Carpet Cleaning Techniques & Methods – Pros And Cons

Updated on July 23, 2020 by Joseph D. Nielson

Table of Contents

Every home owner knows how important cleaning their carpets is. Unlike in the past, where carpet cleaning involved scrubbing and splashing water all over it, there are various modern methods that are more effective and reliable in keeping your carpets clean and fresh. Below is a review of some of the most common carpet cleaning methods, their pros and cons and a comparison of the different methods.

Wet Cleaning or Steam Cleaning

How Does This Method Work?

This method entails hot water being injected into the carpet under a lot of pressure. Before this, the carpet needs to be pre-conditioned using a chemical reagent which liquefies oil-based substances and other types of soiling.

By having pressurized hot water directed into the carpet, any dirt that was stuck onto the carpet fibers is loosened and dissolved into the water. You could also add a cleaning solution or detergent to the carpet especially when cleaning heavily soiled sections of the carpet.

The water is then extracted from the carpet using a vacuum drawing all the dirt along with it and leaving the carpet sparkling.


– Very effective for deep and thorough cleaning
– Safer as no complex chemicals are used
– Trustworthy and  the most commonly used carpet cleaning method
– Great at elimination of odors, dust mites and bacteria


– Longer drying times
– Wet/Steam vacuums are quite expensive compared to regular vacuums

Dry cleaning

How Does This Method Work?

Dry cleaning, just as its name suggests, does not involve the use of water. An absorbent compound is spread over and then worked through the carpet using a mechanized brush or counter-rotating brushes. This compound, mostly in powder form, absorbs the soils from the carpet fibers over the period of at least 10 minutes that it is left to set. This powder is then vacuumed up using a high-suction vacuum leaving the carpet spotless.


– Fast drying time without the need of special tools or techniques
– Safe for delicate carpet materials such as sisal and hemp
– No training required


– If a low-quality vacuum is used, all the absorbent powder will pile up over time causing more dirt
– Unsuitable for people allergic to dust as it causes dust build-up
– Cannot clean deep into the carpet fibers

Carpet Shampooing

How Does This Method Work?

Carpet shampooing is among the oldest cleaning methods in history.

It entails using a foamy chemical which is applied onto the carpet and then scrubbed into its fibers using a motorized brush. This helps suspend the dirt and debris stuck onto the carpet fibers and it is then extracted using a vacuum together with the dirt.


– Affordable
– Fast and easy to use
– Swifter drying time
– Highly effective in soil removal on the surface of the carpet


– No high temperatures involved hence suitable for any kind of carpet fibers
– Poor extraction of foam which may lead to excessive wetting
– Not suitable for high-pile carpeting as it may cause pile distortion


How Does This Method Work?

This method, just like dry cleaning, does not make use of water.

It is among the newest carpet cleaning methods and it uses a chemical that has both cleaning and crystallization agents.

The cleaning agent suspends the dirt, debris and soils which is agitated by a vacuum’s rotating brush, while the crystallization agent encapsulates them and dries them into crystals that will then be vacuumed away from the carpets.


– Effective and long-lasting cleaning of the carpet
– No rinsing or drying required
– Efficient cleaning of larger carpeted areas
– No dirt-attracting residues left on the carpets


– Machines and chemicals are quite expensive
– Not effective for greasy and oily dirt and soils
– The machines used are heavy and hard to maneuver

Dry Foam Shampooing Method

How Does This Method Work?

The dry foam shampooing method is usually confused with the carpet shampooing method as they are quite similar.

In the dry shampooing method, the shampoo liquid is whipped into a foam first using a foam generator. It is then applied to the carpet and it utilizes only 10% of the liquid with 90% air.

Its application into the carpet is done with the reel brush systems. It is then sucked into the vacuum after a short pause.


– Really fast drying time
– Effective in getting rid of dirt on the surface fibers
– No excessive wetting of the carpets
– Excellent agitation from the rotary brushes


– Not suitable for deep carpet cleaning
– No high water temperatures that could cause damage to the carpet fibers

Bonnet Cleaning

How Does This Method Work?

This is another carpet cleaning method that is often confused with dry cleaning.

In this carpet cleaning approach, you use a cleaning product that is mixed with carbonated water.

This mixture will then be spread as a mist over your carpet and a bonnet – a circular rotating buffer – runs over those soiled areas of the carpet.

The bonnet contains an absorbent covering and is replaced with a clean new one whenever it becomes grimy. This ensures that all the dirt is withdrawn from the carpet as it sticks onto the bonnet.


– Faster drying time
– Great for spot cleaning
– Cost-effective


– Does not clean dirt below the surface of the carpets
– Mostly used as a temporary carpet cleaning method

Traditional Carpet Cleaning

How Does This Method Work?

This was the method used to deep clean carpets before the invention of the vacuum cleaner.

It involves scrubbing the carpet with water and detergent using a brush then rinsing it and drying it in the sun.

This method does not require you to use a vacuum cleaner or any complex equipment. It does not work with wall-to-wall carpeting as you can’t dry it in the sun.


– Cost-effective
– Easy to use as it requires no training or special requirements such as cleaning products or machines
– Effective as you personally get to specifically concentrate on the stubborn stains once discovered
– Great for small-sized carpets


– Does not work on wall-to-wall carpeting as they can’t be dried in the sun
– Longer drying time when there is no sunshine
– Cumbersome and time-consuming for larger carpets

Regular Vacuuming

How Does This Method Work?

This is probably the most widely used carpet cleaning method by most home owners.

When done regularly, it produces the strongest results. You only need a regular vacuum cleaner.

The best vacuum is one with rotary brushes. These agitate any dirt that may be deep under the carpet fibers.

After this, the dirt and debris are sucked out of the carpet by a high-suction vacuum cleaner leaving the carpets clean.


– Cost-effective
– Easy to use
– Faster than the traditional carpet cleaning method
– Incredible for cleaning dry messes


– Does not deep clean especially for carpets with tightly woven fibers
– Does not get rid of stains and dried-in messes
– Dry vacuums can only deal with dry messes

Professional Carpet Cleaning

How Does This Method Work?

There are certain carpet cleaning supplies and machines that are too expensive or too large for residential use.

Although they are heavy-duty and more effective when compared to regular carpet cleaning supplies, they can only be accessed by professional carpet cleaning companies.

This is why it is advisable for any home owner to have their carpeted floors cleaned professionally at least once a year. These professional carpet cleaners make use of a combination of cleaning techniques depending on the type and amount of soil, size of the carpet, material used on the carpet and your preferences.


– Safer for your carpets and yourself
– Effective as they use a combination of techniques
– Long-lasting cleanliness for your carpets


– Hiring professional carpet cleaners is expensive
– Requires more intense planning in terms of time and expenses

General Assessment 

Just like everything in life, each of these carpet cleaning methods comes with its own share of advantages and disadvantages.

The best way to choose a carpet cleaning method for your home is usually to look at various important factors.

  • How dirty is your carpet?
  • How long are you willing to wait for the carpet to dry?
  • How clean do you want your carpet to be?
  • How much money you are willing to spend?
  • How easy do you want the whole process to be?

You need to analyze each of these factors before you settle on a particular carpet cleaning method.


Think carefully about your own needs.

Use the above checklist as a handy guide then select the best method of your requirements.

Be sure to check out our others vacuuming tips on our, which included the best below:

Vacuuming Tips for floors with vacuum cleaner

Summer vacuuming Tips

Spring vacuuming Tips

Vacuuming Tips for Pet owners

Joseph and Family
About Joseph D. Nielson

Former journalist and editor for various press groups, I now dedicate my time to reviewing products for the home and family life. When I get time to myself, I enjoy rock climbing, taking my dirt bike for a rip, and most importantly providing my family with the best home possible!