Dry Cleaning or Steam Cleaning?

Maintaining your carpet with periodic deep cleaning will extend its life, keeping your home fresh and clean for years. You know you need to do it but…how? Should you do it yourself? Hire professional carpet cleaners? Steam clean? Dry clean?

Cleaning your carpet sounds easy enough but with so many products and services available, choosing the best cleaning method for your schedule and budget can get complicated. But whether you hire professionals or DIY, you’ll have to decide between dry or steam cleaning. Here’s what you need to know about each method to figure out what’s best for the carpet in your home.

Clean Before You Clean

Your carpet deep cleaning routine should always start with the vacuum. Pre-vacuuming carpet lifts loose dirt particles that’ll otherwise turn to mud when moisture is applied–even the small amount in so-called “dry” cleaning products. To keep your carpet looking its best, flooring experts recommend weekly (or twice weekly) vacuuming plus a deep clean (wet or dry) every 12-18 months.  

Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning uses powdered shampoos (and in some cases, a small amount of water) to lift debris from carpet fibers, which is then vacuumed up, and that’s it. You’re finished. Dry cleaned carpets can be used again within one hour of cleaning, making this the preferred method for DIYers with a busy schedule. The drawbacks, though few, are that consumer-grade dry cleaning products often contain harsh chemicals and can leave a powdery residue if they’re not vacuumed properly.

The verdict–if you’re short on time, want to do it yourself, and can open a few windows for ventilation, dry cleaning is the way to go.


  • Dry cleaning is faster than steam cleaning
  • No equipment rental required
  • It’s easy to do it yourself
  • Cheaper than steam cleaning
  • Get comparable results in less time


  • Dry cleaning uses more harsh chemicals than steam cleaning
  • Consumer-grade products may leave residue if not vacuumed thoroughly

Steam Cleaning

In steam cleaning, pressurized hot water mixed with carpet cleaner blasts through dirt embedded in carpet fibers, making it better at removing dirt with fewer chemicals than dry cleaning. The drawback? Time. Lots of time. Even professionally steam cleaned carpets take up to 24 hours to dry (or longer if you rent one of those machines from the grocery store), meaning this method is best left to the pros unless you’ve got a lot of time on your hands.

The verdict–steam cleaning gives better results than dry cleaning, if you’re willing to hire a professional. Pressurized water does most of the heavy lifting, so there’s less chemical residue. Because steam cleaned floors can take up to 24 hours to dry, it’s a good idea to schedule a cleaning just before a weekend road trip or a night of camping, because you won’t be walking on this carpet for a while.


  • Provides a deeper cleaning than dry cleaning
  • It’s more convenient to hire a professional
  • Fewer harsh chemicals
  • Less residue left behind


  • Can take up to 24 hours to dry
  • More expensive than dry cleaning
  • Professional service required for best results

The friendly flooring experts at Dan’s Wholesale Carpet & Flooring have combined decades of experience and want to help you with all your carpet care questions. Give us a call at (888) SHOP-123 or visit any of our five convenient Northeast Ohio locations when you want to talk carpet!