure when using the scrub brush. While shedding is normal with new carpeting, using too much pressure can make the fibers become loose from the yarn bundle. The carpet will look fuzzy or hairy like an uncombed beard.
- Over-shampooing or not adequately rinsing your carpet. Doing either of these things will leave detergent residue in the carpet. This will make it impossible to clean out in your next carpet cleaning maintenance. The residual build-up can also trap dirt against carpet fibers and dull the carpet’s appearance.
Simple Carpet Maintenance Tips
The best way to keep your carpet clean is to prevent it from getting dirty. Here are a few simple carpet maintenance tips that will help you keep your carpet in tip-top shape.
- Always take off your shoes when entering the house. This will also make your house safe, as most toxins will be left at the doormat.
- Attach your new carpet with staples instead of glue.
- Invest in a high-quality vacuum cleaner.
- Always vacuum the entire carpet carefully before steam cleaning.
- Have a regular carpet cleaning schedule. Steam cleaning is recommended at least once or twice a year. However, if you have pets or kids, you may have to do it more often.
- Opt for a carpet made from a natural fiber like wool, bamboo, sisal, cork, etc.
- Check your carpet’s warranty before you proceed with the cleanup. Most warranties require professional carpet cleaning at least once a year.
- Avoid using a steam cleaner to clean untreated pet stains from carpet or upholstery. The heat can bond the proteins to any human-made carpet fibers, making it impossible to remove the stains. Always pre-treat any pet stain to avoid permanently staining the carpet.