Steam Cleaning – The Facts Explained

floor steam cleaning

What is steam cleaning?

We have all seen the steam cleaning adverts on TV and read about how steam is great at cleaning the kitchen floor, cooker and other hard surfaces. High temperature steam is also very good at killing germs and bacteria.

But is steam any good for cleaning carpets and upholstery?

The phrase “steam cleaning” is commonly used to describe the cleaning of:

  • Floors & hard surfaces
  • Plant & machinery
  • Carpets and upholstery

Steam cleaning actually only applies to the cleaning of floors and hard surfaces, lets take a look at why the term “steam cleaning” is incorrectly used to describe various methods of cleaning.

Floors & hard surfaces

Natural stone, tile and laminate flooring can all be cleaned using an upright steam cleaner. A domestic machine usually has a micro fibre mop head , the dry steam helps to loosen dirt, grease and food spillages from the flooring and is captured into the micro fibre head.

floor steam cleaning

This is a very Eco-friendly method of cleaning flooring, in some cases no detergents are required and minimal amounts of water are used!

Plant & machinery

The phrase “steam cleaning” is often used to describe the cleaning of engines, vehicles, plant and machinery. The correct term to describe this method of cleaning is actually “Hot water pressure washing

Steam cleaning engine

Carpets & upholstery

A professional carpet cleaning company will be using very expensive equipment that actually heats a water supply to around 100 degrees centigrade. This water is then sometimes mixed with a cleaning chemical and pumped at high pressure through a hose to the operators cleaning tools.

Steam is created when the heated cleaning solution is sprayed onto the carpet, you can now see why people refer to “Hot water extraction” as steam cleaning!

carpet steam cleaning

Here is a video demonstrating how Car Cleanse UK use hot water extraction to clean car upholstery



Can a domestic steam cleaner clean carpets and upholstery?

The simple answer is no, dry steam has no way of flushing out the dirt buried deep in the carpet, you have to inject water into the carpet and immediately extract the water that has loosened the soils.

Dry steam can actually damage fabrics and destroy leather, the heat can melt fibres and de-laminate the carpet from its backing! 

Will steam cleaning my car interior remove odours?

Steam can be very good at cleaning the plastics in a vehicle especially around the cup holders where drinks may of spilt.

But when it comes to removing odours from a vehicle, steam has absolutely no benefit as a stand alone cleaner, other cleaning methods would have to be used as well as specialist chemicals and equipment to remove an odour.


So to sum up

Hopefully this bog post has explained the difference between the various cleaning methods. All three cleaning methods use hot water but only dry steam used for cleaning and sanitising hard surfaces should be referred to as “steam cleaning”


How to prevent your car interior from damage!

We contributed to a blog post for a US company “Hatchbag” who offer quality boot liners


This blog post has been featured on this excellent website

Steam Cleaning the Carpet, Floors, Your Home, and Car (TIPS & TRICKS)