Hot Water Extraction vs Steam Cleaning | Key Differences

Hot water extraction vs Steam Carpet Cleaning

Carpet cleaning techniques have seen some major overhauls during the last few decades. Home or commercial carpet cleaning are now broadly classified in either of the three types: Dry powder cleaning, Wet carpet cleaning and Bonnet cleaning. While you may find carpet cleaning professionals using either of these techniques corresponding to the type of your carpet, duration from your last deep clean and your budget; wet carpet cleaning is often the most convenient and effective choice.

Wet cleaning is a more thorough approach of cleaning stains from heavily soiled carpets as compared to dry powder cleaning. Now, there are two distinct variations of wet carpet cleaning that are often confused for being the same. These are hot water extraction and steam cleaning. These two methods are even wrongfully interchanged by carpet cleaner manufacturers owing to the prevalence of a vague differentiation amongst users. This article aims at providing a clear distinction of hot water extraction from steam cleaning.

Hot Water Extraction vs Steam Cleaning

Hot Water ExtractionSteam Cleaning
Lower water temperatureHigher water temperature (more than 212°F)
More effective at removing stains from heavily soiled carpetsLess effective at removing stubborn carpet stains
May not necessarily kill all germsEffectively kills germs and bacteria breeding in the carpet
Repetitive shampooing and rinsing of fibers may cause the carpet to wear fasterNo rinsing of fibers included making it rather gentle on carpets
Hot Water Extraction vs Steam Cleaning : Key Differences

Hot Water Extraction

Hot Water Extraction Carpet Cleaning

Traditional carpet cleaning machines and portable carpet cleaners that are available in the market majorly employ the ‘hot water extraction’ method for cleaning. You need to fill the tank with hot water (up to 100°C) and a suitable carpet cleaning shampoo, following which the cleaner disperses the solution, scours out dirt and vacuums the stained surface thereby cleaning it. Full-sized carpet cleaners often have a design element to maintain the water temperature for a couple of cleaning rounds but portable hot water extractors lack this feature.

Warm / Hot water extraction is a more effective cleaning technique than steam cleaning owing to the added shampooing and scrubbing stages. Due to a high cleaning temperature, this method also kills breeding germs and bacteria to a fair extent. However, the water temperature being lower than 100°C in this type of carpet cleaning, it is an inferior option to professional steam cleaning machines with regards to killing pathogens and eliminating allergens.

Note: Some hot water extraction carpet cleaners falsely call this method ‘steam cleaning’ which may be misleading for buyers. This method essentially uses hot water in liquid form and hence doesn’t technically produce any steam in the process. However, some steam may be visually observed during the process depending on the temperature of the water fed to water tank.

Steam Cleaning

Steam Carpet Cleaning

In contrast to hot water extraction, steam cleaning is more effective at sanitising your carpet and naturally a comparatively expensive carpet cleaning option. Genuine steam cleaning machines use water up to 150°C, and hence can be truly categorized as deep-cleaning machines. However, as steam cleaning does not employ any shampooing, scrubbing and rinsing of the carpet fibres, it is relatively lesser efficient in taking out settled dirt and stubborn stains from the carpet. Besides, portable steam carpet cleaners are thought to damage fibrous carpets because of the higher temperature.

On the bright side, steam cleaners often do not use chemicals in conjunction with steaming and vacuuming making them a lesser harsh alternative for some carpet types.

Also Read: How to Get Pet Stains Out of Carpet?

What is the Difference Between Hot Water Extraction and Steam Cleaning?

When it comes to steam cleaning vs hot water extraction, the preliminary difference is the temperature of water used during the process. Steam cleaning requires direct application of steam to the carpet fibres which in turn requires the water to be heated at about the boiling point of water (~100°C). This may be effective in killing the germs lurking in the carpet but not in removing persistent stains.

On the other hand, a carpet extractor uses hot water to scrub, rinse and extract dirt out of the fibers. This method is clearly superior as far as the concern is cleaning of stains. However, hot water extraction does not compare to steam cleaning in terms of sanitisation.

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